Skip to main content

Best air fryers 2020: Cheap air fryers for healthy cooking

Best air fryers 2020: Cheap air fryers for healthy cooking
(Image credit: Getty)

The best air fryers will provide you with delicious, healthy meals without compromising on flavor. Quality air fryers will be quick heating, efficient, and offer a range of convenient features to reduce your cooking time. In this guide, we’ve got our pick of small air fryers, cheap options, and air fryer toaster oven combos. 

Unlike traditional frying or deep fryers where food is submerged in a vat of oil, an air fryer requires very little oil. Essentially, the air fryer works like a mini oven, with a convection fan that circulates hot air around the food much faster than a standard oven. The results are perfectly crisp food with less oil and no greasy mess to dispose of. Whether you want crispy chicken, fries, roast vegetables, or desserts, you can cook almost anything in an air fryer. The best air fryers also take less time to preheat and can reheat any leftover food without drying it out.

The best air fryers can do more than just fry, with multi-cook options to bake, grill, dehydrate, roast, and some offer an air fryer toaster oven combination. But with so many on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one. There are some things to consider before buying an air fryer. 

Firstly, look at the capacity (normally measured in quarts) to decide whether it has enough space for all your culinary needs. It usually starts from around 2 quarts and can go up to 7 quarts which is ideal for busy households. Bear in mind, the larger it is, the more space it will take up on your kitchen countertop or in your cupboard so make sure you can accommodate it. 

It’s worthwhile noting what features your air fryer comes with. Normally cheap air fryers have manual control dials for temperature and timers, while the latest models have digital one-touch screen displays. Also, check for useful pre-settings that already have the precise temperatures for various dishes. Other factors include ease of use, safety features, design, and accessories you might need. Air fryers usually come with a removable pan, separate basket, stackable racks, and trays that are dishwasher-safe and will save you time on cleaning.  Finally, the cost is important as you want to make sure you’ll be getting great value for money.

To find the best air fryer to suit your healthy cooking needs, see our best picks below. 


1. NuWave Brio 37001 6-Quart Air Fryer: Best overall air fryer  

NuWave Brio 37001 6-Quart Air Fryer review

(Image credit: Walmart )

NuWave Brio 37001 6-Quart Air Fryer

The NuWave Brio 37001 6-Quart Air Fryer is the best overall air fryer.

Power: 1800 Watts | Capacity (quart): 6 | Display: Digital

Six convenient presets  
Large capacity 
Noisy 
No other colors available 

The NuWave Brio 37001 6-Quart Air Fryer was the most versatile in our reviews, offering plenty of cooking options. As well as being used as an air fryer, it can also grill, bake, dehydrate, roast, broil, and reheat. With a powerful 1800W, it also has a precise temperature control that can evenly cook your meals and bake desserts at a high heat in less time. 

It also comes with a large 6-qt capacity which is sufficient for cooking large quantities or accommodating a whole chicken. This will save you more time in the kitchen and makes this an ideal choice for big households. 

Another impressive feature is the easy-to-use touch controls that offer a range of presets and manual control options that you would ever need. Other things we liked were the convenient divider in the basket to separate foods, making it easy to cook different things at once. The removable parts are all dishwasher safe, which is always handy. The only downside is it runs louder than other brands. 


2. Cuisinart Compact Air Fryer Toaster Oven: Best air fryer toaster oven 

Cuisinart Compact Air Fryer Toaster Oven review

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Cuisinart Compact Air Fryer Toaster Oven

The Cuisinart Compact Air Fryer Toaster Oven is the best air fryer toaster oven combo.

Power: 1500 Watts | Capacity (quart): 1.2 | Display : Manual controls

 Viewing window 
 Toast shade timer 
 Small capacity 
 No LED display 

If you’re a fan of rustling up toasted treats, the Cuisinart Compact Air Fryer Toaster Oven is ideal. This compact oven can air fry, toast and bake your favorite dishes. Despite its small capacity of 1.2 quart, the Cuisinart Compact Air Fryer Toaster Oven has all the features of a full-sized fryer. It quickly heats up thanks to its 1500W power and comes with six convenient functions.

We liked the handy viewing window so you can monitor your cooking progress, and the range of useful features including browning control, a keep warm setting, and a slide-out crumb tray. One downside is it doesn’t have an interior light or handles on the pull-out rack so be mindful when handling your hot food.  

It also doesn’t have digital controls, just simple knobs, which may be disappointing for some. However, it looks sleek, attractive and compact to fit nicely in any space. This may not be ideal if you have a big family, but more suited to a household of two people.  


3. GoWISE GW22956 Air Fryer: Best extra large air fryer

GoWISE GW22956 Air Fryer review

(Image credit: Home Depot)

GoWISE GW22956 Air Fryer

The GoWISE GW22956 Air Fryer is the best extra large air fryer around.

Power: 1700 Watts | Capacity (quart): 7 | Display: Digital

Three stackable racks 
Large capacity 
Difficult to clean 
Basket cannot be removed 

The GoWISE GW22956 Air Fryer is the best large capacity air fryer that has a built-in dehydrator to enhance your cooking results. It also comes with eight convenient preset functions to cook a variety of foods. The fryer heats up quickly and evenly crisps and bakes delicious meals within minutes. 

The stand-out feature is its generous 7-quart capacity which offers plenty of room to cook multiple dishes at once. What’s more, it comes with three stackable racks which let you prepare different types of foods that will save you time in the long-run. 

