The best air fryer will transform the way you use your kitchen. From speeding up cooking times to creating a lower-fat alternative to your favourite fried foods, these air fryers are guaranteed to give your oven a break this summer.
We've reviewed each and every one of the air fryers in this guide, including top picks from Ninja, Instant, Philips, Cosori and Tower. These fryers range in size and functions, and while some just focus on high-quality air frying, others will also roast, bake, reheat, and even dehydrate, making them perfect for every meal.
Air fryers are considered a must-have by those who favour healthy home cooking but still enjoy their fried food. While they aren't as fatty or messy as the best deep fat fryers, they do offer a very similar texture and cook almost as fast, too.
Our top options include multi-cookers that can not only air fry, but bake and roast to boot. Our top pick, the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer, can even do all these things and more at the same time thanks to its two independent crisper drawers. For the best air fryers for you in 2021, keep on reading.
Best air fryers 2021
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
Going into testing the Salter EK4221 Air Fryer definitely felt like an underdog. It's not from one of the bigger air fryer brands, the design was a little unusual, and there were minimal instructions. All in all, there was a lot we weren't sure of. However, it really did wow us in testing. This air fryer was seriously speedy, and it yielded crispy foods, too.
What we love
Maybe it's because of the small(er) 4.5 litre basket, or the circular basket design, but food just cooks so much faster in the Salter EK4221. Chips that should have taken half an hour came out perfectly cooked in just 20, and frozen chicken goujons were done in just 12 minutes. Everything was crisp, too, and there was no uneven cooking.
There are some modes along the top of the fryer which correspond with a central 'M' button. Some of the modes are easy to discern. Chips or chicken drumsticks, for example, we noted easily enough. There were some that were less clear though. Ribs? Bacon? Seriously, we still don't know. It doesn't matter too much though, because timing and temperature can also be adjusted manually.
The preheat time is very minimal, which we liked for even speedier meals, but we didn't enjoy the lack of instructions that came with this air fryer. It's simple enough to figure out on your own, but it would still be nice to have some guidance included.
Real Homes rated 3.5 out of 5 stars
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.
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
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.
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 4.5 out of 5 stars
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.