Best small air fryers 2023: what to buy this Cyber Week

Half a dozen of the best air fryers look out for

A trio of small air fryers including Instant Pot, Dreo, and Cosori
(Image credit: Future / Christina Chrysostomou)

Whether your oven is small or you're too impatient to wait for it to preheat, I've reviewed a bunch of small air fryers that prove you don't need mountains of space to own this innovative appliance that will cook fresh and frozen food in minutes.

So if your kitchen has just enough countertop space for an air fryer, this small kitchen appliance can either sit flush, at an angle, or be stowed away in your cupboard after use. Apartment-dwellers, college-goers, and solo renters, this list is for you. The best part? Smaller air fryers tend to be easier to use, simpler to clean, and you guessed it — more affordable than goliath gadgets too.

Though Cosori air fryers take up a third of this buying guide, I've featured some other convection ovens from the brands you know and love including Ninja, Dash, Instant, and Dreo. BTW, we anticipate that many of these Amazon air fryers will be on offer because it's Black Friday!

Early Amazon Prime Day deals

Amazon Prime Day (aka Amazon Big Deal Days) is approaching this Oct 10-11. This promotional period is generally the best time to invest in an air fryer on Amazon. Here's what we've seen so far, but prices are subject to change on the day. 

The best small air fryers to buy in 2023

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

We've written a brief summary of the things we love about the small air fryers below, but you can click to read our full reviews if you want to know more.

2-quart air fryers

"A smaller air fryer may be perfect for two people as it will take up less space and require less energy to operate," says adds Ruiz Asri, chief knowledge officer and editor at Honest Food Talks. "Small air fryers are typically easier to clean and can be more affordable than their larger counterparts. However, the downside is that they may not be suitable for cooking larger portions or for entertaining guests."

We recommend 2-quart air fryers for cooking for one to two people. They're mostly great at cooking side dishes as they're tiny inside.

4-quart air fryers

"As long as you choose a reputable brand and model, you can expect your small air fryer to deliver delicious and healthy meals with less oil and in less time than traditional cooking methods," says Asri. "Another factor to consider when choosing an air fryer is its features. Some air fryers come with programmable settings, while others have a digital display that allows you to monitor the cooking process. Some air fryers have multiple functions and can be used to bake, grill, and roast, in addition to air frying."

We recommend four-quart air fryers for two or three people, or even for small families. You'll be able to cook more than a side dish for one or two, but for any more people, this is the size air fryer you need to make healthy homemade fries.

FAQs

Are compact air fryers worth it?

In short — 100%. A small air fryer uses significantly less energy than a conventional fan-assisted oven. Plus, the biggest advantage is that many don't need time to pre-heat so you can throw in some fries without waiting for the appliance to get to temperature.

What size air fryer is best for 1 person?

A small air fryer between 1-2 quarts should satisfy a single person. A convection oven of this size should be able to hold a decent-sized dinner serving. And, if you have a friend come around, the air fryer can be used to create two snack-sized or appetizer portions.

How much can I put in a 2 quart air fryer?

According to Cosori, its 2-quart, 4-in-1 mini air fryer is perfect for single-serve items like sides, snacks, wings, and more. On Amazon, their promotional graphics suggest that it can fit four cookies; 6-8 ounces of French Fries, or a 6oz salmon fillet. There's also an image of it holding six breaded chicken wings.

How we review small air fryers

Dreo air fryer review in process cooking

Dreo air fryer in review

(Image credit: Future / Louise Oliphant )

Big or small, we test air fryers with the same methodology in our Future plc test kitchen. In a nutshell, we examine how well these appliances cook a set inventory of items, and how easy it is to clean the air fryer after use.

But don't forget to experiment with other foods you can cook in an air fryer. We've got lots of air fryer recipes you can try.

We'll also look at the economic concerns you might have. For example, the cost to run a particular machine, and if the wattage output is appropriate for the size of the machine. Because on one hand, you don't want it to be so powerful that you ruin dinner, but conversely, you don't want to wait around for your fries or fish sticks only to find they're still half-frozen!

Where we haven't had a chance to call in a particular petite air fryer, we'll scan retailer sites for highly-rated products and sift through pages of reviews — saving you time to manually shortlist and make up your mind.

Just remember. Smaller machines still come with the same sets of air fryer do's and don'ts. We don't want to be party poopers but some of the things we warn against can either stop your appliance from working (boo), make your food taste funky, or cause an electrical fire risk in the kitchen. Try explaining that to your landlord (or neighbors when they have to evacuate the apartment building).

We've tested five out of the six air fryers on this list (with the remaining one on the way). 

Meet our air fryer reviewers:

Christina Chrysostomou selfie
Christina Chrysostomou

I'm Christina, eCommerce editor at Real Homes, and reviewing small kitchen appliances is my specialty. I've tested the Cosori Lite Smart Air Fryer (in truffle grey) and the Ninja AF101.

Millie Fender, Head of reviews headshot
Millie Fender

Our head of reviews, Millie, loves the Instant Vortex Mini Air Fryer. It's the best-looking air fryer on the market (in her opinion) and thinks the display is surprisingly high-quality given the low price. In her eyes, the value for money is outstanding.

Annie Collyer
Annie Collyer

Annie is our head ecommerce editor, with experience reviewing a range of products from air fryers to portable grills. She also reviewed the Instant Vortex Mini Air Fryer for us, and she found it to be great for cooking side dishes (particularly sweet potato fries) as well as various frozen fodder. She stored it in one of her kitchen cabinets and loved how it comes in various colors. 

Louise Oliphant author image
Louise Oliphant

Louise was previously ecommerce editor at Real Homes, and she specialized in sleep and wellness content. Testing the best bed sheets, comforters and mattresses can work up quite the appetite, so she uses her Dreo Air Fryer on a daily basis to make meals and snacks. Louise now writes for our sister brand, Homes & Gardens.

Alexandra Pamias headshot
Alexandra Pamias

Alexandra is one of our freelancers with a shopping addiction that rivals Carrie Bradshaw's. But while Carrie mainly deals in clothes, Alexandra battles with an obsession with how to efficiently keep a home clean and organized. She found that the Dash Tasti-Crisp Air Fryer's oil-free cooking relieves her of spending hours in the kitchen scrubbing and wiping down surfaces. 

Where to buy a small air fryer

No, you don't need to go to a specialist shop made for The Borrowers to buy a smaller-sized air fryer. In fact, lots of retailers have clocked onto the demand for mini versions of this already small appliance. It's far cheaper than turning on an oven, and won't raise the temperature in your city apartment.

Here's where you can buy a small air fryer from:

Christina Chrysostomou
Acting head ecommerce editor

Hi, I'm the acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a first class degree from Keele University, and a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket. I'm the in-house appliances expert and have gone through the internal customer advisor accreditation process.

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