The best air fryers can transform the way you cook, allowing you to indulge in healthier versions of your favorite foods. We’re talking fries and roast potatoes without the huge amounts of oil needed to make them tasty and crispy – how can you say no?

The best air fryers, which are sometimes also known as health fryers, are handy gadgets that sit on your worktop and create super crispy results with much less oil than if you were to deep fry your dishes.  So, just how do air fryers work? They use a powerful fan to circulate hot air created by a heating element on the top of the device.

It’s not just stand-alone air fryers that offer this kind of hot air cooking, either. Some of the best Instant Pots and multi-cookers, which as the name suggests offer several different cooking methods in one countertop gadget, can air fry too. For example, the Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker comes with a  3 quarts frying basket on the US model and a 3.2 liter basket in the UK, if you want to air fry in it. 

Air frying is becoming more and more popular. And it’s no surprise given it’s a healthy, and easy, way to cook, and there’s plenty of different dishes you can cook in an air fryer – it’s not just chips and chicken wings. So, just what can you cook in an air fryer? Anything you could cook in a traditional fan oven because they work in the same way. This means the best air fryers can be used to roast or bake whatever you’d use your oven to cook, space permitting. 

As there’s more demand for air fryers, there are currently a lot of different options to pick from. But not all are created equal. Each air fryer varies wildly in price and size, which means choosing the best air fryer for you can be overwhelming.

Here’s what you need to know before buying one of the best air fryers on our list. Most air fryers are sold with baskets or bowls that you can pull out. Then you can choose between manual or digital controls. Some models also have separate compartments, which means you can cook multiple foods at the same time.

Air fryers with bowls, including those in Tefal’s Actifry range, offer greater capacities. They also have glass tops, which means you can keep an eye on your meal. This bowl design also means the cooking juices tend to remain in the air fryer and in contact with the food.

In comparison, basket air fryers tend to be healthier because they funnel the juices, as well as the fat, away from the food. However, because these baskets are on runners and tuck away inside the fryer, you can’t check on your food without opening it and letting in cold air – this defeats the whole point.

Another point to consider when choosing an air fryer is its capacity, as well as the machine’s size (and whether you have room for it). The largest air fryers, which come in at around 6.5 quarts / 6 liters, are perfect for feeding a family of four, but air fryers with a capacity as small as 2.5 quarts / 2.5 liters can still cook a decent amount of food. 

You can pay up to $330 / £250 / AU$440  for popular air fryers. But as our tests show, this doesn’t always guarantee the best results. 

How we test air fryers

To compare each air fryer, we’ve cooked up batches and batches of fries and chicken wings. As well as evaluating how, crisp, evenly browned and in the case of chicken wings, how moist and juicy the meat was, we’ve also compared how easy they are to use.

We rated each design on how many settings it offers, how durable and easy to clean the body and parts are, how loud their fans are and how hot the exterior casing gets. For each model we wanted to know whether it was simple to use design and didn’t require reading a thick instruction manual before use, came with useful accessories such as frying baskets, or a recipe book for inspiration.

The best air fryers to buy right now

Instant Vortex Plus air fryer

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Instant Vortex Plus air fryer

The King of air fryers

Reasons to buy

+Excellent crisp, evenly browned results+Easy to clean+Handy presets

Reasons to avoid

Bulky and takes up a lot of countertop spaceBasket isn’t dishwasher-safeReheat function can’t replace a microwave

Instant – the brand behind the iconic multi-cooker range Instant Pot also makes air fryers, and its top-of-the-range model really is the best air fryer you can buy, as it consistently turned out the crispiest fries and chicken wings of any air fryers we’ve tested. The fries had crisp exteriors but soft, fluffy insides, and the chicken was moist, while its skin was crispy and retained loads of flavor. 

The Instant Vortex Plus has a squared-off design, complete with a square frying basket that comes with a removable crisper tray, which is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. The air fryer is suitable if you’re feeding several mouths as it offers a 6 quart / 5.7 liter capacity – Instant claims this is large enough to hold a 4lb / 1.8kg chicken, or 2.2lb / 1kg of fries. It is Instant’s top-of-the-range air fryer, but builds on the Instant Vortex (see below) , which can air-fry, roast, bake and reheat, with grill and dehydrate functions too.

It is a bulky air-fryer and takes up a lot of countertop space, and it’s at the top-end of the air fryers market when it comes to price too, but its performance certainly justifies the cost. 

Read our full review: Instant Vortex Plus air fryer

Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer AF300UK

(Image credit: Emily Peck / Future)

Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer

Cook two different dishes at the same time

Reasons to buy

+Highly versatile+Large capacity+Good range of settings

Reasons to avoid

 BulkyReheat function not as competent as a microwave 

This is the only air fryer we’ve tested that has two separate compartments, so you can cook two different dishes so they’re ready to serve at the same time. As well as air frying, this hand kitchen gadget can roast, reheat, dehydrate and even bake. 

Different cooking methods can be employed in each compartment at the same time too, for example, you can roast meat on one side, and bake on the other side, making it a highly versatile gadget. We were impressed by the ‘sync’ feature that ensures both compartments finish cooking at the same time, so you’ll never be waiting around for one part of your meal to finish cooking. 

