We’ve spent 40 hours researching air fryers, including 20 hours in our laboratory’s kitchen cooking up multiple batches of chicken wings and fries. Air fryers won’t replace the taste of deep-fat-fried food – that became evident in our tests. But air fryers still make good-tasting food. All of the ones we tried prepared foods fast and with very little oil, but the one that stood out for convenience and consistent results was the NuWave Brio. The Brio churned out multiple batches of chicken and fries that were cooked to the same level of crispy deliciousness from one side of the basket to the other. It was also remarkably easy to use.
- This fryer offered consistently crispy results during our testing.
- The built-in cord wrap keeps things safe and uncluttered on your counters.
- This one stays cool to the touch on the outside.
- It’s difficult to clean. We had to soak it before cleaning.
- This one is noisy compared to the others.
- It has a small frying capacity compared
- The budget-friendly price is nice
- This is one of the easier ones to clean.
- The designer color options are a fun way to get an air fryer that fits into your décor.
- There were some overcooked spots in some batches of chicken
- An integrated cord wrap would add convenience to this model.
- It has a somewhat small capacity.
- The results were very consistent and crispy.
- The controls are easy to understand and use.
- The outside stays cool to the touch while cooking.
- The Phillips XL is among the worst ones to clean.
- It creates a lot of smoke as it cooks.
- You lose a fair amount of counter space to this one.
Why Trust Us
We began our research by reading reviews – lots of them. We read opinions from professional review sites and lots of user reviews to identify 10 well-regarded models that we could test. We also talked to people who use air fryers about the most important features and aspects. Utah mom Annjanae Redford uses her air fryer all the time.
“I love that I can cook convenience foods in it and have them come out crispy. My food isn’t soggy like when I microwave it,” wrote Redford in an email. “It’s also really great for cooking uncooked frozen foods quickly such as homemade freezer fries and taquitos.”
We also contacted Isabel Maples, MEd, RDN, who is a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to talk about potential nutritional benefits of using one of these machines. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics does not endorse any products, but Maples did indicate there can be nutritional benefits to using these machines.”Little or no oil is used, depending on what’s being cooked. In general, hot air dryers use about three-quarters less oil. The biggest health benefit is the calorie reduction,” according to Maples. “Enjoying food with fewer calories is important, since two out of three Americans are overweight or obese.”
How We Tested
Since these machines are marketed as a replacement for deep fryers, we wanted to test some foods that are often deep fried. We made multiple batches of french fries and chicken wings, judging the finished foods for their crispness.
These machines generated quite a bit of smoke in our testing, even though they use very little oil. Firing up your oven vent might be helpful to keep the smoke at bay.
The air fryers we tested generally made good on their claims – they produced crispy finished foods with much less oil than deep frying, even if it does not taste too much like your deep-fried favorites. For the record, a good convection oven – even a small countertop one – can also do that. It is worth considering whether that might suit your needs better, especially since convection ovens generally have a larger capacity and don’t take up much more counter space than an air fryer. Air fryers might work just fine if you have a small household, though, and they are easy to use. If you decide an air fryer is right for you, consider these factors as you hunt down the best one for you:
Consider how crispy the air fryer makes your food. Our testing and the thousands of user reviews online should give you a good idea of potential performance from each unit. The capacity of the machine in question also is important, especially if you have a big family. Many of these air fryers make a small amount in each batch. For appetizers and side dishes, like fries, it will be great, but if you need a lot of a main dish, you may want to look into getting a convection oven.
When thinking about how an air fryer will fit into your routine, consider cleaning. Most of them have baskets that go right into the dishwasher, but if you prefer to clean in the sink, look for ones with non-stick coating. Units without non-stick coating were much harder to clean in our testing, even after soaking.
Most of these cookers will turn themselves off if you forget about them, but double check for that feature. Some of them become hot on the outside during cooking, and that can be a problem, especially if you have kids.
These machines are not terribly expensive, but it’s still nice to know you are covered if something goes wrong. Look for long warranties and companies that are easy to contact if you have questions.