Air fryers have become quite popular in recent years, and chances are, you know someone who has one! An air fryer is a convenient way to cook foods that not only taste good but also are good for you.
With so many different sizes and models available, it might seem overwhelming to choose the right size air fryer for you. It really depends on your needs, what you'll be cooking, the number of people in your household, how much you want to spend on your air fryer, and other factors.
Let's take a look at some of the basics behind what an air fryer is, an overview of the different sizes available, and some other considerations that will help you decide which size air fryer you need.
Understanding Air Fryers
An air fryer works by using hot air to cook food to a nice crispy consistency. Many people are finding that an air fryer makes quick work of dinner. It cooks quickly and is easy to use.
Let's discuss why you might choose an air fryer in the first place, as well as what you need to consider (other than air fryer size) when picking out the right model for you.
Why You Might Choose an Air Fryer Over Traditional Frying Methods
When you hear the term "air fryer," you might picture fried foods that come out of a deep fryer. While air-fried foods are crispy and tender, they're much healthier than food made using traditional frying methods.
The hot air that circulates allows you to cook food without relying on a lot of oil or fat. This reduces the fat and calories, making the food healthier altogether.
Another advantage to using an air fryer over a deep fryer is that they're simpler and safer to use. You won't need to worry about splattering oil. They're easy to learn to use, even for novice cooks or older children or teens just getting started in the kitchen.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Air Fryer
Once you decide you want to invest in an air fryer, there are quite a few factors to consider. One of them is, of course, which size air fryer to buy. Besides that, though, you'll want to think about which cooking functions it has, the accessories that come with it, whether you prefer a certain brand or model, and your budget.
You might also decide to buy a used air fryer to save money, or you might wait until the store you prefer is running a sale. If a certain brand is available for a low price, that might be all the consideration you need.
When it comes to picking out an air fryer, it's really up to you how you choose the right one!
Air Fryer Sizes
Your needs will determine the air fryer size you ultimately decide to go with. Keep in mind that you can always start with one size air fryer and then upsize (or downsize) later, depending on what you're using it for. This is commonly done with appliances like slow cookers, too.
In this section, we'll look at the various sizes available and delve into some of the factors that go into choosing that size air fryer.
Overview of Sizes Available
For the most part, there are four sizes available when it comes to air fryers: compact, small, medium, and large.
1. Compact Air Fryers
A compact air fryer is quite small and can hold up to 2.5 quarts of food. These are made to heat up one serving of food.
As you might imagine, the smallest air fryers are generally also the least expensive air fryers, which is a big benefit if you're on a budget.
Capacity and Dimensions
These small appliances have a capacity of about two quarts of food, depending on what you're making.
They're small enough to fit on the smallest counters and could also be used in a college dormitory or studio apartment, provided they're not against the rules in that particular establishment.
Who Are These Right For?
While anyone could use a compact air fryer, for the most part, these are going to be for single individuals. College students and young people just starting out in their own apartments are good candidates for this type of air fryer.
Someone who might want to set up an air fryer in their office or RV would also probably get great use out of a compact version.
They're also a great introduction for someone who doesn't want to spend a lot of money on a new appliance only to find that they don't really like it. If you're unsure that you want an air fryer at all, spending a relatively small sum of money on a compact one might make sense.
Examples of Compact Air Fryers on the Market
Here are a few compact air fryers you might want to consider:
CHEFMAN Small, Compact Air Fryer: This little one is a two-quart air fryer that will fit nearly anywhere. It has an integrated timer and auto-shutoff.
Emerald Compact 2 Liter Air Fryer: Here's another small one with some good features, like simple controls, a nonstick air fryer basket, and a cool touch handle.
2. Small Air Fryers
As the name implies, small air fryers are diminutive, so you'll likely be able to fit one on your counter even if you have a small galley kitchen.
They're also often less expensive than larger models, making them great if you're just starting to try out different kitchen appliances.
Of course, the drawback is that they won't hold as much food as larger air fryers. You might need to cook in several batches if you wanted to make a meal for a whole family, and you wouldn't be able to fit a whole chicken or a pizza, for example.
Capacity and Dimensions
Don't let the name fool you; small air fryers do hold 2.5 to 4 quarts of food, which is usually enough for two or even three people. They fit well on even a small countertop, and they'll generally fit in most cabinets.
Since they don't hold a lot of food, they're best for cooking small portions, like reheating leftovers, popping in a couple of servings of French fries, or air frying up one or two chicken breasts, fish filets, or pork chops.
Who Are These Right For?
Small air fryers are best for individuals, couples, or people who don't plan to use their air fryers very often.
