There are many things to consider on how to choose an air fryer. There are countless brands and types of air fryers so it is easy to get confused. Especially if this is your first air fryer it is nearly impossible to make an educated decision solely comparing 2 air fryers.
Air fryers have become a huge market. According to Yahoo over 25 million air fryers were sold in 2020 and 2021 combined (Source). No wonder there is such a surplus of air fryer types, brands and models.
But luckily for you I am going to help you to assess your needs and make the perfect choice, even if you are an air fryer beginner.
Based on your budget, the number of people in your family, the size of your kitchen, and the type of foods you are planning to cook you can make an educated decision on which air fryer is best for you.
So let’s see the criteria on how to choose an air fryer.
- Types of air fryer
- Air fryer sizes
- Price range of air fryers
- Funcionality of air fryers
- Temperature range
- What can you cook in air fryers
- Where to find recipes for air fryers
- Average cooking times
- Why you should buy one
- Most reputable brands
- Air fryer accessories
How to choose an air fryer based on its type
Since it is such a big market there are always new innovations coming that offer even more flexibility in cooking delicious recipes with an air fryer. All types of air fryers have advantages and disadvantages that I’m going to include in these sections.
Basket type air fryer (regular air fryer)
Basket type air fryers are the most common air fryers. They have a removable basket where you can add your food. On the top of the air fryer is the heating and ventilation unit.
- Usually the cheapest air fryer type
- Can cook a lot of food very very fast
- Preheats in 3-5 minutes
- Easy to clean (usually the basket is dishwasher safe)
- Small compared to other types of air fryers
- Certain foods can be hard to cook with it (like pizza).
- Capacity for certain foods can be small (like dehydrating)
Our top pick: Cosori XL Smart Air Fryer
Why? It is a Wifi Smart Air Fryer integrated with your phone. Also comes with a recipe app with 800+ recipes.
Air fryer ovens
An air fryer oven resembles the traditional oven a lot. It is basically a mini convection oven with an air fryer function. It preheats a lot faster than a simple oven and because of the air fryer function it cooks your food faster also. I think the air fryer oven has the widest range of foods that can be cooked. There are different types of racks you can use and some models even have a rotisserie function that allows you to grill a whole chicken with its rotating function.
Also it has the biggest capacity (between 10-30 quarts – read air fryer sizes below what this means). This means that you can use different racks to cook a big amount of food and you can also place a big bowl in it if needed.
Obviously this comes at price (both literally and figuratively). They are more expensive than regular air fryers and they need a lot of counter space.
- Lot of functions
- Can cook a lot of food
- Faster and more effective than a traditional oven
- Higher temperature range than regular air fryers
- More expensive
- Needs a lot of space
Our top pick: Ninja SP101 Air Fryer Oven
Why? We love the flip technology that saves space. It can cook a 13” Pizza. Has a stainless steel design.
Air fryer indoor grill combo
As the name suggests it is both an air fryer and a grilling station. If there is a bad weather or you don’t have a garden these appliances can give you the perfect hamburger.
It comes with a grilling grate and an air fryer basket usually. You can grill and air fry at the same time to have a perfect result.
Most models close very well and thus won’t put your whole kitchen under food smell and smoke.
These air fryers heat up to the highest degree. Usually they are quite expensive but there are pretty good deals out there often.
- Perfect indoor grilling experience
- High temperature range
- Smoke-free grilling (with most models)
- Air fryer basket can be small compared to the size of the device
- Higher price
Top pick: Cosori Air Fryer Grill Combo
Why? Wifi Smart air fryer grill combo that can be synced with your phone and a lot of recipes in its app.
Air fryer microwave combo
If you don’t have enough space and can’t live without a microwave than a microwave air fryer combo is a great choice. They look like a regular microwave but you can use it as an air fryer only appliance too.
The main downside that they are quite expensive. Also their capacity is relatively low for that price.
- Can microwave and air fry
- Expensive compared to its capacity
Check our top picks: Panasonic HomeChef 4-in-1 Microwave Oven with Air Fryer
Why? It can be built into the cabinet. Has a great stainless steel design. Comes with 20 presets.
