How To Choose An Air Fryer
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Wondering how to choose an air fryer? You aren’t alone! As these kitchen appliances become more and more popular, plenty of people are starting to wonder if an air fryer should have some real estate on their countertops. And many start off pretty confused about how to pick an air fryer.
The good news is that it’s a relatively simple process with only a few things to consider. The downside is, you have to narrow down your choice to one air fryer when there are so many amazing air fryers to consider. But don’t worry, we are here to help.
What Size Air Fryer Do I Need?
There is a short progression of questions that will help you determine this pretty quickly.
- Measure your available counter space and subtract an inch for air flow. That is the limit on the size you can buy.
- Now go look up air fryers on amazon to see what the maximum number of quarts are for the size air fryer you can fit on your countertop. (Air fryers are most often measured in how many quarts of food they can cook at one time). Note that our post on what size air fryer you need has air fryers organized by size if that helps to get you started.
- If you have plenty of space, consider how many people you will be cooking for.
- Always, always, always purchase the largest air fryer you can afford or have room for. The only true regret you will ever have with an air fryer is getting one that is too small for your needs.
Note that we have air fryers in each size our What Size Air Fryer Do You Need post if you’d like to see some examples of the different sizes.
WHAT TYPE OF AIR FRYER SHOULD YOU GET?
Where regular home air fryers are concerned (we are not talking about turkey air fryers or microwave air fryers) there are three standard types.
- Paddle air fryers
- Basket air fryers
- Toaster oven style air fryers
Neither type is better or worse. But each type has its pros and cons. So lets look at those to help you narrow down your choice.
Paddle Air Fryers
Paddle air fryers typically have a base bowl/basket that sits on the large base and electrical component. (Like setting a pot on a stove, more or less). You set the paddle inside this bowl and fill the bowl with your food. The the paddle pushes the food around as it cooks. The bowl typically is solid unless it has a wire or mesh type basket that sits inside it.
- PROS – With these rotating air fryers, you never have to worry about manually turning/flipping your food like in a toaster oven style air fryer, or shaking it in a basket air fryer during cooking. They are a “set-it-and-forget-it” type of air fryer because the paddle rotates your food for you. These also do not have hole in the bottom for air flow. So they can handle sauce-based foods pretty well.
- CONS – These air fryers tend to mash certain foods under the paddle instead of rotating them. And if one part of the machine breaks, you have to return/replace the entire unit. Most companies do not sell replacement parts for these types of air fryers.
Basket Air Fryers
These are what most people think of when they think of air fryers. These are currently a “standard” in the air fryer world. They have a slide out drawer/basket that typically has two part that separate. The outer drawer has a handle and is solid all the way around. This is what catches any drippings or excess oil. The second part is the basket that sits inside the drawer and has holes in the bottom for air flow. This is where your food sits for cooking.
- PROS – These types of air fryers come in all sizes and do a great job of cooking food.
- CONS – They are egg shaped and somewhat bulky as they go up in size. They do require you to shake the basket a time or two during cooking to agitate the food to help it cook evenly. Some manufacturers make these with permanent halogen bulbs that cannot be replaced.
Countertop Convection Oven Air Fryers
There are generally two different types of countertop convection oven air fryers. They have multiple functions and are technically convection ovens with an air fryer setting rather than being an air fryer with multiple functions. The first type is very much like a toaster oven. The second is basically a large bowl with a lid that has a heating element in it.
- PROS – These have many functions that can replace other small appliances in your kitchen as well as your oven in some cases. They do a good job of air frying food, but also allow you to bake, roast, rotisserie and even dehydrate.
- CONS – Not all models do a good job of cooking frozen food. For models with halogen bulbs, the light during cooking is considerably bright and will flash on and off to maintain the level of heat. (Get ready to disco!). The Toaster oven style air fryers usually require a warm up period and can be a bit tough to keep clean on the inside.
Air Fryer Functions
One of the things you should definitely consider in an air fryer are its functions. Do you need just and air fryer or would you get more use out of it if it could do other things?
Much of this will boil down to how you typically cook in your kitchen. Are you a cook who loves to do “all-the-things”, or do you just want to get in, get it cooked, and get out?
Some air fryers are meant to only air fry food, and they are typically pretty good at doing just that.
Other air fryers, particularly the paddle and countertop convection oven types will do many things like roast, rotisserie, bake and even dehydrate. So consider they types of functions you’d like to have in an appliance that will be taking up a chunk of your counter space.
What Size Air Fryer Should You Get?
The size of your air fryer will determine how much food you can cook in one batch. This will be dictated by a few things. How many people you cook for and how large your meals typically are. Also consider if you want an air fryer for full meals or just for snacks like cooking frozen french fries.
We will always tell you to get the largest air fryer you can afford and fit into your kitchen. You can never go wrong with getting a larger size in an air fryer. But you have to do that within the constraints of both your wallet and your countertop space.
Air fryers range from 1 quart size all the way up to 19 quarts for home use. Commercial air fryers can go up to 31.7 quarts in size. The quart measurement refers to how much food you can put into an air fryer in one session. But keep in mind that air fryers function on air flow. So cooking 1 quart of onion rings will be very different than cooking a quart-worth of steak. Consider quarts as a loose reference and always get the biggest air fryer you can.
You can read more about how to get the proper size for your needs here in this article, “What Size Air Fryer Do I Need?”.
Should You Buy A Warranty For Your Air Fryer?
Air fryers have gotten a reputation for short life spans. And in many cases, this reputation is warranted. Some last about a year and then break down completely. This is understandably frustrating for consumers. For this reason, we highly recommend that you not only purchase a warranty for your air fryer, but that you purchase and extended warranty. Most warranties will cover a unit for just about the length of the lifespan of the unit. So purchasing an extended warranty will ensure that if it does break down after the standard warranty, you are still covered and can get your unit replaced. It’s a small investment in making sure you aren’t wasting your money. Totally worth it in our opinion.
What Wattage Do You Need?
Air fryer wattage can vary greatly. You’ll need to be sure your kitchen electrical outlets can handle the wattage of your air fryer. Wattage ranges from 800 to 1800 watts. So be aware of what your kitchen offers in that department.
The truth is, we do our best to give you accurate and up-to-date information on air fryers. But nothing will replace you doing your own research. We can help you narrow down your search, but ultimately, you have to decide on an air fryer and then research it to be sure it will properly suit your needs.
Never rely on one website to give you all your information. Check Consumer Reports and other air fryer review websites, as well as amazon reviews to get a feel for what your chosen air fryer will be like once you bring it home.
Keep in mind that reviews can be fickle and often, many are posted out of anger and frustration from user error, leading to a worse review than an appliance truly deserves.
But in some cases, a bad review is legit and you should pay attention to that if there are many of them.
Every manufacturer will end up sending out the occasional lemon. That’s life and sometimes, we are the ones that end up with that lemon. That’s why doing your research is so important. If your air fryer is a lemon but you found positive reviews everywhere, it’s possible you can just have the company replace your bad one for a good one. But if there are tons of bad reviews and you purchase it anyway, then you have to take on the responsibility of things going wrong.
All this to say, use multiple resources to do your research before you buy an air fryer or any appliance.