Best air fryer 2021 – these are the 10 best air fryers we've reviewed

Best air fryer 2021 – these are the 10 best air fryers we've reviewed

Investing in the best air fryer will make you wonder how you ever lived without one. Not only do air fryers replicate those crispy fried results without the mess and oil of a deep fat fryer, they can also be used for all sorts of culinary creations. We’ve been reviewing the best air fryers from Ninja, Tefal, Philips, Cosori, Tower, Swan and more brands (and, of course, taste-testing as we go) to bring you our expert guide on what you should buy.

For more expert opinions check out the best slow cookers

What we can attest to is that once you’ve air-fried, you won’t go back. Our frying pans have never felt less loved, because everything from the bacon for our morning sarnies to the veggies for our fajita Fridays are now perfectly crisped after a trip to the air fryer. And that’s before you get into those air fryers that do way more than air fry. Some of the best air fryers in our guide have settings for baking, roasting, reheating, and even dehydrating. There’s even one with a rotisserie insert that makes the most delicious Sunday roasts, ever.

Whether you’re dealing with a small kitchen space and just want something to cook your chips for tea, or you have an entire family to feed, the best air fryers in our guide come in a range of sizes and capacities so everyone is catered to.

How do air fryers work?

Air fryers work like a fan oven to circulate air around your food and cook it evenly from every angle. That means any fat you add to the air fryer will circulate around your fries, chicken or fish as it cooks, making it crisp and crunchy. 

Air fryers typically come with an in-built basket that has space for air to get underneath your food, as well as cooking it from above and the side. In the Ninja Dual Zone for example, you can remove this and use the tray like a regular oven tray to add a crisp cheesy top to a pasta bake or roast vegetables and potatoes for convenient mealtimes. Check out the best microwaves for more easy meal prep appliances. 

What is the best air fryer in 2021?

We loved the Ninja AF300UK Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer because it allows you to cook various elements of a meal in one go. For a cheaper option, the COSORI Air Fryer XXL was also a firm favourite.

1. Ninja AF300UK Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer

Best air fryer overall

Size: 35 x 37.5 x 31.5cm
7.6 litres
Reasons to buy: Superior air frying and two useful zones
Reasons to avoid: A large option for most kitchens

What’s better than one air fryer? Two, in one. The Ninja AF300UK Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer comes with two distinct air frying zones that allow you to air fry your fish and chips individually, or bake a side dish such as mac and cheese while you air fry chicken. You can match or sync these two drawers to make sure all elements of your meal are complete at the same time.

The Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer also comes settings to reheat, dehydrate, roast, and bake. Its Max Crisp setting is designed for frozen food and we found that it gave us next-level frozen chips, fish fingers, and other freezer staples. It also cooks food in record time, because there’s no preheat time and its temperature can be easily adjusted. This air fryer gave us crispy chips and wedges every time, and always cooked our meat through completely. We even used it to make cauliflower wings, which were an unexpected triumph. The trays can be a little deep to reach into, so make sure you use non-stick cookware to take your food out when it’s done. The exterior stays cool though, even when it’s cooking at 240 degrees.

The instructions come with a recipe test with fun hints and tips for ideas to try in your air fryer. This included ideas we’d never considered before, such as brownies or fajitas. It is on the large side at 35 x 37.5 x 31.5cm, but if you can spare the space, it’s a game-changer.

Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

2. COSORI Air Fryer XXL

Best air fryer for families


Size: 32 x 30 x 30cm
5.5 litres
Reasons to buy: Air fries to perfection, with a large capacity and recipes included
Reasons to avoid: You may find the Shake reminders annoying

Amazon’s best selling air fryer held up well under our tests, too. The Cosori has a pleasing textured finish and comes in black, white or even red. It’s smart, with settings for fish, frozen food, meat, veggies and even cake. You can adjust with the dials either side or just press go to start cooking.

We enjoyed the fries this air fryer produced on the chip setting. They were crisp and evenly cooked, and the cooking time was well below average which is a winner for hungry homes! You’ll get a reminder to shake your food halfway through on some settings. If you’re in the middle of a particularly riveting piece of telly then it may be an annoying distraction, because the alarm will keep sounding until you shake the basket.

Included with the air fryer was a recipe book with loads of great tips. We made the buffalo cauliflower, chicken wings and more recipes from the book and found it a great help for those getting started with air frying. The large capacity makes this a top choice for families.

Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

3. Philips Essential Air Fryer

Best air fryer for small kitchens

Philips Essential Air Fryer

Size: 47.6 x 32.8 x 26.3cm
4.1 litres
Reasons to buy: It’s perfect for smaller homes and kitchens
Reasons to avoid: It’s more expensive than some other small options

If you want the best air fryer for a small kitchen or two-person household, the Philips Essential Air Fryer is the one for you. In terms of the cooking quality, it was pretty much on par with some of the larger and more premium brands in this guide. There’s plenty of cooking modes, including fish, meat, frozen food and reheat, and you can choose your temperature manually too.

The basket and drawer can both be washed in the dishwasher, which makes cleaning that much easier. We found the controls a little confusing at first but they’re fine once you’re used to which button indicates which cooking mode.

