Last Updated on
Not long ago, everyone thought that eating healthier meant giving up on doughnuts, fried chicken, and hash browns. That was a dark time for fried foods everywhere since all treats sizzled in hot oil were -more or less- a synonym for trans fats, weight gain, and heart disease(1). But, that was then.
Nowadays, thanks to Pinterest and well… the Internet in general, we became acquainted with a new, exciting and most importantly, healthy way to “fry” our favorite foods and enjoy them as part of our weekly menus guilt-free. Everyone, meet the air fryer. This nifty kitchen appliance swaps the vat of oil for a mechanical fan and deep fries your delicacies using little to no fat; not to mention that it makes for easier cleanup.
So, if you made a pact with yourself to limit your oil consumption but can’t stand the thought of giving up on fried doughnuts, read on and find out why faux-frying is the best thing since sliced bread, and which air fryers are worthy of your countertop.
What Is An Air Fryer?
Also known as a faux-fryer, an air fryer is a medium-sized kitchen appliance that cooks your food by circulating hot air around it. But, don’t mistake it for a convection oven. While both of these kitchen devices consist of an electric coil and a high-speed mechanical fan, the air-fryer also sports a small compartment in which you place the oil.
So, as the fan and heater work together to circulate the hot air throughout the cooking chamber, particles of oil are released in there straight out of the said compartment. A few minutes in and the oil coats the food in a thin layer which -alongside the chamber’s heat- turn your noshes from soft and mushy into a crispy pile of goodness, all while preserving their moisture.
It’s worth noting, though, that while some models feature an oil compartment which does all the work for you, others just skip this part and require you to coat the food with oil in advance. Either way, the result is the same.
Why Use An Air Fryer
When it comes to innovations, smartphones, tablets, and wearables are usually the first things to pop into everyone’s mind. Meanwhile, kitchen appliances end up getting the short end of the stick, even if they are worth the hype. Luckily, this is not the case for the air fryer.
This out-of-the-box device has managed to make some serious waves in the gadget department mainly due to its ability to recreate exact replicas of our favorite fried bites using little to no oil. But, do you want to hear something cool? That is just one of the perks of using an air fryer. If you’ve been thinking of jumping on the air frying bandwagon for quite some time now, these three reasons will finally give you an excuse to go all out and buy yourself the best model out there.
Despite tasting amazing, fried food is considered one of the unhealthiest ways to satiate your hunger. That’s because oil goes through major chemical changes(2) when it’s heated. It goes without saying that these changes affect the food’s consistency and nutritional profile, often degrading it to the point of no return.
Requiring little to no oil, air fryers eliminate the use of this controversial fat and manage to cook your meals through a medium that contains no additives or questionable substances; hot air. In fact, they coat the foods with a thin layer of oil just enough to acquire that crispiness and then cook them by exposing them to high temps. So, you see, healthier fried food can exist, after all.
We are all familiar with the oil splatters, the greasy kitchen walls and the burnt food residues that come after frying a doughnut or just about any meal. Well, these are all issues of the past as air fryers take the main culprit (oil) out of the picture. How can you create a greasy mess if you have no grease to work with in the first place? Plus, the food is cooked inside an air-tight chamber which prevents anything from splattering all over your counter. Finally, a cooking method that doesn’t fill your kitchen with dirty dishes. That’s new!
If you’ve seen an air fryer before, then you probably noticed that the foods are cooked inside a separate chamber. This compartment is specially designed to prevent hot air from leaking. So, thanks to their air-sealed design, air fryers force your foods to cook faster than usual.
What to Look For When Shopping For An Air Fryer
Since air fryers are a relatively new trend, many people are still confused as to what it takes to choose a high-quality model that always delivers. However, picking the best faux-fryer out there is all types of easy, especially if you keep a set of spot-on criteria in mind. To make your life easier, we’ve rounded up the five most important things to note when shopping for an air fryer, from the chamber’s capacity to the device’s timer accuracy. Happy shopping, everyone!
