Best Picks / Reviewed
Best-in-class: Philips XL HD9240/94 The Original Airfryer Review
If you’re looking for one of the sleekest, most modern, well-designed, feature-packed air fryers on the market, the Philips XL Airfryer is definitely your destination. Its claim to fame is “the original air fryer”, and other models definitely have trouble competing.
The Philips offers some of the greatest versatility on the air fryer scene. With just shy of 3 pounds of cooking capacity (perfect for family fry nights) and a timer that adjusts up to 60 minutes, there’s almost nothing this fryer can’t do. The temperature goes up to 390°F (198°C), too, allowing users to get just the right consistency.
This air fryer is totally touchscreen-operated, giving it both a beautiful appearance and exceptional ease of use. It’s also got something that most other fryers don’t have: a “smart pre-set” option that allows you to save the temperature and time preferences for foods you cook frequently. Who knew it was possible to find something better than built-in pre-sets? It doesn’t have stock options for things like fries or chicken, but does allow you to create pre-sets yourself to match your preferences.
Overall, the Phillips is a high-quality, incredibly versatile, and reliable product that’s packed with features, making it one of the best air fryers on the market.
- It has a huge range of temperatures and times (up to 390°F/198°C and 60 minutes of cooking).
- It can be purchased with racks, grill pans, and baking dishes to widen your cooking repertoire.
- Its parts are dishwasher safe to save time and frustration.
- It comes with a recipe book written with air fryers in mind.
- Some people may miss the pre-set cooking options that some fryers come with.
Best value: GoWISE USA GW22621 3.7-Qt Programmable Air Fryer Review
The GoWISE USA GW22621 is the perfect combination of affordability and function. It’s got just about everything you’d want for versatile cooking: you can adjust the heat and time manually for a more hands-on approach or choose a pre-programmed setting if you’re an air fryer newbie.
It is easy to use, easy to clean, and looks like the modern cooking tool of the future that it is. The light-up touchscreen design is more intuitive than on many fryers and almost makes prepping to cook fun. It’s small and takes up minimal counter space, too, which is crucial for apartment living and travel.
The parts that get dirtiest—like the pot and basket—are removeable, so the GoWise is not the headache to clean that other fryers are. Gunk also doesn’t get stuck on the non-stick coating, so wiping off residue is easy and nearly free of elbow grease.
Perhaps most importantly, it cooks consistently, evenly, and quickly, and it gives everything from chicken nuggets to onion rings that crispy outside and juicy inside that makes fried food so good.
Overall, this cost-effective, well-designed, and versatile machine is great for novices and committed cooks alike. Its wide range of must-haves and useful bonus features make it one of the highest-value air fryers around.
- You can adjust the temperature from 175°F-400°F (179°-204°C).
- It has a 30-minute cooking timer.
- Standby mode turns the heat off when the timer goes off.
- It’s just 12 pounds and quite compact.
- The non-stick coating does seem to degrade over time.
Also great: T-fal FZ7002 ActiFry Healthy AirFryer Multi-Cooker Review
The T-fal FZ7002 ActiFry is one of the most well-known air fryers on the market, and it’s easy to see why. Like the best-value fryer, it’s easy to use and provides versatile menu options.
One of its biggest boons is its 2.2-pound cooking capacity—great for a group of 2-4 people. It’s simple to set up and use, and it has a viewing screen that shows the temperature. It’s designed specifically for French fries (its claim to fame) but is perfectly capable of cooking other things, like fried chicken and vegetables.
It’s easy to clean (non-stick coating is a lifesaver) and its components are dishwasher-safe for scrubbing-free cleanup.
So why isn’t it our best-value pick? In short, it’s a much simpler machine for a significantly higher price. While its quality is undeniable, you can’t adjust the temperature, and it doesn’t have an auto shut-off feature to prevent overcooking. It’s also significantly larger, but is lighter-weight than the best-value pick, so the size may come out in the wash.
Overall, the ActiFry is a reliable, time-tested, and much-loved air fryer for basic dishes like French fries, but may feel a little lacking for those who have had a fryer before or like to customize their settings.
- The 2-pound basket is capable of cooking for 2-4 people.
- It’s quite lightweight at 11 pounds, so portability isn’t an issue.
- Its dishwasher-safe parts are a huge time-saver.
- The large recipe book will definitely expand your frying repertoire.
Budget choice: GoWISE USA GW22622 3.7-Qt Dial Control Air Fryer Review
The well-received, low-profile, high-value GoWISE USA GW22622 Electric Air Fryer is the simpler relative to our best-value pick. This sharp little fryer is simply designed but attractive enough to leave out, and it’s small enough to save on counter space or tuck away easily for storage.
