The 5 Best Air Fryer Brands for 2018 (Buying Guide)
Air fryers are an amazing technology that allow you to get crispy, crunchy foods without the staggering amount of oil and mess of traditional deep frying.
Most people think frying is limited to chicken and shrimp, but the air fryer absolutely deserves a place in the vegan kitchen. While animal products usually hog the frying spotlight, there are few plant-based foods that don’t benefit from a nice crispy exterior – potatoes, tofu, and vegetable spring rolls are just a few possibilities made even better with a trip through the air fryer.
All without the guilt, calories, and mess of pan or deep-frying!
When it comes to which air fryer you should choose, the Philips Digital Air Fryer tops our list for best overall unit. With a 1.8 pound capacity and dishwasher-safe, nonstick components, the air fryer from Philips is as easy to clean and care for as it is to use.
However, don’t take our word for it – read on to learn more about the Philips fryer and all the units on our top five list.
Air Fryer Comparison Table
Before we go into our guide and talk about each product, here's a quick list of the brands we will be talking about and how they stack up against each other.
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What to Consider Before Buying an Air Fryer
Before we dive deep into each product and help you along your air fryer journey, it's important to mention a few key features you'll want to consider.
I encourage you to go through each feature, and decide the importance of each one.
This will ensure you make the right purchase for you and your family.
Capacity refers to how much food you can cook in your air fryer at one time. Most fryers can handle 1.5 to 2.5 pounds of food at once, which tends to be sufficient, but you’ll want to think about the quantity of foods you’re usually frying.
Usually cooking for a large bunch, or like to make big portions? Opt for a bigger unit. However, those who are frying small batches of food or are only cooking for one or two people might be able to use a smaller fryer.
Either way, be sure to choose a machine based on the volume of food you usually make - using a fryer that’s too small will cause overcrowding, and food will be soggy, without that characteristic browning and crunch of fried foods. On the flip side, a fryer that’s too big could lead to overcooking or burning.
Choosing an air fryer can be a little like choosing to drive a manual or automatic car - it comes down to how much control you want over your frying.
If you’re new to frying, or prefer being able to choose from a variety of options, choose a fryer with different programs for different foods.
For maximum control, and to save a little cash, choose a fryer that has just one setting, or simply allows you to set the temperature and timer for foods cooked exactly to your method. Some fryers also offer programs that will let you roast, grill, and other methods of cookery.
If you’re looking to get an air fryer, but are hesitant to purchase a culinary one-trick pony, consider investing in a unit that will allow you to do multiple types of cooking.
No matter how well a certain product works, if it’s difficult to clean, it’s going to keep you from using it as frequently as you might like.
Even though air frying is about a thousand times cleaner than the spattered mess that comes from traditional frying, you’re busy, and you want something that is as simple to clean as possible.
When it comes to air fryers, “dishwasher safe” usually refers to the removable basket or inner well where the food cooks. The physical unit itself can be wiped down, but it’s convenient to take the dirty removable parts and put them directly in the dishwasher.
Similar to dishwasher-safe status, a nonstick surface makes cleaning your air fryer easy.
Nonstick air fryers usually have some type of coating, such as Teflon, that allows foods to easily slide off, so you don’t have to spend tons of time scrubbing stuck-on potato skins or tofu bits from your fryer’s basket or tray.
While convenient, some people choose to avoid non-stick coating due to potential health concerns from the chemicals in it. If you are concerned about the safety of non-stick coatings, look for fryers that use a stainless steel rack to lift foods away from the pan, or one that features a basket or container that is not made from nonstick materials.
For maximum safety, consult reviews from longtime owners of the air fryer you’re interested in. This will provide insight into the durability of the nonstick coating - if accounts show that the coating peels off over time, consider a different model - you don’t want that coating peeling off and winding up in your food.
Deciding how much control you want over your frying experience depends largely on the variety of foods you want to cook.
If you’re eating a plant-based diet and living in a vegan household, you can likely get by with a single temperature unit - after all, the cooking temperature for most vegetables and plant-based foods is about the same.
However, if you’re planning on sharing the fryer with meat-eating roommates or family members, you may want to invest in a unit that can cook at multiple temperatures. The other reason you may want a temperature-controlled unit is if you plan to use it for other uses than simple frying.
