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The 6 best air fryers: Crunchy comfort food without the oil

What is the best air fryer of 2022? ZDNet's top choice is the COSORI Air Fryer. We researched and analyzed the top air fryers based on pricing as well as features like power and capacity to come up with our No. 1 pick as well as other honorable mentions.
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Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

Who doesn't love a crispy batch of french fries or chicken tenders? While most people agree that fried comfort foods can be satisfying sometimes, they're not the healthiest option due to the heavy oils involved to fry the food. Luckily, these top air fryers can serve healthier versions of some of your favorite fried foods without all the fats that can affect your heart health. This guide brings you the best air fryer based on what you're in search of.

Before diving in, it's helpful to know how air fryers work. The best air fryer eliminates the need to submerge foods in oil. Instead, it uses hot air circulation to "fry" the food. An air fryer features a chamber that heats food from a heating element close by. While the heating element cooks the food, a fan circulates the hot air produced. All the hot, circulating air has another positive effect -- foods tend to cook faster and more evenly.

Air fryers will take up counter space due to their size and design. They're electric -- you'll need to place yours near a wall outlet. Air fryers come in a variety of design styles and sizes. Some may look more like a toaster oven, while others are shaped like a pod. Some manufacturers may even offer the appliance in several colors to go with nearly any kitchen decor. We identified six of the best air fryers available now to help you on your path to eating healthier.  

Person's finger hitting a button on a black air fryer
COSORI

Power: 1.500W | Capacity: 3.7 Quart | Presets: 11 plus preheat and warm | Dimensions: 13.3" x 10.7" x 12.2" | Weight: 11lbs | Color: Black, red or white |

The Cosori air fryer is our top choice for the best air fryer due to its advanced features in a sleek, simple interface. The design won a Red Dot Award for stylish functionality in 2019. It's equipped with a tempered glass LED touch screen display for easier programming. The smooth display is also low maintenance -- there are no buttons, nooks, or crannies that collect food deposits, making it easy to wipe down and clean after use. The nonstick basket is also easy to clean and dishwasher safe.

While this review focuses on the standard air fryer, the model also comes Wi-Fi enabled, ideal when you want to program and manage the cook settings remotely, for an extra $30. The Cosori air fryer is extremely flexible, featuring 11 one-touch cooking presets or the ability to set your own time and temperature for custom recipes. Plus, it will remind you when it's time to shake your food to prevent burning. 

Pros

  • Stylish design
  • 11 presets (including pre-heat and warm) plus custom temperature and time settings
  • Shake reminder
  • The cooking function automatically shuts off when you pull out the baskets

Cons

  • Stainless finish reduces the presets to 9
A black air fryer on a white kitchen counter next to wooden spoons
Ninja

Power: 1.500W | Capacity: 4 Quart | Presets: 4 | Dimensions: 8.5" x 12.1" x 11" | Weight: 10.58lbs | Color: Black/grey |

When all you need is a simple air fryer that works, Ninja's AF101 steps up. It focuses on only four functions: roast, air fry, reheat and dehydrate. It may be a pared-down or no-frills version of an air fryer, but it does the job with little hassle. The non-stick basket, rack, and crisper plate are easy to clean up since food doesn't stick. For more stubborn stains, you could always throw them into the dishwasher safely. 

Although there are only four functions, you'll have a temperature range of 105 degrees to 400 degrees Fahrenheit to work with. The lowest setting is mostly used for the dehydrate function, which gently and slowly removes moisture from foods to create items such as fruit or vegetable crisps.

Pros

  • Dehydrate function included
  • Generous four-quart interior
  • Dishwasher-safe basket, rack, and crisper plate included
  • Simple, one-touch control panel

Cons

  • No preheat setting -- you'll need to let the appliance run for a few minutes first to warm up
  • A higher price point for fewer functions
An open air fryer with colorful vegetables in the tray
Cuisinart

Power: 1.800W | Capacity: 0.6 cubic foot interior | Presets: 7 functions | Dimensions: 15.50" x 16" x 14" | Weight: 21lbs | Color: Stainless steel, black stainless steel, black, navy or white |

Cuisinart's oven design has a professional-grade feel that could work well in nearly all kitchen designs. The black stainless steel version is the latest introduction and a popular finish that's more forgiving of fingerprints than the original stainless steel look. Cuisinart's model is the most powerful at 1,800W, making it possible to roast a chicken or cook a pizza in less time than using a traditional oven. 

