The 5 Best Air Fryers of 2022, Tested and Reviewed

Philips Premium Air Fryer XXL is the resounding favorite

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air fryers
Photo: People/Tara Donne

Air fryers can crisp up food in minutes and provide a healthier alternative to traditional frying. These mini convection ovens, which cemented their status as a must-have kitchen gadget in 2017, continue to sell out and have even inspired fans including Drew Barrymore to add air fryers to their own home product line. (And we have Drew's beloved air-fried cauliflower recipe right here!)

But are these devices worth the hype? We chatted with food blogger and fan-dubbed "Air Frying Queen" Jordan Zelesnick to understand more about the popular kitchen item. "An air fryer is like a mini countertop convection oven," Zelesnick tells PEOPLE. "Because of the way air fryers circulate hot air around the food, it can get super crispy on the outside while remaining tender and moist on the inside." The circular airflow also means that your food gets crispy without the need for extra oil.

"There isn't much you can't do with an air fryer!" Zelesnick adds. A few of her favorite recipes for air fryers include cooking fish like salmon and Chilean sea bass, but she also loves using it to whip up a quick filet mignon.

We spent two days PEOPLE Testing 11 air fryers and 9 air fryer-toaster combos in our kitchen, to see how well these air fryers cooked a batch of frozen fries, frozen chicken tenders, a rotisserie chicken, and roasted carrots (and more importantly, how they all tasted!). We also measured whether the temperature range the manufacturer quoted was accurate with our self-reading, and evaluated how easy they were to clean and how user-friendly they are.

The clear winner coming off those tests is the Philips Premium Air Fryer XXL because it's easy to set up and use (you can skip the manual here), is dishwasher-friendly, and provides an even cook without needing to flip the food over.

The air fryers below were considered the best that PEOPLE Tested.

Best Overall: Philips Premium Air Fryer XXL

air fryer
Amazon

Also available at Williams Sonoma and Philips.

Pros: The Philips Premium Airfryer XXL is easy to use straight out of the packaging, and cleanup is easy because many parts can go right into the dishwasher.

Cons: At 19 pounds, this may be a bit heavy for a household that can't leave it out on the countertop and needs to move it frequently; additionally, it was significantly louder than the other models we tested.

After a day of testing, this model was the clear winner. This basket-style air fryer can do it all with zero learning curve once it's plugged in. The Philips Premium Airfyer XXL cooked our chicken fingers, fries, and rotisserie chicken to a crispy texture and provided a picture-perfect browned look.

What really stood out to us during our PEOPLE Testing process is that it was easy to set up and get cooking right after you plugged it in. We didn't need to read a complicated manual to get dinner on the table. The countdown timer let us know when the air fryer was preheated as well as when our food was about to be ready, a feature many other models didn't have. Our French fries came out crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside (much like regular frying) and we didn't have to flip the fries over in cooking because the air fryer provides an even cook.

Many air fryers can be challenging to clean and stay greasy; the Philips stood out because many of its parts could go in the dishwasher, making it easier to get the pieces truly clean than in a convection-style oven. (Two caveats: Some might find it inconvenient to remove multiple parts from the machine, and the fat removal tray doesn't go in the dishwasher so remained greasy.)

Other air fryers we tested gave off a burning plastic smell, but this one emitted zero offensive odors.

All in all, if you want an easy-to-use, multifunctional, and consistent model, you can't go wrong here.

Price at time of publish: $269.95

Type: Basket | Dimensions: 15.55 x 15.55 x 15.67 inches | Weight: 19 pounds | Capacity: 7 quarts | Dishwasher safe: Yes

best air fryers
People/Tara Donne

Best Budget: Dash Compact Air Fryer Oven Cooker with Temperature Control

air fryer
Amazon

Also available at Wayfair and Target.

Pros: Its compact size makes it a great pick for small spaces, and it's also easy to clean thanks to its non-stick coating.

Cons: It can only hold a few food items at a time because of its small size.

For households that are not looking to invest a lot in an air fryer, the Dash Compact Air Fryer gets the job done with a small footprint (great for small kitchens!). At about the same size as a standard coffee maker, it could even work in a dorm. It also comes in a few colors so you can pick something out that suits your decor.

Getting this basket-style air fryer set up was very easy, with only two knobs to navigate, but with simplicity comes a lack of features. This air fryer took a long time to heat up, and there is no way of knowing what the actual temperature is inside, so that took some guesswork.

