If you want to learn what an air fryer is, why it may be beneficial for you to use one and how to find the best air fryer in 2021, you have come to the right place!
In this article, we will explore what this device does and how frying your food with air instead of olive or canola oil may improve your digestive health and avoid making a mess in the kitchen.
If you are already familiar with this appliance, but not sure which one to purchase, you can skip the buyer’s guide and check out the comparison table below. Need a more in-depth analysis? Check out the detailed air fryer reviews below.
Our Best Air Fryer of 2021 List
|Model||Phillips XL Air Fryer||Philips HD9641/96||T-Fal ActiFry Air Fryer||Black+Decker Air Fryer||GoWISE USA Air Fryer|
|Comment||The best air fryer on the market, but also the priciest.||The second-best air fryer on the market.||The only air fryer with a stirring pedal and see-through top.||The best air fryer if you are on a budget.||Solid cooking performance, sleek deign.|
|Capacity||2.65 lbs||1.8 lbs||2.2 lbs||2 Liters||3.4 QT|
|Weight||19lbs||15.08 lbs||10.9 lbs||12.6 lbs||12.8lb|
|Dimensions||12.4" x 16.65" x 11.89"||13.62" x 13.62" x 14.13"||11.75" x 19.1" x 15.6"||9.84" x 11.06" x 11.46"||14.5'' x 13.5'' x 13.5''|
|Accessories||None||None||Measuring Spoon||Basket Separator||None|
What Is an Air Fryer?
An air fryer is an improvement of an already existing kitchen appliance – the deep fryer. While a home deep fryer may require 1-4 quarts of oil or more to cook a meal (may need up to 5 gallons of oil to deep fat fry a turkey, for example), frying with hot air requires no or very little oil.
The appliance looks like a large rice cooker fitted with a detachable tray where the ingredients are to be placed. Some models come with an inbuilt food agitator which churns the ingredients while cooking (check product details before making a purchase). Air fryers circulate hot air around the food (200 °C / 400 °F) at high speed to cook food such as potato chips, chicken wings, fish fillet, etc., and produce a crispy layer around it.
Obviously, this makes it a cleaner and healthier cooking alternative, compared to deep frying or other traditional cooking methods. This is especially beneficial if you are on a low-fat diet. Does the air fried food taste the same as deep fried? If you ask me, I’d have to say no. But the food still tastes great and you may use 80 percent less oil using air fryer vs other cooking methods.
The only cons to using an air fryer vs other conventional frying appliances are that they are not very compact in size and you can’t cook enough food for a large family – have to cook in batches.
How Does an Air Fryer Work?
As stated above, an air fryer is a kitchen appliance that uses hot air circulation to cook food placed in the removable tray. The device’s oversized cooking chamber can heat air up to 400 °F, allowing you to prepare a variety of foods using it. Heated air is then passed through the food by to the exhaust fan located above the cooking chamber. This way heat is evenly spread around the food. Temperature can be adjusted manually or automatically if you are using preset programs.
The exhaust system also regulates temperature increases created by internal pressure by emitting extra air if needed. Before being released into the environment, the extra air goes through a filter which removes odors. Once your food is ready, the internal heating elements are cooled down with fresh air passed through these filters by the built-in cooling system.
Benefits of Using an Air Fryer – Why Should You Buy One?
No oil required. No oil or a very small amount of oil (usually a tablespoonful) needs to be added when cooking in an air fryer. Considering the fact that obesity is now a leading cause of death in the US, avoiding saturated fats and heavily fried foods may be a good idea. Hence using an air fryer instead of deep oil fryer is a good place to start.
Easy to use. Air fryers have a very simple functionality and you may only need to press 2-3 buttons to start cooking. Some devices come with preset programs, so if you aren’t sure of the temperature or cooking time required, just press the button for the dish you are cooking just like when using a microwave (press French fries button when making fries, etc.).
Fast and convenient. Most air fryers are compact and take up little space on the kitchen counter. Cooking usually takes 10-20 minutes. Your device will turn off automatically when the food is cooked.
Safe to use. The closed cooking environment of an air fryer ensures a splatter-free cooking experience and eliminates the risk of getting burnt by hot oil or air. Most devices shut down automatically when cooking is completed.
Easy to clean. Deep fryers cook food slightly faster. But, unlike the deep fryer, an air fryer doesn’t have a large basket with oil that you need to filter and store. So, cleaning and maintenance of the machine becomes much easier and save you a lot of time. All removable parts of the device and dishwasher safe.
Air Fryer Buyer’s Guide
Almost certainly, if you’ve read this far into the article, you can’t wait to start making some fries. But what factors should you consider before purchasing an air fryer?
Capacity. When choosing the best air fryer, it is important to consider its capacity. Are you cooking for yourself only or do you have a family of five to feed? Overloading an air fryer can lead to your food not being cooked thoroughly. This may turn hazardous since undercooked food is known to be a bacteria-friendly environment.
Size. If you are single and live in a tiny minimalist apartment in Manhattan, you may not want to purchase a large air fryer unit that’s too bulky to fit in the storage closet. On the other hand, a larger unit will have a larger food capacity. Thus, instead of cooking only one food ingredient at a time, you can cook 2 or more ingredients simultaneously and save time.
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.