Dual basket air fryer
This is the newest trend on the market. A dual basket air fryer is basically an air fryer with 2 distinct baskets. Each of them have a separate heating unit. You can set a different timer and temperature for each of these baskets.
Usually it comes with a sync button where you can sync together the 2 baskets so the food will be ready at the same time. Their size varies but usually between 6-10 quarts so they are quite big. So if you buy an 8 quart dual basket air fryer it means it comes with 2 separate 4 quart baskets.
Why we really like dual basket air fryers is that you can create a main and side dish at the same time (e.g. chicken drum sticks and french fries).
- Make a complete dinner in one go (main and side dish)
- You can sync the baskets so they are ready at the same time
- It needs a lot of space
- Higher price than single basket air fryers
Why? Very cool design, competitive price, it can be used as one basket by taking out the divider.
Related article: Best Dual Basket Air Fryers
Air fryer pressure cooker
An air fryer pressure cooker is also called a multi-cooker. These are appliances that are basically a pressure cooker but also comes with an air fryer lid so it can be turned into an air fryer.
- An all-in-one appliance that offers you endless possibilities
- Great if you want to make one-pot meals but also crispy air fryed foods
- Harder to clean
- If you pressure cook you cannot check until the timer is finished
How to choose an air fryer based on size
Air fryers come in many sizes. Depending on what type of air fryer you get the size range can vary greatly. Air fryer capacity is usually measured in quarts (in short QT) but be aware because some products are
For basket type air fryers usually the low-end is around 2 quarts, but we have seen tiny air fryers with a 1 quart capacity.
Basket type air fryers range from 1 quarts to 10 quarts.
A small sized air fryer is anything less than 3 quarts.
A medium sized air fryer is between 3-6 quarts.
A large air fryer in my opinion is anything that is bigger than 6 quarts.
I have created a table to see how much food can each air fryer sizes hold. I used a very handy online food weight to volume converter (Source). I also deducted the result by 25% because usually you can’t fill a 100% of the air fryer basket.
|Air fryer size||Cooks for||French fries||Chicken breast||Cauliflower|
|1 QT||1 person||0,38 pounds||0,90 pounds||0,75 pounds|
|2 QT||2 people||0,75 pounds||1,80 pounds||1,50 pounds|
|4 QT||3-4 people||1,50 pounds||3,60 pounds||3,00 pounds|
|6 QT||4-5 people||2,25 pounds||5,40 pounds||4,50 pounds|
|8 QT||5+ people||3,00 pounds||7,20 pounds||6,00 pounds|
Please note that these are just reference numbers. Most of the times you can’t fill an air fryer basket to the maximum and it also doesn’t take into account the space between foods. Some foods also can’t be stacked one another so you can only cook with 1 layer.
Air fryer sizes of other air fryer types
Air fryer ovens have a bigger capacity. They start around 10 quarts and can go up to 30 quart. But this big capacity can be a bit deceiving at times because with air fryer ovens you usually cook with racks and certain recipes doesn’t let you to use multiple racks and therefore can’t use the complete cooking area of air fryer ovens. Whereas with basket type air fryers you can just fill up the basket and you can use most of the available quarts of the appliance.
Air fryer and indoor grill combos are around 6-10 quarts but that’s if you use it with the grilling grate. Most of them will have a smaller air fryer basket. For example the Cosori Indoor Grill and Smart Air Fryer has a 6QT cooking pot with a grilling grate but only a 4QT air fryer basket.
So when it comes to air fryer indoor grill combos this is something that you have to take into consideration.
Dual basket air fryers are around 8-10 quarts so that means each basket is around 4-5 quarts. When it comes to dual basket air fryers the main thing you have to consider is that if you want to use it for different foods simultaneously then it’s like you have 2 pieces of 4-5 quarts air fryers but if you put the same food in it you have a big 8-10 QT air fryer. So for a main and a side dish a dual basket air fryer will be enough for around a 4-5 people.
How to choose an air fryer based on price
Prices can vary greatly when it comes to air fryers and it depends usually on what it always depends on when it comes to kitchen appliances: size, type, functions and the brand name.