In terms of performance, the small size could only accommodate two chicken fingers at a time, but it did a decent job cooking them. This also "fried" up carrots and fries, but could not fit the whole chicken. The non-stick coating made it super easy to clean, so the sticky residue just washed off easily with soap and water.

While this was not the top performer, we picked the Dash Compact Air Fryer as our best budget pick because it cleans well, is easy to use from the start, and can cook most commonly air-fried items.

Price at time of publish: $49.95

Type: Basket | Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.1 x 11.4 inches | Weight: 5.7 pounds | Capacity: 2 quarts | Dishwasher safe: No

best air fryers
People/Tara Donne

Best Oven Style: Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven

air fryer
Amazon

Also available at Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Pros: It doubles as a convection oven that can roast carrots, chicken, and more.

Cons: It's heavy (21 pounds) and difficult to move around, and harder to clean thoroughly with just a sponge and soap.

Oven-style air fryers provide you with a few gadgets in one. You get the convenience of an air fryer but you can also use it as your daily toaster for your avocado toast obsession. The Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven stood out amongst the other convection ovens we tested because it operated very quietly and it gets very hot, which also makes it a good option for cooking pizza (it can cook up to a 12 inch pizza).

For those looking for a multipurpose gadget, this could air fry French fries and chicken tenders but they were not as crisp and fluffy as other models we tested. The appliance's real standout is the convection oven component, which cooked the best rotisserie chicken on our testing day as well as perfectly roasted carrots.

This was one of the most manual of the oven-style air fryers, meaning it is more similar to a traditional toaster oven, but it still had features including a 60-minute timer and a toast shade selector. It also is a heavy unit, coming in at 21 pounds, so this would most likely have to permanently live on your countertop.

Traditionally oven-style air fryers are hard to clean since a lot of the parts are hard to remove (we didn't test any that were easy!) and this one was no exception. This was the dirtiest after the rotisserie chicken; we were able to remove a lot of the greasy feel with soap and sponge, but it never got back to its original appearance.

For households who want one appliance to toast, cook frozen foods, and roast, this option does it all (and quietly!).

Price at time of publish: $129.99

Type: Oven | Dimensions: 15.5 x 16 x 14 inches | Weight: 21 pounds | Capacity: 0.6 cubic feet | Dishwasher safe: No

best air fryers
People/Tara Donne

Best Smart Air Fryer: Instant Pot Omni Plus Air Fryer Toaster Oven

Omni air fryer

Pros: The smart display screen makes cooking, baking, frying, and toasting as easy as pressing a button.

Cons: This might not be the right product for someone with minimal storage or counter space, and it may be too heavy for some users to lift easily.

This air fryer can do more than just air fry — it can also broil, bake, roast, dehydrate, and more. The smart settings are intuitive and easy to read on the device's digital screen, and the digital timer makes it simple to achieve the perfect golden crisp every time.

The Omni Plus Air Fryer comes straight from the makers of another beloved home kitchen staple (ever heard of the Instant Pot?), and the thoughtful design and helpful settings are a credit to the brand's easy-to-use design. Five different attachment accessories come standard with the 19-quart device: an enamel pan, baking rack, rotisserie lift, rotisserie spit, and of course, the classic air fryer basket. All of the accessories are dishwasher safe, which is a huge win for busy parents and home chefs alike. Our testers noted that the included enamel pan makes a great drip tray to catch any excess grease, and it'll save you the effort of cleaning the inside of the air fryer at the end of each cooking session.

Golden, evenly browned toast is within your reach with the Omni Plus, thanks to its EvenCrisp technology, which directs airflow from the top down to create an even golden cook. Our testers agreed that this device performed exactly as promised and particularly appreciated the toast setting that allowed them to choose their desired level of "doneness." This air fryer is a bit of a pain to lift, coming in at just under 30 pounds, but we'll take the arm workout that comes with hefting this device on our countertop in exchange for perfectly crispy food any day of the week.

Price at time of publish: $224

Type: Oven | Dimensions: 15.5 x 16 x 14 inches | Weight: 21 pounds | Capacity: 0.6 cubic feet | Dishwasher safe: No

Best Splurge: Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer

Pros: This device looks elegant sitting on a counter, and each color option feels luxurious

Cons: It's only available at Williams Sonoma, and the price reflects the luxury brand name and external aesthetics

Luxury meets practicality in this sleek air fryer from the luxury kitchen appliance maker Breville. Available in a slew of modern and retro colors, this device looks lovely enough to leave out on your counter all the time. With 11 present functions and dual-speed convection modes, our tests showed that the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer easily produced perfectly browned toast and golden, crisp cookies.

