Best air fryer 2021: reviews of our top 10 air fryers

Shopping for the best air fryer? We've reviewed our top 10 from Instant, Ninja, Swan, Philips, and Tower to bring you our complete roundup

Included in this guide:

Best air fryer 2021: our top 8 picks for healthy home cooking
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're in the market for the best air fryer, you've come to the right place. We've been busy putting each and every one of the best air fryers from Ninja, Philips, Instant, Tower, Tefal, and Cosori to the test, and here is our official ranking.

While they aren't quite the same as the best deep fat fryers, air fryers do an amazing job of making crispy chicken wings, fish fingers, french fries, and veggie bites with just a fraction of the oil it would take to deep-fry. They're also very clean and easy to use, with most air fryer drawers being dishwasher-safe and easily removed using just a handle. 

While the best air fryers are amazing for cooking frozen food in a record time, they also often come with modes to bake, roast, and even dehydrate. Our top option, the Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer, has six cooking modes in total and a removable drawer insert that allows you to cook sauces and bakes as well as air fried treats. 

Best air fryers 2021

Instant Vortex PlusReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Instant Brands)

Best air fryer: with a large capacity and six cooking modes, this is our top pick

Specifications
Best for: Most people
Capacity: 5.7L
Wattage: 1700W
Interface: Digital
Dimensions: 28.6 x 22.9 x 29.8 centimetres
Reasons to buy
+Removable air fry insert+It made some of the best chips we've ever eaten+The large tray can fit a whole chicken
Reasons to avoid
-The drawer isn't dishwasher-safe

The Instant Pot Vortex Plus 6-Quart 6-in-1 Air Fryer wowed us in testing with its generous capacity, multiple cooking modes, and (most importantly) the amazing food it produced. 

What we love

We're a big fan of air fryers that have a slatted insert. It allows you to air fry, but also remove the insert to use the flat base of the drawer to reheat leftovers and bake anything from roasties to an apple crumble. 

The Instant Pot Vortex Plus 6-Quart 6-in-1 Air Fryer has a tactile control panel that allows you to change the temperature and timings as it cooks. We found that it cooked frozen chicken fillets in just 12 minutes, which is just over half the time it takes in an oven. It also made delicious and evenly-cooked homemade chips in just 25 minutes. This is in part down to the alert that reminds you to shake up your food as it's part-way through cooking.  

Features

You can choose to air fry, bake, roast, grill, dehydrate, and reheat with the Instant Pot Vortex Plus 6-Quart 6-in-1 Air Fryer. It remembers your most recent settings and timings so if you cook a lot of the same recipes, it will save you from adjusting the timings and temperatures each time. 

The drawer is not dishwasher-safe, but the insert is. Because it's non-stick, you can clean it easily and by hand each time. This air fryer is one of the larger options in our guide (if you want something smaller, we also think the Instant Vortex Mini air fryer is a top choice) but for families and those who can spare the counter space, we think this is the best air fryer you can buy. 

Real Homes rated 5 out of 5 stars: read our Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer review

Ninja Foodi 2-Basket Air Fryer with DualZoneReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Ninja)

Best air fryer for families: it can be up to 75 per cent faster than fan ovens, too

Specifications
Best for: Meal times
Capacity: 7.6L
Wattage: 2400W
Interface: Digital
Dimensions: H:39.7 x W:37 x D:31.5 cm
Reasons to buy
+6 ways to cook+2 independent cooking zones+Quick and easy to use
Reasons to avoid
- Expensive, but worth it

We love, love, LOVE this air fryer from Ninja. We can honestly say that it a far cry from what fryers used to be. In fact, this one is pretty revolutionary. It cooks up to two foods, two ways, and finishes at the same time. You can mix and match your cooking programmes, times and temperatures across both drawers so your foods are cooked to just how you like it.

What we love

There's none of those ambiguous cooking modes, the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer allows you to take control of the temperature and timings with simple controls. You can sync the drawers so they finish at the same time, meaning if you take out one drawer to have a look, the other will pause too. 

This Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer can also be used for cooking two foods simultaneously. While the capacity is large, because it's spread across a wider space it still cooks evenly and very fast. We've tested every air fryer in this guide hands-on, but this is the one to beat. 

Features

There are six ways to cook – Max Crisp, Roast, Bake, Reheat, Dehydrate and Air Fry – which gives you the ultimate cooking experience. It's super quick, so you may have to adjust the cooking instructions that come with your food. 

Most  air fryers have a basket that lifts out of the drawer, but you simply pull out the slatted inserts in this air fryer. This means you can use the drawers without the basket, so even dishes like pasta bakes and apple crumbles are perfectly possible (and yes, we tried both in this air fryer when testing!) 