Some fryers allow you to roast vegetables and even bake cakes in them, so if you’re using this to replace other appliances in your kitchen, more customizability may be better.
The temperature your air fryer can reach is going to dictate what kinds of foods you can cook and how long you’ll have to wait for them.
A unit that has a maximum temperature of 350 degrees will be able to crisp up fries just fine, but if you’re planning to roast vegetables to a sweet, caramelized state, you’ll need to find something that can get a bit hotter.
Like many of the aspects to keep in mind, you’ll want to think about the variety of foods you’re cooking and how long you’re willing to wait for your cooked foods.
A single person who’s just looking to fry up some french fries on the weekend will have very different needs than someone looking to roast a whole tray of vegetables for a family after work.
Consider how you’re going to use your air fryer, and choose the maximum temperature that best fits your needs.
Most air fryers come with easy-to-use digital displays or manual displays that consist mostly of a series of knobs to control the temperature and time.
Digital displays are sleek and modern, and make polished additions to any countertop. If you’re used to touch-of-a-button technology, you might find a digital air fryer easier and more familiar to use, in addition to looking super sharp. When it comes down to it, most cooks these days are used to digital displays and controls.
If you’re not into fancy bells and whistles on your air fryer, you can save a few dollars by opting for an air fryer with analog controls. While manual fryers lack the polished look of their digital counterparts, they have the same functionality. It comes down to how much money you’re willing to put into appearance.
An Overview of The Best Air Fryers
Topping our list for best overall product, the Philips Digital Airfryer uses Rapid Air Technology to circulate hot air, resulting in perfectly fried, baked, roasted and grilled foods with little to no oil. It utilizes a baking rack to instantly double the usable cooking area and cook for one or a crowd with the same unit.
One of the Philips Airfryer’s best qualities is its versatility. No one likes a uni-tasker in the kitchen, and this fryer is far from it. Its small size makes it especially useful in small kitchens and dorm rooms where access to a stove or oven is difficult or impossible. The multi-functionality allows you to fry, grill, roast, and bake, all in one machine.
The timer can be set up to 60 minutes of cook time, and the machine features an automatic on/off setting so you don’t have to babysit your food. This, combined with the cool-touch technology on the exterior of the fryer, makes for optimum safety, so you can keep this operating even around pets and children.
For most vegetable-based recipes, cooking time only lasts between 15-25 minutes from start to finish. You won’t spend much time sitting around waiting for fries, onion rings, and roasted veggies and the final product will be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
The food gets the sought-after seal of approval from accomplished chef and tough critic Gordon Ramsay, who describes this unit as “his own little sous chef”
Reviewers note that this model makes significantly less smell when compared to other air fryers, making it perfect for shared kitchen spaces and smaller homes where strong smells are likely to affect people in nearby rooms.
It all starts at the bottom of the cooking area - the “Starfish” design used in the Philips Airfryer allows the superheated air to flow around and through food, ensuring an even crisp on all sides of the food.
The unit heads up to 390 degrees Fahrenheit, which you can control through the digital interface. While the unit doesn’t have pre-programmed options for baking, roasting, and grilling, you can control this manually by adjusting the time and temperature through the display.
The fryer features a variety basket with a handle, so you can easily remove the cooked food from the unit without risking burns or injuries. The basket also has a lid, which is perfect for containing lighter foods like popcorn and chips.
Lastly, this unit looks absolutely gorgeous out on a countertop. Available in black or white, the fryer has a sleek egg shape, making it a sharp, modern addition to your kitchen.
While the Philips Digital Airfryer gets stellar ratings and reviews, there is no product that is without at least small annoyances.
For this particular unit, some reviewers were frustrated by the fact that the digital display buttons were touchpads, meaning that commands didn’t register if buttons were pressed with dirty or wet hands. When using your Philips Airfryer, rinse and dry hands before setting the cook time and temperature - this does not affect functionality, but it is a minor inconvenience for busy home cooks.
What We Liked
- Sleek, modern design
- Endorsed by chef and TV personality Gordon Ramsay
- Minimal noise
What We Disliked
- Family-size meals must be done in batches
- Touchpad doesn’t register commands from dirty or wet hands
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In addition to being a study, reliable, and popular air fryer, the GoWISE USA unit wins the spot on our list as best value. While this model is friendly to even the leanest budgets, it certainly doesn’t scrimp on quality.
Even more confidence in your purchase? The unit comes with a one-year warranty.
The GoWISE fryer features seven pre-programmed settings for easy cooking and an adjustable temperature of 175-400 degrees Fahrenheit, giving you as much or as little control over the cooking method as you please.
This model uses a 30-minute timer and an automatic standby mode, which changes the machine from active cooking to keeping your food warm, so it’s ready when you are. You won’t have to feel chained to the kitchen counter waiting to turn the unit off when it’s done, so you can spend more time doing what you like while your food is preparing itself.
Perfect for dealing with hot, freshly air-fried food, the fryer features a detachable basket, so it’s super simple to shake off the ingredients and transfer the cooked food from fryer to plate. The fryer switches off once the basket is removed, and the handle features an easy button to detach the fryer basket from the pot. Both the pot and basket are dishwasher safe, making for easy cleanup.
The unit also features an advanced touch LCD screen, where you can manually set cooking time or choose from the built-in programs.
The unit itself is a sleek, modern machine, and is available in four stylish colors: black, chili red, plum, and white. The customizability of the colors will look beautiful out on the countertop and will match any kitchen decor.
While the pre-programmed settings are useful for customers who are frying animal products like chicken, shrimp, and fish, they won’t come in handy for people who are using the fryer for plant-based products.
Of course, having the programs doesn’t hurt, and the money you save is worth it when compared to other models, but it can be a bummer to have several settings that don’t apply to your cooking.
For best results, use the adjustable temperature rather than the pre-set programs to cook your food.
What We Liked
- Comes standard with convenient one-touch programs
- Can prepare a wide variety of foods
What We Disliked
- Pre-programmed settings mostly centered around meat products
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If you’re cooking for a crowd, the T-Fal ActiFry is the machine for you!
Able to easily handle over two pounds of food at a time with just a tablespoon or less of oil, you can not only make large batches, but you can also reduce calories without sacrificing texture and taste.
This machine uses a patented heat pulse system and stirring paddle to circulate hot air and cook food evenly and quickly. Many foods can be cooked in the fryer with less than a tablespoon of oil - distributed over two pounds of food; this drastically reduces calories when compared to traditionally fried foods.
The fryer uses a large, easy-to-read LCD screen, and features an automatic timer and buzzer that alerts you when the food is ready. This functionality allows you to focus on preparing the rest of your meal or relaxing with family, without having to hover over the fryer.
While the T-Fal fryer does not have built-in programs, the ability to adjust the temperature means you can use the machine for more than frying. Reviewers note that they cook packaged meals in the air fryer and even toast nuts and seeds with it.
The T-Fal fryer is a wider, squatter shape than other fryers on the market - it looks more like a donut than an egg. While it’s less sleek than alternatives, it does create a good amount of surface area for foods to crisp up on. The removable inner pan is lined with PFOA- and PTFE-free nonstick ceramic coating.
The unit features a secure lid to eliminate any chance of splattering oil, which can be dangerous and cause injuries. The lid is also steam-free, which allows foods to create a crunchy crust that’s never soggy or waterlogged.
Additionally, it uses a filter to keep your kitchen odor-free during cooking, making it a good option for shared spaces and small houses. The fryer comes with a 38-recipe color cookbook and measuring spoon.
The removable inner pan, lid, paddle, spoon, and filter can all be disassembled and put in the microwave, so the only manual cleaning you’ll need to do is wipe down the outside surface of the fryer now and then.
The majority of the exterior of the T-Fal fryer is made from plastic. While the product gets many positive reviews, some purchasers have reported instances of the plastic melting after several uses. If you do decide to choose this fryer, exercise caution while it’s in operation.
What We Liked
- Dishwasher-safe detachable parts
- Splatter-free lid
- Large cooking surface perfect for families
What We Disliked
- Plastic exterior can melt after use
- Noisy during cooking
Ideal for people who want as much multifunctionality in their kitchen appliances as possible, the Air Fryer by Cozyna allows home cooks to use a single machine to carry out many tasks - all while looking sleek and modern on your countertop!
The Cozyna fryer does more than just make french fries - it also allows you to bake, roast, and grill a variety of different foods with minimal oil. This fryer requires about 70% less oil than traditional fryers.
The fryer features an adjustable temperature setting up to 392 degrees Fahrenheit and a 30-minute timer to ensure food comes out evenly and crispy. This model uses two knobs to manually set the temperature and cooking time - straightforward to use, and no need to wipe hands completely clean for the command to register.
The unit comes with two cookbooks that total over 50 recipes for your new fryer. With a 30-day money back guarantee, it’s a perfect option for gifts, or for people who are hesitant to commit to a new appliance.
This air fryer is the perfect design for people who simply don’t have extra time to spend disassembling and cleaning. With only two parts - a basket and well that are both dishwasher-safe - cleaning an air fryer doesn’t get much easier than the Cozyna model.
The exterior is made from black plastic and gets warm during cooking, but won’t cause injury if you happen to touch it.
The small, compact design takes up little space on your counter and is a good option for people with limited kitchen surfaces, or for dorm or apartment kitchens that don’t have much extra space to devote to such an appliance.
Some purchasers note that food takes a long time to cook in this fryer, and does not always come out consistently. If you’re in a rush for dinner or cooking for crowds that just can’t wait, it may be wise to invest in a more efficient fryer.
What We Liked
- Only two pieces, makes for easy cleanup
- Perfect for raw, as well as frozen, foods
What We Disliked
- Long cooking time
- Produces inconsistent results
A household name in kitchen and home appliances, the BLACK+DECKER Air Fryer is a great option for people who forego bells and whistles in favor of quality craftsmanship.
The BLACK+DECKER Air Fryer uses dual convection fans to circulate hot air around food to achieve that crispy, golden exterior in as little time as possible. It has a 60-minute cooking timer, allowing for a wider variety of food options, and an automatic shut off, so you don’t have to worry about ruining your meal or starting a house fire because you haven’t been babysitting the machine.
The temperature on this fryer ranges from 175 degrees to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and can handle everything from french fries to frozen spring rolls. With two knobs on the front of the machine, you can manually adjust the cooking time and temperature, so you have maximum control over the cooking process.
The basket holds about 8 cups of food or one pound of french fries. It has a two-year limited warranty, so you can feel confident about your purchase, and try it out without worry.
BLACK+DECKER’s design is just responsive enough - you don’t have to depend on built-in programs, but you do get some sense of feedback from the machine.
The fryer uses two indicator lights - one light indicates the unit is powered on, and the second light notes that the machine is preheated and ready for cooking.
The unit also has a cool-touch handle, making it easy and safe to use, and the basket and separator can be disassembled from the unit and run through the dishwasher for simple cleanup. The pan, basket, and separator are all nonstick, so even if you don’t have a dishwasher, you won’t have to fight with stuck-on food.
With enough capacity to cook for 1-2 people, this fryer is the perfect size for singles or couples. However, you cannot cook food for a crowd in this - if you’re feeding more than two adults, this unit may prove to be too small for your needs.
What We Liked
- Dual convection fans provide superior air flow for maximum crispiness
- Good size for snacks or main dishes
- Small, won’t take up much counter space
What We Disliked
- Too small for more than two servings of food
- Long preheating time
Plant-Based Oil-Free Frying
Yes, even though you’ve given up meat and animal products, you don’t have to give up the hot, crispy crunch of fried foods. In the case of air fryers, you don’t even have to suffer that heavy feeling after the meal, because each of these machines achieves that perfect, comforting texture with a single tablespoon of oil or less.
The Philips air fryer is our go-to air fryer for all plant-based cravings – able to make perfectly crispy french fries, spring rolls, and onion rings, it also gives you the opportunity to grill, roast, and even bake. After cooking, this hardworking appliance comes apart easily, and most parts can be put directly in the dishwasher. The versatility, ease, and quality of this machine keep it firmly planted at the top of our list.
Whichever unit you choose, an air fryer can be a smart, efficient addition to your kitchen. The ability to create crunchy, crispy fried foods without added oil, and without the intense mess left by most traditional frying jobs, you can create delicious meals for your family that are low in calories, and even more heart-healthy because they’re made out of plant-based ingredients.
Go beyond the traditional potato – try things like homemade spring rolls, fun root veggies like parsnips and rutabaga, and even thick slices of avocado for avocado fries.
Air fryers can be used for so much more than just fried chicken and wings – let the versatility of these machines help you create tasty, healthy meals in minutes.