Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy (like knife sharpeners), but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star reviews and lots of ’em) products and single out the most convincing. While we’ve written about slow cookers, toasters and toaster ovens, frying pans and skillets, cookware sets, electric griddles and indoor grills, and even microwaves, here we’re rounding up the best air fryers you can find on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)
I preheated the air fryer and my oven, prepped the birds and immediately ran into trouble. I had to cram the tiny chicken into the air fryer basket, and as soon as I closed the door, I could smell something burning. I'd clearly exceeded the height limit for this ride, and now dinner was running late. I fished the slightly singed chicken out, set it on a cutting board and—getting a little desperate since people were on the way over—did what must have looked like man-on-chicken chest compressions in an attempt to break the backbone, or at least flatten the thing out a bit before performing some innovative re-trussing. Surprisingly, it worked.
But after a few trusted colleagues raved about air fryers, I decided to reconsider. At my local home goods store, I eyed the futuristic, egg-shaped appliance with skepticism. Air fryers are basically compact convection ovens that rapidly blow lots of hot air onto food to cook it. I was intrigued but hesitant to commit due to its small capacity. I went home empty handed; I needed a little more convincing.
In terms of accessories, you get an e-book and physical cookbook with more than 40 recipes. Perhaps the biggest incentive to give this air fryer a go, is the 2 year warranty which suggests a quality build. However; we did find it hard to slide the bottom drawer or ‘container’ back in and it required multiple attempts. In fact, several online reviews have also pointed out this issue and it looks to be a design oversight from the brand.
The timer is a sore point as it only goes up to 30 minutes and it must be noted that if you pull your food out during cooking, it will continue ticking on. It’s a bit annoying at first but easily fixed if you pre-emptively set the time with this action already planned for. This is another common issue prevalent in all analog air fryers and is resolved if you opt for the digital model.
If you don’t have experience with an air fryer but are willing to give it a try, the GoWISE USA 3.7 could be the best one, to begin with. First of all, it is very easy to use thanks to the intuitive display and the 8 convenient pre-installed cooking programs. Also, it is sold with a detailed recipe book to get you started and try out the wide variety of options this wonderful kitchen appliance offers.
Ease of use. If you are a tech minded millennial, you will most likely be looking at air fryers with a digital touch screen interface. Personally, that’s always my choice, as I’m always afraid to break the control knob. On the other hand, for those of us more traditionally inclined in our gadget choices, there are air fryers with an analog interface.
This fryer is one that’s been mentioned quite a bit as the best air fryer out there, and has largely lived up to the hype. There are plenty of people who initially saw this fryer in a commercial, then decided to buy it after looking into some reviews. Even better, most of the claims in those commercials seem to be holding up! Here are some of the features:
While many of the air fryers we tested had some great features, the NuWave Brio combined the most of those features into one appliance to outshine the competition. The Brio was able to churn out batch after batch of crispy fries and chicken wings during our tests. The final results were almost perfect. There were just a few spots that were a little lighter or darker, depending on the batch, but this air fryer was impressive for its consistently crispy and evenly cooked results overall.
Buyer beware! Bought this oven from television,called number on screen. Telephone operator was polite and did her job well. When oven came shipping included of course I was surprised to find out that the insides were plastic, really we all know that is rediculous! Called for return info. NO return shipping included. It cost me 80.00 dollars to return! So would not have ordered had I known. The accessories seemed very cheap as well. Still licking my wounds on this one.
This unit is also easy to use. The controls are digital and intuitive. Its cooking compartment is on a track so the basket doesn’t have to click into place, which was a surprisingly difficult task on some of the machines. With the Airfryer XL, you just slide the compartment out on its track and lift the basket out. Most units recommend shaking the basket mid-cycle to rotate food for more even results. That process was easier on this machine than the others, because of the track.
While all three specimens were reminiscent of special treats mom would make for my sister and me when we were kids and she didn't want to cook, they were in no way as good as real French fries. If a perfect paper cone full of Belgian fries eaten on a Brussels sidewalk is a 10 and excellent fries at your favorite bar are a seven, then the oven fries were a two, the convection oven version was a two point five and the air fryer a three. With a bit of tweaking, like preheating the sheet pan for the oven version, I guessed I could bring each of those home-cooked numbers up a point, but none of the fries I'd made were terribly compelling.
Would not recommend this product. The basket is VERY hard to get in and out. Purchased one and returned it for that reason and got a new one, this one worked for a bit but started having the same problem. Then the outside part of the basket broke off, making it impossible for the unit to turn on without holding the basket in place. Have had for 9 months and the company will not replace the basket outside part and told me I would need to buy another one instead. Very very disappointing.
What is it that makes air fryers unique? The answer might be, "Nothing, really." Air fryers are convection ovens in a bucket, meaning that like a regular oven, they have a heating element and like a slightly fancier oven with a convection feature, they have a fan that circulates the hot air, keeping the temperature consistent throughout the cooking area. Thanks to faster-than-a-normal-oven heat transfer capabilities from that rapidly circulating air, convection ovens can shorten the cooking time of some foods, potentially giving them a crispier exterior that brand-conscious marketeers seem to consider to be similar to fried food.
Perfectly flaky pies from your air fryer? You bet! Store-bought piecrust is a smart shortcut; it bakes up nice and flaky in the air fryer. Naturally, fresh peaches will make the best filling, but you can use thawed frozen peaches if the fresh kind aren’t in season. Don’t toss out the leftover peach juice—simmer it down in a small saucepan until thickened for a fantastic ice cream topper.
If you’ve been fighting the temptation of fried chicken for the sake of your healthy diet, you can finally indulge guilt free. This spicy, crispy chicken emerges from the air fryer with all the flavor and crunch you’ve been craving. For the best flavor, be sure to let the chicken marinate as instructed—if you have the time, go the full 12 hours. The results are worth it.
Although it’s a little smaller in size and capacity, the Power Air Fryer XL can cook and crisp about one pound of food at once. It has digital controls with preset programs. We found it somewhat generic in appearance and the basket doesn’t glide out as smoothly as on some. But on the positive side, it cleans up in the dishwasher, comes with a recipe booklet, and won’t set you back a bundle.
There are many advantages to using an air fryer over an oven. For example, the oil is extracted and usually kept under the basket when in an air fryer. In an oven, all the simmering oil gets splattered around, and even though the food may turn out delicious, there’s a bit of a mess left afterward. Also, when deep frying food in an oven, the heat might be too harsh and can leave you with an under-cooked meal that looks nice and crispy on the outside, but raw on the inside. The hot air circulation in most air fryers is designed to evenly cook food. ( safety – our first priority)
A few months back, I went to a kitchen appliance trade show and was surprised by the large number of manufacturers coming out with air fryers. "Enjoy great tasting fried food"[sic] reads the cover recipe booklet for Philip's new Airfryer XXL, a lovely sounding idea. With their focus on faux fried flavor, an aversion to fat, and an emphasis on convenience in the marketing from almost every manufacturer, the rise of air fryers felt like the second coming of the George Foreman Grill.