Despite its simplicity, it’s ideal for cooking a variety of items, from French fries to sandwiches and chicken. While it lacks a touchscreen or a display screen, its easy-to-use knob controls allow for adjustment of temperature and time in seconds. The timer ranges from 0-30 minutes and the temperature from 175°F to 400°F (179°-204°C); it’s one of the widest temperature ranges available and lets this little air fryer cook just about anything with ease.
Like its best-value brother, it also features a standby feature that turns the heat off after 30 minutes for safe operation. Some cooks may miss the microwave-style pre-set options (for things like fish or burgers), and the lack of a touchscreen does make this model look a little dated.
However, for the price and the level of versatility if offers, this GoWISE USA GW22622 Electric Air Fryer is an amazing budget air fryer.
- Both the temperature and time are easily adjustable with the front-facing knobs.
- It’s compact and easy to store.
- The bucket is fully detachable for cleaning and serving.
- It has a ready light that tells users when the right temperature has been reached.
- It doesn’t have pre-sets or a touch-screen, but does offer the same level of versatility that those options provide in a less modern package.
2. Why buy an air fryer?
Air fryers are the perfect solution for those who want a healthy diet makeover, but can’t give up satisfying fried foods.
Air fryers help you cook home-style classics like French fries, fried chicken, fried vegetables, and other deep-fried, oil-heavy American delicacies.
Why are fried foods bad?
The occasional plate of French fries won’t hurt you. But research shows that too much fried food can lead to health problems like obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. That’s primarily because they’re cooked in oil, which is a high-fat, high-calorie addition to otherwise benign foods.
What’s different about air fryers
On average, they use about 70-80 percent less oil than a deep-fryer. They’re also impressive technological innovations: they use quick-circulating hot air to cook your fries, chicken, or other typically deep-fried food evenly on all sides.
What this means is a quick-cooking, less greasy, less oily version of your favorite foods that’s generally received as just as crispy, flavorful, and enjoyable as its deep-fried counterpart.
Air fryers also tend to cook your food quicker than an oven, stovetop, or regular deep-fryer.
They’re ideal for people who want to lose weight but don’t want to give up their favorite foods—with air fryers, you can cut out the fat without cutting out the fried foods.
Plus, they’re typically more energy-efficient than an oven, so the initial investment pays off in energy savings in the long-term.
Don’t let their name fool you—air fryers do more than fry. They can also boil, bake, broil, and even grill, but they’re far more mobile than an oven (great for camping trips or efficiency apartments in the city) and take up a lot less space.
And, finally, there are some things most people just don’t cook at home—most people don’t have a deep-fryer in their kitchen—so investing in an air fryer can save you tons of money on diner runs and fast food in the long-term, too.
Of course, not all air fryers are created equal. The right one for you will depend on its cooking capacity, wattage, extra features, and other model-specific options.
3. Cooking capacity
First and foremost, let’s talk basket size. Air fryers range in size from the very small to the family-sized. For reference, your average bag of frozen French fries is about 1 pound. Use the chart below as a general guide for finding the right fryer.
A single person
A couple or 2-person household
A family of 3-6, depending on serving size
These are general estimates. Exact serving sizes will vary depending on the type of food you plan to cook, whether you entertain, and how much you and your family eat in a sitting.
Generally speaking, if you’re certain that you’ll be the only one (or two) using it, it’s safe to save money by getting a .5-1-lb model. But, if you have a larger family or like to host dinner guests, an investment in a larger model will be more versatile.
4. Analog Air fryers vs. digital air fryers
Another important consideration is how the air fryer operates. Like watches, phones, and other modern devices, some have a touch screen, some have a screen with buttons on the side, and some use old-fashioned knobs.
All of these options are equally as effective, but it’s important to consider which is most convenient for you before settling on an air fryer.
Pros of a touch-screen or partially screen-operated air fryer
- They look more modern.
- They’re more intuitive for people accustomed to smart devices.
- They often come with more options.
Cons of a touchscreen air fryer
- They are more expensive.
- They can sacrifice looks for efficiency (but not always).
If you can’t stand knob-operated anything, a simpler air fryer won’t be satisfying for you. But if you’re on a budget, it may be just what you need.
The difference between touchscreen and analog air fryers largely comes down to preference, as the more modern touchscreen designs don’t necessarily come with more options than their simpler counterparts.
5. Consider cleanup time
Specifically, is the air fryer on your shopping list dishwasher-safe? Washing by hand will almost always save you a few dollars, but some air fryers come with dishwasher-safe parts that can save you cleanup headaches.
How easy is it to take apart?
Also keep in mind how easy it is to disassemble. Even if you’re washing by hand, parts that don’t detach from each other—especially the electronic elements—can make it nearly impossible to scrub them thoroughly.