One complaint we had was the price, which was pretty high when compared to other small air fryers. It is clearly designed for smaller kitchens and homes though, with grooves that make it easy to carry and store, and a lightweight design.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Read our full Philips Essential Air Fryer review

4. Tefal AH960840 Actifry Genius XL Air Fryer

Best air fryer for smart controls


Size: 47.6 x 32.8 x 26.3cm
1.7 litres
Reasons to buy: Paddle included to stir your food
Reasons to avoid: Expensive option

This machine has a huge footprint, so if you’re after a compact air fryer you can pop in a cupboard when you’re not using it then you might want to think again. That said, it’s so technologically advanced, we probably wouldn’t hide its considerable light under a bushel.

It has several things that separate it out from the rest of the air fryer crowd, including nine intelligent cooking modes and a My ActiFry app that features around 300 recipes. However, it’s the integral paddle with dual-motion technology, which stirs the food giving it an even, crisp coating that we think is the game-changer. Not only does it mean you can just leave the ActiFry alone to do its magic, it also allows you to cook dishes such as stir-fries and curries in it, too, using one of the two 1-meal-in-1-go programmes.

It hands-down produced the best chips we tried, with just half a teaspoon of oil and the chicken was well-cooked and juicy inside, although still dryer on the outside than normal frying would produce. It’s a generous size, too, producing main meals for up to five and starter portions for eight. It comes in a choice of black or white, although at the time of testing the white version (a little less stylish we felt) was actually more expensive than the black model on Amazon.

Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars

5. Morphy Richards Health Fryer

Best air fryer for preset functions


Size: 33.7 x 27.9 x 31.3cm
3 litres
Reasons to buy: Budget-friendly option
Reasons to avoid: May not be large enough

The sleek look of this machine appealed to one of our testers who declared it ‘pleasingly sci-fi’. While we’re not sure air fryers are a mainstay on board the USS Enterprise, this machine with its easy-to-navigate touchscreen display certainly had some star quality.

It produced some of the best chips (outside one stand-out machine, the Tefal) that we tried and the chicken was pretty tasty, too. As before, we preferred drizzling the half-teaspoon of oil on the chips then stirring before popping in the machine but spraying the chicken with oil to get a more even coating for the chicken.

As well as seven preset functions for common food choices such as chips in varying amounts, chicken and pizza slices (yup, you read right, it cooks home-made pizza, too) it also has a delay start and preheat and defrost functions, and we really liked the detachable, cool-touch handle. The instructions have some useful hits and tips – for example, it only takes a little more time to cook a full basket as opposed to a half-filled one – and a few recipes, too.

Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

6. Tower Vortex 5-in-1 Digital Air Fryer Oven

Best air fryer for chicken

Tower Vortex 5-in-1 Digital Air Fryer Oven

Size:44.2 x 38.4 x 36.2 cm
11 litres
Reasons to buy: It’s a real multi-tasker
Reasons to avoid: You lose some of the convenience of a classic air fryer

The Tower Vortex 5-in-1 Digital Air Fryer is more of an American-style air fryer. It’s designed to look like an oven and comes with a drip tray and multiple shelves to cook your food as you would in a regular oven. There are some perks to this design though. Our favourite was the rotisserie function which made some of the most delicious chicken we’ve ever made. A game-changer for roast dinners.

The shelves need to be taken out and switched around mid-cook if you want to achieve an even crisp, which is not ideal and can be a little fiddly. The oven did a great job of creating crispy food though, especially when it came to the frying setting. It can also bake and roast like you’d expect in a regular oven.

A nice touch is the door, which you can see straight through. There is a button to illuminate the fryer as it cooks which allows you to look in and check on your food without opening it. It’s a large option, but a versatile one too.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Read our full Tower Vortex 5-in-1 Digital Air Fryer review

7. Swan Retro Air Fryer

Best-looking air fryer

Swan Retro air fryer

Image credit: Swan

Size: 34.8 x 24 x 33.7cm
6 litre
Reasons to buy: Looks lovely, with a generous capacity
Reasons to avoid: Less smart settings

Unlike pretty much all the other air fryers we tested, which, to paraphrase Henry Ford ‘you can have in any colour as long as it’s black’, this 5 litre machine was a pleasingly cheerful bright cherry red. It also comes in cream and black so would work well in pretty much any scheme if you wanted to leave it out on the worktop.

If you want something a little easier to operate than some of the more high-tech options, the Swan Retro has a simple temperature dial and a twist-timer at the top. It feels sturdy and has a large interior capacity of 6 litres. At 34.8 x 24 x 33.7cm it’s larger than some options but will work well in family-size kitchens.

We were very impressed by how this air fryer cooked bacon and other meats, but when it came to chips we found that it took longer than most air fryers. The timings were comparable to a regular oven.

The tray and non-stick basket can both be popped in the dishwasher, too.