The first thing to check when buying an air fryer is the chamber’s capacity. Most models are designed to cook between 1.8 and 2.5 pounds of food per batch which is more than enough to feed 2-3 people. However, if you have a large family or host parties regularly, keep an eye out for a model with a bigger basket. PS: Bulkier faux-fryers come with an average 22-pound cooking capacity. So, choose wisely.
Temperature Control Settings
Whether you are a newbie chef or know your way around a kitchen, you probably understand that all foods contain water. However, while some of them may carry their weight in H2O, others hold lower amounts of it. This variation in water concentration affects the cooking profile of each food in various ways. That’s actually the reason why some foods require little to no cooking while others need to be cooked for hours before consumption.
This little fact, however, plays a huge role in choosing the perfect air fryer. Unlike other cooking methods (think boiling or braising), air frying relies solely on the food’s moisture to achieve that crispy-on-the-outside-tender-on-the-inside texture. So, cooking your food at a less-than-ideal temperature is bound to mess with its natural moisture and, thus, flavor.
With that in mind, it’s best to opt for a model with adjustable temperature settings. This way you can cook your foods based on their optimal temps and enjoy a perfectly faux-fried meal every time. Isn’t that what having the best air fryer is all about?
A lot of people often forget or intentionally neglect this part, but owning a model with a cooking timer can take your faux-frying experience to the next level. This feature allows you to customize your cooking approach and finally avoid overdone or undercooked dishes. In fact, adjusting the fryer’s built-in timer based on how cooked you want your food is genius and can help you get the most out of every meal.
Not to mention that such feature can save you lots of precious time. Just imagine throwing a party and having to cook multiple dishes at once. Having a device to take over the frying part as you focus on other things can come pretty handy in such cases. Don’t you think?
If you are a fan of fried foods, then you know all about the mess that comes with a perfectly sizzled batch of chicken wings. From wiping oil splatters from your kitchen walls and counters to getting rid of burnt batter bits and foul-smelling oil, cooking your favorite fried bites at home can be a tedious task.
But, here comes the air fryer to change all that. Since it requires minimal to no oil, this out-of-the-box device makes almost zero mess and is very easy to clean. Things get even better if you buy a model with removable, dishwasher-safe parts. In this case, the most challenging thing you have to do is decide which recipe to try out next.
Another essential thing to consider is the device’s wattage. Models with high power output tend to perform better than their lower wattage counterparts. Of course, this value depends on the fryer’s capacity. That said, larger models are bound to have higher power output. But, if you see a small fryer with a high wattage, then something’s fishy. To reach an educated decision, note that the turnout of a standard air fryer ranges from 800 to 1.400 watts, so make sure you stick to these guidelines (mainly for your safety).
At first glance, air fryers are all about simplicity. They feature a straightforward mechanism and consist of very few parts (basket, etc.). However, some models go way beyond this basic/modest design and add a little flair to the mix thanks to some fun-to-use props. From cake and pizza pans to skewers and rotisserie forks, brands like Philips (check below) and Gourmia have designed a set of unique, air fryer-friendly accessories which can help you cook more than just chicken wings and potato wedges.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should go all out and buy them as soon as you get the device. But, if you are a hopeless foodie that wants to explore the full potential of your fryer, then you have our blessing. Just remember to opt for a model that can accommodate such props.
The 5 Best Air Fryers, Reviewed
It’s official: Air is the new oil. And since we are all looking for ways to improve the quality of our diet, trading our frying pans for air fryers seems like a solid plan. However, not all faux-fryers are created equal. Some of them are better than others for reasons that go way beyond an eye-catching design. So, somewhere between their high-end safety features and accurate cooking timers, these top 5 air fryers know what it takes to be a pioneer in the field.
When it comes to faux frying, no one does it better than Philips. This cooking method is actually the brainchild of the leading brand, so it’s no surprise that their models are considered the best of the best. However, this particular model is by far the most efficient in their faux frying arsenal thanks to its impressive set of feats and design. So, if you want to master the art of air frying the right way, this model is a no-brainer, and here’s why.
