Our best overall pick also happens to be one of the most affordable in the entire roundup. With eight preset options, plus custom temperature and timing controls, this air fryer is both versatile and extremely easy to use.
This Philips Air Fryer is easy to use, incredibly versatile, and it's one of the fastest cookers out there. Use it to fry, roast, steam, and even bake brownies or other sweet treats. Tested by the pros, this all-in-one air fryer is our chef-approved pick.
You won't find a ton of bells and whistles on this unit, but you don't really need them. With temperature and timer controls, all you have to do is set it and forget it based on your recipe. Affordability is just a bonus for this best-selling air fryer.
Black + Decker
If you're feeding a large family, there's nothing that can beat this air fryer's enormous 5.8-quart capacity. With intuitive temperature and time controls, you can easily fry, bake, roast, and grill your family's favorite foods.
Fry, slow-cook, roast, bake, sauté, steam ... there's pretty much nothing this appliance can't do. Most importantly, it has a self-stirring feature, so you don't have to worry about constantly checking and flipping your food.
If you love the taste of deep-fried, crispy-on-the-outside, perfectly-moist-on-the-inside foods, but hate the serious inconvenience of all that oil (not to mention all the extra calories) — it may be time for you to consider converting to an air fryer.
Air fryers use internal fans to cook your food, giving them a crunchy exterior without all the extra oil. Your low-fat fried chicken will come out perfectly golden brown, and your french fries perfectly crispy. Air frying also offers several nutritional advantages over traditional frying since no oil (or significantly less oil) can be used in each recipe.
We spoke to Cynthia Sass, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, to get an expert's take on the health benefits of cooking with an air fryer. As she pointed out, "Air frying saves calories because rather than submerging foods in oil, the machine produces a crisp, crunchy texture by circulating hot air that contains fine oil droplets. Because air frying requires significantly less oil, you save calories and fat, which may help support weight loss or prevent weight gain."
Aside from its many health benefits as an alternative to a deep fryer, an air fryer is also an incredibly versatile kitchen tool. Beyond its most common applications in the kitchen to prepare traditionally deep-fried foods like french fries, chicken wings, and mozzarella sticks, air fryers can also be used as a smaller convection oven to bake desserts like cookies, brownies, and even cake.
To demonstrate just how limitless cooking with an air fryer truly is, we worked alongside Celeste Rogers, recent Chopped Champion and Assistant Resident Chef at Sur La Table, who showed us a wide array of kitchen applications for using an air fryer — from savory to sweet. With the help of Chef Celeste, we used a Philips Air Fryer to test out five different recipes: Fried chicken, french fries, fried pickles, Nutella brownies, and even a fun cannoli recipe.
For a link to the full list of recipes we tested in this piece and more tips from Chef Celeste, keep scrolling to the bottom of the page!
If you're feeling lost while trying to figure out which air fryer to buy, check out our vetted picks for the best options out there. We took a look at everything from preset buttons to temperature range — as well as capacity and affordability — when making our choices, and then we tested the very best of the best to provide our expert picks.
Here are our top picks for the best air fryers that'll deliver consistent, crispy results.
Learn More About the 5 Best Air Fryers:
2018's Best Air Fryer Overall
Pros: Affordable, easy to use
Cons: As with most air fryers, you'll have to restart it every time you check on or stir your food
Inexpensive doesn't have to mean ineffective, and this user-friendly air fryer is proof. It comes with eight preset buttons, including chicken, pork, shrimp, chips, fish, and even cake! Yep, you can bake a cake in this air fryer.
It also has customizable temperature and time controls for recipes with specific cooking instructions. The temperature range is 180-400 degrees, and with a 3.7-quart capacity, it'll fit about eight chicken wings, or a medium-sized batch of fries. For everyday use, the GoWISE gets our vote for best overall option on this list.
2. Philips Air Fryer - Check Price
Pros: Super fast, "Chopped" champion-approved
Cons: Pricey, must buy attachments to be able to cook multiple layers of food at once
This Philips air fryer uses a patented "starfish" fan to evenly distribute air in a way that delivers crispy results from edge to edge. That means you won't end up with soggy fried chicken wings or mushy fries in the middle and crispy ones around the outside of the pan.