Ideal Home rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Read our full Swan Retro Air Fryer review

8. Proscenic T21 Smart Air Fryer

Best smart air fryer

Proscenic T21 Smart Air Fryer IH

Size: 31.4 x 31.6 x 32.6cm
5.5 litre
Reasons to buy: As smart as they come
Reasons to avoid: The controls are a little fiddly

The Proscenic T21 Smart Air Fryer is certainly a smart option. It’s loaded with preset modes for cooking fish, chicken, chips, bacon and even cake. You can also preheat and keep warm with this air fryer, as well as set a delay timer for when you want your meal to be ready.

If you’ve got an Alexa or Google Assistant speaker, you can pair the Proscenic T21 Smart Air Fryer with it for remote control. If not, opt for the Proscenic app, which allows you to check on your timer or adjust the temperature or settings without leaving the sofa.

We found the controls on the Proscenic T21 Smart Air Fryer a little fiddly in testing, and keen chefs may prefer to set the temperatures of their dishes manually. There are loads of recipes on the Proscenic app though, with timings and air fryer settings that couldn’t be easier to follow. Overall if you’re looking to expand your air fryer abilities, this is a smart choice.

Ideal Home rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

9. Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker

Best multi-cooker air fryer


Size: H43 x W36 x D32cm
6 litres
Reasons to buy: It air fries, bakes, pressure cooks and more
Reasons to avoid: If all you want is an air fryer it’s not the one for you

Another big machine, this one isn’t for the faint-hearted as its dual crisper and pressure cooking lids make it feel a little complicated at first. More worryingly it reminded us of a Cyberman helmet, so once it was out of the box we had to reassure ourselves it was safe to come out from behind the sofa! However, once we’d got the hang of it with the help of the very clear instructions, we felt this machine was a great multi-cooker option for those that wanted more than just an air fryer for their money.

So, to the food. This machine cooks in so many ways – pressure, slow, air frying and a combination Ninja call TenderCrisp – we weren’t sure where to start, so we took a look at the accompanying recipe book. Should we try a whole chicken, ready in just 40 minutes with a succulent inside and crisp outer or a one-pot dish of salmon, bok choi and rice? In the end we went for, yep you guessed it, chicken and chips! Because if a machine this big and expensive can’t get that right, there’s no hope.

Well, the chips were very good. Not quite fried but not far off. We stirred them a lot, but it was easier to do in this top opening machine and we could use a whole teaspoon of oil (and up to three) if we liked. While we wouldn’t suggest buying this if all you want is an air fryer, the part pressure-cook, part TenderCrisp-ed chicken was amazing, if small (it only fits an up-to 2.5kg bird). Juicy with crisp skin, it took less than an hour to cook.

Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

10. Salter EK4221 Air Fryer

Best fast air fryer

Salter EK4221 Air Fryer

Size:32.7 x 27.4 x 32 cm
4.5 litres
Reasons to buy: Cooks food faster than any other air fryer in our guide
Reasons to avoid: The image menu is very confusing

We would usually cook salmon for 15 minutes, but the Salter EK4221 Air Fryer did it in ten. It’s a very speedy air fryer, cooking frozen fishcakes in 20 minutes when they would take 40 in the oven.

The controls take some adjusting to. The timer can be adjusted up and down while cooking and so can the temperature, which goes up to 200 degrees. The M button switches between mode presets, which cover fish, meat, veggies, and some mystery items that we truly couldn’t figure out (ribs? bacon? who knows). Our model also arrived with very minimal instructions, but it operates very similarly to other air fryers which made it easy for us to figure out.

The capacity is great for small homes and the dimensions made it a great fit for our smaller testing kitchen. It also has a very long lead.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

How to buy the right air fryer for you

Check the air fryer features and programmes


Image credit: Ninja

Look for easy-to-use controls for both temperature and time, as these are the most important features on any air fryer. Auto-stop and keep warm functions can be useful but chips, if left for any amount of time will soon lose their crispness. More expensive machines will feature touch screens rather than dial controls, which will help with accuracy.

What else should I look for?

The bigger the basket capacity, the more people you’ll be able to cook for. So if you’ve got a family, then a 5 litre machine (which usually provides a chip capacity of around 800g to 1kg) is probably a must.

A loud beep to signal the end of cooking time is a good idea if you’re using the time to wander off and do something else. Most air-fryers will only cook one food group at a time (ie meat or veg) but some will cook a whole meal in one go if you’re after a one-pot solution.

How much oil do I need to use in my air fryer?


Image credit: Salter

While most recipes call for a teaspoon or half a teaspoon of oil. We found we got a more even coating on some foods by decanting our choice of oil into a small spray bottle and using that. Never use one-calorie oil spray, which is a step too far in the diet stakes we found, producing nasty, chewy fries.

Most of the machines we tested couldn’t be used with fattier meats such as sausages or chicken or duck with the skin on. This sometimes results in meats being drier on the outside. This was where a spray oil came in handy and definitely improved results if not making them as good as if they’d been fried.

Ready for another test? Best kettles

How to make perfect chips in an air fryer

If you’re making fresh chipped potatoes, leave the cut chips immersed in cold water for about half an hour then rinse well to get rid of starch as this will improve the texture once cooked.

Place chips in your air fryer and start to cook as soon as you’ve coated them in the half-teaspoon or so of oil for best results and don’t leave to sit in the fryer once cooked.

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