- Efficient Patented Design
This appliance features a patented “frying” system which puts the starfish fan front and center. Thanks to its odd yet streamlined shape, this fan makes sure the hot air is distributed evenly. As a result, your food is cooked uniformly every time.
- Built-In Timer
This device comes with a high-quality timer that allows you to set the cooking time as you please. With this feature in the mix, there’s no need for you to check whether the food is done or not every few minutes. You can spend your time cooking something else instead or running other errands. PS: 60 minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but when it comes to air frying, this timeframe it’s more than enough. Just think that most recipes take 15-30 minutes to cook.
- Easy to Clean
Air fryers are the easiest kitchen appliance to clean up, and this model is no exception. In fact, it has two removable, dishwasher-safe parts (grill rack and frying basket) and also sports a non-stick coating on the inside which makes it immune to sticky and crusty residues. To clean it up, just remove the food crumbs and wipe with a damp cloth. Occasionally, use a mild soap to remove stubborn grease (if any).
- Adjustable Temperature Control Features
The appliance also has a high-end temperature control system which allows you to adjust the temps at which your food is being “fried.” So, you can start off low at 150oF for noshes like frozen dumplings and increase your way up to 390oF when you want to cook tough cuts of meat or tofu. Pro tip: The temperature goes up in increments of 30 degrees each, so plan your cooking accordingly (as in check the recipe).
- High-End Touchscreen Interface
Being the innovator that it is, Philips equipped this model with a swanky touchscreen interface that helps you tap your way to a flawlessly “fried” meal. This interface is easy to navigate and grants you almost immediate access to a variety of the device’s feats, from temperature adjustments to the timer’s settings.
- Chef-Worthy Quality
If there’s one chef on this planet who we trust no matter what, that’s Gordon Ramsay. This Michelin-star-awarded chef may have a bit of a potty-mouth, but he knows his way around a kitchen. So, when he says that this model is worth our attention, we believe him 100%. So, Philips teamed up with chef Ramsay to create five finger-licking good recipes and help us get started with air frying the right way. Turkey Sliders, here we come!
- Versatile Accessories
Being the mother brand of air frying, Philips believes that there’s so much more to this method than putting your food in the cooking chamber and waiting. That’s why they’ve designed a bunch of add-on accessories which can add more dimensions to this innovative device. Some of the most popular options include the grill pan, a double-layer rack with skewers, a baking dish and a non-stick cake barrel. As you see, the sky’s the limit with this model.
- Large Chamber Capacity
This model has a capacity of 2.65 lbs. That means that it can faux-fry up to two bags of French fries in one go. So, if you have a large family or want to impress your guests on your next get-together, this device is the way to go.
- Beginner-Friendly Settings
Even though it comes with adjustable temperature settings, this air fryer features a program with pre-set choices which automatically modify the temperature-to-time ratio. The seven options include fish, fries, chicken, shrimps, steak, chops and baked goods. So, in a way, these settings allow you to achieve optimum results without having to worry about adjusting the temps and time yourself. That’s especially helpful if you are still a beginner.
- Takes Up Too Much Counter Space
Air fryers have a reputation for being bulky, and this model proves just that. Given its distinct cooking chamber, it has a big footprint which makes it a bit hard to store if you lack the counter space.
If efficiency is the name of the game, then this model is worth a spot on your top 3 list. Thanks to its double convection fan and 2-liter basket, this air fryer can cook up to four servings of food in less than 15-20 minutes. Plus, it has an easy-to-use temperature control system which makes your experience that much better. So, if you think that this model would be an excellent fit for your kitchen, here’s everything you need to know about it (both good and bad).
- Fast Cooking
This air fryer comes with two sturdy convection fans which double the power output of the device. As a result, your foods are cooked more efficiently and quickly.
- Large Basket Capacity
According to the manufacturer, this model features a 2-liter frying basket. That means that it can produce about 2-4 servings of food in one go. That translates into eight chicken wings, four fish fillets, 1 lb of French fries or fifteen pizza rolls. Not too shabby, amiright?
