Air Fryer
Photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash

Just as microwaves seemed to find their way into most kitchens in the 1980s, air fryers are the latest staple for every kitchen. The growth in their popularity is showing to be far more than a trend. After all, the best air fryers can do so much more than make fried foods — they’ve revolutionized the way people cook everyday meals. They can sometimes cut cooking time in half and make tasty foods healthier.

However, as you look for the best air fryer for you, keep in mind that not all air fryers are created equally. To find the greatest air fryers once and for all, we’ve been putting them to the test and letting our taste buds lead the way. Here you’ll find our best air fryer picks for this year.

Because of their unwavering popularity, air fryer models are being pumped out by just about every kitchen brand you can think of. Air fryers now come in all shapes, sizes and some have functions beyond just air frying: There are air fryer microwavesair frying toaster ovens and even air fryer-multicooker combos to consider.

To find the optimal air fryer fit, we hauled in a few of the latest models and retested some of our previous favorites with a renewed vigor to find the best air fryers for 2022.

What exactly is an air fryer?

If you’re sorta, kinda not sure what an air fryer even is or why they’ve become so popular, let’s start there. The trendy air fryer is a fairly simple cooking machine that employs extremely hot, fast circulating air to flash-roast food inside of a contained frying basket. While there’s generally no or very little oil used, the results can be similar to that of traditional frying in that food comes out crispy on the outside and (ideally) moist on the inside.

Air fryers heat up fast, cook quickly and make healthier versions of traditionally fatty fried foods, so what’s not to love? But it’s not just healthy versions of bar snacks. I use my air fryer for cooking skin-on chicken thighs to crispy perfection, veggies including mushrooms, pork chops, peppers, onions, and even seafood — namely shrimp, scallops and filets of fish. And because most air fryer baskets are nonstick, cleanup is often as simple as a quick spritz and wipe with a soapy sponge. Many are dishwasher safe too.

Starting to see the appeal?

Demand for air fryers is at an all-time high as the results are much more delicious than pressure-cooked foods. That’s no surprise — after many months of pandemic-related restrictions that had more people eating at home, an appliance that can quickly and easily cook up culinary favorites was sure to be popular. These trendy ovens are also perfect for summer dinners when the desire to turn on that big hot main oven is nowhere to be found. This means there are more air fryers on the market than ever before, but not all are created equal and some brands have jumped into the space quickly with poorly performing machines just to grab a slice of the frenzy.

All the choice also means there is certainly an air fryer that will fit your space, cooking habits and budget. You can choose from personal fryers, air fryer toaster ovens, basket air fryers, large family-size models and every size in between. There are air fryers with basic mechanical dials and controls, while others have fancy cooking options and presets — some even have smarts and app connections. You can also pay as much as $300 for one or nab a budget-friendly air fryer for as little as $30 or $40.

What to look for in an air fryer?

Here we explore what to look for in a quality air fryer if you’re itching to try that air-fried chicken or sweet potato fry recipe you found on Pinterest. Power, speed and precision are a few of the most important factors in a good air fryer and were the qualities we weighed heaviest. But we’ve also taken into consideration things like counter real estate, cooking capacity, how intuitive the interfaces, dials and controls are as well as the build and durability of each air fryer. There is a premium version air fryer – Cuisinart air fryer that bakes, broils, and toasts and also lets you air fry right inside the oven.

This list should help you find the best air fryer for you and in no time, you’ll be chowing on the crispiest — and healthiest — chicken wings of your life. We’ve built upon our initial round of testing by retesting some of the air fryers we loved and weaving in some new models to see if any recently released air fryers or ones we missed last time are worthy of consideration.

Unlike previous air fryers we liked from KrupsT-Fal and Black & Decker, today’s modern air fryers are more powerful, meaning quicker access to crispy fries, onion rings, chicken nuggets or any other frozen food that you might typically make in a deep fryer or a rotisserie. They also have more capacity for air frying so you can cook more food, and are lighter, quieter and easier to clean.

No matter how simple or complex, though, what truly counts is how well they deliver goodies straight from the fry basket. When it comes to air fryers, that can vary a lot, whether you’re frying up a frozen bag of tater tots or cooking from a recipe book. Here’s what we learned after putting several top-rated models through their paces to find the best air fryer for 2022.

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