Are air fryers worth it? 14 ways this appliance can change your eating habits

Find out if this investment can save you time, money and cleaning effort, as we decide whether air fryers are worth it

A black Philips air dryer with cooked chicken drumstick pieces on plate in kitchen
(Image credit: Philips)

Are air fryers worth it? In short: Yes, oui, si, ja! Whatever language you ask the question in, there are so many reasons to buy an air fryer, but we've whittled them down to an impressive 14. So if seasonal treats and exotic eats have got you wondering 'should I buy an air fryer?', then this is everything you need to know.

Here at Real Homes we love a good air fryer, and are lucky enough to have a small appliance editor who has dedicated a lot of time to testing many of the best air fryers on the market.

Air fryers make cooking a lot quicker, with speedy pre-heats that will cut back on the amount you use your oven. If you want to make homemade French fries or roast potatoes, you'll find that an air fryer makes unbeatable crispy potatoes (with a fluff center), and it can also be used for slow roasting larger joints or making tender chicken for your dinner.

So are air fryers really worth it? Tuck into these reasons that'll validate your purchasing decision if you're a little on the fence.

1. They make frozen food taste so. much. better.

We’ve all got a bag of frozen fries or chicken nuggets in our chest freezer. Often they make for a lacklustre meal when time and energy is in short supply. But the hype is real when it comes to the difference air frying can make. Oven fries really don’t come close to your favorite takeout, but air fryers use a basket to circulate hot air around your food, distributing what little fat and oil is in your oven fries evenly and recreating the taste and texture of fried food. The difference really is noticeable – promise. 

2. They can refresh takeout that's got 'sweaty' in transit

A black air fryer appliance with Asian samosas in basket and on plate adjacent to air fryer with assortment of chutneys, sauces and condiments

(Image credit: Getty/Mtreasure)

You know what we mean. If you've used a takeout app to order thick fries (or 'chip-shop chips as they're known in the UK), you'll know they'll either come wrapped in paper or delivered in a polystyrene container... and how the hot air will spoil the crispiness of your fried potatoes.

So if you want that just-served texture, pop 'em in your airfryer to revive their crispy texture. Because no one likes a limp fry. Same goes for soggy samosas or bhajis if you've overordered at your fave curry house.

3. Air frying trumps microwaving your leftovers

Move over microwave oven, there's a new cool kid in town. Yep, your trusty pinging machine might have served you for many years (including college), but even the best microwaves have their downfalls, including soggy reheats, and cold spots in your food.

So for a more consistent reheat that won't give baked goods a squishy texture, why not try using an air fryer to warm through your leftovers next time?

It is especially good for reheating pizza – in fact, we think it makes takeout pizza even better. You can even reheat wet leftovers including pasta, noodles, and casserole in an air fryer as long as you put them in a suitable container (though note some manufacturer instructions will advise against this).

4. They're cheap to run 

With food and energy prices varying from day to day, feeding your family on a budget is something everyone should be conscious of. But that shouldn't mean living on cheap fast food or scrimping on portion sizes. Presenting: the air fryer

The good news is, if you're wondering: 'are air fryers expensive to run?', the answer is no. In fact, air fryers cost anywhere between $0.20 and $0.80 to run for an hour – not that you'll even be using it for that long, unless you're cooking large cuts of meat.

The cost to run an air fryer is therefore much cheaper than using your oven.

5. Air frying is a healthier way to cook

A black Ninja air fryer with cooked chicken wings on plate, served alongside carrot and celery crudites with creamy dip

(Image credit: Ninja)

How healthy is an air fryer? Well, that depends on what you cook in it. What cannot be disputed is that you don’t need to use nearly as much oil when air frying, compared to frying in a pan or even cooking in an oven tray. 

Cooking chicken wings or oven fries? Placing them in an air fryer basket allows the fat to drain off and into the drawer below, which not only helps to crisp your food evenly, but it also means you will end up not eating that fat when you tuck into your meal. If you want to cut down on the amount of fat you consume, buying an air fryer is a great way to do it.

