Been wanting to get in on the latest small kitchen appliance craze but a little overwhelmed by the choice? No worries, we’ve got a detailed list of all the factors to look for when buying an air fryer.
With so much of your kitchen counter real estate already spoken for, it makes sense to give some in-depth thought to what you want to add to it. But trust me, an air fryer deserves some prime real estate. I’ve been covering appliances online for the last seven years, and I know that some small kitchen appliances end up gathering dust.
Did you know that in 2020, Americans spent $68 billion on household appliances? I wonder how many of them regretted their purchase. So with that in mind, we’re here to provide you with all the information you need so that you can make a purchase you will not regret.
Types of Air Fryers
There are several different types of air fryers, and that’s a good thing. It gives you lots of choice.
Basket Air Fryers
This is the most popular type of air fryer but not necessarily the best type for your needs. They look something like a traditional deep fryer.
They’ll help one or two removable baskets with the drawer-style mechanism so that they slide in and out for easy access.
Oven Style Air Fryers
This type of air fryer is designed to look like a more traditional countertop oven or toaster oven. They have a bigger cooking capacity when compared to single basket style air fryers and often feature multiple racks or shelves for cooking different foods simultaneously.
Multipurpose Air Fryers
These air fryers combine several cooking methods into one appliance — for example, you may be able to grill, broil, dehydrate, sautéed, and more. Unlike basket style air fryers, this type has a lid that opens upward.
Paddle Air Fryers
These are nowhere near as common as the types mentioned above. As the name suggests, they have a paddle that’s used to stir the contents of the fryer basket — meaning you don’t have to pause cooking halfway through to shake or stir your food.
Air Fryer Buying Considerations
I mentioned above the basket style air fryers are the most popular, but that popularity doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for your household. So instead of bowing to peer pressure, take into consideration the following points before making a purchase decision.
Air fryers are available in various sizes and capacities to accommodate different cooking needs and household sizes. Obviously, a family of five or six will have different needs than a person living alone or a couple.
It’s important to note that the capacities listed below are general guidelines and that capacity can vary between brands and models. Before purchasing your air fryer, consider your cooking needs, the number of people that you typically cook for, and the amount of counter space you have available.
Small Air Fryers
Small air fryers will typically have a capacity of about 1.2 to 2.5 quarts (1.1 To 2.4 liters) and would be a great option for a single or a couple who have unlimited counter space or only ever prepare small portions of food at a time.
In general, they can accommodate about 1 to 2 servings at a time. So even if you are single, if you like to freezer cook or do another form of meal prep, a small unit may not be the best option for you.
Midsized Air Fryers
Air fryers in this size range will typically have a capacity between 3 to 5 quarts (2.8 to 4.7 liters), making them a better choice for a household it needs to cook larger quantities of food.
If you can predict that you’ll generally only cook between 2 and 4 servings at a time, a midsized air fryer may be the right choice for you.
Large Air Fryers
If you have a larger household or do a lot of advanced meal prep, consider an air fryer with a capacity of 6 to 10 quarts (5.7 to 9.5 liters). An air fryer this size should be able to cook 4 to 8 servings in a single batch and accommodate larger food items like whole chickens or roasts.
|Size/ Suitable For||Capacity|
|Small / Single person||1.2 to 2.5 quarts (1.1 To 2.4 liters)|
|Midsize / Single or Couple||3 to 5 quarts (2.8 to 4.7 liters)|
|Large / Larger family||6 to 10 quarts (5.7 to 9.5 liters).|
As a point of comparison, full-size electric ovens typically use between 2,000 and 5,000 watts of power depending on temperature settings. At the highest temperature and size, an air fryer won’t use anywhere near that amount of electricity.
The information below is simply provided as a guideline, so if you want to know the exact specifications and energy ratings of a specific make and model, you’ll need to research that before making a purchase.
Power consumption will also vary based on your cooking settings and the length of time you use the air fryer.
Small Air Fryers
Small air fryers will range from about 800 to 1,200 watts. Compared to large air fryers, they’ll consume less power, but since they don’t cook as much food, you may end up using it for longer periods of time, as you have to cook in smaller batches. Which will end up using more energy.
Midsized Air Fryers
Midsized air fryers usually have a power range of about 1,200 to 1,800 watts. They can handle larger quantities of food than the smaller models but still operate within a reasonable power range.
