The best air fryer of 2020: Ninja, Dash, Philips, Cosori and more

Here’s what to look for in a quality air fryer if you want to try the air fried recipe you found on Pinterest. We also considered things like counter real estate and whether or not you feed an army. This list will help you find the best air fryer. So grab your frozen french fries and chicken nuggets and prepare to fry a storm.

Unlike previous air fryers, we liked ab DeLonghi , Krups , T-Fal, and Black & Decker Today’s modern fryers are more powerful and offer faster access to crispy french fries, onion rings, chicken nuggets, or anything else you normally make in a deep fryer, that you fit in the cooking basket. They also have a higher capacity to cook more food, are lighter, quieter and easier to clean.

No matter how simple or complex, what really matters is how well they deliver the fried goodies. When it comes to air fryers, it can be very different. Here’s what I learned after putting some top models through their paces to find the best air fryer. I update this regularly.

Brian Bennett / CNet

When it comes to turning ingredients into delicious food, this Air Fry model from Cosori is hard to beat. Incredibly ingenious, the air fryer offers 11 preset cooking modes for preparing a variety of foods. It also looks slim and compact, although it has a capacity of almost 6 liters.

I also made good use of the Smart Air Fryer presets. Everything from frozen foods such as chicken nuggets and french fries to onion rings and mozzarella sticks that are golden brown and deliciously balanced. Thanks to his special root vegetable mode, he could even fight Brussels sprouts with gusto. You can also connect the air fryer to your phone using a mobile app. The software provides cooking warnings and reminds you to shake the roasting basket (and its contents) if necessary.

The Cosori fryer is also pleasant to use and not too loud. All of this adds up to make an air fryer a convincing friend if that’s what you are looking for.

Amazon average rating: 4.4 of 5 stars (4,151 ratings)

Best Buy average rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

Brian Bennett / CNet

Hard to miss a plate of chicken wings. This is especially true if they are made by the Ninja Air Fryer. This air fryer turned humble frozen wings into something magical. They came out evenly cooked with crispy skin and were a real crowd-pleaser. My kids caught them in no time.

The ninja also whipped up a ton of mozzarella sticks which were well done. They started out frozen and turned flat into crispy, crunchy, and sticky cheese bombs in 8 minutes. If you like french fries, the ninja won’t let you down either. Frozen fries were golden brown and delicious in 10 minutes.

The air fryer just stumbled while I was cooking Brussels sprouts. The ninja lacks a special mode for vegetables, so my fresh sprouts were exaggerated and even burned in some places.

Amazon average rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (10,130 ratings)

Walmart average rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (1,012 ratings)

Best Buy average rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (1,551 ratings)

Brian Bennett / CNet

Here is an air fryer that is easy on the eyes. While the Dash Deluxe is large and has a massive 6 quart capacity, its design is striking. The device I tested was colored aqua, although it is also available in red, black, and white. The controls are also manual (no presets), but easy to use. The fryer even has an interestingly textured, patterned top. I’m a sucker for this stuff.

The air fryer also fried lots of wings, Brussels sprouts, and french fries, all of which were evenly and well cooked. That said, it’s easy to overshoot a mozzarella stick in the air if you’re not careful. I did, which resulted in a cheesy explosion after just 6 minutes at 350 Fahrenheit. However, the fryer basket has a non-stick coating that makes cleaning a breeze.

Amazon average rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (2,231 ratings)

We tested others

Instant vortex

A popular option is an Instant Vortex. The price corresponds to the other air fryers in this group. The Vortex is made by the same company that developed the groundbreaking Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. Even so, the food I fried in this air fryer didn’t blow my mind.

With the recommended settings, mozzarella sticks came out a bit damp and the outside wasn’t crispy enough. Chicken wings and fried chicken were acceptable, not amazing and less juicy than the other deep fryers. My Brussels sprouts were over the top too. And frozen fries were ready but unevenly cooked.

Walmart Average rating: 4.6 of 5 stars (855 ratings)

Target review average: 4.5 out of 5 stars (235 ratings)

Best Buy Rating Average 4.7 of 5 stars (115 ratings)

Dash Compact Airfryer

The Dash Compact Airfryer is everything its bigger sibling isn’t. In particular, the stove is small, undersupplied and has a rock-bottom price. While the Dash Deluxe is a powerhouse, the Dash Compact battled just about anything I put in it at air frying. Both French fries and Brussels sprouts were under-eaten and cooked unevenly.