Real Homes rated 5 out of 5 stars: read our Ninja Foodi Dual Zone air fryer review

best air fryerReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Cosori)

Best value air fryer: for those who just want one basket, it's our top pick

Specifications
Best for: Value for money
Food capacity: 5.5L
Wattage: 1700W
Interface: Digital
Dimensions: 31 x 27 x 27 cm
Reasons to buy
+Extra-large basket+Easy to use & clean+Good price point
Reasons to avoid
-The modes are a bit confusing

Boasting an extra-large capacity, we think that this air fryer is perfect for those who want the most for their money. The smart modes offer custom cooking times and temperatures depending on what you're cooking, which can be a big help for amateur chefs or those who want a reminder to shake half-way through.

What we love

After testing what feels like a mountain of air fryers, the COSORI was one of the best when it came to actual quality results. Chips? Done in 15 minutes. Frozen food? Always crispy. 

The fryer comes with a recipe book that's crammed with 100 ideas and plenty more inspiration. These really utilise the 14 cooking modes, which could feel overwhelming if they came without instruction.

Features

It uses hot air in combination with high-speed air circulation for cooking food in a much healthier way by using less grease. For safety purposes, the fryer has a 60 minute cooking timer with auto shut off when your food is done and it's ready to serve.

The 5.5 litre capacity makes this air fryer suitable for families of up to six people, and it can fit a large chicken in for that delicious crispy skin you want from a Sunday roast.

Real Homes rated 4.5 out of 5 stars: read our full COSORI air fryer review

Instant BrandsReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Instant Brands)

4. Instant Vortex Mini Air Fryer

Best small air fryer: the counter-friendly air fryer with a surprisingly generous capacity

Specifications
Best for: Compact design
Capacity: 2 litre
Wattage: 1300 Watts
Interface: Digital
Mixing: No
Dimensions: 35.2 x 35.1 x 30.1 cm
Reasons to buy
+Lovely colour selection+Tactile smart controls+Easy to clean+Removable tray insert 
Reasons to avoid
-It won't cater to more than two people 

Mini by name and miniature by nature, this small air fryer left a big impact when we tested it. Not only was it small enough to sit neatly on our cluttered countertops, but it also produced some of the most crispy and evenly cooked chips, chicken and other snacks that we've tried. 

What we love

The design is smart, with a tactile touch screen display. This allows you to adjust timings and temperatures using a dial, as well as choose between reheat, roast, bake and air fry modes. 

Despite being only two litres, the capacity was capable of cooking chips and chicken for two. It also managed to do this very evenly, despite looking a little cramped. There's even a reminder to shake your food halfway through cooking. 

Features

Our food cooked fast and came out very crispy. It's advisable to clean the air fryer after each use, or it will start to smoke. Cleaning is easy though, because you can pull out the insert and place it in the dishwasher. Because it's so small, the tray also fits easily into an air fryer. 

Real Homes rated 5 out of 5 stars

Tefal ActiFry Genius XLReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Tefal ActiFry Genius X)

5. Tefal YV970840 Actifry Genius XL 2in1

Best air fryer for 2 in 1 cooking: the stirring paddle keeps your food moving

Specifications
Best for: Creative design
Capacity: 1.7kg
Wattage: 1300W
Interface: Digital
Dimensions: 48.9 x 38 x 29.5 centimetres
Reasons to buy
+Self-stirring+Can cook fried rice, fajitas, and more+Has two separate cooking compartments
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky- awkward shape

We put the Tefal YV970840 Actifry Genius XL 2in1 to the test in our air fryer vs deep fryer piece, and it came out on top. This self-stirring air fryer makes amazing chips, but it also can cook two elements of a meal at once, and has a range of cooking modes. 

What we love

The Tefal YV970840 Actifry Genius XL 2in1 is unconventional but effective. It made delicious homemade chips, fried up bacon and chicken, and even made a mean fried rice. That's thanks to the paddle, which slowly moves around the main cooking area to keep your food moving as it cooks. Not only does this give even results, but it also means you can have a complete meal, hands-free. 

The cooking chamber lifts off with a smart in-built handle, and there is also a locking handle that lifts the top layer away. The Tefal YV970840 Actifry Genius XL 2in1 capacity is immense. It's more than enough to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the whole family.  

Features

We found some of the settings more useful than others. There are nine settings in total: chips, breaded items such as nuggets, desserts, nachos, fish and meat, chicken legs, stir fry, ‘world foods’ (very ambiguous) and pie. 

Our main complaint is the bulky shape, which will take up a lot of space in your kitchen. The circular, almost bundt-like design won't fit all meals, either. 

