Food

The best air fryers of 2020

The best air fryers of 2020
The best air fryers of 2020

More and more air fryers keep popping up on store shelves—and for good reason. With the promise to cook up crispy yet juicy foods without all that bad-for-you fat, these kitchen appliances are practically irresistible. Any food that calls for frying—such as French fries or chicken wings—can now be made in one of these countertop deep-fryer alternatives. They can also make vegetables, side dishes, desserts, and more.

But the best air fryers don’t come cheap and aren’t small, so the right one needs to live up to all your expectations.

1. Philips Airfryer XXL

When it comes to frying, the Philips Airfryer XXL is the best air fryer we tested and the most user-friendly. During testing, it produced the tastiest French fries (over three pounds at a time!), battered Nashville hot chicken that tasted deep-fried, and hamburgers that rivaled ones made on the grill. This is a big, heavy, and expensive machine that’s noisier than most when it’s operating. However, it’s relatively easy to use—this one requires no preheat—and the results are worth the payoff. All of the parts can go in the dishwasher and it can make you large family-sized portions. The Philips Airfryer XXL is worth the investment.

2. Cuisinart Compact AirFryer

The best air fryers of 2020

The first thing you’ll notice about the Cuisinart Compact AirFryer is that unlike most air fryers, it’s not oddly shaped like a huge egg or space capsule. Its shape helps it fit more neatly on countertops or in cabinets, but it still takes up a bit of real estate (in spite of its name).

It's a relatively uncomplicated appliance in terms of heating elements. You turn dials to set the temperature and the cooking time, and there’s no need to preheat. As it has a wide basket, food can be spread out to get more even and crispy results with relatively quick cooking times and without the food drying out in the time it takes to air-fry.

Neither the stainless-steel basket nor the drip pan is dishwasher-safe, so it's not necessarily easy to clean. However, if you’re looking for an appliance to air-fry and do it well, and you don’t want to pay an exorbitant amount of money, this Cuisinart is well worth your consideration.

3. Cuisinart Airfryer Toaster Oven

The best air fryers of 2020

While not inexpensive, the Cuisinart Airfryer Toaster Oven is cheaper, not to mention more space-efficient, than buying a toaster oven and an air fryer separately. We found its heat element worked as well and, in some cases, better than dedicated air fryers at browning and crisping. In addition, it toasted bread exceptionally evenly.

Unlike most models in this price category, this Cuisinart doesn’t have digital controls, which keeps it from being our best air fryer. While it’s not a huge appliance, it is taller than typical toaster ovens. Also, if you love to toss everything in the dishwasher, be aware that all the parts need to be cleaned by hand. But unless you already have a toaster oven that you love, the Cuisinart is a good buy for its versatility.

4. Ninja Air Fryer

The best air fryers of 2020

The Ninja Air Fryer gave our top-rated Philips Airfryer XXL a run for the money. You could have convinced us that the breaded and battered chicken pieces from this Ninja were fried in the best cast iron skillet. French fries came close to the real thing but didn’t have quite the allover crunch that you get from a deep fryer or from the Philips (which can even crisp up a whole bag of French fries at once). However, the Ninja is about a quarter of the price of the Philips and is nowhere near as big or heavy.

On the Ninja, you’ll find digital controls and settings for reheating, roasting, and dehydrating. More options make for more complicated programming, but after a few cooks, you’ll easily master the necessary steps. The nonstick coated basket can be cleaned in the dishwasher. With this air fryer, you also get a stainless-steel rack for multilevel cooking.

5. Ninja Foodi

The best air fryers of 2020

In addition to being an air fryer, the Ninja Foodi is also a pressure cooker and a slow cooker. It not only does all three functions, but it does them well. In fact, it cooked the crunchiest, most well-browned results in our air fryer cook-off, plus it pressure-cooks as well as any of those appliances we’ve ever tested (In fact, Reviewed named it the best upgrade pick in the best pressure cookers guide, too). The Foodi is space-saving compared to owning three separate appliances, but it should be noted that it is still quite large and heavy.

Additional programs on the Foodi allow you to broil, dehydrate, steam, slow cook, and sauté. If you like, you can even combine two functions, such as pressure-cooking a chicken and then browning and crisping the skin on the air-fry setting. It takes a little practice to get a hang of programming the digital controls. However, the screen is well designed with large easy-to-read lettering. The basket and the pot are nonstick-coated and safe for dishwasher cleaning, but the lids require hand-washing TLC.