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Air fryers have taken home kitchens by storm. By now, you’ve likely already heard friends and family talk about how great their air fryers are. If you have FOMO, there’s never been a better time to buy one. These small appliances are essentially countertop convection ovens on steroids. They don’t actually fry food, but the resulting meals taste similar and have a crunchy texture.
Air fryers can be used to make fresh-baked baked goods, “fried” store-bought cookies, homemade french fries, frozen chicken wings, sandwiches and roasted vegetables. They take up less space and use less energy than traditional ovens and fryers.
The top part of an air fryer contains a heating mechanism and a fan. All you have to do is put your food in its fryer-style basket, close the lid and turn it on. Hot air rapidly circulates inside once you’ve done this, cooking and crisping the food. You’ll have to set the time and temperature, of course, and may have to turn or flip the food halfway through cooking. Always clean your air fryer after every use, just like you would a cooking pan or pot.
The two main kinds of air fryers are the cylindrical basket-style and air fryer ovens. The first kind is the most popular and has a basket that may remind you of a deep fryer. Air fryer ovens are more like toaster ovens, with racks to put your food on. The baskets allow you to easily shake items when you need to flip them; ovens allow you to watch them cook.
Additionally, basket air fryers generally have less capacity. Small ones have a 2.75-quart capacity while the biggest can fit eight quarts. Ovens can often hold more; you’ll find ones that can handle 20 quarts. You can also find either type sold in different colors and finishes to match your décor.
Some air fryers have more features than others; they may even come with smart cooking functions. These will cost more than the more basic models.
Our sister site Don’t Waste Your Money has a team of experts that spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing and researching products to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. Here are their top picks for the Best Air Fryer Ovens.
The perfect introduction to air fryers, this appliance from Iconites checks all the boxes. It can roast, dehydrate and of course, air fry. This machine has a fairly small footprint, but it boasts a 20-quart capacity and 10 different presets, making it easy to prepare all of your favorites. You’ll also get 13 accessories, including rotisserie items, baskets, oven mitts and drip trays.
Want an air fryer that is straightforward to use and has a variety of pre-programmed settings? This 5.8-ounce basket air fryer, with 13 different cooking functions, is the perfect choice. The appliance also comes with a cookbook that includes 100 recipes, making it easy for you to create delicious and healthful meals in no time flat.
This fabulous 12.7-quart air fryer oven includes racks and attachments so you can easily use it as a dehydrator and a rotisserie. It’s a versatile tool to add to any home chef’s arsenal. You’re sure to love its three-rack design, which enables you to cook multiple items at once. It comes with 10 accessories, including rotisserie rods and cages plus mesh trays.
Additional Considerations for Air Fryers
When shopping, look for the measurements to see how much space different models will take up on your counter. It’s also important to consider how many people you’re cooking for. If you have more than one mouth to feed, you may need to check how much food the basket or tray can actually hold. You may also wish to consider cost and the amount of noise the air fryer makes.
Remember that, while air fryers eliminate the need for a lot of oil, you’ll still need some to allow your foods to crisp up.
Here is something else to think about: The NPD Group reports, via the New York Times, that in 2020, about 36 percent of American households had an air fryer, but sales keep going up. In the last year alone, sales of air fryers topped $1 billion, 20% more than the previous year. Why are you waiting to join the fun?