The cheapest air fryers are below $50, like a Crux 3QT. Usually small air fryers that have a manual interface and no presets or accessories can be bought around $50 or less.
If you go for bigger basket type air fryers with presets and other functions you can get the best selling ones around $100-$120, like the Cosori Smart XL.
If you go for air fryer ovens, they typically start from $140 (look for the Chefman brand) and can go beyond $250. Air fryer grills have a very similar price range to air fryer ovens.
How to choose an air fryer based on funcionality
This is a very important part when it comes to air fryers. Since air fryers have become so popular manufacturers always come up with something new. Some of these innovations are very handy but some of them doesn’t make a big difference. Let’s see what the main functions are.
Presets – Presets are predetermined settings of the temperature and cooking time that are built into the air fryer. They are either defined as a cooking time (like bake, reheat, dehydrate) or defined by the type of food you are cooking (fries, fish, chicken, vegetables).
Sometimes these settings are on point but sometimes they can be a little off and needs more frying but it can be a big help especially for beginners.
Auto shut-off – This a safety feature that most air fryers have so you won’t burn down your whole kitchen if you forgot about it. Usually it has a 30 or 60 minutes auto shut-off feature.
Shake alert – Sometimes foods need a shake at the half time of their cooking so your food will be cooked evenly. Certain air fryers will beep or send a message to your smartphone that the basket needs a shake.
Syncing – This one is for dual basket air fryers that can sync the 2 baskets together so they will be ready at the same time.
Dishwasher safe – The removable parts of air fryers are usually dishwasher safe.
PFOA free – This one’s is very important. The air fryer cooking area’s non-stick coating has to be PFOA free. It is a substance that haven’t been in use in recent years because of its bad effect on the health so keep an eye on this one.
Preheat – Most air fryer will preheat before the timer begins to count down. It usually needs around 3-5 minutes of preheat but some foods doesn’t need a preheated air fryer. Take a look at our article on how to preheat an air fryer for more information.
Smart WiFi – Some air fryers are enabled with WiFi and can be connected to your smartphone. It will give shake alerts and also notifies you when your food is ready.
Most basic air fryers usually heat up to 400 degrees and their lowest temperature is around 175-200 degrees. The highest temperature air fryers heat up to 450 degrees but there are also some that heat up to 510 degrees. Usually the more expensive, bigger or non-traditional air fryers have a higher temperature range. For example many air fryer ovens or air fryer grill combos can heat up to 450-500 degrees. The highest temperature range I have seen have a 510 degree maximum temperature.
To be honest it is not a huge disadvantage if your air fryer only heats up to 400 degree because it is still a lot. It will take a little bit more time but the risk of burning your food is also lower. So if you want to spare more time and you are a seasoned air fryer user then you should definitely go for a higher temperature range but an air fryer with a maximum temperature of 400 degrees will still be very time efficient.
How to choose an air fryer based on what you’ll cook in them
Basically everything that can be cooked in an oven can be cooked in an air fryer too. The possibilities are endless. There are some dishes that are easier to cook in certain type of air fryers.
If you are cooking mostly poultry a basic basket type air fryer will do the job. Unless you want to make a rotisserie chicken, because in that case you should look for an air fryer oven with rotisserie function.
Hamburgers and steaks can be both done in basket type air fryers and air fryers oven. They will make a pretty good job but if you want the outer layers grilled then an air fryer grill combo is the way to go
Fries and Vegetables
Fries and vegetables are the most basic foods that can be prepared with air fryers and therefore all types of air fryers will do the job perfectly in my opinion
Yes you can bake all types of food with an air fryer. Bread, bagels, cookies, cakes…you name it. You can do it with a regular air fryer but it has some disadvantage over baking in air fryer ovens. Since you can’t stack (for example the cookies on top of each other) your capacity will be limited. Also it is harder to get the baked products out of the air fryer basket but with good accessories (see below) this problem is solved.