Our tester felt that this air fryer was "very easy to use." Choosing the right setting, time, and temperature was simple and intuitive with separate functions, temperature, and time knobs, and a digital scrolling list of options. This kitchen gadget comes with a non-stick pizza pan, enamel roasting pan, air fry basket, wire rack, and broiling rack.

"This oven offers a lot of features and settings," our tester said of the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer. "It would be a great replacement for a regular oven if you didn't have space or lived on your own and didn't cook that much." This is a larger device compared to some of the others we tried out, but it also has a slightly larger capacity. Plus, with its sleek design, we think that you'll want to keep it out on the counter anyway.

Although our tester generally liked this air fryer, they pointed out that the oven door snaps shut once lifted and could potentially close onto your hand if you're not careful. But, if you're looking for an air fryer that will look aesthetically pleasing on your countertop and you're willing to spend a few extra bucks for a luxurious finish, this product might just be perfect for you.

Price at time of publish: $395.95

Type: Oven | Dimensions: 18.5 x 15.75 x 11 inches | Weight: 28 pounds | Capacity: 0.8 cubic feet | Dishwasher safe: No

Things to Consider Before Buying an Air Fryer

Size

Consider your family size and what you will be cooking. A single person would be fine with a 2-quart machine, whereas a family of four might need 5 quarts or larger if you get a basket model. If you just plan to cook frozen foods, a smaller machine will work, but if you want to cook a whole chicken you will need a larger air fryer like our best overall pick, the Phillips Premium Air Fryer XXL. When in doubt, choose the larger model, especially if this is your first purchase.

Price

Models typically range from $50-$300. A less expensive model generally lacks bells and whistles. We have found the sweet spot around $200 for a quality model that doesn't go overboard with features.

Cleaning

You'll need to clean after each use, but you should always follow the manufacturer's guidelines. For most units, you'll need a wet cloth, soap, and some elbow grease to clean. Some air fryer parts are dishwasher safe which we recommend looking for when making a purchase, or you can also purchase air fryer liners which make cleanup a breeze.

Basket vs. Oven

Basket models are generally easier to clean and more compact. These are ideal for frozen foods, crisping up potatoes, and vegetables. Oven models are larger, more versatile, and generally more expensive. These can toast bread, roast chicken, and sometimes pizza. An oven model might mean you can get rid of your toaster oven, so it is a multipurpose appliance.

When to Buy an Air Fryer

Air fryers typically go on sale for big holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day. You can also typically find models on sale on Amazon but they may not always be the brand name you are looking for.

How We Tested Air Fryers

We PEOPLE Tested 11 air fryers and 9 air fryer-toaster oven combos in our industrial kitchen setting over the course of two days. We fried up French fries, chicken fingers, roasted carrots, and whole chickens if the model could accommodate. From these tests we rated the models on ease of use, cooking performance, versatility, and ease of cleaning so that we could give you the best recommendation for your household.

FAQs

Do air fryers use a lot of electricity?

No, when compared to other appliances used for the same purpose — like ovens and stoves — air fryers, which pre-heat quickly and cook food faster, use less electricity and are more energy efficient.

Is it OK to use aluminum foil in an air fryer?

Yes, it's fine to use aluminum foil in an air fryer. Keep in mind that certain acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus, should not be cooked in aluminum foil. Check your user's manual to make sure you follow the manufacturer's guidelines for the placement of foil in the air fryer.

Is an air fryer better than a microwave?

It depends on what you're cooking. Both are versatile appliances that speed up cooking time. Air fryers are better at cooking food in different ways (frying, baking, grilling, etc.), but are smaller in size and more challenging to clean. Microwaves can be less consistent — they sometimes dry food out or make it soggy. They also take up more space in your kitchen.

How often should you clean your air fryer? / How do you clean an air fryer?

Clean your air fryer after every use. First, unplug the unit and allow the air dryer to cool completely. Then, following the instructions in your unit's user manual, take out any parts that can be removed for cleaning and wash them in warm, soapy water. Wipe down the machine inside and out with a clean, soapy cloth. Remove any crumbs using a small brush or toothpick, and allow the unit to dry.

Can you use an air fryer to reheat food?

Yes, air fryers are perfect for reheating food! They maintain the texture of the food (without making it soggy) and heat food much more quickly than in an oven.

What Is PEOPLE Tested?

We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.

But we don't stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we've awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.

In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.

Want more product recommendations? Check out all of our People Tested content.

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