6. Temperature matters
Just like with a regular oven, cooking something at the wrong temperature—or for the wrong amount of time—can be disastrous.
How to choose a temperature range
Luckily, most of the mid- to high-end air fryers out there have adjustable temperatures. Generally, the temperature (and time) at which you cook something in a regular oven is a good starting guide. And many air fryers will come with a temperature guide or pre-set options for certain foods.
Temperatures range from 100-400°F (38-204°C), and the more range you can get in your air fryer, the more cooking options you’ll have and the faster you’ll be able to prepare food. However, most modern air fryers go up to (or get close to) 400°F (204°C).
Things like frozen French fries and chicken nuggets fare best around 350°F (176°C), while fresh meats like chicken breasts and pork chops can be cooked at between 300 and 400°F (148 to 204°C) for the fastest results. Remember, though, that you can always cook something at a lower temperature for more time.
7. Cook time matters too
Temperature and cook time are inseparable. So, remember that with lower temperature options, you need more cook time options. Most air fryers offer timers ranging from anywhere between 15 minutes and 60 minutes.
Obviously, if you can set the time instead of monitoring it manually, that’s ideal. Some units also have pre-set options (for French fries or burgers, for example), and these can help ensure your food is thoroughly cooked too.
Volume of food affects cook time
Although it likely goes without saying, even these pre-set options are meant as guides. That means that, if you cook a lot of food at once or have a larger family, you’ll want to make sure you have longer cook times available.
8. Air fryer size and weight
Here is where storage options come into play. Cooking capacity and air fryer size are often intertwined, so those who need to cook more food at a time can reasonably expect a larger fryer.
However, sizes of air fryers can vary widely, with heights, lengths, and depths as low as five inches and as high as 40 inches or more. That’s a lot of variability, but size doesn’t have anything to do with quality. Just measure your intended storage space (or be prepared to make room for your fryer) before buying to make sure it will have a convenient place to sit.
Fryer weight can also vary widely, from as little as 10 pounds to as many as 20 or more. Go for a lighter model if strength or high-up storage is an issue.
9. Other helpful air fryer features
There are also a range of smaller features that vary widely between fryers. Some of the bonus features available on air fryers can make or break your cooking experience.
- Pre-programmed settings: These are useful for those who value convenience, and are most common on touchscreen air fryers. Some common options include cook times and heats for French fries, burgers, chicken, steak, and other popular foods.
- Adjustable heat: As mentioned earlier, adjustable heat settings allow you to prepare a variety of foods to a variety of consistencies as easily as in an oven.
- Adjustable cook time: With this feature, the machine monitors the cook time for you so you don’t have to. Available options typically range from 15-60 minutes, but you do usually still have to turn the machine off manually when the time is up.
- Pre-set timer with auto-off function: These are incredibly helpful for the busy chef. Cook times range from 15-60 minutes and, upon completion, the fryer will turn itself off.
- Buzzing timer: Much like an oven, this alerts you when your cook time is up so your food doesn’t get overdone.
- Removable basket and pan: This makes cleaning and serving much less of a hassle.
- Temperature light: This feature activates a light to let you know when your desired temperature has been reached.
- Cooking tray: These may come either separately or with the air fryer. They’re like oven or toaster trays and broaden the cooking “styles” your fryer is capable of.
- Grill pan insert: A must-have for burgers, meats, and other typically pan-fried foods, this provides an alternative to a frying pan. Make sure it has holes in it to keep the air flow in your machine even.
- Recipe book: Many air fryers come with either a leaflet or a full book of recipe ideas to get you started. They also serve as great guides for cook times and heats, even if you don’t use the recipes themselves.
10. Air fryer buying tips
Some people like to keep their appliances simple and cheap; others prefer a fully decked-out cooking experience. Use these tips to determine the essential features for a basic air fryer, the one-step-up features in a mid-range product, and the top-of-the line features necessary to classify a product as one of the best air fryers on the market.
Must-have features for a budget fryer
- Go for at least a one-pound basket capacity (enough for two servings).
- An analog air fryer (with adjustable knobs) works well and is more affordable.
- Adjustable heat settings are a must for versatile cooking.
- A pre-set timer will ensure the safety of both your food and your family.
Good-to-have features for a mid-priced fryer
- Step up to a two-pound basket for larger households.
- Look for a display screen with buttons for a more modern feel.
- Adjustable heat up to 400°F (204°C) will provide the greatest freedom.
Great-to-have features for a top-notch air fryer
- Prioritize a model that offers, or includes, a grill pan and rack.
- Invest in a 5- to 3-pound basket for serving size freedom.
- Pre-programmed settings are excellent for thought-free meals.
- Models with touchscreens are more high-end and easy to use.