Real Homes rated 4 out of 5 stars

Philips Essential Air FryerReal Homes Rated Silver Badge

(Image credit: Philips)

6. Philips Essential Air Fryer HD9252/91

Best two-person air fryer: perfect for flats and two-person families

Specifications
Best for: Small spaces
Food capacity: 4.1L
Wattage: 1700W
Interface: Digital
Dimensions: 31 x 27 x 27 cm
Reasons to buy
+Super fast cooking+Sleek and easy controls+Lightweight and perfect for storing
Reasons to avoid
-For a small air fryer it's quite expensive

If you're working with a smaller kitchen the Philips Essential Air Fryer HD9252/91 is our top pick for you. It's not the cheapest small air fryer out there, but it is very good. For a start, controls are some of the easiest to use out there. You'll also get to enjoy Philips' NutriU app with your fryer, which features recipes and heaps of inspiration.

What we love

The Philips Essential Air Fryer HD9252/91is one of the prettier air fryers you can buy. It's got settings to bake and reheat as well as just air fry, which we always prefer to an air fryer that just air fries, as long as the other settings work well (which they do). 

All the removable parts can be put in the dishwasher, which gets a thumbs up from us for ease of use and cleaning. It did a cracking job of air frying bacon and our breaded fish came out very crisp indeed. The chips were evenly cooked, too, with no burnt bits and nothing undercooked. 

Features

You can fry, bake, grill, roast and even reheat with this fryer, and there are settings for cupcakes, steaks, chips and frozen foods. 

The keep warm function works for up to half an hour, which is great for when your food finishes cooking before your other elements are done. 

Real Homes rated 4 out of 5 stars

Tower Vortex 5-in-1 Digital Air Fryer OvenReal Homes Rated Silver Badge

(Image credit: Tower Vortex 5-in-1 Digital Air Fryer Oven)

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

Best oven air fryer: it can rotisserie a whole chicken!

Specifications
Best for: An oven design
Food capacity: 11L
Wattage: 2000W
Interface: Touch
Dimensions: ‎44.2 x 38.4 x 36.2 cm
Reasons to buy
+ Lots of cooking methods + Great value 
Reasons to avoid
- Unclear instructions 

The Tower Vortex 5-in-1 Digital Air Fryer Oven is the best air fryer oven we've tested. It's a different take on an air fryer from the others in our guide, with numerous shelves instead of a basket. This mimics a traditional oven. In fact, it really is similar to a tiny oven. The 11 litre capacity sounds like a lot but in reality it's whatever you can fit onto its three shelves.

What we love

The rotisserie. Oh man, just put your chicken onto the rotisserie attachment and leave it for an hour for the most delicious, juicy, crispy chicken you've ever tested. It's worth buying for Sunday roast dinners alone. 

It can also dehydrate, bake, roast, and (of course) air fry. Tower claims it's 30% faster than conventional cooking, which may be true if you include the preheat time (which is next-to-nothing) but it is more akin to a regular oven than the other air fryers in our guide in terms of timing. 

Features

The rotisserie is included, but it will only fit one of the smaller chickens you can buy at supermarkets. You can use the included fork to lift the chicken out, but there's nothing to help remove the hot shelves when your chips or veggies are finished cooking. 

We did find that the items closer to the top of the oven cooked faster, so either be strategic with how you lay out your meals or switch them around for even cooking.

Real Homes rated 4 out of 5 stars 

Proscenic T21 review

(Image credit: Proscenic )

Best smart-enabled air fryer: pair this fryer with your phone for modern controls

Specifications
Best for: Smart functions
Capacity: 5.5 L
Wattage: 1700W
Interface: Digital touch, remote
Dimensions: L31.4 x W31.6 x H32.6 cm
Reasons to buy
+Comes with remote control+App has loads of recipes to follow+It's a value pick
Reasons to avoid
-Controls are fiddly-Not the sturdiest

If it's the smartest of the smart you want, the Proscenic T21 Smart Air Fryer could be a good one for you. We thought it skipped out a little on the actual design, but you're clearly paying for the phone compatibility and remote operations.

What we love

It's a slick option if you want to pre-heat or keep warm without getting off the sofa. You can also check to see how much time is left and even follow recipes using the Proscenic app.

We found it easy enough to pair with our phones, and there's also the option of Alexa or Google Assistant-operated controls. 

While the results weren't stand-out, it's not a bad air fryer either. Cook time wasn't massively sped up but we did enjoy how large the basket is, which means it can cook for a large family.

Features

There's the app controls, but the digital controls are also worth noting. They are a little confusing at first, and we did find that they weren't the most responsive of the air fryers we've tested. 

With a setting for fish, frozen food, chicken, baking, and even veggies, there's a lot happening on the control panel. If you don't have an eye for cooking times and need the extra help, these are useful guides. 