And don't forget the kid's school snacks. If you're spending unfathomable amounts on fruit jerky and don't fancy spending a gazillion bucks or waste counter space on specialist equipment like a food dehydrator (opens in new tab), you can DIY this tasty treat in your air fryer.

6. They speed up the cooking process

Air fryers take almost no time to preheat, in contrast to your fan oven or even your best non-stick frying pan. Simply press to start the cooking process and add your food, and you already got a jump start on your meal prep time. Then there’s the fact that most air fryers I’ve tried have significantly sped along the cooking process. Oven fries that are described as taking 25 minutes to cook only take 15, fishcakes that would take 40 minutes in an oven are often ready in 25. If you want a device to make mealtimes faster and more convenient – this is it.

Plus, as everything is concealed in the basket, and with the lid being shut, you won't get splattered by any oil.

7. Cleaning an air fryer is easy

A black Ninja air fryer interior including cooking basket

(Image credit: Ninja)

It takes only a few minutes to clean an air fryer, and many of the top models you can buy are also dishwasher-safe. Simply place the basket and tray into your dishwasher after each use and you’ve just saved yourself a whole lot of cleaning.

Another big yes is that there's no hot oil to clean up, because performing a risk assessment every time we go to clean our deep fat fryer gives us unreal levels of anxiety, not to mention the smell cooking oil leaves on clothes and our hair. Someone pass the dry shampoo please!

However, that doesn't mean binning your deep fryer as it still has some advantages if you read through our head-to-head battle of air fryer vs. deep fryer.

If you've ever had to clean an oven from top to bottom, you'll know that even with the best oven cleaner, it can still be a mammoth task. Baked on and burnt debris (hello cheese) is just the worst, and if you don't tend to it immediately, that greasy smell will permeate through the house. So working with a smaller appliance, *ahem, air fryer* will save you from getting on your hands and knees (without those scarily-corrosive substances).

8. It's easy to find a great air fryer deal

A black Breville air fryer filled with cooked French fries with burger in foreground

(Image credit: Breville)

Because there are so many air fryers on the market, it is easy to find great air fryer deals. Top brands such as COSORI (available on Amazon) (opens in new tab), Philips and Ninja will be vying for your attention with great deals and record-low prices. It is possible to pick up top air fryers for way less than $100, and some of the top ones can even be bought for around $50. 

9. Air fryers are great for winter

A black Salter branded air fryer containing fries, with plate of fried chicken, corn on the cob and vine tomato garnish

(Image credit: Salter)

'Tis the season to eat comforting, warming meals. An air fryer is perfect for this, because it can make everything from crispy brussels sprouts to a speedy mug cake. An air fryer is a winner for fast cooking, so if you want a hunger fix in minutes, it's a great choice for the colder months. 

But if you are stuck for ideas over the holiday season and can't stand any more turkey sandwiches and cold cuts, we've got a loads of different air fryer recipes for you to try.

10... and also great for cooking in summer

Cranking that stove on a hot hot day leads to a hot kitchen – and a sweaty cook. Air fryers cook quickly and don't heat the space in the same way your oven will, so we love using them for quick summer eats. Elevate a simple salad with chicken, fish or falafel speedily cooked in an air fryer. 

11. There are so many different types to choose from

The top air fryers I’ve tested come in a range of designs and sizes. My absolute favorite is the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone (available on Amazon) (opens in new tab), because you can cook two elements of a meal simultaneously, in different drawers and even in different modes. Some air fryers are more like miniature ovens, such as the Tower Xpress Pro Combo Air Fryer review I conducted, that not only had multiple layers for cooking different elements of a meal at once, but also had an attachment to rotisserie a whole chicken. Truly, delicious. 

Wanna know even more about the first machine? Take a look at our Ninja Foodi Dual Zone review.

12. There's a size for every kitchen

A close-up shot of a black Philips air fryer containing whole cooked rotisserie chicken

(Image credit: Philips)

I have a relatively small kitchen, so I have enjoyed testing out a variety of air fryer sizes. The top small air fryer I’ve tested was the Philips Essential (opens in new tab) which had a modest footprint and lightweight design, but on the other end of the scale Philips also does an extra large air fryer that can fit an entire chicken and cook enough fries for a family of six.

