Sometimes, you simply don't have much cash to spend on an appliance, with a budget that limits you to under $100. That's why for those looking for a budget way to cook quicker than a conventional oven, the Magic Bullet air fryer may appeal, with a price tag as straightforward as its overall look.
Rather than touch controls or the ability to do multiple functions at once, the Magic Bullet Air Fryer works on a manual timer with a pull-out basket for your food. It's fairly compact, too, with a footprint that will save cluttered countertops from becoming overwhelmed.
If the Magic Bullet name is familiar to you, that's because there's some crossover with Nutribullet, as these two brands are owned by the same parent company.
The Magic Bullet Air Fryer is the first attempt from either of those brands to make it to the ranks of the best air fryers with the same affordable price tag. Here's what we thought of this budget-friendly buy when we tried it out at home.
Molly Cleary is a freelance reviewer and was previously the Staff Writer at Top Ten Reviews. She now works as an e-commerce editor at the home interest site Ideal Home, where she reviews air fryers, vacuums, and a huge range of other appliances every day.
Her writing has been featured in Live Science, My Imperfect Life, Livingetc and other titles. Molly tested this air fryer at home but regularly visits Future's test center to try out a host of other models.
Magic Bullet air fryer: Key specs
|Model no:||MBA50100 Air Fryer|
|Capacity:||11.81 x 11.81 x 12.6 inches|
Magic Bullet Air Fryer: Price & availability
The list price for the Magic Bullet Air Fryer is just $49.99 on the Nutribullet website, while it currently retails for $59.99 on Amazon.
It's one of the cheapest air fryers on the market, meaning the price is fairly unbeatable. It must be said that price and quality are two very different things, and regardless of how affordable it is, at any price, this air fryer will be too small for families.
Magic Bullet air fryer: First impressions
The Magic Bullet is one of the smallest air fryers I've ever tested, but that did make for a nice change when it came to the box, which was very manageable and easy to get into my apartment. However, this air fryer loses points when it comes to packaging, as there was a lot of plastic to untangle the appliance from.
To set up, you only need to position the grill plate inside the air fryer drawer and plug the appliance in. This air fryer is as elementary as it gets, and you won't need to familiarise yourself too much with the instruction manual. There are no recipe cards or other materials included, but I think that's to be expected for the price.
My first thought on the look of this air fryer was that it was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting, on the whole. Though it's a dial mechanism instead of a touch screen, it's smaller than it could be, and the shiny all-over finish is quite appealing. Okay, so there's no color available other than black, but if you're planning to stash this under your counter or in your pantry once you've used it, then it'll suffice.
It is very small though. Magic Bullet claims that this air fryer can fit 1lb of fries or half a head of cauliflower, which I'd say is about accurate, though it might be a tight squeeze. It's definitely an air fryer for one person or two at a stretch.
Magic Bullet Air Fryer: Design
The design of the Magic Bullet Air Fryer is very basic, with nothing added for aesthetic value. It looks like a small, shiny black box, and the drawer pulls out (quite clunkily) from the front.
On the top of the appliance is the temperature dial, which lets you set the temperature between 180 to 400°F. Alongside that are several diagrams of different foods (like fish or meat) with temperature guidelines that you can follow if you're new to air frying. Though it looks sort of like a touch screen, it isn't, and you can't peel it back, meaning there's no chance of a more minimalistic look.
The front of the air fryer is home to the timer element, which has a maximum time of one hour. It clicks as you set it into place, like an egg timer. It's very basic and sometimes difficult to get exactly right. If you want to set the air fryer for five minutes, for example, it can be tricky to get the appliance to turn on, as the marker for five is so close to zero.
There are two lights on the front of the appliance, too, one that indicates the air fryer is on and another that lets you know it's up to temperature. For the price, you can't expect much more design-wise, but it certainly won't be winning any awards, with a fair amount to be desired.
Magic Bullet air fryer: Performance
So, I set off to see how many fries I could fit inside the Magic Bullet air fryer. I first preheated the appliance by setting it off for five minutes and letting the burning plastic smell (that comes when you first use any air fryer) dissipate.
I was quite surprised at how few fries I could cram within the basket, which is not that much larger than the size of my outstretched hand. Sure, I could have packed more fries in, but without space, I find that they take far longer to cook. So, as far as portion sizes go, I think that there is a substantial constraint with what you can fit inside this air fryer.
Performance-wise, the fries did cook well and in good time, though I did struggle with the dial element when programming it. The manual dial is tricky to get down to a fine degree, as it auto-magnetizes back toward zero as it's a timer. That means that trying to set this air fryer to a time under five minutes was certainly a challenge.
Next up I cooked bacon in the basket, which is best done in an air fryer I think. Again, I found the dial difficult to set, as I didn't want to overcook the bacon, but the end product was well-cooked. Cleaning the basket after this test was also fairly easy, with the non-stick coating impressing me.
I tried vegetables next, with a medley of onions, peppers, and broccoli. It was a fairly small mix, and while it was fine to suit supplementing a bigger meal, I would really struggle to cook a whole meal in this air fryer for both me and my partner at the same time.
I had to go back for a separate cooking session in order to cook the main component of my meal, which was sausages. This was when my experimentation with the dial didn't exactly go to plan, with the sausages coming out way overdone. It's tricky to tell whether you've set the dial to 11 or 15 minutes, and I'd definitely urge vigilance when cooking if you do opt for this air fryer.
There's no other functionality with the Magic Bullet other than air frying, while more expensive appliances usually pack a few things into one, such as slow cooking or pressure cooking.
I thought the performance of the Magic Bullet was fine, aside from the times when the timer dial seemed to be working against me. Good points? It heats up quickly and is pretty powerful.
How does the Magic Bullet air fryer compare?
The Magic Bullet Air Fryer is a budget model with a design that matches its price tag. While its controls can be quite frustrating, the overall cooking power is fine, and it gets the job done without fuss.
It's a world away from more advanced models, such as the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro, which has a huge range of functions that would allow you to use it in place of many other appliances. If it's a do-it-all appliance you're looking for and your budget suits, then you'd be better off looking at what Breville and a countertop oven-style air fryer can offer you.
If the small capacity of the Magic Bullet air fryer won't do, but you're also not looking to spend quite as much as the Breville costs, then the Instant Vortex Dual 8-Quart Stainless Steel Air Fryer might just be the thing for you. It has much more space than the Magic Bullet and two separate cooking compartments so that you can cook a whole meal for your family with no issue.
Should you buy the Magic Bullet air fryer?
|Price||So affordable, but you get what you pay for in quality.||4|
|Design||Very basic, no color choices, dial controls||3|
|Performance||Tricky to program, but moderately powerful when cooking.||3.5|
Buy it if...
You need to spend less than $100, or less than $50 on sale
If you're on a tight budget, then look no further.
You're cooking for one
If you have no need to double up on capacity, then this one-person size will suit you just fine.
You don't mind dial controls
This will be just fine if you don't mind going back to basics when it comes to the temperature and time dials.
Don’t buy it if…
You're cooking for more than one
There just isn't enough space within this air fryer for family meal times.
If you're picky about what gets a spot on your counter, then this air fryer won't cut it for you.
How we tested the Magic Bullet Air Fryer
The main testing criteria with this air fryer were to find out how well it cooked a range of foods, its value for money, and its overall design.
I did several rounds of testing using different foods. I recorded how long each food type took and took photographs to document how cooked everything was.
Finally, I cleaned and stored the air fryer at home to have a realistic depiction of day-to-day use.
Read more about how we test.
First reviewed: October 2023