Have you always wanted to be able to make your favorite fried foods right at home, but without all the messy, fatty oil required to do it? If so, then you might want to think about adding an air fryer to your chef’s loadout. Air fryers are rather innovative cooking appliances that fry food using convection (similar to an oven) and much, much less oil than old-school deep-frying.
Even if you’re using healthy fats at home and are not overly worried about your overall intake of this essential macronutrient (one which has been unfairly maligned in recent decades), air frying still results in significantly reduced-calorie foods. The fat used in deep frying adds a ton of calories to traditionally fried meats and snacks, and since caloric intake does matter when it comes to staying trim, an air fryer is a smart way to enjoy guilt-free fried foods.
Finally, air fryers are a lot cleaner and safer than deep frying, which is a messy and potentially dangerous hassle that many of us don’t want to bother with at home. Since you’re using only a small amount of cooking oil and the air fryer keeps your hands away from the heating elements, air frying is a headache-free affair for home chefs. That alone is reason enough to consider investing in one, and we’ve already done the heavy lifting to smoke out the six best air fryers that you can buy on Amazon right now:
Ninja is a name you’ll see on a lot of thoughtfully designed and high-value kitchen appliances, and its air fryer is no exception. Its four-quart ceramic-coated basket is big enough for most meal prep needs without taking up too much real estate on your kitchen counter, and its multiple push-button settings can roast, dehydrate, and air fry your food and homemade snacks.
The digital control panel lets you set the cooking temperature anywhere between 105 and 400 degrees and has a convenient built-in timer. If you’re looking to get into air frying at home, the Ninja air fryer is a fantastic way to do it and is the best choice (and best value) for most users at just 100 bucks.
When it comes to sheer air frying performance – that is, the ability to evenly cook delicious, crispy fried foods – no other air fryer beats this one from Philips. Its TurboStar technology results in more even heat distribution, and its intuitive controls and hand-safe slide-out food basket could not be easier to use.
Although the Philips TurboStar air fryer edged out the Ninja in terms of cooking abilities, a couple of things kept it from the number one spot: Namely, it’s more limiting than the Ninja air fryer with a smaller 2.75-quart capacity, and it’s almost twice the price. If you want an upgrade pick and are willing to pay for it, though, the Philips air fryer is excellent.
Air fryers aren’t cheap kitchen appliances to be sure, but if you don’t need a big one, then the Dash compact air fryer delivers a lot of bang for the buck at around $35 to $55 (depending on color choice). It’s a no-frills, countertop-friendly device, featuring a very simple and retro-styled design that consists of temperature and time dials with a slide-out 1.6-quart cooking basket.
Although it’s small, the Dash air fryer does exactly what you need an air fryer to do, and its compact footprint makes it a fine choice for dorm rooms, RVs, smaller apartments, and other places where counter space is at a premium. Just bear in mind that, for the best results, you’ll generally be limited to frying about half a pound of food at one time, and some items might need to be turned during cooking.
Given that air fryers cook food using a process similar to that of a convection oven, it’s easy to see why some innovative makers like Cuisinart have decided to combine the two. The Cuisinart TOA-60 looks pretty much like a toaster oven at first glance, and that’s because it is. But along with baking, broiling, and toasting, this handy unit can also air fry your favorite foods (the thing can even fit a whole chicken inside).
It is a bit chunky compared to standalone air fryers, but the Cuisinart convection toaster oven and air fryer is still a good option where counter space is limited since it’s combining a lot of cooking functionality in a single appliance. However, if you love those brushed stainless looks (we sure do) and just want a simple air fryer, there’s also the more compact Cuisinart AFR-25 that’s about the same price as our top pick.
Although it’s not strictly an air fryer, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least mention this versatile cooker. Another treat from Ninja, the Foodi might be the ultimate bachelor pad kitchen appliance: It can steam, air fry, and slow cook, allowing you to make everything from fried meals and snacks to soups, pot roasts, vegetable dishes, and much more. Its multiple capabilities can also be combined; for instance, you can slow cook meat and then crisp it with the air fry function.
The Foodi also packs a generously sized 6.5-quart cooking pot plus a four-quart frying basket, so it’s plenty big enough for family meals and other get-togethers. About the only drawback we can think of is that it’s a little bulky and more costly than most of our other picks, but given the huge range of cooking utility you’re getting from this thing, that’s easy to get over.
Breville makes premium appliances with price tags to match, but this is one of those trusted names that serious home chefs (and even professional ones) like to see in their kitchens. This convection and air frying smart oven, while expensive, more than lives up to Breville’s pedigree: It comes pre-loaded with 13 different cooking functions for roasting, baking, toasting, air frying, and much more, and its cooking chamber is large enough to fit up to a 14-pound turkey.
In fact, the interior is roomy enough to fit a Dutch oven, meaning you could even use this thing as a slow cooker if you were so inclined. Six state-of-the-art heating elements also deliver quick, even cooking every time. The Breville convection oven/air fryer combo will set you back more than four bones, but if you’re the type who wouldn’t hesitate to drop three figures on a chef’s knife, this is the one for you.
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