Real Homes rated 3.5 out of 5 stars: read our full Proscenic T21 Smart Air Fryer review

Swan Retro Air Fryer

(Image credit: Swan Retro Air Fryer)

9. Swan Retro Air Fryer

Best air fryer for simple controls: this air fryer has an immense capacity and simple dials

Specifications
Best for: Huge capacity and simple controls
Food capacity: 6L
Interface: Dials
Dimensions: 33.2 x 41.8 x 38.8 cm
Reasons to buy
+Generous capacity+Cleaning is easy +We love the look
Reasons to avoid
-Large-Not that fast

The Swan Retro Air Fryer looks nothing like most air fryers. For a start, it comes in a whole range of colours including Grey, White, Blue, Cream, and even a Pistachio green which we were quite taken with. 

What we love

The look, obviously, is going to slot into retro-loving kitchens and colourful spaces. Beyond that though, the 6 litre capacity is a good choice for large family kitchens. 

The controls are incredibly easy to operate. You simply slide along for the temperature, which can go up to 200 degrees, and turn the dial to adjust the timer. It gives a loud 'ding!' when your food is ready.

Features

The air fryer is not feature-packed, but what does do is clean easily. The bottom tray is removable, making it one of the easiest cleans we had in testing.

When it came to cooking, we didn't think it cooked large volumes of chips especially fast or evenly. It did well with cuts of meat and dishes that allowed air to circulate, so be aware that over-filling will impact your results. 

Real Homes rated 3.5 out of 5 stars

multi-cookerReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Amazon)

Best multi-cooker air fryer: it does so much more than air fry (but it also air fries really, really well)

Specifications
Best for: Versatility
Capacity: 6 litre
Wattage: 1460 Watts
Interface: Digital
Mixing: No
Dimensions: 43 x 36 x 32 centimetres
Reasons to buy
+Eight-in-one cooker+Large air fry basket+Has a loud alarm +Easily adjusted timer+Can fit a whole chicken
Reasons to avoid
-It's huge-Expensive-If you only want an air fryer, it's not the one

We adore this multi-cooker for its versatility, and the Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker can air fry as well as bake, slow cook, pressure cook and even dehydrate. 

What we love

It comes with a basket and crisper lid to create delicious and healthy(ish) chips, fish, and veggies. It has a large footprint (the one we reviewed was the Max, which is seriously major in size) but if you can find the room for it, this air fryer is ready to usurp your slow cooker, pressure cooker, and so much more. 

Features

It has a lid for air frying and a separate lid for other options like pressure cooking, so space will be a concern if you're short on it. 

The air fry basket is large and circular. It could fit a whole chicken in theory, but the shape isn't quite right for larger cuts of meat. The controls are incredible intuitive, and the actual air frying quality is top notch, so you won't miss out if you opt for this multi-functional machine.  

Real Homes rated 5 out of 5 stars: read our full Ninja Foodi Max 9-in-1 Multi Cooker 7.5L review


How much do the best air fryers cost?

Expect to pay anywhere from £70 to £200 for a top-quality air fryer. While they're not the most expensive investment if you go for a cheaper air fryer, you'll get frequent use from your new appliance once it's on your kitchen counters. 

A budget-friendly air fryer can still be great for smaller portions or basic air frying functions, but some of the more expensive air fryers on our list from Ninja and Tefal offer added extras such as multi-drawer cooking and a stirring paddle to keep your food moving and cooking evenly, hands-free. 

What to consider when buying an air fryer

To start with, how many mouths do you have to feed? How much worktop space do you have to spare? Larger capacity fryers are good for big family meals, but will take up more room in the cupboard or on the counter. 

What else can your air fryer do? Some models are great little multi-taskers and have the ability to reheat, roast, or grill as well as fry, so if you’re in the market for a versatile small appliance, these are a good bet. 

Finally, if you’re short on time, but your ingredients' list is long, look for an air fryer with cooking rack included, which offers an extra compartment for cooking two different foods at the same time, or one with a mixing paddle, so you don’t have to hover over it.

What is the best air fryer?

To recap...we really rate the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone for sheer versatility as it fries, bakes, roasts, grills, and steams all your favourite foods. It also has a generous capacity and comes with two drawers for simultaneous cooking. 

Millie Fender
Millie Fender

Millie joined the Real Homes team in 2021 after working at TopTenReviews as a Staff Writer. She is now the head of all things cookware, working as the Small Appliances and Cooking Editor on the Homes Ecommerce team. Millie is constantly on the hunt for the latest (and best) kitchen appliances, and reviewing these products hands-on. As a baking enthusiast, Millie’s job at Real Homes is the perfect excuse to cook up an endless supply of snacks. When she’s not in the kitchen though, she loves knitting and exploring London's top food markets. 


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