You’ve heard about all the benefits of oil-less air frying and have decided to buy your first air fryer, but the number of options out there can be intimidating. Whether you’re a seasoned chef who can take advantage of the full range of features an air fryer offers or a novice cook who needs a little guidance—whether you’re cooking for your extended family or just yourself, you want to make sure that you get the best air fryer to suit your needs. Knowing what you want beforehand will help you get the best value for your purchase and ensure that you’re happy with what you get.
An air fryer’s features are its most prominent selling points, and the wide range of air fryer models available offer an even wider range of features. You need to consider a few things when looking for an air fryer. The most important consideration for most future air frying masters is going to be price, and the price of each model depends primarily on the features you choose when you buy.
First, consider how much food you’re going to be cooking. Obviously, a larger air fryer can cook more food. If you’re planning on frying food for the whole family at once, you definitely want more capacity. If you’re cooking for fewer people—or even if you want to cook in smaller batches—a smaller air fryer will do.
Most air fryers use quarts to measure their capacity, and some manufacturers explain this number in terms of ounces, liters, or pounds. For example, one Philips model translates its 2.75-quart capacity to 1.8 pounds of food. However, if the air fryer you’re looking at talks about pounds of food, make sure the manufacturer specifies what kind of food they’re talking about (like a three-pound chicken rather than simply three pounds of food); different foods have different shapes, so not all foods will fit in an air fryer the same way.
Air fryer sizes can range from as small as 2 quarts to a massive as 16 quarts. You probably won’t need the largest sizes unless you’re frequently cooking for a lot of people, so for most, the small- or mid-range sizes are going to be best (somewhere between 3 and 6 quarts, most likely).
One of the best parts of air fryers is how quickly they cook food. Different air fryers use different amounts of power. Air fryers that use more power either heat up faster and cook food faster or need the extra power for their larger size.
Air fryer power is usually measured in watts. Units with a larger capacity will generally need more power than smaller units because there’s more space to heat up. A same-size air fryer with more watts will have more power than other fryers of the same size, meaning the more powerful air fryer should heat up and cook faster.
One important thing to note: Make sure the outlet you’re planning to plug your air fryer into can handle the power requirements. It wouldn’t do you any good to have an air fryer that you can’t turn on!
Pre-Programmed Cooking Settings
If you’re buying your first air fryer, you’re probably not yet comfortable with how it cooks food. Luckily, many air fryer models some with pre-programmed buttons that automatically set a cooking time and temperature for specific dishes.
Look for these settings when you’re buying your first air fryer. They usually cover many dishes that you want to cook in an air fryer (like French fries, chicken, steak, roasts, shrimp, and even some baked goods). Once you’re more comfortable with your fryer, you can start tweaking the time and temperature to suit your tastes.
Removable, Dishwasher-Safe Parts
Everybody’s least-favorite part of cooking is cleaning up afterward, but nobody likes a messy kitchen either. The thought of scrubbing an air fryer clean after every use does not sound appealing to most.
Luckily, some air fryers feature removable, dishwasher-safe parts and accessories. For example, with the Power AirFryer XL, you can simply detach the fry basket and stick it in the dishwasher. Look for this feature if you want to cut down the time you spend cleaning up after frying significantly.
The other major factor you’ll want to consider when looking at potential air fryers is the accessories they offer. These accessories can transform your air fryer, letting you cook dishes you might not have even considered cooking in a fryer.
For example, some air fryer inserts let you grill food in your fryer. Others let you cook pizza—with deliciously crispy crust—right in your fryer.
Other accessories might even help you meet your healthy eating goals. Many air fryers come with dividers that can split their fry basket into multiple portions. This can let you cook multiple batches of food at once or, if you’re getting into air frying out of a desire to eat healthier, help you control your portions.
Before you buy, take a look at what accessories are compatible with the air fryers you’re considering and see if any of them look appealing. The accessories that complement your cooking needs best are usually worth the price.
There’s a lot of factors to consider when you’re buying your first air fryer. Look for the features and accessories that best suit your air frying needs. If you need to cook for more people, get an air fryer with a larger capacity—and, potentially, more power. Make sure you get a model with pre-programmed cooking functions and removable, dishwasher-safe parts. Finally, look at any accessories for your chosen model that would best fit your cooking style.