- Easy Clean-Up
When it comes to cooking, cleaning up is by far everyone’s least favorite part. Luckily, this model comes with a dishwasher-safe frying basket and basket separator which you save lots of time from scraping everything that’s caught in the filter. But, the good news doesn’t end there.
It’s also equipped with non-stick surfaces which make the disposing of residues a cinch. Just remove the remaining food bits and wipe the surface with a damp cloth. That’s pretty much it. Now you can use the fryer once again to faux fry your favorite bites.
- Variable Temperature Settings
This cooking device sports an easy-to-use temperature knob which allows you to adjust the chamber’s temp based on what you are cooking. As a result, you can always customize your approach based on the food’s needs and achieve maximum results. The temperatures range from 175oF to 400oF.
- Built-In Timer
Like all high-end air frying models, this one comes with a built-in timer. Inspired by slow cooker’s set-it-and-forget-it attitude, this feat allows you to do other things as your meals cook themselves. That’s convenient if you are prepping lots of dishes at once or you have other things to do and can’t keep an eye on the food.
- Indicator Light
Not everyone is a faux frying expert. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy a batch of perfectly cooked treats every time you turn on that fryer. This model makes sure of that by sporting a beginner-friendly indicator light which shows you when the preheat temperature is reached.
- Durable Materials
Made of stainless steel, this appliance can endure very high temperatures. Considering you’ll be cooking some of your foods at 300oF and up, this trait can help preserve your fryer in a tip-top condition for years.
- Basket Separator
Unlike many of its peers, this model comes with a basket separator which splits the cooking chamber in half. This way you can “fry” a variety of foods without mixing their flavors. This feature is also a huge time-saver.
- Safe to Use
Setting your safety as a priority, manufacturers equipped this model with a cool-touch handle. Now you can pull/push the basket without burning your hands. It also has an indicator light which shows when/if the device is on. Since this fryer doesn’t come with an auto shut-off feature, the light may prevent lots of overheating accidents.
- Funky Smell
Many previous owners report that the fryer gives off a weird smell which often affects the food’s flavor. That occurs because the company has coated the surface with food-grade oil which takes some time to wear off. Use it for a couple of times and chances are the smell will go away.
If determining and adjusting the temperatures yourself sounds like a lot of work, then this model is a safe bet. Designed to cook your meals at a pre-set temp, this air fryer comes with a simple ON/OFF button which makes the whole process accessible even to faux frying first-timers. But, that’s not the only advantage of this device. From its sizeable cooking chamber to its see-through lid, this T-Fal fryer has a lot of great features in store for you.
- Patented Acti-Fry Technology
This appliance features a patented heat pulse system, known as Acti-fry. This system makes sure the hot air circulates evenly throughout the chamber and cooks every meal uniformly. It also prevents steam from building up which allows the foods to acquire that delicious crispy texture.
- Simple Operation System
This model has a simple ON/OFF switch. That said, it’s perfect for anyone with a tight schedule who doesn’t have the time to look into the precise instructions of a recipe. This simple-to-use interface is also ideal for anyone with little experience in air frying.
- Ample Frying Capacity
The device’s cooking chamber has a capacity of 2.2 lbs. As a result, you can cook up to 4 servings of your favorite fried bites at a time. That’s enough to feed a medium-sized family.
- Easy to Clean
It comes with a removable non-stick ceramic pan which helps you get rid of food residues in a matter of seconds. Also, note that some of its parts (measuring spoon and container) are dishwasher-safe.
- Safe to Use
As mentioned above, this appliance comes with non-stick ceramic surfaces. According to experts, this material is often associated with harmful chemicals. However, T-Fal guarantees us that the fryer is free of PFOA and PTFE which are the two most common toxins infiltrating food through non-stick cookware. So, you can be 100% sure that you, your family and friends will always enjoy a healthy, toxin-free meal.