The design is modern and stylish, and we particularly liked its sleek digital screen that will literally do all the work for you at just the touch of a button. This makes it very user-friendly and convenient for busy households. The only downside is it doesn’t come with a removable basket like other brands, which may make dishing out hot food more challenging. However, its large capacity, power and space efficiency are a winner. 


4. Philips XXL HD9630/98 Air Fryer: Best small air fryer 

Philips XXL HD9630/98 Air Fryer review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Philips XXL HD9630/98 Air Fryer

The Philips XXL HD9630/98 is the best small air fryer.

Power: 1725 Watts | Capacity (quart): 4 | Display: Manual controls

 Easy to use 
 Dishwasher-safe removable parts 
 No on/off switch 
 Expensive 

The Philips XXL HD9630/98 Air Fryer is a small air fryer that is a great practical option. It gets its power from the Twin TurboStar convection that circulates heat at a much faster rate. We were impressed with its exceptional crisp results in just half the time of a conventional oven. It’s clear this model was designed with practicality in mind. The slide-out basket is convenient for not having to lift out the basket each serving, and all detachable parts are easy to clean and maintain. 

It doesn’t have all the fancy features like a digital touchscreen or even an on/off switch (the timer will automatically shut off the unit), but the manual controls are simple and easy to operate. The capacity isn’t huge either, so this wouldn’t be ideal for a large household, but this perfect for rustling up quick snacks or for a small family.  


5. Power Air Fryer PAFO-B: Best value air fryer

Power Air Fryer PAFO-B review

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Power Air Fryer PAFO-B

The Power Air Fryer PAFO-B is the best value air fryer

Power: 1700 Watts | Capacity (quart): 6 | Display: Digital

7-in-1 multi-cook 
Viewing window 
Only has 60-day warranty
Quite bulky 

The Power Air Fryer PAFO-B is a sleek and good value air fryer that heats up in no time. Easy to operate with a handy LED touch display, it comes with eight presets and a range of useful, multi-cook features. The rotation setting in particular was ideal for roasting foods like fries or a whole chicken. 

Another great feature is its large capacity and multiple wire racks which are handy for cooking a variety of dishes at once. We also liked the viewing window with an interior light to make it easier to monitor your culinary delights. The fact that you can place the racks on both the top and bottom makes it more space efficient.

In addition, the cleaning process is a breeze. There is a handy drip tray at the bottom to collect any grease and all parts are dishwasher-safe. The only thing worth noting is that some foods may stick to the wire racks, but this can be resolved with a little oil spray or parchment paper.  Overall, it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a good value air fryer. 


Why choose an air fryer? 

We contacted Isabel Maples, MEd, RDN, who is a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to talk about potential nutritional benefits of using one of these machines. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics does not endorse any products, but Maples did indicate there can be nutritional benefits to using these machines.

"Little or no oil is used, depending on what’s being cooked. In general, hot air fryers use about three-quarters less oil. The biggest health benefit is the calorie reduction," according to Maples. "Enjoying food with fewer calories is important, since two out of three Americans are overweight or obese." 

For more information on air fryers and their benefits, head to our feature asking how do air fryers work and are they healthy?



Quick tips

These machines generated quite a bit of smoke in our testing, even though they use very little oil. Firing up your oven vent might be helpful to keep the smoke at bay.

Additional knowledge 

The air fryers we tested generally made good on their claims – they produced crispy finished foods with much less oil than deep frying, even if it does not taste too much like your deep-fried favorites. For the record, a good convection oven – even a small countertop one – can also do that. It is worth considering whether that might suit your needs better, especially since convection ovens generally have a larger capacity and don't take up much more counter space than an air fryer. Air fryers might work just fine if you have a small household, though, and they are easy to use. If you decide an air fryer is right for you, consider these factors as you hunt down the best one for you:

How much do air fryers cost? 


Based on our research, air fryers can cost $58 to $300. During our testing, high price does not necessarily equate to better results. 

Convenience
When thinking about how an air fryer will fit into your routine, consider cleaning. Most of them have baskets that go right into the dishwasher, but if you prefer to clean in the sink, look for ones with non-stick coating. Units without non-stick coating were much harder to clean in our testing, even after soaking.

Safety

Most of these cookers will turn themselves off if you forget about them, but double check for that feature. Some of them become hot on the outside during cooking, and that can be a problem, especially if you have kids.

Warranty

These machines are not terribly expensive, but it's still nice to know you are covered if something goes wrong. Look for long warranties and companies that are easy to contact if you have questions.

What can you make in an air fryer? 

Air fryers generally make only a small amount of food, even the bigger models. But that doesn't mean you have to stick to french fries and other deep fryer favorites. An air fryer can be far more versatile than that. There are lots of places online that provide some insight on how your air fryer can be used to make full dinners – not just appetizers or side courses. Just keep in mind it might only be dinner for two unless you have one of the larger models.

Some of the easiest recipes we saw are for things you might not initially think to put in an air fryer. You can make a reasonably large batch of baked potatoes, for instance. We like the idea of doing a batch of eggs in the air fryer too. You don't even have to bother with water. You can also do your Thanksgiving turkey in an air fryer as long as you are not expecting a big crowd.

As long as you keep small quantities in mind, you can have a lot of fun making a few different baked goods in your air fryer as well. Some models come with baking cups and other accessories to facilitate lots of variety in your projects.