An air fryer is one of the best kitchen appliances a good cook can have at their disposal!
An air fryer can cook fried foods to crispy perfection with just a fraction of the oil that deep frying or even oven baking requires. From french fries and asparagus to nice juicy burgers and tender steaks, air frying makes a big difference in taste, health, and convenience!
What is an Air Fryer?
Air fryers are basically a compact convection ovens that allows air to circulate. This means quicker cooking and much less fuss.
While this appliance is trendy, it seems it is here to stay, and for good reason. In fact, the NPD estimates that a whopping 37% of homes now have air fryers!
Air Fryers can come in many forms now, from those that are compact counter top versions, to toaster oven style air fryers, and even new full sized ranges with an air fryer feature.
What Is the Best Air Fryer to Buy
The “best” will vary based on your needs, how much space you have, and your family size.
I personally use a Cosori XL 5.8QT.
The price is great and it works like a charm. It’s large enough to fit two good-sized steaks, 4 homemade burgers, or 4 smaller chicken breasts to feed a small family. I even cook a whole chicken in it.
Consumer reports have also given very high ratings to:
Find more info on choosing an air fryer and what to consider before you buy it below.
How to Cook in an Air Fryer
This is the easy part!! It’s no muss, no fuss, and cooks fast!
- Prepare the food with seasoning and a touch of oil if needed per the recipe.
- Place the food in the air fryer basket ensuring there is space for air to circulate around each piece.
- Set the time and temperature on the air fryer and let it work its magic!
How Does It Work?
Food isn’t actually “fried”, per se, but is actually cooked and crisped up by convection. The basket you put the food in has holes that allow the air to circulate all around the food.
Once turned on the air fryer heats up quickly and a convection fan blows the air all around the food.
The advantage is that food cooks more evenly and needs less oil to taste great!
Is it Healthy?
Since it requires less oil it’s definitely healthier to cook with an air fryer than to deep fry those favorite recipes! Less oil means fewer calories and less fat.
Will the food taste like deep-frying?
Not exactly, but pretty darn close! In fact, we prefer air-fried food because it still has the crisp and crunch of deep-frying without being oily or greasy.
There is going to be a difference since so much less fat is used but well-seasoned food is amazing cooked in the air fryer.
Tips for Air Frying
- Add a touch of oil You don’t need much but you do need a little bit of oil to get a nice crust on most items.
- Ensure foods are dry If washing veggies, dry the foods well (or put them in a salad spinner). Water will make the food steam instead of crisp.
- Give it Space Don’t overcrowd the food as the air needs to circulate around the air fryer.
- Shake/Flip Approximately halfway through cooking, most food items will benefit from either shaking the basket or flipping it over.
- Check it Early An air fryer cooks quicker than most other methods of cooking so check your food early.
What Can I Make with the Air Fryer?
You can make almost anything in the air fryer! Chicken breasts, cakes, muffins, boiled eggs, donuts, veggies… the possibilities are endless.
- Appetizers: Stuffed mushrooms, most frozen appetizers, jalapeno poppers, shrimp.
- Side Dishes: Almost anything from A to Z (asparagus to zucchini). Roasted vegetables or potatoes are amazing and easy.
- Main Dishes: Pork Chops, any cut of chicken with or without bones, meatballs, fish & chips, salmon, and almost any kind of meat including whole chickens and turkey breast.
- Other: Biscuits, egg muffins, grilled cheese sandwiches, and even “boiled” eggs!!
Is it Worth it?
In my personal opinion, yes! I use mine at least once or twice every single day. It heats quickly and can cook anything and everything. That being said, it depends on your own personal needs.
An air fryer costs anywhere from $80 to $250 but I find the $100 range to work just fine!
Choosing an Air Fryer
Take into consideration what size will be needed, as well as what kinds of programmable functions may be desired.
- Capacity – how much can fit in it and how many people do you need to feed?
- Presets – does it have presets that you can use (I personally never use these)?
- Cleaning – is it easy to clean, are the parts dishwasher safe?
- Size – how much counter space does it need and where will you store it?
- Price – what is your budget?
- Noise – the fan can be a bit noisy?
- Reviews – most air fryers on Amazon have quite a few reviews to help with your decision
MY TOP PICK FOR AIR FRYERS is the Cosori XL 5.8QT.
- large capacity
- fairly reasonable price
- easy to clean (dishwasher safe)
- cooks beautifully
- the screws on the basket come loose and need tightening frequently (3 family members have this one and the same issue)
- a little bit noisy
- a bit bulky on the counter (but I feel all brands are)
I have owned and tested the following, this was a few years ago and I find the newer styles to have a better price point and to cook quicker, more evenly, and crispier!
- T-Fal Actifry 2-in-1 works for things like wings and fries but is not ideal for more delicate items. This air fryer tosses the items to help ensure even cooking and it also has a tray to set on top for cooking things like burgers or chicken breasts.
- Breville Smart Oven Air This air fryer is very pricey but cooks a lot at once and can be used as a toaster oven, oven (even holds a 9×13 pan), slow cooker, and an air fryer. I don’t find it works as well as an air fryer as the Cosori above but it’s a good choice if you want an appliance that does many things at once and can feed a larger family.
- Instant Vortex Air Fryer Oven This is a different type of appliance with way more abilities. It’s good if you’d like to use the rotisserie or cook casseroles it. This version takes up more space than the other options but can be used in lots of ways.
- Instant Vortex 4 in 1 Very similar to the Cosori above. The basket is a different style as the bottom comes out (not the whole basket). It seems to cook just a little bit hotter than the other options I’ve tried.
More Great Options
You can find tons of other great Air Fryers on Amazon with great reviews. Below are suggestions based on Consumer Reports, personal experiences, and sorting through 100s of reviews.
- For a good budget air fryer: Cosori Air Fryer 5.8QT or GoWise 5.8QT.
- For a good all-around versatile air fryer, I have many personal friends who love the Ninja 4QT Air Fryer and it’s very highly reviewed on Amazon.
- For luxury air fryers: Philips Advance.
- Cooking for one? Try the Dash Compact Air Fryer.