The device also comes with a secure lid which prevents oil from splattering and burning your skin or making a huge mess all over your kitchen. Lastly, it has a stay-cool exterior in case you happen to touch the device while in use.
- Digital Countdown Timer
It’s equipped with an LCD screen and an automatic countdown timer. So, as soon as you start frying your meal, the display will showcase just how much time there is left until the ingredients are perfectly cooked. A buzzer will also go off and notify you that the meal is done once the timer counts down to zero.
- Extra Accessories
Upon purchase, this fryer comes with a measuring spoon and a booklet with 38 recipes. The spoon is measured to match the chamber’s capacity, making your life much more comfortable.
- Air Purification Filter
Even though there’s minimum oil involved in this cooking method, the device may give off a frying-like smell which is not always pleasant. Luckily, this model has a particular filter which captures foul odors and keeps your clothes and kitchen from smelling like a fast food joint for the rest of the day.
- Steam-Free Lid
This model also comes with a see-through lid which helps you monitor the process without letting any of the chamber’s juices leak out. However, what’s impressive about this lid is that it doesn’t allow steam to build up and blur your view.
- Lid May Melt
Since it’s made of plastic and is often exposed to high temperatures, the lid of this device may get weaker over time and melt in some places.
- Slow Cooking
Unlike other models, this one takes a while longer to reach the optimal temperature which is pre-set at about 330oF. Things may be a tad more frustrating if you cut your food into big chunks or thick slices.
If you are looking for a high-end appliance that will do so much more than just fry your meals, then this model is an absolute must-have. Programmed to bake, roast and grill your favorite dishes, this multi-tasking appliance takes air frying to the next level. But, as you’d expect from a high-profile company like Go Wise USA, this model hides a lot more tricks up its sleeve. So, here’s a complete list of everything you need to know about this top-selling air fryer (both great and could-be-better).
- Large Capacity
With a total capacity of 5.8 quarts, this is perhaps the largest fryer on this list. But, to talk in numbers, this kitchen appliance can cook enough food to feed 4 or more people. That’s why it’s perfect for anyone with a large family or lots of friends.
- Versatile Cooking Options
Let’s be honest: You don’t always have the time to cook, let alone look up for the perfect recipe and follow the instructions to the tee. To spare you the time and energy, this device comes with eight different presets which are programmed to adjust the temperature-to-cooking-time ratio automatically. These options include cooking chicken, pork, shrimps, steaks and fish, baking pizza and cake and frying chips. Yum!
- High-Tech Touch Screen
This kitchen appliance also sports a state-of-the-art touch screen which grants you access to a variety of options, from setting the timer and picking a specific cooking program to adjusting the temperature and shutting it off. When in use, the display also shows you the temperature of the chamber, allowing you to monitor the whole process more efficient.
- Built-In Alarm Function
When it comes to air frying, one of the most common issues is that some parts of the foods end up undercooked because they weren’t exposed enough to hot air. That usually occurs when you stuff the chamber with lots of food, and certain parts touch each other instead of getting in contact with the hot air.
This model eliminates this problem by featuring a built-in alarm system which reminds you every 5, 10 or 15 minutes (the choice is up to you) to shake the ingredients a bit and let all of their sides get in touch with hot air.
- Easy Clean-Up
It also comes with a removable frying basket which cuts cleaning time in half. Just detach the basket and wipe it clean with a damp cloth and (occasionally) some mild detergent. Pat it dry with a towel and it is as good as new. It’s also equipped with non-stick surfaces which keeps food from getting stuck and forming lumps of burnt residues.
- Multiple Safety Features
One of the best things about this model is that it comes with various safety features which make air frying a piece of cake even for newbies. So, to begin with, it has a cool-touch handle which allows you to move the basket around without burning. On top of that, it features a button guard which prevents the basket from detaching accidentally and spilling hot food all over you and the kitchen. According to the manufacturer, it’s also free of toxic chemicals such as PFOA which is usually part of non-stick cookware.