It is possible to make pizza with a basket type air fryer (especially a pizza bagel e.g.) but make sure you use parchment paper. If you want to make a regular sized pizza and want to make your life easier it is better if you buy an air fryer oven for making pizzas.
Related Article: Best Air Fryer For Making Pizza – Top 6 of 2022
If there is a dehydrator function in your air fryer then you can make dried fruits easily. A dehydrator function means your air fryer will cook your food on a low temperature but for a long time.
Since the sliced fruits can’t touch during the dehydrating process I think an air fryer oven is the best solution here so you’ll have enough dried fruits.
Where to find recipes for air fryers
There are countless food blogs and youtubers, who create recipes that can be prepared with an air fryer.
Also be sure to check Pinterest for some ideas where lot of bloggers share their newest recipes too.
Most air fryers come with a recipe booklet but usually they don’t have that many recipes
If you don’t feel like searching but need some inspiration then you’ll find countless air fryer recipe books on Amazon.
Also some air fryers (like the Cosori) have a recipe app where hundreds of recipes can be found specifically created for that air fryer model.
Check out our recipes too.
Average cooking times
Most air fryer come with instructions on the cook times for the most commonly prepared foods. This can vary depending on the air fryer. Keep in mind that their accuracy can vary too so be sure to check some customer reviews on this issue before you buy one.
Here are the cooking times for the Cosori Smart XL that was mentioned several times throughout this article:
For the full table visit the page of the manual.
Let’s look at an air fryer oven if there is any difference. For example the Ninja SP101 comes with a recipe booklet and a cooking chart. The cooking chart has the following air fryer cooking times:
Here you can see the full booklet.
As you can see it varies a bit from the Cosori chart. French fries needs 3 minutes more. It is really an individual decision and needs some experiment like how you would do it with a traditional oven. These charts only give you a guideline but for our individual taste we have to come up with our perfect cooking times.
Why you should buy one
Air fryers can be a great investment for those who cook regularly but short on time. They preheat very fast and cook your food faster than a traditional oven. They have several health benefits (according to BBC Food) mostly because they can be used with significantly less oil. Also they are very energy efficient.
Related article: Are Air Fryers Worth It? 7 Reasons Why We Love Them.
How to choose an air fryer brand
Since air fryers became so popular there are more and more manufacturers who are joining this trend. There are some reputable brands who have been around since the beginning but there are also some up and coming brands who have great reviews and you don’t have to pay the premium of the brand name.
Cosori – Probably the most innovative and highest rated air fryers come from Cosori. You can buy all types of air fryers in every size.
Ninja – This brand is on the same level as Cosori. People love their Ninja air fryers and have a myriad of positive reviews on amazon
Chefman – They create decent air fryers with a very good price tag. People seem to be satisfied with their choice
Instant – First they were known for the InstantPot multi-cooker and soon created a line of air fryers. They are in the category of Ninja and Cosori.
Crux – A brand that comes from China but is headquartered in New York. They make highly rated air fryers at a decent price and with a great design. We recommended their products in several articles. I like Crux because you can get the same quality but for cheaper and they come with a great design.
Air fryer accessories
Some air fryers come with many accessories like the Kalorik MAXX air fryer oven. These can include different type of racks, air fryer baskets, rotisserie spit and fork, bacon trays and so on.
But there are also accessories that can be bought beside your air fryer.
The ones I recommend are the following:
Parchment paper – Cleaning the air fryer basket is easy most of the times but if there is something really stuck there, then you risk of peeling of the non-stick coating. This is where parchment paper can be very practical.
Air fryer silicon pot – Even better than a parchment paper if you buy a silicon liner or silicon pot. They are reusable (thus more environmentally friendly) and heat resistant (unlike paper that is flammable).
Heat reistant tongs – When your food is ready the air fryer basket can be at 400 degrees and therefore it can be hard to take your food out. Buy some heat resistant tongs if you don’t have one already
Oil sprayer – Some foods need a little bit of oil. A small oil sprayer can do the job but it also matters what kind of oil you use in an air fryer.
I hope this article on how to choose an air fryer helped you to make a final decision. If you are still hesitating check out our best air fryer lists or just shoot us a message.