Large Air Fryers
Larger fryers will fall into a range of about 1,800 to 2,200 watts of power. They are designed with bigger families in mind and can accommodate larger quantities of food, so they require higher power consumption to operate effectively.
|Small||800 to 1,200 watts|
|Midsize||1,200 to 1,800 watts|
|Large||1,800 to 2,200 watts|
Price can vary considerably depending on the brand, size, features, and overall quality of the air fryer you’re looking at.
Here’s a general breakdown of the price ranges you can expect to find for different types and sizes of air fryers. However, if you have specifics in mind, please research pricing on the model you’re looking for, as prices can fluctuate throughout the year and sometimes even by region.
Small Air Fryers
In this range of be able to find air fryers in a price range of around $50 to $100, making them affordable and economical. However, you want to be careful in this price range because it can also indicate a low-quality appliance.
If the capacity of a small air fryer suits your needs, it might be better to stick to the higher end of the price range at $100, and verify that you’re purchasing a well-known, quality brand.
Midsized Air Fryers
Once you move up to the midsize air fryer, you’ll typically find more options, presets, and features, and with that, a higher price point.
You can expect to spend anywhere from $80 to $150 in this price range. However, as mentioned above, it’s still a good idea to buy a quality, well-known brand.
Large Air Fryers
Larger air fryers can come with all the bells and whistles — whether they’re the basket style, multi-use style, or oven style. These are great if you frequently entertain or have a large family, and their advanced features and accessories push up the price to a range of $150 to $300.
|Small||$50 to $100|
|Midsize||$80 to $250|
|Large||$150 to $300|
Ease of Cleaning
Love cooking but hate the cleanup?
Look for an air fryer that has dishwasher friendly parts — typically the pan, basket, or frying inserts. You just need to be careful when you’re loading them in the dishwasher — make sure to position them so that any nonstick surfaces don’t get scratched or damaged.
Ease Of Use
Some of the more expensive, multi-use air fryers have a lot of different options and controls. If you’re intimidated by control panels with lots of buttons and options, be sure to look for something that has intuitive controls and offers a user-friendly experience.
When purchasing any type of appliance, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the warranty — particularly the length of the warranty.
Here are a few examples:
- Ninja: 1 year
- Phillips: 1 year
- Cosori: 2 years
- Instant Pot: 1 year
In many cases, the premium features will be found on large, premium models, so keep that in mind.
- Preset Cooking Programs. Many air fryers offer preset cooking programs for specific types of food, such as fries—frozen or homemade–chicken, fish, or even baked goods. These programs can simplify the cooking process by automatically adjusting the temperature and cooking time.
- Adjustable Cooking Methods. Some air fryers provide adjustable cooking settings, including options for grilling, roasting, baking, or even dehydrating. This means you’re able to cook a diverse range of foods.
- Dishwasher-Safe Parts. If you’re looking for something that offers easier cleanup, consider an air fryer that has dishwasher safe parts.
- Preheating Function. An often-asked question is should you preheat your air fryer. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer to that, and that could be because they heat up pretty fast anyway. Regardless, some makes and models do offer a preheat feature, meaning you can take the guesswork out of your cooking times.
- Keep Warm Function. This is especially nice if you have a dual basket air fryer that doesn’t have a Smart Cook feature. It keeps your food warm for a certain period after the cooking process is complete.
- Smart Cook. If you’re cooking two different foods using two different methods—air frying and roasting for example—the Smart Cook option will hold the start time on one basket until it matches the time on the other. This way, all your food is ready at the same time.
Choosing Your Air Fryer
All in all, choosing the right air fryer for your household shouldn’t be too difficult. Your biggest considerations will probably be capacity and price. However, it’s still a good idea to go through each of the key points above.
For example, maybe you live somewhere where you can’t have a barbeque. If so, having a unit that could double as a grill might be the perfect choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are three disadvantages of using an air fryer?
If you don’t have storage space, they’ll take up counter space. Many of them have a short power cord. Even the largest model might be too small for a large family.
What can’t be cooked in an air fryer?
Battered foods like onion rings, fresh greens, and hamburgers.
Can you put foil in an air fryer.
Yes. Your air fryer is essentially a convection oven, so foil is perfectly safe.