The Best Air Fryers You Can Buy, Tested By Kitchen Appliance Experts

Nicole Papantoniou, Good Housekeeping Institute
·8 min read
Photo credit: Chefman
Photo credit: Chefman

Air fryers are small ovens with a highly concentrated heat source and powerful fan that moves the hot air around to crisp up wings, fries, veggies and more air-fried recipes with little (or zero!) oil. They create a nice "fried" finish that your oven range can't compete with, as well as, reheating results that blow away the average microwave. Plus, an air fryer requires only a small amount of oil to make foods crispy with a fraction of the calories and fat of traditional cooking methods, like deep frying.

The Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances Lab regularly tests kitchen appliances large and small to find the only ones that are actually worth your money. We tested more than 30 air fryers, including traditional basket-style air fryers, air fryer ovens, air fryer toaster ovens and even several microwaves and multi-cookers with air fry capabilities.

When we test, we evaluate air fryers on ease of use and performance by air frying frozen and fresh French fries and chicken wings. We scored the resulting food on its crispness, juiciness, and evenness. Our top performers air fried food to a crispy texture with a moist interior and were easy to use with large, easy-to-read controls that barely required the owner’s manual. These are the best air fryers of 2021 you can buy right now:

Best Overall Air Fryer

Ninja Air Fryer Max XL

The 5.5-quart Ninja Air Fryer Max XL was the top performer in our traditional, basket-style air fryer test. It scored the highest marks across the board for ease of use, thanks to its easy-to-use and -read buttons and clear owner’s manual. During our tests, the air fryer basket slid in and out easily, which made handling a breeze. We’re fans of the basket’s slick, ceramic interior and removable tray, which makes it nonstick. The tray also fits snugly and securely on the bottom of the basket so you don’t have to worry about it falling out when you turn the food out onto a plate. Both are dishwasher safe and easy to clean, even if you choose to hand wash.

In addition to being easy to use, The Ninja Air Fryer Max XL scored the highest in performance. It produced crispy and even frozen fries, homemade fries and chicken wings that were moist on the inside. The model we tested comes with a broiling rack for even quicker and juicier results and melty cheese. It also features several cook settings, including max crisp and air broil, which reach 450°F, and dehydrate, which reaches a low of 105°F. The different settings are programmed with unique maximum and minimum temperatures, so you can intuitively achieve different cooking results. Another unique feature is the timer, which counts down to the second. For a larger capacity, consider the Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 2-Basket Air Fryer. It performs just as well as the Air Fryer Max XL with even more versatility.

Best Value Air Fryer

Chefman TurboFry

In our tests, the 3.7-quart Chefman TurboFry produced crispy and even results. It was also easy to use with a lightweight air fryer basket. One thing to keep in mind is its vented basket, which promotes air circulation, also allows for dripping if you don’t empty the grease buildup between rounds. The removable tray has many vents that benefit from cleaning with a brush. A digital version is available, which we’ve tested in the past and allows for more precise temperature and time selection, but if you’re not one to program specific times, the TurboFry is a great value.

Best Air Fryer for a Family of Four

Instant Pot Vortex Plus

We were impressed with the performance of this air fryer from the makers of one of our favorite multi-cooker brands. Instant Pot’s Instant Vortex Plus is sleek with its stainless steel face and large, easy-to-read buttons. It boasts six cooking settings, including air fry, roast, broil, bake, reheat, and dehydrate, with different programmable temperature and time settings. The dial allows for easy selection so you don't have to click a button 100 times to get to the temperature you’re looking for. The air fryer basket is large (6 quarts) and square, which creates more cooking space than its round competitors, making a smart home investment for a family. Its removable tray has a thin, hinged handle, which allows for easy removability, but also lays flat to not disrupt the cooking area.

Best Air Fryer Toaster Oven

Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven Air Fryer

Cuisinart was one of the first brands to introduce a toaster oven air fryer that allows you to toast, bake, convection bake, and air fry. We tested the pictured digital version, which not only made the most evenly-colored toast, but also the crispiest air fried food in the shortest amount of time. The rectangular 15.5 by 16-inch air fry rack offers a large cooking surface and sits atop a drip/crumb tray for easy cleanup. Since introducing the toaster oven air fryers, Cuisinart also introduced a smaller version with the same features and quality performance.

Best Air Fryer Oven

Power XL Air Fryer Pro

Air fryer ovens offer more space to cook (and dehydrate if you want to!) in a single layer through the use of multiple racks. The one downside is you often have to rotate the racks for the most even results. In our tests, the Power XL Air Fryer Pro required the least maintenance during cooking, producing evenly browned chicken wings on the top and middle racks. It also made crispy fries in the rotating basket although we prefer cooking them on the racks for quicker and crispier results. Another perk of most air fryer ovens is their ability to cook like a rotisserie – it took the Air Fryer Pro less than one hour to make a juicy, four-pound chicken; plus, it comes with skewers for kebabs. Juices collect on a removable, dishwasher safe drip tray, and the door removes for easier cleaning.

Best-Selling Air Fryer on Amazon

Cosori Air Fryer

The Cosori’s 3.7-quart square basket offers a lot of cooking space, especially compared to its round competitors. It’s removable and lightweight, with many vents for optimal air circulation. The control panel is loaded with presets that are programmed with recommended cooking temperatures and times, including a preheat option, which is not common on air fryers. The Cosori Air Fryer can also be used on a manual setting if none of the presets are the perfect fit.

In our tests, the Cosori scored high for ease of use, and over 800 five-star reviewers on Amazon agree. It also made good fresh fries and wings. Frozen fries required almost 10 minutes less than the manufacturer’s instructions, so keep an eye on the goodies you’re cooking. Steam came out of the air fryer during cooking, which caused condensation to develop on the drawer – this steam did not seem to affect results.

Best Large Capacity Air Fryer

GoWISE USA 7-Quart Electric Air Fryer

The GoWISE USA 7-Qt. Air Fryer is the one we turn to most for cooking in large batches since it’s so big. In our tests, it air fried crispy fries and juicy wings that we kept going back to nosh on. It's air fryer basket has an oblong shape, which allows for more cooking in a single layer than round baskets, and is big benefit when it comes to dehydrating. This GoWise air fryer comes with three additional racks that stack, which sets it apart from others on the market. The racks stack, which allow you to air fry thin and dehydrate up to four layers at a time.

Best Compact Air Fryer

Philips Compact Airfryer

Our favorite feature of the Philips Premium Air Fryer is its compact shape that still cooks enough food for one to two portions. At 2.5 quarts, it’s the smallest of the Philips air fryers, which comes in XL and XXL sizes. It's also the only air fryer we tested with a splatter lid. In our tests, the lid helped make crisp frozen fries that were moist on the inside, not dried out and evenly golden. It also allows for air frying greasy foods, such as sausages, which are not typically recommended in an air fryer because they can cause smoking. In addition to the lid, the Philips is very easy to use with a user friendly control panel and four preset settings. The basket handle removes for easy cleaning.

Best Air Fryer for One Person

Dash Compact Air Fryer

The Dash is perfect for people who cook only for themselves. At 1.7 liters, it has a small footprint that can quickly cook one portion of food. A smaller footprint means it takes up less room on your counter, and a smaller basket means easier cleaning. The Dash has a mechanical timer, which makes it a little tricky to program to the exact minute. The temperature dial also doesn’t offer many temperature options, but we use the max 400°F temperature to air fry most foods anyway. We love that it comes in an assortment of colors that pop, unlike most air fryers on the market. The aqua, pictured here, is a fave.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

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