- Various Temperature Settings
Being the high-quality air fryer that it is, this model comes with a wide range of temperature-related options, from adjusting the temps yourself to changing them as your meal is being cooked. PS: The temperatures can go as low as 180oF and as high as 400oF. They come in 10-degree increments, providing you with lots of cooking options.
- Sleek Design
From the futuristic-looking touchscreen to its oval shape, this fryer is a synonym to finesse. It’s obvious that the manufacturer went all out to create an appliance that would satisfy not just the user’s actual but also visual needs. The best part? It comes in eight different colors to match any kitchen’s décor.
- Auto Standby Feature
Thanks to this unique feature, the fryer automatically switches to standby mode once it’s done cooking your meal. This way it prevents any overheating accidents from occurring while keeping your food from burning. After all, you can’t wait on top of the device until your food is ready, so this model takes care of that aspect for you.
- Limited Timer Options
This model has a built-in timer which can be set at 30 minutes tops. While that is enough to cook most meals, the standard timeframe for such devices is one hour. That may limit your cooking potential in some cases.
If you are on the market for a high-tech air fryer that will not throw your budget out of whack, then this model is definitely worth your attention. Priced at about 90$, this French May fryer is perhaps one of the most affordable models on the market and can still surprise you with its efficiency and high-quality feats. So, whether this is your first time investing in an air fryer or just want to replace your old model with a new (more advanced) one, here’s why this device is a worthwhile investment.
- Efficient Cooking Technology
One of the most noteworthy traits of this air fryer is its cooking efficiency. Featuring a dynamic airflow technology, it is programmed to circulate the hot air uniformly throughout the chamber and forces your foods to cook as evenly as possible. This air flow also makes your meals crispy AF in the least amount of time possible.
- Ample Capacity
With an impressive capacity of 3.7 quarts, this appliance can cook food for up to 4 people. So, whether you want to feed your medium-sized family or host a small soiree, the French May fryer has you covered.
- Touch Screen Control System
Despite its reasonable price tag, this model comes with a high-quality touchscreen control system which allows you to monitor everything that’s going on with the fryer, from the timer to the temperatures.
- Adjustable Temperature Settings
This device is programmed to cook food at very high temperatures, even up to 400oF. That means that it can cook your food quickly without stripping it off of its moisture.
- Easy to Clean
Love eating fried food but hate cleaning afterward? Then, you have one more reason to choose this model as your favorite. Equipped with a removable, dishwasher-safe frying basket and a fitting holder case, this device spares you the scraping and washing in front of the kitchen sink.
- Wide Range of Safety Features
If there’s one air fryer out there that is a synonym for safety, this is definitely it. Equipped with various features, this model guarantees a safe and burn-free experience from the get-go. Some of the most noteworthy settings include the auto shut-off feature which turns the device off automatically when it’s done cooking, the cool-touch exterior, and handles which protect you from accidentally burning, the non-slip base which prevents the basket from slipping your hands and spilling the contents all over and the ON indicator light which reminds you that the device is still on and needs to be shut down.
Who said that air fryers are only good for… well, frying? This model breaks the stereotype by allowing you to cook more than just a batch of French fries or crispy onion rings. In fact, it comes with seven different preset options which enable you to see another side of your air fryer. These preferences include cooking fish, steaks, chicken, shrimp, other types of meat, fries and chips and baking cakes.
- Not Accurate Temperature Display
The only issue with this model is that it often produces less heat than it actually should. In fact, many previous owners report that the temps inside the chamber are often 20-30oF lower than the ones appearing on the screen. Of course, that increases the overall cooking time, and it also messes with your food’s consistency, sometimes remaining mushy instead of crispy.
We know, we know; Adding yet another gadget to your kitchen appliance collection sounds a bit too much. But, if this gadget can add a delicious crisp to your meals without dunking them in copious amounts of oil and fat, then we think this trendy device is definitely worth looking into. So, if you believe that you need more faux-fried treats in your life (and not the actual greasy originals), these top 5 air fryers are a great place to start.