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Air fryers are one of those new kitchen appliances that still haven’t reached the peak of their popularity despite offering multiple benefits. Air fryers have existed since the 1990s but started getting popular in the 2000s when newer and better models were introduced.
The main advantage air fryers bring to your kitchen is the ability to perfectly fry things with minimal use of oil. Many of us love fried foods and high-temperature air frying is one of the best was to do that.
But how do you find the right air fryer for your needs, however? Which are the best air fryers out there and how do you choose between them? Here’s our quick guide.
The different types of air fryers
There are 4 main types of air fryers as of today, although some might say that only the first two of them are genuine air fryers. Regardless, if you’re looking for such a device, these are the main 4 categories to look at:
Paddle air fryers
The more expensive but also more comfortable to use type of air fryers are the paddle-type ones. These air fryers have the added benefit of not just frying your food with high-temperature air but also stirring or turning it with their rotating paddles. This “self-tending” feature of paddle air fryers makes them very easy to use and frees you extra time to focus on other things. These air fryers also allow you to add as much or as little oil or fat to the pan together with the food.
Basket air fryers
A more affordable option, basket air fryers lack the self-stirring feature of paddle-type models. This means that you’ll need to do some extra work yourself while your food is cooking but that’s usually not too much of a problem. You can also add as much fat or oil as you want in the basket together with the food.
Counter-top air fryers
More of a counter-top convection oven than a straight-forward air fryer, these devices can still be used for air frying regardless. These ovens do bring the extra benefit of being a more multi-purpose appliance, giving you the freedom to do more than just air frying with them. However, this also bumps up their price tag. Additionally, if you’re really interested in air frying, dedicated paddle air fryers are usually the better type for that, all things considered.
Oil-less turkey air fryers
An even more different type of appliance, oil-less turkey air fryers also offer the option of air frying. They are a strictly outdoor tool, however. They are much larger than the previous three types, and they don’t use forced air. However, they can double as a tandoori-type outdoor oven which is a pretty nice perk if you’re looking for that as well.
What should I look for when buying an air fryer?
So, say you’ve chosen your preferred air fryer type – what features, functions, and qualities should it have? Here’s a quick list of the main things to look for in an air fryer.
Size and design
As with any other kitchen appliance, you will want to make sure that the size and design of your air fryer fit with the rest of your kitchen. This is much more than just a matter of aesthetics – any good cook knows that your cooking gear needs to be well-placed within your kitchen for a truly productive cooking experience.
Like most other cooking appliances, it’s important to get the right capacity air fryer. Too big and you’ll be wasting power and space, too small and you won’t be able to make enough for your family.
Standard air fryers typically use 800 to 1400 watts so it’s important to get one that can work with your kitchen’s outlets as well as that they can support that wattage.
Warranty and price
The price is usually the first thing most people look at and that’s normal. However, what’s even more important is the warranty. Most air fryers come with a standard 1-year warranty. However, we’d urge you to always look for an extended warranty, regardless of what brand you’re working with. The last thing you’d want is for your air fryer to get busted in the 367th day with you having just a standard 1-year warranty.
Extra features that might be useful
Air fryers do have a few extra features you might also find useful.
- Multi-level baskets. This is a really nice perk as it allows you to cook two separate foods at the same time without them mixing. Want some fish and chips? Or some chips and veggies? This is a pretty nice way to do that.
- Settings. As with almost any electronic appliance, air fryers also come with various settings, programs, and functions. Look for the ones you need and the ones you don’t care about, and pick the air fryer that’s perfect for your preferences.
- Paddles. We mentioned paddled air fryers as their separate type but the paddles really are just a cool extra feature to have in an air fryer. They save you time stirring and they remove the need to deal with the high-temperature air as you do so.
With all those types and features in mind, it’s clear why air fryers both a popular and a contentious appliance. It remains to be seen how much more popular they’ll get in the future and what other types and features will be developed for them. But even just now there are quite a few great air fryer options to choose from. Just make sure to always opt for quality and to look for that precious extended warranty, and you’ll almost certainly be satisfied with your new air fryer.