The two cooking drawers have an overall capacity of 8 quarts / 7.6 litres and are deep enough to hold a 1.1lb / 500g batch of fries, 2.2lb / 1kg of chicken wings, or up to 12 cupcakes, for example. There’s a crisper plate within each compartment that ensures air can circulate around the food and make sure excess moisture is removed, creating a crispy, golden finish.

During testing we were impressed at just how quickly the air fryer crisped and evenly browned our fries, in fact following the suggested time, they were a little overcooked on the outside, but still fluffy inside. The more we used the machine, the more we got a feel for the exact timings for different dishes. 

It is one of the bulkier air fryers we’ve tested and it does take up a significant chunk of space on a worktop but it looks pretty stylish combining a glossy black finish with silver accents.

Read our full review: Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer 

Tefal Actifry Genius XL air fryer

(Image credit: Future)

Tefal ActiFry Genius XL

Incredible taste but not as healthy as other air fryers

Reasons to buy

+Makes crispy chips and moist chicken+Rotating paddle helps cook food evenly+Glass top lets you monitor your food  

Reasons to avoid

Bulky bodyExpensive

The fries and chicken wings cooked in the Tefal Actifry Genius XL certainly rival the Instant Vortex Plus and Ninja Foodi air fryers when it comes to flavor. The improved taste of its fries and chicken wings is largely down to its bowl design and rotating paddle, as food cooks in its own juices, albeit as it’s moved around the bowl by the detachable paddle. This increases the fat content, because it doesn’t funnel it away, but it also boosts the overall taste, and means you don’t have to clean a separate fat tray.

It has a deeper, flatter shape rather than the tall design of its rivals. The benefits of this are that it fits easily on worktops under kitchen cupboards and allows for a glass ‘window’ on the top of the machine that lets you keep an eye on what you’re cooking. The heat is also generated at the rear of the machine, meaning it doesn’t get too hot to touch. The downside to this design is that it won’t fit comfortably in a cupboard because of its depth.  

Read our full Tefal ActiFry Genius XL review

Instant Vortex air fryer

(Image credit: Future)

Instant Vortex Air Fryer

A large capacity air fryer

Reasons to buy

+Large capacity+Crisp, even browned results+Handy presets

Reasons to avoid

BulkyRoast and bake results weren’t as successful 

Instant’s Vortex Air Fryer turned out the same crisp fries and succulent chicken during testing as its more expensive sibling. In fact with the same capacity that can hold a 4lb / 1.8kg chicken or 2lb / 1kg of fries, and a square frying basket, it’s a more affordable choice for those that don’t want as many cooking functions. 

The Vortex can air-fry, roast, bake and reheat, but there’s no option to grill or dehydrate here. Although we found some of the extra cooking methods weren’t quite as effective as the air fryer setting. For example, cinnamon rolls cooked on the bake setting were far too crisp after the allotted time.  

It’s worth noting, this is a relatively bulky appliance, so if you don’t have enough room to keep it on a counter top you’ll need to store it away when it’s not in use.

Read our full review: Instant Vortex Air Fryer

Proscenic T21 air fryer

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Proscenic T21 air fryer

Let Alexa control your air frying sessions

Reasons to buy

+Easy to clean+Speeds up cooking time+Connects to Wi-Fi and can be controlled from your phone

Reasons to avoid

Bulky and takes up a lot of countertop spaceResults weren’t evenly brownedRecipe app only works if air fryer is connected to Wi-Fi

If you love all things smart; then Proscenic’s T21 air fryer will pique your interest as it’s got Wi-Fi so you can control it remotely from your smartphone, and even integrates with Amazon Alexa so you can use your voice to start it cooking instead. 

On test, the T21 did a solid job at evenly browning fries and chicken wings, but it couldn’t quite achieve that satisfying crunch rival air fryers manage. As well as air frying, it can bake, grill, and roast. We found the T21 simple to use, with manual time and temperature controls, alongside eight presets for cooking everything from fries and pizza to cake, bacon, and even steak. 

There’s a handy keep-warm function that can keep any dish cooked in the air fryer at a steady temperature for up to two hours once cooking is complete, along with a delay cooking feature that will automatically start the air fryer at a time of your choosing. Despite all these bells and whistles, we were disappointed the air fryer didn’t remind us to turn the food halfway through cooking. 

Read our full review: Proscenic T21 air fryer 

Princess Digital Family Aerofryer

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Princess Digital Family Aerofryer

The Goldilocks of air fryers that offers something for everyone

Reasons to buy

+Intuitive digital controls+Classy design+Compact build

Reasons to avoid

Average chips and chicken

If the Ninja Foodi offers too many settings, the Instant Pot Vortx is too bulky and the Tefal isn’t healthy enough for you, the Princess Digital Family Aerofryer could be just right. Out of all the models in this list, the Princess hits a sweet spot by offering a wide range of digital settings via its touchscreen without being overly complicated. It’s also available in two sizes – 3.2L and 5.2L – and has a one-hour maximum timer setting. 

We tested the larger of the two models  –  it wasn’t the quietest air fryer we’ve used, but nor was it the loudest, and it also scored highly for not getting too hot to the touch during cooking. 

The Princess Digital’s fries weren’t as fluffy as others in this list, but it did give them a tasty skin. Similarly, its chicken was crispy on the outside, but a little dry on the inside. 

Read our full Princess Digital Family Aerofryer review