Best Air Fryers of 2021: Reviews of Top Air Fryers
Looking to buy this popular appliance ? There’s lots of factors that determine what could be the best one for you. Our three busy test kitchens use over 13 different models around the clock for testing and refining our recipes. Here’s our best air fryer reviews below.
WHAT’S THE BEST AIR FRYER?
Everyone on our recipe testing team has their favorites and we discuss them in our guide. Review our notes and from there, we hope to give enough information for you to decide what model and size works best for you or your family. Here’s our tips to consider in our best reviews:
Best Small Air Fryers for 1 person
For The Tiny Kitchen or Single Person: These 1-2 qt. air fryers are super small and work for reheating single serving leftovers, frozen foods or small portions. It’s ideal for the single person who isn’t looking to cook a meal, but rather to just re-heat foods to make them crispy.
Best Air Fryer for 2-3 People
For Small Kitchens or Servings (2-3 people): these 3-4 qt size fryers are a great size to cook about 2 servings of chicken or fish with a few veggies on the side. These are also great for re-heating foods such as pizza, bread and air frying frozen foods. Serving sizes are reasonable servings as suggested by national nutritional guidelines.
Best Air Fryer for 3-4 People
For 3-4 people: We suggest 5-7 quart size models or the oven/rack styles we mention below. You can cook more food for your family without having to cook in as many batches. These air fryers are able to cook a whole chicken up to 4-5 pounds.
Best Large Air Fryers for 5-6 people
For 5-6 people: If you’re wanting to cook fresh food from scratch for a big family of about 4-6 servings, we suggest the large Oven-style, Rack, Countertop or Toaster style air fryer ovens. These models have at least 2 racks to cook on and some of them are large enough to use standard 8″ or 9″ cake pans, pie dishes and casserole bakeware. Just double check the dimensions before you buy the air fryer to fit your existing dish ware.
Different Styles of Air Fryers (Models or Categories)
Basket/Bucket Style – Food is added to a basket or a “bucket” and then air fried with a hot circulating fan on top. Bucket styles have one main compartment and has an insert that keeps the food slightly elevated, allowing grease and oils to drip to the bottom. Some basket styles have a handled basket that actually separates from the main bucket. This basket is what keeps the food separated from the oil drippings. This is the most common style where recipes will say “shake” because the basket/bucket allows you to do that.
Oven, Rack or Countertop Style – These are normally larger than basket styles and usually have wire shelves to cook foods in 2-3 layers. These interior styles are laid out similar to your regular ovens, only difference is that they are much smaller. These styles allow you to cook more food or different foods on the racks. Because the heating element is on top, the top rack gets the most heat so what ever you cook on the top rack cooks and crisps quicker than the bottom racks. If you want more even cooking on all the racks, you have to rotate the racks often to the bottom can be switched to the top and vice versa. There’s no “shaking” the food with these models. You have to pull out the rack, then flip the food.
Rotisserie Feature: Some models offer a Rotisserie feature or a rotisserie cage to add you food into. The turning “rotisserie” feature cool, but expect these models to be large in size. This feature is normally found in oven style models.
Hybrid Styles (pressure cooker/air fryer combo in one unit) – These are usually the largest of all the units because they have two different cooking elements. There’s a pressure cooker feature and air fryer heating element all in the same appliance. It’s great if you want to cook something in the pressure cooker that normally doesn’t crisp, then use the air fryer element to finish it off.
Halogen Air Fryers – These models have a top heating element with a handle that covers the main glass cooking compartment. It’s heated halogen light that circulates starting from the top heating element. The hot circulating heat then cooks the food in the large glass bowl. You can’t “shake” the food in these models. You have to flip the food. Yes, you can cook a whole turkey in them. Here’s our detailed whole turkey recipe and write up.
Stirring Paddle or Stirring Blade Style – These styles normally have a lid that you lift up and down to cover and air fryer the food. Sometimes you can lift out the cooking compartment to “shake”. There’s small rotating blades that that gently turns or stirs the food while air frying. This helps maintain even cooking without having to stop and shake, stir or turn the food.