The oven's capacity is generous. You could fit up to six slices of bread for toast, air fry three pounds of chicken wings at a time in the included air fry basket, roast a four-pound chicken, or bake a twelve-inch pizza. Instead of pushing a button, there are four knobs to help you adjust the thermostat, choose the cooking function you'd like, or set the timer (for up to 60 minutes). 

Pros

  • Professional-grade oven design
  • Versatile -- toast, bake, fry, and more
  • Large, flexible capacity includes a four-pound chicken for roasting, three pounds of chicken wings for air frying, six slices of bread for toasting, or a 12-pizza
  • Fashionable finishes include navy, copper, and black stainless steel

Cons

  • The dial isn't as precise, with complaints that the heat setting isn't as accurate or the timer doesn't always run for the time required
Close up of a red air fryer with drawer open and two mini pizzas in it
Amazon

Power: 1,700W | Capacity: 2 Quarts | Presets: 4 functions | Dimensions: 13.1" x 12.9" x 10.9" | Weight: 8.38lbs | Color: Aqua, black, red or white |

Most air fryers are sized to handle nearly four quarts of food or more. While this is great when you're preparing a meal for a group, it's nice to know there's an air fryer that can work efficiently in smaller batches. Instant's Vortex air fryer holds two quarts, ideal when you want to fry only half a dozen chicken wings. The compact air fryer's flat touchscreen is your control center. You can select from the four cooking functions of air fry, reheat, roast, and broil. You can also enter your own temperature, starting at 95° F and up to 400° F.

The pull-out air fryer drawer is a unique and practical design touch. You won't have to worry about handling the top of the fryer, which is where the heating element is housed and can be dangerous because of the high temperatures it produces. Instead, you pull out the lower drawer, which holds the food, to check on how the items are crisping or to serve. 

Pros

  • Compact design
  • Fast preheating
  • Handled basket slides in and out from the bottom
  • Fun colors available such as aqua and red
  • Fast preheating

Cons

  • No preheat setting
  • No accessories
Black air fryer with fruit in it and slices of fruit next to it on the counter
Amazon

Power: 1700W | Capacity: 10 liters | Presets: 17 | Dimensions: 12.2" x 11.81" x 14.56" | Weight: 14.2lbs | Color: Black |

The Chefman is the fullest-featured and largest capacity air fryer in our roundup. It features a capacitive touch control display to select from 17 preset options or set your own time and temperature. Our favorite feature may be the rotisserie, which cooks a whole chicken perfectly, thanks to the hot air flow and rotating spit.

It comes packed with accessories, including  three air flow racks so you can cook more in the air fryer, a stainless steel rotisserie spit and forks, a rotating stainless steel basket, and a removable drip tray. All the parts are dishwasher safe to make cleaning simple. 

Pros

  • The most cooking functions at 17 to choose from, including a rotisserie feature
  • Shuts off automatically
  • Includes interior lighting
  • Come with plenty of accessories to fry, bake, roast, dehydrate and more

Cons

  • Larger in size, requiring more countertop and storage space
Black air fryer on a counter with bowls behind it
Amazon

Power:1,350W | Capacity: 3.7 Quarts | Presets: 8 | Dimensions: 12" x 8" x 8" | Weight: 13lbs | Color: Black, purple, red or white |

If you'd like an air fryer that takes most of the guesswork out, the GoWISE is a good choice. You already know you need minimal oil to cook. Simply insert your food items and push a button from the presets. There are eight to choose from -- warm, french fries or chips, steak, pork, chicken, cake, shrimp, or fish. As you get more comfortable with frying, you can start developing your own recipes or trying ones from the included recipe book or that you've found online. The touchpad lets you set the time for up to 30 minutes of cooking for temperatures between 170 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  

The air fryer's 3.7-quart capacity can hold up to half a pound of french fries, onion rings, or vegetables, or up to seven chicken wings at a time. Just remember to shake the air fryer basket every five minutes to ensure even cooking. 

