7 top-rated air fryers that can make your meals even more delicious

Banu Ibrahim, CNN Underscored
Updated Mon April 27, 2020

Chicken wings. French fries. Mozzarella sticks. Tater tots. Onion rings. Potato chips. Pigs in a blanket. Mini pizzas. These greasy guilty pleasures have a special place in our hearts, but so much deep fried food can give your body a real beating. If all this heavy food has you craving a slightly healthier twist any time you can get one, an air fryer might be your secret weapon. With the touch of a button, an air fryer allows you to make all the foods above at a fraction of the fat content and calorie count.

Unlike typical frying devices, air fryers circulate hot air throughout the device, similar to what happens in a convection oven. And when combined with a minimal amount of oil (typically only about a teaspoon or less, as opposed to the pints of oil used in deep fat frying), it can yield the same delicious results and crunch as deep frying.

While all air fryers can crisp up your ingredients, differences between models range in terms of functionality and overall capacity. Some are better for single-serving cooking, others have smart designs that can make meal prep hands-off, and there's a whole host of differences in between. It's what makes shopping for an air fryer a more difficult decision that you might anticipate.

To help find the right air fryer for you, we've compiled seven of the top air fryer models, all of which we chose for their combination of customer satisfaction ratings, overall functionality and price. To make it even easier, we've broken down which device is suitable for every sort of lifestyle and set of needs.

All you have to do is add the model of your choice to your shopping cart and start cooking.

For the Instant Pot lovers

Instant Pot 6-Quart Vortex Air Fryer ($99.99; target.com)

Instant Pot 6-Quart Vortex Air Fryer

Instant Pot devotees will love the brand's very own air fryer, which comes with Instant Pot's signature one-touch cooking technology. The Vortex Air Fryer has eight simple touch controls, which makes cooking a breeze. Four built-in smart programs go beyond just air frying and can roast, bake and reheat food in a flash. Other benefits of the appliance that have won over past customers include its easy-to-clean basket, as well as its spacious design that can hold large quantities of food, such as a whole 4-pound chicken. Just think how many Buffalo chicken wings you can make in one go with this one.

_______________________________________________________________________________

For the tech-obsessed

Cosori Smart Wi-FI Air Fryer ($119.99; amazon.com)

Cosori Smart Wi-FI Air Fryer

First and foremost, you love cooking. But you also love tech gadgets, especially smart devices that take everyday tasks deeper into the 21st century. If that sounds like you, this Cosori air fryer should be on your radar. This device can be connected to its companion app that will give you access to over 100 original and preprogrammed recipes that you can cook completely hands-free. And its added voice-assistant integration means that you can also control the device through Alexa devices, such as the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot.

_______________________________________________________________________________

For small kitchens

Dash 2-Quart Compact Air Fryer ($46.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)

Dash 2-Quart Compact Air Fryer

Most air fryers come in 5- to 6-quart designs. But if your kitchen countertop space is limited, a compact air fryer might be the right choice. This popular design from Dash is about half the size of traditional designs, and is ideal for cooking dishes for one. It's also scored extra points from past customers for its ease of use and sleek design.

_______________________________________________________________________________

For the Amazon devotees

Cosori Air Fryer Max XL ($119.99; amazon.com)

Cosori Air Fryer Max XL

With over 8,000 past customer ratings under its belt, Cosori is Amazon's most reviewed air fryer. It also happens to be one of the most popular, with a 4.7-star rating. This design is larger than the previous designs on our list (it can feed three to five people in total and can hold upward of 6 pounds of food). It has 11 touch settings that can cook steak, poultry, seafood, shrimp, bacon, frozen foods, french fries, vegetables, root vegetables, bread and desserts — basically, you name it and the Cosori can cook it. If you're not sure where to start, the device comes with a guide with nearly 100 recipes to get your creative juices flowing.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Ninja Air Fryer ($99.99, originally $129.99; amazon.com)

Ninja Air Fryer

Another model that has won over Amazon customers is the Ninja Air Fryer (also rated 4.7 stars by over 5,000 customers). It's also been named an Amazon's Choice product, a special distinction for goods on the site that are highly rated, well-priced and available to be shipped immediately. This dishwasher-safe model is best known for its ability to help foodies enjoy healthy alternatives to fried foods that contain 75% less fat than traditional cooking methods.

_______________________________________________________________________________

For the foodies

Chefman 6.3-Quart Digital Air Fryer ($99.99, originally $149.99; bestbuy.com)

Chefman 6.3-Quart Digital Air Fryer

When it comes to kitchen appliances, you want something that is versatile and can be used to craft a number of dishes. After all, you're a foodie who loves creating and trying new foods. The Chefman Digital Air Fryer is a model that suits your lifestyle. This design can handle so much more than just french fries (although it's great for those, too). It can also dehydrate fruits, crisp up pizza crust, act as a rotisserie for your proteins and bake desserts to perfection.

_______________________________________________________________________________

For the budget-conscious

Gourmia Digital Air Fryer ($69.99; bestbuy.com)

Gourmia Digital Air Fryer

The Gourmia Digital Air Fryer checks off the boxes of being an air fryer with full-size capacity, but having an affordable price tag. This design comes with eight preprogrammed settings to choose from, based on your ingredients (which include fries, steak, bacon, pizza, chicken, fish and shrimp). Cooks can also increase the capacity of the device, thanks to its two-tiered cooking design. And at $69.99, it's much cheaper than other air fryers of the same size.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.