When you shop for the best air fryers deals for your kitchen, keep in mind that if you avoid the models that promise to replace your stove, oven, and microwave, you can purchase an excellent easy-to-use-and-clean air fryer and get change from a C-note. We’ve done the groundwork for you and lined up the best cheap air fryer deals available today.
Here’s a clean little secret: Air fryers aren’t just about healthy cooking. For sure, whipping up a batch of wings or fries in an air fryer turns out food that’s not soggy with unhealthy fats such as you get with deep frying. However, safer food is only part of the appeal that’s driven air fryer sales to atmospheric levels. The secret: Cooking with an air fryer is fast and easy. Cleanup is a breeze, too — actually, a quick wipe with moist a paper towel is often all it takes. To simplify your search, here are the major considerations to keep in mind when you shop for an air fryer.
- Cost: How many wings can you actually eat in one sitting? That’s a rhetorical question, but the point is you don’t have to spend big bucks when you shop for an air fryer. If you’re cooking for yourself or one other person, keep it simple and you can choose from a selection of fully-functional brand name models for under $100. To keep your cost under $100, you can usually find name brand air fryers between $40 to $80. A model in that price range will most likely have manual controls, not digital (see below), but that’s not a big whoop. A sub-C-note air fryer likely won’t be able to double as a grill, a rotisserie cooker, or a dehydrator (see further below), but if all you want is a countertop appliance for air frying, keeping it simple keeps money in your bank account.
- Size: Air fryer size is measured in the quart capacity of the frying basket. There are no official size benchmarks, but relative sizes are in roughly 2-quart increments. So, an air fryer with a 2-quart or smaller basket is small, good for one or two people or a small batch of appetizers for a larger group. Fryers with baskets that hold about 6-quarts, generally from 5.5 to 6.5 quarts, are considered large, sometimes designated as XL or XXL models. If you’re cooking for a family of 6 or more or hosting a bunch of people at a post-pandemic party, buy a large one. In between, at roughly 4 quarts, are the normal, medium-sized, or regular models, only no one calls them that. An air fryer with a 3.6-quart or 4-quart basket is the right size for a family of 3-5 people. Most air frying recipes are based on a medium-sized basket. There isn’t all that much difference in cost between the sizes, but larger models can take up a disproportionate amount of counter space. Also, since air frying cooks food with a fan that blows heated air over the food, a large-capacity model is more likely to have a bigger fan and it can be noisy.
- Controls: Less expensive air fryers have manual controls. Since all you care about is temperature and cooking time, a single manual rotating dial is all you need. If you buy an air fryer that includes presets for various types of food and can also roast, bake, dehydrate, and so-on, digital controls are helpful. Just remember you probably need to keep the owners’ manual handy and you’ll definitely pay more.
- Versatility: If you’re shopping for an air fryer for wings and fries, then stick with a single-purpose model to keep everything simple (and easy and cheap). Basic air fryer models look like especially fat eggs with the top sliced off and a single vertical handle in the lower middle that you use to pull out and insert the frying basket. Air fryers that look like toaster ovens or microwave ovens can often take the place of a multitude of cooking appliances. There’s almost no end to the variety of cooking functions you can enjoy with a multifunction air fryer. Convection cooking is common, as are roasting, baking, grilling, dehydrating, and on and on. If you’re searching for a cheap air fryer, chances are you don’t need other functions, because they’ll cost you. If, however, you’d like a highly versatile multifunction cooker that includes air frying — and you have the counter space and the budget to pay the tab, there are plenty of choices that typically cost $200 to $600.
- Cleanup: A simple, single-basket air fryer often requires very little cleaning. With some recipes, wiping the inside of the basket with a wet paper towel may suffice, at least between batches of wings. Otherwise, dishwasher-safe baskets keep it simple. Note that larger, more versatile, and more expensive models will likely require more effort to keep clean.
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