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Eight functions
  • Four colors available
  • Warm function

Cons

  • It gets extremely warm from behind -- allow space from the back of the air fryer and the wall

What is the best air fryer?

Based on our research and analysis, the best air fryer is the COSORI Air Fryer since it is Wi-Fi enabled and has 11 cooking presets.

Air Fryer

Price

Capacity 

Power

COSORI Air Fryer

$87.78

3.7 quarts

1.500W

Ninja AF101 Air Fryer

$99

4 quarts

1.500W

Cuisinart TOA-60 Convection Toaster Oven Air Fryer

$230

0.6 cubic foot interior

1.800W

Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Air Fryer

$50

2 quarts

1.700W

Chefman Multifunctional Digital Air Fryer+

$100

10.5 quarts

1.700W

GoWISE USA Programmable Air Fryer

$68

3.7 quarts

1.350W

Which air fryer is the right one for you?

Air frying is relatively new and has a small learning curve. You'll need to experiment to get the right combination of oil and cooking times. A basic air fryer model may be your best bet if you're just getting started. Otherwise, the versions with a dozen functions and buttons to press could leave you feeling overwhelmed. Although a simple air fryer may be the best option at first, look for one that lets you set your own heat and time. That way, you could improve your cooking skills and branch out into new recipes after you get the hang of how the appliance works.

If you'd like to reduce countertop clutter, choose a multi-purpose cooker. For example, Cuisinart's TOA-60 is a convection oven, toaster and air fryer, all in one appliance. It could save you from having several small appliances on your counters. 

The last consideration is capacity. Most air fryers have a mid-range capacity of three to four quarts. You should be able to prepare a meal for a family of four with a mid-sized capacity fryer. However, there are larger and smaller models available designed for a single person or for group entertaining.

Choose this air fryer...

If you want...

COSORI Air Fryer

The best overall option. 

Ninja AF101 Air Fryer

A starter air fryer model.

Cuisinart TOA-60 Convection Toaster Oven Air Fryer

A triple-duty air fryer. 

Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Air Fryer

A compact air fryer. 

Chefman Multifunctional Digital Air Fryer+

A large capacity air fryer.

GoWISE USA Programmable Air Fryer

A straightforward air fryer that's simple to use.

How did we choose these air fryers?

Air fryers are one of the most popular new ways of cooking. They're extremely efficient, cooking food items at high heat relatively quickly. The high demand for air fryers means there are hundreds to choose from, making it hard for anyone just starting out to choose one. We looked at customer reviews and reports of best-selling models to narrow down the field. Once we were down to a couple of dozen air fryers, we took a deeper dive by comparing features.

To make this best air fryer guide, all the models had to have high customer reviews and a competitive price. While you can find an air fryer for as little as $20 and up to the thousand-dollar range, the best air fryer models seem to cost between $50 and $150. We looked for models that provided plenty of value for the cost by choosing ones that had multiple cooking settings for versatility and included all the accessories you would need to start air frying right away.  

Lastly, low maintenance was a big part of our criteria. Cooking with high heat can be messy. Even with the reduction of oil, you could get spattering or caked-on foods. We chose models that had removable non-stick and dishwasher-safe parts to make cleaning up quick and easy. Models with touchpads or digital screens were also preferred because of how easy it is to wipe them down with a damp cloth.

Is an air fryer healthier than deep frying?

An air fryer can be a healthy option for deep frying simply because of the reduced use of oil. Air fryers typically eliminate most of the oil you'll need, with some air fryers claiming you need up to 95% less oil. Frying requires you to submerge your food in oil to cook fully. Air frying uses circulating hot air for the same effect. 

Do I need to preheat the air fryer?

For best results, it's recommended that you preheat the air fryer before you insert foods. Fortunately, the best air fryers heat up faster than a standard oven. Your air fryer should be hot enough in as little as three minutes.  

Are there alternative air fryers worth considering?

Here are a few other options to look into:

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