Kitchen appliances are often categorized as wants or needs, but some — such as food processors and air fryers — fall into a gray area. Air fryers have become a must-have item of late, and for good (albeit delicious) reason: With these trendy gadgets, popular bar snacks like mozzarella sticks, chicken wings and fries can be made at home, sans excessive amounts of grease and oil. They also revolutionized the way people cook by significantly cutting down the time they normally spend in the kitchen. So while an air fryer might not be a bare necessity, it’s definitely a hot ticket item to consider adding to your countertop collection.
For those who (somehow) aren’t familiar with these interestingly shaped appliances, an air fryer’s purpose is to serve up foods that are crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside with little to no oil necessary. But let’s be clear on one crucial detail: Air fryers don’t just make unhealthy foods slightly healthier. These devices can cook a wide range of items from appetizers and entrees (see: entire chickens) to crisp veggies, roasted potatoes and even baked goods — all at a fraction of the time it would normally take you to whip up a meal in a traditional oven. If that’s not a selling point for busy moms, we’re not sure what is.
However, not all air fryers are created equally. Some are basic, air-circulating ovens while others boast all kinds of extra features, such as dishwasher-safe parts and dehydrating racks to make dried fruit and veggie chips. No matter what you’re looking for in the device, the best air fryers deliver everything you crave.
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1. COSORI Air Fryer
The COSORI isn’t just an air fryer: it’s a culinary masterpiece. The all-in-one appliance features 11 functions from steak and seafood to veggies and desserts, so you can serve up anything and everything you’re craving with minimal prep required on your end. And with 3.7 quarts’ worth of cooking space in its square non-stick basket, it’s the perfect appliance for families of two to three people.
In addition to its cooking features, what sets this air fryer apart from competitors is its preheating option. Compared to traditional ovens, the COSORI air fryer can preheat in 2 to 5 minutes, and this extra step has been known to visibly improve food texture. It also features a shake reminder function that lets you know when your food needs a quick shake to ensure an even fry.
2. Ninja Air Fryer
Oftentimes collecting trendy kitchen appliances leads to very little counter space to spare, but that’s where Ninja’s Air Fryer comes in. The four-quart air fryer takes up slightly less room compared to chunkier models and other appliances like standing mixers, but still features some of the extra bells and whistles you’re looking for in one of these gadgets. For example, in addition to a preheating function, there’s also a dehydrating capability that allows you to make dried fruits, veggie chips and slices of homemade jerky. Plus, all of the Ninja Air Fryer’s accessories are dishwasher safe, so not only will you significantly cut down on time in the kitchen, but cleanup takes no time at all.
3. OMORC 6QT Air Fryer
OMORC 6QT Air Fryer was made for the cook with multiple mouths to feed or the frequent hostess. It boasts 50 percent more capacity than competitors, and serves up enough food for five to eight people. Plus, with an exclusive cooking element and hot air circulation system, OMORC’s air fryer delivers the crunchy texture you crave sans roughly 85 percent of the oils typically added to your favorite restaurant bites.