If you live in America, then at one point or another, you’ve probably eaten fried food. (And if you’re like the majority of the country, you probably liked it.) But with increasing pressure to be more health-conscious – and rightfully so – perhaps it’s time to rethink how we fry our food. No one is taking away the crispy fried chicken or the sugar-coated funnel cakes; achieve the same taste and texture of your deep-fried favorites, without the extra fat and calories, by cooking them in an air fryer. That’s right, air fryers use little to no oil! The miniature ovens have a highly concentrated heat source and powerful fan that circulates hot air around the food. Taking up no more space on your countertop than a medium-sized toaster, air fryers are likely to become a kitchen staple.
The 3.6-quart Chefman TurboFry is a great value product. Easy to use and lightweight, this smart system has many desirable features: the body is made with CoolTouch technology and there are vents on the top and back of the fryer to prevent burning curious fingers. And for additional safety measures, the device won’t operate unless the tray is fully inserted into the fryer (and plugged in). The dual temperature and time gauge remembers your settings and the remaining cook time, even when it’s in sleep mode, which is especially helpful for foods that need occasional rotating.
Suggested foods to try: Panko-breaded chicken nuggets or sweet potato fries
Ninja Max XL Air Fryer
Incredibly versatile, the Ninja Max XL has seven functions in one unit. It can take on cooking, crisping, roasting, broiling, baking, reheating and dehydrating in this tiny but mighty machine. You can crank up the temperature to an impressive 450 degrees (many other models tend to max out at 400 degrees) for a super crispy finish in less time than it will take to put in a load of laundry. And speaking of washing, the Ninja accessories are dishwasher safe, making cleanup a breeze.
Suggested foods to try: Mozzerella sticks or fried okra
COSORI Pro II
Time to bust out the big boy. The COSORI air fryer’s large capacity can hold a 6-lb whole chicken in its square basket. Choose from any of the 12 one-touch presets that automatically use the best time and temperature for steak, shrimp and frozen vegetables. A big bonus for novice chefs, taking out the unnecessary guesswork, this air fryer also comes with a cookbook of over 100 recipes so you’ll never run out of ideas. Just be careful when you’re pulling the basket out because it’s been said that this unit gets very hot, very fast.
Suggested foods to try: Chicken-fried steak or Cornish hens
BLACK+DECKER Purify 2-Liter Air Fryer
If you’re a little hesitant to believe that delicious fried foods can be made without having them submerged in a vat of oil, consider the Black + Decker Purify as your introductory air fryer. This model is ideal for cooking sides or main dishes for one to two people. The Purify automatically cuts off after the set time so no need to worry too much about the appliance causing a fire if you forget to unplug it. Like many former air-fryer skeptics, you’ll end up using this multiple times a week!
Suggested foods to try: Pizza rolls or fish fillets
Instant Vortex Air Fryer
The Instant Vortex’s sleek angular design will be a talking point of your countertop, no doubt. The touchscreen digital interface is very user-friendly due to its programmed options, that also have the ability to adjust in 5-degree increments to achieve precise temperature settings. Using 95 % less oil and fat than deep frying (with the same great taste), the choice is very clear. And it’s no louder than the sound of your microwave!
Suggested foods to try: Coconut shrimp or mini doughnut holes