What is the best air fryer in 2021?
Air fryers have become all the rage recently, and for a good reason. They allow you to get a crisp, crunchy texture on foods everyone loves without having to submerge them in a vat of oil. The term air fryer is a bit misleading, though, as there isn’t any actual frying going on. Instead, these appliances are essentially mini convection ovens.
If you’re in the market for an air fryer, but are overwhelmed by options, we’ve got your back. In this article, we’ll cover what you should consider when buying an air fryer, as well as a bit about how they work. Currently, the Philips HD9741 is our favorite because of its sleek design and intuitive control panel.
What to know before you buy an air fryer
Air frying vs. deep frying
It isn’t any secret that deep frying isn’t exactly the healthiest way to cook food. In fact, according to Healthline, frying a small potato instead of baking it can triple the calories, and frying a filet of cod instead of baking it can double the calories.
Air fryers allow you to get a similar texture without the extra calories. They do this by using a fan to blow hot air over your food. Because this fan is much closer to the food than in a full-size convection oven, they cook food extremely quickly and get a crunchier texture.
Dedicated or multi-purpose appliance
When buying an air fryer, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether you want a dedicated air fryer or a countertop convection oven with air frying capabilities. The latter is more versatile since it has a larger capacity and the ability to roast, toast, bake and broil, in addition to air frying, but the former will cook food quickly and get it crunchier thanks to its small cooking chamber.
Features to consider when buying a quality air fryer
When considering the size of an air fryer, take into account both the countertop footprint and the cooking capacity. As you might expect, the larger the cooking capacity, the larger the footprint. For small households of just one or two people, a 2-quart air fryer will suffice and be easy to store in a cabinet. If cooking for a family of four, you may want to opt for something with a 4- to 6-quart capacity. You can also find large models capable of air frying an entire chicken, such as the E13- quart Elegant Life Air Fryer, and small 1-quart models ideal for personal use, like the Elite Gourmet EAF-3218.
Depending on the model, air fryers unusually require 800-2,100 watts of power. The more wattage the fryer has, the quicker it will be able to cook food. However, you need to also consider how much wattage your kitchen outlets can handle. 15-amp circuits support up to 1,800 watts, and 20-amp circuits support up to 2,400. If you choose a very powerful air fryer, you should avoid plugging any other appliances into the same outlet while it is cooking.
Air fryers are available with analog or digital controls. Models with digital controls look sleeker and tend to offer more functionality. In contrast, analog models are simple for anyone to operate since they only have one or two rotary dials for adjusting time and temperature.
The more settings an air fryer has, the more versatile it will be. Some models may have settings for roasting, reheating, baking and more, while others can only air fry. You can also find air fryers with dedicated settings for specific foods, which takes all the guesswork out of picking temperatures and cooking times.
How much can you expect to spend on an air fryer?
You can find small, budget-friendly air fryers for as little as $30, while larger, more advanced models cost around $100-$200.
Air fryer FAQs
Can I put frozen foods in an air fryer?
A. Yes. In most cases, you can cook frozen foods in an air fryer. However, they will take longer to cook than thawed items.
Should I batter foods before putting them in my air fryer?
A. No. Unlike when deep frying foods, there is nothing to set wet batters in an air fryer. This means the batter will just drip off the food while cooking. If you are trying to achieve that nice crispy crust, you can dredge the items in flour.
Is it safe to put aluminum foil inside an air fryer?
A. Air fryers don’t use microwave technology, so there is no problem if you want to put a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom to help contain messes. Just be aware, the less foil you use, the more airflow you will have.
Best air fryers 2021
Top air fryer
What you need to know: This sleek air fryer is a smart choice for most people thanks to its intuitive digital control panel and 2-pound capacity.
What you’ll love: It’s equipped with the brand’s fat-removing technology and features a convenient turbo function for preparing those rushed weekday meals.
What you should consider: The temperature adjusts in 25-degree increments, which can be too much for some delicate foods.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top air fryer for the money
What you need to know: If you are on a tight budget and looking for a standard air fryer that doesn’t take up a lot of counter space, the Tasti Crisp fits the bill.
What you’ll love: Simple rotary control dials eliminate the learning curve, and it comes in several stylish colors, including aqua and a vibrant red.
What you should consider: The number and time markings can wear off over time.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: With the ability to roast, reheat and dehydrate, in addition to air fry, the AF101 is a versatile model that will be a welcome addition to any kitchen.
What you’ll love: It offers a wide temperature range and the 4-quart capacity allows you to cook meals for a whole family.
What you should consider: There have been some reported durability issues.
Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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