So if you're looking for ideas for a small kitchen, without taking up worktop real estate, this is the air fryer for you.

13. They just keep getting smarter

Air fryers offer convenience but they also actively try and make your life easier. One such example is the Proscenic T21 Smart Air Fryer (I’ve tested this one too) which not only comes with Alexa-enabled controls, it also has an app that can suggest recipes and pair with the air fryer to select the right timings and temperature settings for your specific meal. That’s super smart.  

14. You can do so much in an air fryer

Most good air fryers have settings for grilling, roasting, reheating, and even baking. In fact, when you buy an air fryer you’re really not restricted to just cooking food you would usually fry. Think tray cakes and even air fryer hard boiled eggs. We've also seen people make cheesecakes, toast, and muffins in their air fryers, so you can get plenty of use out of an air fryer all year long, for your breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts and snacks.

'Air fryers have become so popular over the past couple of years because they just make everything so much quicker and they’re so versatile,' says Rebecca Bebbington, content strategist at NetVoucherCodes (opens in new tab).

'People love that you can make everything in there from chicken and potatoes to roast vegetables and burgers. The best thing is that nothing really takes too long to make it there, so they’re perfect for busy people who find dinners a struggle. On top of that, things made in the air fryer usually require fewer ingredients so in some respects it saves you money too.'

'People still underestimate just how many things they can actually make in the air fryer so we’ve put together a list of things that people probably wouldn’t have thought of.'

Stirzaker's surprising list of 6 things you can air fry

1. Macaroni cheese
'Baked pasta is probably one of the last things you would think to make in your air fryer but it works! Place your uncooked pasta into your air fryer along with some water, heavy cream, seasoning and cheese and mix it all together ensuring that the pasta is covered. The key to this is letting it cool for around five minutes in the end so that the sauce thickens up. You’ll also want to give this a stir halfway through.'

2. Cakes
'Baked goods like cakes and muffins can also be made in the air fryer. Of course, the size of the cake you can make will depend on the size of your air fryer, you’ll need to ensure that your cake tin can sit in there comfortably.' 

3. Wraps
'The air fryer can be used to achieve that perfect crispy, golden wrap too. Just fold up your wrap like a burrito to avoid any of the filling falling out, spray it with some fry light or spread some butter over it and then place it in the air fryer for a couple of minutes until golden.'

4. Tortilla chips
'Using your air fryer to make things like tortilla chips gives you a much healthier version of the snack as it’s made with air rather than being deep-fried. Simply brush your small tortilla wraps in some olive oil and cover in seasonings of your choice like salt and tajin and cut into pieces. Cook these in the air fryer until golden brown.'

5. Cinnamon rolls
'The circulation of air in the air fryer is what makes foods come out crispier than if they were to be made in the oven. When baked in the air fryer cinnamon rolls come out airy, light and extra flaky and crispy!'

6. Grilled cheese sandwiches
'When made in the oven, grilled cheese sandwiches can often come out a little soggy. For maximum crisp place these in the air fryer instead. Not only will it come out crispier, but it will also be cooked a lot quicker than if it was in the oven.'

Are air fryers worth it?

'We think the number one reason in having an air fryer is the convenience; they can make life simpler by using the kitchen appliance, which has multiple functions and pre sets, can speed up the job in hand,' says Lara Brittain, kitchen expert, Currys (opens in new tab).

'An air fryer is like a mini oven that can take on almost anything you’d put in a conventional oven or deep-fat fryer. Air fryers have come a long way over the years and they’re not just for chips: you can bake, roast and even dehydrate ingredients too, depending on the model.'

'Also, in comparison to deep-fat frying, air frying can be a healthier alternative – using convection cooking rather than oil means there will be less fat in the final food that end ups on your plate.'

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 cooking, 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. She has passed our five-step certification process to become a verified customer advisor on coffee machines. 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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