Fried food without the grease? It seems too good to be true! But that’s what air fryers promise: crispy texture, tons of flavor, and a fraction of the fat of fried.
Despite their name – and their promise – air fryers are actually more closely linked to convection ovens than to deep-fat fryers. The countertop devices work by circulating hot air around the food inside, cooking in a fraction of the time as an oven and ostensibly creating the crisp exterior and moist interior of fried foods. But do a Google search for “best air fryer,” and you’ll get more noise than substance. Some guides are outdated; others just seem to be promoting popular Amazon products with no rhyme or reason at all.
In creating this guide, our picks were not influenced by any of the brands we covered as we adhered to a rigorous selection process. First, we pored over consumer guides from independent review sites that spent countless hours testing products currently in the market. We also looked at Google search data to identify the popular brands that may be over looked by other review sites. Considering that fake reviews are a thing, we had a specific process for reviewing customer reviews on platforms such as Amazon in order to minimize the influence of fake and misleading reviews. We considered independent review sites to be our most important source, and we weighted them heavily in our selection process.
Best Air Fryer Reviews
Not all air fryers are created alike, and neither are all sites reviewing them. Here are the sites we trust that clearly dedicated time and resources into vetting and testing the products they recommend.
These reviews are offered with one (ultra-honest) caveat: that fryers might not be worth it at all. After 35 hours researching and testing, this site concluded that for most people, air fryers just couldn't compete with a convection oven or toaster oven.
“Though we were genuinely excited to test air fryers,” reports the outlet, “we think they’re far too expensive for what they give you.”
That said, the research here is in-depth and might help you make a good choice if you really want to try this gadget at home.
It bears mentioning that Wirecutter's reviews were conducted about a year before many of the other reports we've highlighted. Mashable reports that while air fryers seem to be becoming the Instant Pot of 2019, they only started surfacing in the mainstream in spring 2017, and this list was compiled in the summer of that year.
Consumer Reports compared 14 popular brands, ranking them in a variety of categories including how loud they got while they fried and how easy they were to clean. That said, the outlet notes that an air fryer will never achieve the same crispness as a deep fryer, and reviews focused more on convenience than on the quality of the food produced by the product.
Cook’s Illustrated thoroughly vetted a good variety of brands, adapting recipes for French fries and chicken wings to suit the machines. This guide proves that it is possible to get good results with an air fryer when recipes are tweaked accordingly.
Reviews.com highlighted the relatively small differences between most brands, which mostly boil down to design.
Accounting for Fake Reviews
After examining the “best in show” from these review sites, we went straight to the source. We dug deep into verified buyer reviews to suss out both the pros and the cons of our top picks. After all, not all results found in a lab setting will hold at home! Bearing in mind the prevalence of fake reviews, we didn't just look at overall ratings. We used tools like fakespot and ReviewMeta to detect red flags when analyzing for real reviews.
Reviews from home consumers were divided, with many noting that air fryers don't really deliver on their promise of replicating the texture and flavor of truly fried food. But those who liked their air fryers loved them, and these are the machines we've highlighted for you.
What to Look for in an Air Fryer
A great air fryer should boast a number of qualities. First and foremost, it should be compact.
"Much of the appeal in air-frying comes from the fact that you are able to cook healthy, impressive meals within a small space," says America's Test Kitchen Executive Food Editor, Dan Zuccarello.
The fryer should also be easy to clean and, above all, deliver on its promise: some air fryers unworthy of the name don't achieve the crisp exterior and moist interior of fried food, making them a waste of space and of money.
4 Air Fryer Models People Love
With all this in mind, here are the air fryer models that stand out based on our research.
Editor's Note: The below air fryer prices are reflected as of Mar. 16, 2019, but will likely fluctuate over time.
Philips Avance HD9641 /96
This air fryer emerges at the top of our list. It was praised even by Wirecutter's pragmatic reviewers, who note that while they can't actually get behind recommending air fryers at all, "if you really want one, this is the model to get." Highlighted by myriad other sites like Forbes, ReviewLoft, and The Kitchn (which dubs it "the Rolls Royce" of air fryers) – and boasting an Amazon rating of 4.4 stars – this is a crowd-pleaser for sure.