They're also good for families who have limited cabinet or counter space in the kitchen, as well as those who have a small budget or who aren't sure they want to spend much on an air fryer.
Examples of Small Air Fryers on the Market
If you're looking for a small air fryer, you might want to try one of these:
DASH Compact Air Fryer: This is a small two-quart air fryer that will fit well on your counter and comes in a variety of colors to match any kitchen.
Philips 3000 Series Air Fryer Essential Compact: This is a small version that can get up to 390 degrees.
BLACK+DECKER Purify 2-Liter Air Fryer: This one has a two-liter capacity and temperature control of up to 400 degrees.
3. Medium Sized Air Fryers
A medium sized air fryer is more versatile than a small air fryer, and it doesn't take up as much counter space as a large one. This makes it a great choice for many people who want the best of both worlds when choosing between a small and a large air fryer.
Capacity and Dimensions
Medium air fryers generally hold between four and six quarts. They take up more room on the counter than a smaller air fryer, and they might not fit in a typical kitchen cabinet.
An air fryer of this size will generally be able to accommodate a main or side dish for four or five people. You could cook a pound of chicken wings, roast some broccoli or cauliflower, or heat up a package of frozen appetizers for a quick snack.
Who Are These Right For?
Most small or medium-sized families will do well with a medium air fryer. They're also good for individuals or couples who like to entertain.
Even someone who is planning a large party can use a medium air fryer, but they will likely need to cook the food in a few batches.
Examples of Medium Sized Air Fryers on the Market
Here are a few brands to consider if you're looking at medium air fryers:
Instant Pot Vortex Plus 6-in-1: This is a six-quart air fryer with several one-touch smart programs for wings, roasted veggies, cinnamon buns, and more.
Ninja DZ090 Foodi 6 Quart 5-in-1: The Ninja air fryers are popular, and this one has Dualzone Technology, which allows you to cook two different foods at the same time.
Philips Premium Airfryer XXL: While this one says XXL in the name, it actually is a medium air fryer with a capacity of four quarts.
4. Large Air Fryers
A large air fryer can handle larger food items, and they're great when you're having a party or holiday get-together. They do take up a lot of space on the counter, which is a consideration if you have a small kitchen or limited storage space.
Large air fryers cost more than their smaller and medium counterparts, so it's wise to be sure you'll use the large capacity before purchasing.
Capacity and Dimensions
Large air fryers can hold up to 10 quarts. They can accommodate large foods like whole chicken, racks of ribs, and even a small turkey. Their size makes them great for someone hosting a large crowd, and they'll allow you to get the food cooked in one batch rather than several.
These do require quite a bit of counter space, and they won't fit in a typical kitchen cabinet. If you're limited on kitchen storage, you'd need to clear our room in a closet or some other space in your home to accommodate this large appliance.
Who Are These Right For?
Someone who has a large family might consider purchasing a large air fryer. These are also great for people who entertain often and who also have a lot of space, either on their counter or in a pantry or large cabinet.
Anyone who wants a multifunctional air fryer could also be a good candidate for this type of appliance, as many of the largest fryers also have the capability to broil, bake, roast, dehydrate, or even act as a rotisserie.
Examples of Large Air Fryers on the Market
Some popular large air fryers on the market include:
Instant Vortex Plus 10QT Air Fryer: This is a large air fryer with a 7-in-1 functionality. It includes the rotisserie feature, which makes it convenient to roast a whole chicken.
GoWISE USA 7-Quart Electric Air Fryer: This is a 7-quart air fryer that includes a dehydrator, three racks, and a large nonstick basket.
Air Fryer Features to Look For
While size is important when it comes to choosing the best air fryer, it's just as important to consider various other factors. Here are some of the features you might want to think about before making a final decision on a purchase.
Air fryers often come with multiple cooking functions. If you might want to use yours as a dehydrator or a rotisserie, be sure to check for that capability.
Most air fryers will have a temperature range they can accommodate. You'll want to find one that goes to at least 400 degrees or so to ensure you can cook a wide variety of foods.
Ease of cleaning
You'll be able to pull any air fryer basket out to clean it, but what really makes an air fryer easy to clean is when it's dishwasher safe. Be sure to read the instructions before attempting to put any part of your fryer in the dishwasher, though.
Even if you're a seasoned cook, you'll want to be sure the fryer has a cool-touch exterior. An automatic shut-off is also a good safety feature to look for.
In addition to reading reviews, consider purchasing an air fryer from a well-known brand. While you can sometimes find a bargain-priced fryer from an unknown company, this isn't always the best idea when it comes to choosing an appliance that you'll have for a long time or will be using a lot.