Air fryer lids– The newest toy to the air fryer world. You can use your existing pressure cooker and these air fryer lids to fit on top. These lids make it easy to air fry food or crisp food that was cooked in your pressure cooker. They’re a convenient way of adding an air fryer feature to your cooking without having to invest in a dedicated air fryer. If you’re limited on space and are already a fan of pressure cooking, these lids are great.
Oil-less deep Fryers – these aren’t marketed at “air fryers” but it essentially uses air fryer infrared cooking. Unlike traditional “deep fryers”, these big drums look just like the deep fryers but they don’t cook with oil. They cook by circulating hot air up and down the large drum where you place your food. It’s made for cooking whole turkeys, roasts and big meats without the oil. When it comes to cooking a whole turkey, the CharBroil Big Easy is our absolute favorite. The turkey comes out the best and it frees up the rest of the kitchen for other parts of the meal. Here’s our oil-less whole turkey recipe and write up.
Read this first: Our–> Helpful “What is Air Frying?” Guide when you make the purchase!
Best Air Fryer Reviews
There’s so many on the market now. You just need to research and find the ones that fits your needs, capacity and style. We group the basket style into 2 main size groups: 3-4 qt range & the 6 qt. and larger range. There’s also extra large and alternate style air fryers that are great for cooking whole turkeys & other big cooking needs. Here’s our favorites in this best air fryer reviews resource:
Small-Medium 3-4qt. Air Fryers Reviews
“That’s a stylish one” was said as we unboxed the Cosori. It also now has a range of color options. Beyond being stylish, it has cooked great. The basket is not as tall and wider than most in its size group, which is perfect. You’ll have a lot better results in an air fryer with single layered, spread out foods, then with ones piled high and thick.
The larger 5.8 qt. Cosori is a great buy too, especially for those who are frequently cooking for 3-4 people.
Simple functional panel. Fun styling and colors. This is a great little stylish air fryer. Perfect to cook a pound of fries or up to a dozen chicken wings.
This one has a great ceramic coated basket, one of the longest lasting we’ve used. It’s very easy to clean. The super powerful fan that will often cook recipes even faster than other air fryers. We initially returned our first one because we thought we wouldn’t like the single basket style. After reconsidering, we bought another and are super glad we did. This is a great air fryer.
Great Larger Air Fryers (6qt. +)
This is easily one of our favorite larger basket style air fryers. Great basket size, good controls, cooks nice. Clean up is great. It has become one of our kitchen favorites. We can cook 4-5 salmon filets (6 oz each) and 4-5 smaller chicken breasts.
It’s like having 2 air fryers in one. There is an 8qt. and 10 qt. model. 2 Independent baskets that you can have 2 different recipes scheduled to finish at the same time with their Match Cook feature. Each basket has its own heating zone.
Widely temperature range from 80°F to 450°F. Connects to your smartphone & has Alexa or Google Assistant integration for voice control. 5 heating elements, non-stick interior. Large enough it actually has a rotisserie too.
Good Alternate Style Fryers –
These Air Fryers are great for specific moments, especially for turkeys, ribs, & other big cooking needs. They might not be the first to grab for daily use, but can be game changers for your big gatherings. They’ll take care of the big stuff or bring the cooking outside while freeing up your oven or kitchen for cooking everything else.
Our favorite way to cook a whole turkey. It is worth it for that alone. Juicy legs & breast meat, crispy skin, and frees up the kitchen for cooking the rest of the meal.
For outside use only. This type of oil less air fryer is fueled by a propane tank. Read our write up about it here.
The most popular brand for the Halogen/Infared style air fryers. Will cook a whole turkey up to 16 lbs. and it’s amazing. Get our recipe for cooking a Whole Turkey with Gravy in the Big Boss.
Love to Air Fry? Love to Pressure Cook? The Ninja Foodi has you covered for both. 8qt. capacity. Pressure cook until tender then air fry them golden and crisp. Or just use either the pressure cooker function or the air fryer function by itself. The possibilities abound.
What is your favorite air fryer? Let us know in the comments below!
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Here’s more great recipes here. Also some more air fryer tips and resources: