If you love the idea of fried foods but not the calories or mess they come with, an air fryer is the perfect solution.
These small appliances use convection and hot air to cook food, producing that delicious crisp texture you crave from potatoes, chicken wings and even pizza. And they take up far less space than a standard oven or toaster oven, plus there’s minimal preheating time. Some models also boast smart functions, making them even easier to use and clean.But not all air fryers are created equal, and if you want to find the best one for your kitchen, there are a few factors to consider.
Generally, you’ll want to look for an air fryer that comes with a large capacity, an easy-to-read control panel, multiple accessories and smart functions. You’ll also want to look at how easily it can be used and cleaned, as well as the cost and size of the appliance.
The top-rated model we’ve found is the Instant Vortex Plus with ClearCook, which has an impressive array of features for its affordable price tag. It’s a basket-style model, which means you place food directly in the machine rather than placing it on a tray like some of the other air fryers we’ve tested (check out the best microwave ovens for another super convenient cooking option). This layout allows the heat to circulate around your fries or chicken from all angles, resulting in a crispy texture that rivals deep frying. It also has a handy viewing window, and its sleek and intuitive controls make it a breeze to use.
And while it’s not as big as the Breville and Cuisinart models we’ve tested, its capacity is still ample enough to feed a family of four or more. And it has a clever insert that separates and traps any fat secreted from your food during cooking, so you don’t ingest any of it as you’re eating.
A few things to note before you start cooking: It’s important to avoid putting any type of metal utensil in an air fryer, as it can damage the nonstick coating inside and cause clogging. And if you’re planning on using any type of aluminum foil, be sure to remove it before starting your meal. This can cause a fire hazard and potentially damage the appliance.As for cleaning, most manufacturers recommend you handwash the interior of your air fryer after each use.
Depending on the model, this might mean simply wiping down the inner basket with warm, soapy water and a nonstick sponge, or it may require a deeper clean involving hot, soapy water or a degreaser. Most importantly, avoid putting any sort of fatty foods in your air fryer, as this can clog the fan and affect the flavor and texture of your food. You should also avoid any food that requires a lot of oil, as it will likely turn out undercooked and limp.