Find the best air fryer for you, whether you're reheating pizza or feeding a family.
If you're a fan of convenience cooking and crispy foods, you may have found yourself perusing articles like, well, like this one, wondering if you should get yourself an air fryer (a.k.a. "the best new thing since Instant Pots").
On the one hand, they can take up sometimes precious countertop space. On the other, they're incredibly efficient at heating (or reheating), and getting foods quite crispy and delicious without a lot of oil or mess. Though they're not necessarily for everyone, many home cooks swear by their air fryers and get daily use out of them.
To figure out which air fryers are worth the investment, which features are worth seeking out, and exactly how much counter space it's worth devoting to one, the Country Living editors dug through the dozens of air fryers and air-fry-capable devices out there, and then selected seven of the most highly rated or best-selling ones, to test, and to figure out what we loved (or didn't love), to help you decide which, if any, to buy. We looked at places like our sister site Good Housekeeping, as well as the New York Times' Wirecutter and other review sites, and of course we paid attention to what's moving fast on Amazon and other appliance sales sites. Then we put each air fryer through a series of tests, seeing how long it took to get frozen French fries perfectly crispy, and how well and evenly it heated foods. And of course we tested out all the features available. (It's a hard job, but someone has to do it.) You can see what we thought below. But first, a few thoughts about air fryers in general.
If you're regularly cooking for a family of five or prefer an uncluttered kitchen free from countertop devices, an air fryer probably isn't for you. In order to heat up quickly and cook foods fast, the basket or tray sizes tend to be small, and though it takes much longer to preheat, you can cook more food all at once in the oven you probably already have. However, if you find yourself wishing you could cook a crispy thing for lunch in minutes instead of half an hour, or that your microwave had a "crispy" function, you might want to give an air fryer a try.
Air fryers, despite their name, don't do too much actual frying, but they are good for cooking foods you'd typically fry. In fact, they're great for when you're looking to cook something relatively quickly, but you want it to end up a little crunchier than it typically would in a microwave. This means that everything from leftover pizza to frozen mozzarella sticks, to cookies (yes, cookies—it's just one of our air fryer tips) cook quickly and conveniently in an air fryer basket. Additionally foods you might typically pan-sear like chicken thighs and pork chops cook quickly and end up tasting delicious when made in an air fryer. And game-night foods (chicken wings, anyone?) are better than you can make baked, cook lightning quick, and need just the barest spritz of oil.
There are two main kinds of air fryers: traditional "pod" shaped fryers, that come with baskets, and cube-style toaster ovens with an air fryer setting. Both work more or less the same. Some air fryers come with lots of bells and whistles, like a bluetooth app that lets you control the with your phone, or the ability to do things like dehydrate or even proof bread. Others are stripped down, no-nonsense machines that do what they do, and do it well. In general, we've found that the bells and whistles tend to distract from an air fryer's primary purpose. However, if there are deal-breaking features you can't live without, it's best to take note of them before buying. Below, find the seven air fryers we tested, what they can do, and what we thought.