We have a pretty strict policy here at Hungry Fan to only promote products we like, use, believe in, or all of the above. And if you've ever spoken about kitchen gadgets with our founder, Daina Falk, then you know just how much she loves air fryers. She is fairly obsessed with them to be quite frank. She even sold them on Home Shopping Network once, and her passion for the air fryer just flowed out of her like she was talking about a loved one. (Needless to say, they sold a lot that day). It was truly something to behold. But why are Daina—and so many others—infatuated with the air fryer?
The answer is simple: Because it makes cooking food correctly and expertly so easy and approachable. (And also because, much as it sounds with a name like air fryer, you can achieve crispy outside perfection without having to deep fry in massive amounts of oil, thus saving calories and potential health issues down the road.) Want to make restaurant-quality French fries? Air fry 'em. Tots? Same thing. Fluffy eggs? Believe it or not, yep. You can even cook a whole chicken and achieve crispy skin and a moist and juicy inside in far less time than it would take in a regular oven. And the skill level needed to do all this? Basic at best. Daina says if you invest in one cooking gadget other than what comes in a standard kitchen, it should be an air fryer. We've rounded up some of our favorite models. Take a look, and see which one best fits your needs!
1. For the Novice: The NUWAVE Brio 3-QUART DIGITAL AIR FRYER
If you're just getting into air frying, welcome to a wonderful world of easy, perfectly crispy, healthier cooking! If you're sitting there at your computer searching for the right air fryer, you can sit back and relax. We really think this one is the right one for you. Why? We're glad you asked.
First, the BRIO has electronic controls with preprogrammed settings, which should make your life much, much easier. The settings include frozen fries, steak, poultry, nuggets, and fish. (French fries cooked in an air fryer are next level!) These controls and settings are simple, making this one a great entry point into the world of air frying.
Second, NUWAVE offers a "Cooking Club App" for your phone, which includes over 300 recipes with detailed instructions and videos, so you can't get it wrong. (We guess you could, but you'd have to seriously deviate from the app's instructions). The Brio also comes with preheat and reheat functions, and it offers built-in safety features so you don't hurt yourself. The BRIO will automatically and immediately shut itself off when the cooking basket is removed, and it won't turn back on until the basket is securely returned into place.
2. For the Rotisserie Chicken Fanatic: The Emeril Lagasse Power 360
There are a lot of air fryers out there, and they all can perform some pretty impressive functions. But not all of them can rotisserie a chicken. We happen to be rotisserie chicken-loving fiends, which is why we had to include the Emeril Lagasse Power Air Fryer 360 in our roundup. Unlike any other air fryer we've tried, this one can make a mean rotisserie chicken—and it can hold up to a 10-pound chicken to boot! In addition, it can air fry, reheat, toast, bake, dehydrate, roast, broil, slow cook, warm, and it's great for making bagels and pizza. It's also worth noting that its rotisserie function also works well for savory pork roasts, turkey breasts, or even cooking up authentic kebabs (like your favorite kebab or gyro place). We like that it can also dehydrate (as can other gadgets on this list, including the Ninja® Foodi™ 8-qt. 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker & Air Fryer), which is great for jerky fans. Making your own jerky is not only a fun hobby, but it's also a heck of a lot cheaper than buying it on the regular. (Plus you can get super creative with your flavors, which is a fun rabbit hole to head down).
3. For the Counter Space-Challenged: The Cuisinart® Air fryer
For many, including some of us here at Hungry Fan who live in New York City shoeboxes, counter space is a major issue. There just never seems to be enough, especially when you want to invest in a new kitchen toy. That's the primary reason why we like the Cuisinart Air Fryer. It measures only 11.50 x 12.00 x 11.80 in., and weighs only16 pounds. It's therefore comparatively easy to lift, maneuver, and store when you aren't using it (even in a tiny apartment). And in that small body, it can still cook up to 2.5 pounds of food! (Do you have any idea how many chicken wings that is?!) Another plus: This air fryer is made of nonstick material, so cleaning is a heck of a lot easier, which we appreciate since we're generally far more excited about cooking and eating than we are about cleaning. (Just saying.)
4. For the Experienced User Looking to Upgrade: The Philips Digital Twin TurboStaR XXL
One of the main reasons to choose an air fryer to cook your food is to cut down on fat. Sure, most, if not all air fryers come with varying degrees of other bells and whistles. But ultimately, their purpose is to cook food via the air fry method, which means you're cooking with less fat, less added oil, etc. The Philips brand claims to cut down on up to 90% of fat, which is more than we've heard claimed by most other brands, thanks to their proprietary starfish-shaped cooking technology. All that is great. But why we like this air fryer—and why we think it's a great step up from your introductory air fryer—is twofold: One, it's a lot larger than your entry level air fryer, holding 3 pounds of food to feed up to 6 people (figure a whole chicken or two bags of frozen french fries); and two, it has multicooking technology that includes air frying, baking, grilling, roasting, reheating, dehydrating, and toasting. And it also has a slew of add-ons you can purchase from the Party Master Kit to the Baking Master Kit, to double racks and nonstick baking dishes.
PRO TIP: Save yourself money on the Master Baking Kit and simply buy our silicone baking molds, which are safe to use in the air fryer and cost less than a quarter of Philips' version.
Definitely check out the vast recipe guide that Philips offers. It's super helpful for learning how to use this bad boy to the fullest extent.
5. Feeding Small Armies: The NUWAVE Brio 14-QUART LARGE CAPACITY AIR FRYER
Air fryers come in many sizes, usually measured in quarts. That measurement corresponds to how much food it can hold. We've seen 6 quarts. Heck, we've even seen 8. But the NuWave Brio 14-Quart Air Fryer is a game-changer. It's a 14-quart digital air fryer that comes with 2 cooking racks, a rotisserie kit, and a fry basket. (Note: For rotisserie, we still prefer Emeril's model above, but this one definitely works too). This model also comes with a temperature probe, so you can check your proteins are cooked sufficiently before serving (no one wants undercooked chicken, right?). This fryer also allows you to store up to 100 recipe presets! (It's like speed dial, but for your air fryer, and we are all about it!) If you have a large family or regularly entertain a group of hungry fans on game day, then this is the air fryer for you.
6. All the Bells and Whistles: The Ninja® Foodi™ 8-qUART 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker & Air Fryer
When we think about the Ninja Foodi 9-in-1, we can't help but think of this famous SNL skit from the '70s, featuring Dan Akroyd hawking the ridiculous Bass-O-Matic. The skit was a parody of the popular ads for the 1963-born Veg-O-Matic, which featured the well-known catchphrase, "It slices! It dices!" The original food processor, it was as if the Veg-O-Matic could do it all! And that's what we think about the Ninja Foodi, which (in real life) basically can do everything.
In addition to air fry, it can:
- Pressure cook: Cook food quickly while maintaining tenderness
- Steam cook: Gently cook at a high temperature
- Slow cook: Cook food at a lower temperature for a longer period of time
- Make yogurt: Produce creamy homemade yogurt
- Sear/sauté: Brown meats, sauté veggies, simmer sauces, and more
- Bake/roast: Cook tender meats, baked treats, and more
- Broil: Caramelize and brown your food
- Dehydrate: Dehydrate meats, fruits, and vegetables
If your jaw hit the floor when you read the list of capabilities above, don't worry. So did ours. And our eyes may or may not have bugged out, cartoon-style, too. You'll pay a pretty penny for this amazing toy, but then again, you may not need to buy another gadget ever again. So, when you think about it like that, it really is a stellar deal. Sure, maybe we're rationalizing, but this thing is truly amazing.