Air Fryer Accessories
Air fryer accessories either come with your air fryer or can be purchased separately in order to enhance your cooking options. When looking for accessories for your air fryer, you'll want to be sure to buy the correct size for the fryer you have.
Remember, accessories aren't required; if you are new to air frying, you might consider just sticking with the basic air fryer and then adding extra components as you get used to it. It's fun to experiment, so feel free to have fun, but don't feel obligated to purchase any of these when you're just starting out.
Examples of Popular Air Fryer Accessories
Here are a few popular air fryer accessories to think about adding once you feel comfortable with your appliance:
Baking pans: If you want to make loaves of bread, cakes, and other baked goods in your air fryer, you could look for an appropriate-sized baking pan to use inside. Some large air fryers might come with one already.
Skewers: While not technically an air fryer accessory, skewers are fun to use because they make it easy to cook and turn vegetables, meat kebabs, and other small foods. You'll be able to spin the entire skewer, which is good for even cooking. Remember to find skewers that fit your air fryer, as many will be too long for even a medium-sized air fryer.
Silicone cups: Silicone cups open up new possibilities for your fryer; consider quiche, egg cups, or muffins for Sunday brunch!
Racks: If you want to cook more than one layer of food in a medium or large air fryer, one or more racks will be needed. These are also great if you have an air fryer with the capability of dehydrating food.
Silicone mats: A good alternative to parchment paper, silicone mats will prevent sticking and make it easier to clean up after cooking in your air fryer.
What Size Air Fryer Do I Need?
When it's time to make the best decision, you may ask yourself, "What size air fryer do I need?" here are some questions to consider. Remember, the point is to choose the best air fryer for you, not one that someone else thinks is the best.
How much food do you typically cook? I'd recommend considering a smaller air fryer if you're typically cooking for yourself or perhaps one other person. However, if you have a sizable family or frequently entertain guests in your home, it might be worthwhile to invest in a medium or even a large air fryer to accommodate your needs.
What about storage space? How much counter space do you have in your kitchen? You will need to put the appliance somewhere, so if you don't choose to keep it out on your counter all the time, you'll need to make sure you can fit your chosen fryer in your cabinets or pantry.
What's your budget? Typically, bigger air fryers have a higher price tag, while smaller ones are more affordable. However, numerous exceptions exist, so keep an eye out for great bargains!
How often will you use your fryer? If you're just going to whip up some frozen fries once a month or so, a small air fryer might be all you need. No worries, you can always cook more batches if you gotta. But if you're going to use it a bunch throughout the week, maybe splurging on a bigger, pricier one is the way to go.
How much power are you comfortable using? Keep in mind larger air fryers have higher wattage and consume more electricity. However, their higher cooking capacity means fewer batches for larger meals. For one or two people, a smaller air fryer might be a more economical choice.
Tips on Air Fryers and Cooking Capacity
While you might think that the higher the wattage, the less time you'll need to cook food in your air fryer, this isn't necessarily the case. It's always best to check the specific air fryer recipe so you know how long to cook the food.
If you're in doubt as to whether your food is fully cooked, use a thermometer to check its temperature. This is particularly vital when cooking meat or other foods that need to be heated all the way through for safety purposes, and it applies to air fryers of all sizes.
With any size air fryer, it's important not to overcrowd the basket. If you have a compact or small air fryer, you may need to cook in more than one batch.
If the food is overlapped, you won't get that crisp texture you're looking for, and items might not be cooked through all the way. This also applies to large air fryers; they can hold a lot of food but don't overload them just because they're big.
When using a small air fryer, be sure to cut up your ingredients, so they're smaller. This will reduce cooking time in any air fryer, but in small air fryers in particular, you'll be ensuring that the hot air is circulating enough to crisp everything up nicely.
Shake the basket to flip and turn small ingredients if you're using a large air fryer, but if there's less room for everything to move around, flipping or turning items with tongs will be more accurate in a small air fryer.
While all air fryers need to be preheated, it's especially important in a large air fryer. The air will take longer to heat up, so you'll want to make sure it's at the right temperature before adding the food. Most fryers have a preheat setting to make this simpler.
Don't be afraid to experiment. Large air fryers often have more settings, and it's fun to try them out! Look for recipes that will allow you to roast, grill, or bake in your air fryer.
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Best Air Fryer
The best air fryer size will depend on various factors. For most people, I'd say a medium air fryer will be sufficient for most uses as well as convenient enough to store in most kitchens. If you live alone or you have a large family, though, you may want to make a different decision.
Whatever size air fryer you choose, you'll love having the ability to create healthy, quick meals in such a convenient way.
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