Basketball styles: Probably the original style of air fryers, basket-style refers to the basket that pulls in and out of the unit like a drawer. They’ve been improved over the years to have a larger capacity and great usefulness outside of cooking only one serving. They’re also more compact and portable than other styles of air fryers.
Dual-basket style: Take a basket-style air fryer and add a second basket, and you’ll have your dual-basket air fryer. They double the utility of any model, and you can simultaneously cook food at different temperatures and for different lengths of time without disturbing the other. They are larger in size but that extra usefulness can make or break which model you purchase.
Air fryer toaster ovens: These are essentially shrunken-down ovens for use on your kitchen counter. They are infinitely transportable and can do everything from bake, roast, dehydrate and broil.
A Note on the “Healthiness” of Air Fryers
Just because a brownie is cooked in an air fryer, it doesn’t make it healthier. Same goes for those frozen French fries. The real benefit of air frying is the ability to control the total fat that is absorbed by any food compared to pan frying or deep frying. If those items were previously fried and then heated up again, their fat content hasn’t changed. Fat is necessary for a healthy diet. Air fryers are way less intimidating than a vat of bubbling hot oil but what you put into them has as much to do with what you get out of them.
What to Consider Before Buying an Air Fryer
While there are a ton of options when it comes to air fryers, there are also some great ways to narrow down your choices. Do you have small counters and want something that is easy to operate? That’s a check mark towards a basket style air fryer. Is your top priority making larger portions of food with lots of fun accessories? Then try out the toaster oven model. Prices vary significantly but you can always choose a model and wait for it to go on sale. Or borrow one from a friend to see which functions are the most helpful.
How We Tested
There were three components to this process. One, how well does the air fryer work? Two, how easy is the model to operate. And three, how easy is it to clean? The whole point of an air fryer is that it evenly cooks, browns and crisps food. If your fries don’t have that crunchy outer crust then what’s the point? We looked at how each of the air fryers did with frozen, store-bought French fries, homemade taquitos and bone-in chicken wings. We tested a whole and portioned chicken for the rotisserie model. The best air fryers consistently cook food quickly and evenly, and have powerful heating elements that mimic a traditional oven.
Now that air fryers have improved functions, it’s pretty standard for them to come with a vast selection of preset temperature settings and an automatic pause function for when the basket is opened when the fryer is in use. Cleaning is very important and being able to disassemble and reassemble them easily is very important. Just like with other cooking devices, cleaning them while freshly used is much easier than waiting a few hours. How noisy the model is matters as well and was a helpful category to examine.
The Best Overall Air Fryer: Philips Premium Air Fryer XXL
Capacity: 4.1 quarts
Dimensions: 13.95 x 13.8 x 12 inches
wash: Air fryer basket and tray are dishwasher safe. Clean models with a damp cloth.