Accessories. Some air fryers come with common accessories that may help expand your cooking repertoire: a grill pan, double layer rack, fry cage, steak cage and others. When you get tired of French fries, other dishes you might consider making are grill pork chops, steak, muffins, roasted chicken wings, etc.
Price. Our reviews always strive to include items that balance quality, functionality and price. If you are shopping on a budget, on this site you will undoubtedly be able to find an air fryer model that not only has all the latest and greatest functionality, but is also priced very reasonably.
Best Air Fryers of 2021
Philips Air Fryer – Best Quality Air Fryer
In our opinion, Philips is the best air fryer brand money can buy. This opinion is backed by its superior sales track record with over 7 million units sold worldwide. It comes in the 2 latest versions, each catering to a different customer: HD9641/96 and Philips XL.
The very latest version HD9641/96 is 50% smaller than the original Philips XL Airfryer HD9240/94 model, and offers 1.8lb cooking capacity (1 bag of French fries). It is light, compact, and cooks more quickly, which should serve you perfectly whether cooking for a single person or a small family up to 4 people. The unit is equipped with the new quick control dial and a function to keep your food warm for up to 30 minutes after cooking.
The Philips XL Airfryer HD9240/94 model comes with a large 2.65lb cooking capacity (two bags of French fries or 3 pounds of chicken) and is more suitable for larger families. This unit uses a tablespoon of oil or even less to fry, grill, roast or bake your food at up to 390 degrees if necessary. The air fryer is equipped with a 60-minute timer with ready signal and auto shut-off, so you don’t have to sit and wait for your food to be ready. The name Philips XL also indicates that it will require additional space on the counter.
Both models don’t have a separator, which means that if you’d like to cook 2 dishes at the same time, you will either need to cook them together or cook in separate batches.
Both versions produce heat instantly when turned on, and make tasty crispy fries with up to 75% less fat.
In both versions however, the Double Layer Rack is not included, and must be purchased separately.
T-fal Actifry Air Fryer – Automatically Stirs the Food
Unlike many other air fryers on the market, this unit solves one big issue: flipping the food over. The inbuilt paddle stirs the food, preventing it from sticking together and making sure the it is cooked evenly. There are some disadvantages to the stirring paddle as well, since cooking delicate foods like fish fries or sweet potatoes may be problematic.
The unit has a 2.2lbs capacity ceramic pan and heats up to 338 degrees. There is no temperature control, so you will need to cook some foods longer and shorten cooking time for others. To ease this task T-fal What I really love about T-fal Actifry is the see-through steam-free lid, which lets you see the food while it is being cooked.
The pan and internal components of T-fal Actifry are dishwasher safe, which means you won’t ever need to scrub the dirt off by hand.
BLACK+DECKER AirFryer – Best Cheap Air Fryer
Unit capacity is up to 2 Liters (about 8 cups). The device comes with a basket divider, which allows to cook two different foods at once. The modest analog interface is nothing fancy, but it works. There are two indicator lights. One shows when the unit is ON/OFF, the other is a preheat indicator.
Cooks with a heating element and a powerful dual fan convection system, which circulates air around food. Temperature setting ranges between 175 and 400 degrees.
The device may seem unassuming at first glance. However, it does a great job with a large variety of foods. And considering its price of under $90, you can’t go wrong with this one! It’s the best air fryer if you are looking to save some money. Check out the vide comparing the pricier Philips XL airfryer to the Black+Decker.
GoWISE 4th Generation Electric Air Fryer
This sleek 4th generation Air Fryer made by GoWise USA features a user-friendly digital touchscreen interface with 7 built in presets allowing you to easily cook steak, fish, meat, shrimp, chips, chicken and bake cake. Temperature and cooking time can be manually adjusted as well. The unit is equipped with a 30-minute timer, which is adequate for most uses, however we’d prefer it to be a standard 1-hour timer like the ones offered in other brands and models.
The unit capacity of 3.2 liters (around 3.4 QT) is on the small side and is more targeted towards singles and small families. When cooking is complete the device will go into automatic standby mode. Just like with other air fryers on the list, this unit comes with a removable tray and detachable basket, both dishwasher safe and easy to clean.
Air Fryer FAQs
Is an air fryer healthy? Yes, because it lets you reduce a massive amount of fat and calories, by cooking with up to 80% less oil.
How much does an air fryer cost? The air fryers used in this review range between $85 and $300, depending on size, capacity and functionality.
What can you cook in an air fryer? I think a more appropriate question should be what foods can’t you cook in an air fryer? Any food that can be cooked in a deep fryer, gas oven, grilled, or even baked can be cooked in an air fryer.
What oil can be used in an air fryer? You can use any oil ranging from regular sunflower, canola, vegetable and olive oils to the finer grape seed, coconut and avocado oils.
Is Philips air fryer worth buying? In our humble opinion, Philips XL is the best air fryer manufactured till this day, as well as the largest. It is also the priciest, however most owners agree that quality and reliability of the Philips air fryer well worth the money.
Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer Cons. One the negative things we’ve noticed about air frying your food vs deep frying it, is that it takes longer to prepare a meal. Besides, the constant flow of heated dry air dehydrates (at least the surface) food and there is some dryness present. But most proponents of healthy eating consider this to be a minor issue.