It is a touch more expensive than some other models, something that Zuccarello notes could be a deterrent.
“Before purchasing an air-fryer, it is important to ask yourself how often you plan to use it,” he says, noting that this model is “at the upper end of the price range, but we never had an issue with its functionality through the hundreds of tests we performed.”
“That sort of reliability, in my mind, is worth the investment.”
- Cooks more evenly than most other models
- Reviews.com praised it as the "most customizable" of the bunch
- Cook's Illustrated testers liked the "slimmer, compact footprint and a shorter stature," according to Zuccarello
- Does away with the pre-heating step of most air fryers
- Easy-to-use digital controls
- Noisy (The only major review site that gave this machine low marks was Consumer Reports. That said, this site’s reviews focused more on technical specs like noise, cleaning, controls, and capacity than final result.)
- Can be a bit smokey
- More expensive than most
*As of Mar. 16, 2019 this model was out of stock at Amazon
**Bed Bath & Beyond has price matching and free shipping.
T-fal's Actifry machine also emerged with high marks, dubbed the "most convenient" by Reviews.com.
T-fal uses slightly different technology than most other air fryers – heat pulses rather than convection – that helps air-fried fries taste like the real thing, according to Reviews.com testers.
Customer reviews highlight not only the quality of the finished product (particularly fries) but also the ease of use of this model. Despite a few shortcomings, the T-fal machine, is one of the best options on the market, especially given its price.
- Cooks consistently, according to Reviews.com tests
- Inexpensive as compared to similar machines
- Unique self-stirring mechanism, translating to little effort required on the part of the cook once the machine is in motion
- Remains room-temperature while cooking, making it one of the safest choices
- Cooks at only one temperature
- Manual shutoff required
- Some customers claim stirring mechanism actually crushes food
GoWISE USA 3.7-Quart Programmable Air Fryer
If you want an inexpensive air fryer that still does the job, GoWise, which ranked as Cook's Illustrated's "Best Buy," might be the right option.
- Cooks food quickly and easily, according to Cook's Illustrated reviewers
- Easy to use and clean, according to Amazon reviewers
- Slightly less intuitive than some of its counterparts
- Takes up more space than comparable models
- Temperature and time controls require a bit of tweaking to perfect, according to Wirecutter and Reviews.com
- Less durable than many: the handful of negative consumer reviews mostly pertain to the durability of the machine, which seems to have the unfortunate tendency of konking out just as the warranty expires
- The 1-year warranty is limited to defects in materials and workmanship. Meanwhile the warranty for the removable basket, tray, and all components are limited to a 30 days from the date of purchase.
*If you are concerned about durability and the limited warranty, consider that Home Depot offers a two-year protection plan for an additional $12. Even with the additional cost, this is a good value pick.
Cuisinart TOA-60 Air Fryer Toaster Oven
Reviewed by Consumer Reports as a toaster oven rather than an air fryer, this two-in-one machine is a great multitasker. A countertop unit that isn't meant to be taken out only occasionally, the Cuisinart machine could be a new go-to in your kitchen.
- More versatile than most: can be used as both an air fryer and as a toaster oven/extra oven (maximizing your utilization of space)
- The three-year limited warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship under normal use
- According to the manufacturers warranty, the return shipping cost is only $10. We think this is fair considering the weight and true shipping cost depending on where you live
- Large capacity
- Interior walls is non-stick and easy to clean
- While the machine is protected by a three-year warranty, many reviewers signaled durability issues. The act of shipping a 21 lb. item for return
- Tends to run hot, so some adjustment to cooking times/temperatures may be necessary for ideal results
- The pan and basket are not non-stick
We'd love to hear from you in the comments below. If you own an air fryer or are in the market for one and are currently doing your own research please share your insights. As always, please be polite to each other and keep it relevant.
*We spend countless hours independently researching and vetting products so that you can make an informed purchase decision. If you like this content and want to support Organic Authority, please consider using one the links provided in the article if you decide to make a purchase, as we will earn a commission.
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