The Philips Air Fryer has a range of settings that allow you to bake, steam, and even "grill" your foods, and it comes with one frying basket. You can also purchase other accessories for the inside that allow you to stack layers of food for more efficient cooking. This air fryer also features a smart preset button that memorizes the settings for your favorite and most frequently cooked recipes, like french fries.
3. BLACK+DECKER Purify Air Fryer - Check Price
Best Budget Buy
Pros: Affordable, large temperature range
Cons: No preset buttons
Air fryers don't need all the bells and whistles to be effective at what you need them to do. This unit may not have all the fancy preset buttons, but it does have temperature and time control, which is all you really need if you plan to follow recipes that include this information. But just in case, it comes with an instruction manual that tells you what temperatures are best for most foods.
The timer runs for up to an hour, and the machine will automatically turn off when your cook time is up. You'll also find a temperature range of 175-400 degrees, which is higher than most other models. The basket holds enough for two to four servings, with a 2-liter capacity.
4. Cozyna Air Fryer XL - Check Price
Best for Capacity
Pros: Huge capacity, super fast
Cons: Takes up a lot of space, can't cook multiple layers at once
Cozyna makes a few air fryers, all of which are excellent quality — but the 5.8-quart-XL capacity option is our top pick for anyone who's interested in large-batch cooking.
The adjustable temperature goes up to 400 degrees, which is pretty much standard across the board, and this unit also features a helpful 30-minute timer to set while you're busy with other kitchen-prep tasks.
Adjustable time and temperature settings makes it easy and intuitive to cook your favorite foods, and the dishwasher-safe basket inserts allow for easy cleanup. We also love that this air fryer includes a helpful air fryer cookbook, which includes over 50 great recipes to try out at home.
5. - Check Price
Best for Versatility
Pros: Can do more than just air-fry; has transparent top, automatic stirrers
Cons: Bulky and oversized
Similar to the famed Instant Pot, this air fryer is a versatile option that'll serve more than one purpose in the kitchen. It's an excellent air fryer, but it can also be used to slow-cook, bake, roast, sear, and more.
The basket in this air fryer is made of a nonstick Teflon-coated material, and because it's not perforated on the bottom, the air is circulated around the outside of the rounded appliance as opposed to through a perforated rack. The removable self-stirring arm takes care of tossing the ingredients around to ensure they get exposed to air on every inch. This guarantees that your food will be crispy all over, not just on one side. It also means that whether you're making french fries or a stir-fry (or even risotto or scrambled eggs!), you won't have to constantly open the top to mix or stir your ingredients.
The temperature range is also the largest of any on this list, with the high end of the range reaching 428 degrees. This air fryer specifically is a favorite for french fries and wings.
Ask an Expert: Air Frying 101 with Chef Celeste Rogers
To demonstrate just how limitless cooking with an air fryer truly is, we worked alongside Celeste Rogers, recent Chopped Champion and Assistant Resident Chef at Sur La Table, who showed us a wide array of kitchen applications for using an air fryer — from savory to sweet.
The key to success, according to Rogers, is understanding how an air fryer actually works. "Manage your expectations and realize that an air fryer is basically a small, but high-performing convection oven."
Rogers points out that an air fryer is much less about frying and more about a healthier means of cooking traditionally fried foods. As she explained, "Rapidly circulating hot air dries and crisps while cooking your food. Name aside, there is no actual frying going on here!"
Chef Celeste's Top Expert Tips & Tricks:
1. Invest in a High-Heat Cooking Oil Spray
To optimize the performance of your air fryer, you’re going to need to invest in a high smoke point neutral-flavored vegetable oil spray. Chef Celeste's favorite is either safflower or grapeseed oil, but canola will do. You’ll need to spray the basket to prevent sticking and spray the surface of your food to ensure proper golden crisping.
2. Avoid Wet Batters
Things can go very wrong when it come to battered food (think beer-battered onion rings, tempura shrimp, etc). Wet batters are off-limits because the food will stick to, or even drip through, the basket. Instead, Chef Celeste recommends sticking with a drier dredged coating (think panko-crusted cutlets, coconut-crusted shrimp, or even fried pickles).
3. Give Your Food Some Breathing Room
You’ll need to give your food a bit of breathing room to properly air-fry. If pieces are touching, you’ll get uneven browning and less crisping. This means you can only make small batches and sometimes just single servings.
Check out the video below for more of Chef Celeste's expert air fryer tips & tricks!