Mozzarella sticks came out of the air fryer basket hot, but weren’t that crispy. The only bright spot were chicken wings. They lasted 30 minutes, but I was treated with some crunch on the skin.

Amazon rating average: 4.4 out of 5 stars (6,219 ratings)

Target Review Average: 4.3 out of 5 stars (550 ratings)

GoWise USA 8-in-1 digital air fryer

You may not have heard of this brand before, but this offering from GoWise is a great choice. It didn’t cook the skin of my chicken wings evenly. That said, french fries came out crispy, crunchy, with creamy interiors. The fryer also roasted Brussels sprouts well, which is no easy task for this group of devices.

Amazon rating average: 4.5 out of 5 stars (332 ratings)

Walmart Average rating: 4.1 of 5 stars (262 ratings)

Home Depot Average rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (668 ratings)

Chefman 2.1 qt. Analog air fryer

Another relatively inexpensive choice is the Chefman Analog Air Fryer. It’s tiny too, offering only 2.1 liters of frying capacity. The device delivered yummy mozzarella sticks and decent chicken wings. However, it overcooked my Brussels sprouts and frozen french fries test. I also found the Chefman’s timer controls confusing. This dial is marked in numerical increments of 10. However, the numbers are mysteriously separated by groups of four dots, not nine as you’d expect.

Amazon rating average: 4.5 out of 5 stars (2,766 ratings)

Target review average: 4.5 out of 5 stars (312 ratings)

PowerXL Vortex air fryer

You can buy the PowerXL Vortex. However, I recommend it because of the high price and mediocre roastability. I have had satisfactory results in cooking chicken wings. However, the machine exploded my mozzarella sticks when I was cooking them according to the instructions in the product manual. It also overcooked Brussels sprouts and the french fries it made were just ok, not great.

Amazon rating average: 4.5 out of 5 stars (135 ratings)

Target review average: 4.3 out of 5 stars (168 ratings)

Philips Avance Airfryer with TurboStar

Even if the price has fallen significantly, the Philips Avance Airfryer is not worth your money. Sure, this device heats up frozen ready meals like mozzarella sticks and pizza rolls properly. When it comes to fresh foods like chicken wings, the results have been about what you would expect from a traditional oven.

Amazon rating average: 4.6 out of 5 stars (904 ratings)

How we rated it

It is certainly a surreal feeling to test multiple air fryers while a pandemic rages silently around the globe. Just like my colleague Ry Crist found with Waffle Makers, I found the busy work of cooking to be quite comforting. Perhaps that is why so many people have embraced making bread and baking during this time of uncertainty.

With four runs per machine and a total of eight air fryers, I ran at least 32 separate test frits. I also thoroughly washed each appliance in between foods. That’s a lot of hand washing too, which is good.

User friendliness

Whenever I fry items with any device, I’ve paid attention to how my experience went. I was paying attention to things like labels, controls, and indicators or buttons if these machines had them. I also took note of how loud or not the air fryers were while they were operating.

How they cook

To get a feel for how each air fryer in this test group works, I ran a battery of four individual tests for each product. Each test focused on one food ingredient. These were mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, Brussels sprouts, and frozen french fries.

Before starting, I consulted the manual for each model and provided documentation for relevant cooking instructions. If the manual didn’t include specific instructions, I used consistent procedures for each air fryer based on the type of food being prepared. For chips, I set the deep fryer to 380 F. After preheating for five minutes, I cooked it for 12 minutes. I also shake the fries every 5 minutes.

For chicken wings, I preheat to 400 F and then cook them for 30 minutes. I also make sure I turn them over with pliers every ten minutes. For mozzarella sticks, I preheat to 350 F and cook for 6 minutes. For Brussels sprouts, I preheat to 375 F and cook for 15 minutes. Before cooking, however, I rinse and cut the sprouts in half, then toss them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

At the end of each test, I looked for several criteria. This included how evenly each product was cooked, how good (or not) they were in terms of doneness and, of course, whether they had a sufficient level of crispy, crispy, fried delicacy to compare to deep-frying.