For a full list of the air-fryer recipes we featured in this piece, head on over to Chef Celeste's site.
FAQs: Everything Else You've Wondered About the Air Fryer
Q. How in the heck does an air fryer actually work?
A. Well, it's really the magic of science. However, in layman's terms, air fryers work by evenly circulating the hot air from the air fryer itself to cook some of your favorite foods without having to use oil (we're looking at you, deep fryer!). To dig a little deeper, the cooking chamber utilizes the heating element, which is typically positioned really close to the food you added into the fryer, so that your food is cooked efficiently. Plus, the fan will help to distribute the hot air all around the food.
All of this means that you don't really have to use oil to get that "fried crunch" taste you normally would on things like chicken, french fries, potato chips and more. You can use a little oil, however. More on that below!
Q: Are air fryers safer to use than deep fryers?
A: Yes! And much less messy. According to Chef Celeste, "Deep-frying is messy and comes with some serious safety precautions. Air frying, on the other hand, leaves you with very little clean-up and no risk of third-degree burns, bringing homemade french fries into the the realm of accessibility for after-school snacks or 4 a.m. munchie binges."
Q: What can my air fryer do besides frying? Can I use it as an oven or to make desserts?
A: As Chef Celeste says, "... an Air-Fryer is basically a small, but high-performing convection oven." To this end, you can use your air fryer as a small convection oven to make sweet treats like chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and even cannoli!
Q. Everyone seems to be talking about air fryers these days. Is it actually good for me?
A. It's not so much that it's "good for you" as it's just “better for you,” especially when comparing it to a deep fryer. You're using a ton of oil with a deep fryer and not really any oil when utilizing the air fryer. This alone will help reduce fat while still allowing you to enjoy your favorite foods like fried chicken, fish, potato chips, steak and even cake. Mmmmm cake!
Q. What do health experts say about cooking with an air fryer?
A. We spoke to Cynthia Sass, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, to get an expert's take on the health benefits of cooking with an air fryer. As Sass told us:
"Air frying offers several nutritional advantages over traditional frying. Air frying saves calories, because rather than submerging foods in oil, the machine produces a crisp, crunchy texture by circulating hot air that contains fine oil droplets. Because this process requires significantly less oil, you save calories and fat, which may help support weight loss or prevent weight gain."
Sass also added, "perhaps most significantly, air fryers produce less acrylamide, a substance formed when carb-rich foods are heated at a high temperature. Acrylamide has been linked to an increased risk of both cancer and heart disease. One study found that air frying reduced acrylamide by 90% compared to deep-frying."
Q. Do I have to add oil to the air fryer itself?
A. The short answer is "no." You actually shouldn't add oil at all into the air fryer itself. After using your air fryer a few times, if you feel like your food is still a little too dry, you can always lightly (very lightly) coat your food in oil first before placing it into the air fryer basket. The circulating hot air will strip out some of the oil, so it's still a better low-fat option for you.
Chef Celeste recommends investing in a high smoke point and neutral-flavored vegetable oil spray. Her favorite is either safflower or grape seed oil, but canola will do. "You’ll need to spray the basket to prevent sticking and spray the surface of your food to ensure proper golden crisping," she recommends.
Q. Do air fryers cook faster than other means of cooking?
A. Well, depending on which means of cooking you're referring to, the answer is “yes” (usually). Air fryers are typically on the smaller side (although there are some extra large versions) and their temps can range anywhere from around 200 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore air fryers reduce your average cooking time by 25% than your normal oven.
As Chef Celeste told us, "A benefit for all the impatient cooks out there is the speed." Whether you’re baking or deep-frying, you’re usually looking at substantial pre-heating time. Since you skip the preheat with most air-fryer models, you're looking at a much quicker bake time.
Q. Are air fryers a pain to clean? Are they dishwasher-safe?
A. Always check the manual that came with your specific air fryer brand, but overall, they're pretty easy to clean, and many have parts that are removable and dishwasher-safe. If you're manually cleaning it, you'll want to simply unplug it first and then remove the basket and pan for a quick washing in the sink. Use a mild dishwashing soap, some hot water, and a non-abrasive brush or sponge to lightly clean it. Then rinse it, let it air dry, or use a soft cloth to pat it dry.
If you have some stubborn food particles that aren't easily removed, we suggest to just soak it in hot water for about 5-10 minutes before continuing to clean.
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