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Which air fryer is right for you?

Love is in the air (fryer) – we'll help you find your perfect match.

illustration of different types of air fryers
Last updated: 15 February 2024

Air fryers are many a home cook's current infatuation: ask them about their machine and they'll gush about their convenience, their speed, their versatility, their general dreamboat-ness. 

For some, the honeymoon phase is fleeting and the once-swoon-worthy appliance will end up abandoned in a cupboard along with other culinary flings such as the juicer and spiraliser. 

For others it develops into a long-term relationship, forsaking many other appliances. 

Some people end up ditching their first love for a more glamorous new model after the initial attraction fades. 

If you're considering coupling up with one of these hot kitchen whizzes, it's important to find one you're compatible with to ensure your air-fryer affair sizzles rather than fizzles.

Find one you're compatible with to ensure your air-fryer affair sizzles rather than fizzles

We'll show you how to identify the deal breakers and red flags so you can find the machine of your dreams.

fiona mair air fryer test

CHOICE kitchen expert Fiona Mair grills each air fryer to sort the studs from the duds.

How to find your type

Before you even begin to identify what you're looking for in a new benchtop beau, you first need to look within.

What kind of cook are you? Who are you cooking for? What do you value in a kitchen appliance? How much room do you have in your life (or your kitchen bench) for a new flame?

If you just want to whip up a quick batch of chips for the kids or reheat some leftover pizza, you'll have very different air fryer needs than someone who plans to roast a whole chicken, sous vide a fresh salmon fillet and then bake a cake.

If you're normally a beans-on-toast-for-dinner type, a fancy air fryer isn't going to transform you into a creative home chef

Be real with yourself about how you're actually likely to use an air fryer: if you're normally a beans-on-toast-for-dinner type, a fancy air fryer isn't suddenly going to transform you into a creative home chef who never cooks the same meal twice. 

Equally, if you like to mix it up in the kitchen and try new things, you might find a no-frills air fryer without extra functions too restrictive and you'll get bored quickly. 

If you're going to put yourself out there, don't pretend to be someone you're not – otherwise you'll end up stuck in a dead-end relationship with an appliance you're not compatible with.

Do you even need an air fryer?

This may be contentious (we're already bracing ourselves for a flurry of feedback), but there's a chance that your air fryer-less kitchen is enough for you. 

"If you have a fan-forced oven in your kitchen, you already have an (admittedly much larger) air fryer," says CHOICE kitchen expert Fiona Mair.

Despite its name, an air fryer is actually more like a mini oven than a deep fryer: it uses a fan and a heating element to move hot air around the food. 

If you have a fan-forced oven in your kitchen, you already have an air fryer

Fiona Mair, CHOICE kitchen expert

"You'll get the same results from a fan-forced oven as you will with an air fryer," says Fiona. 

"You probably don't need one if you're cooking for a large household and you already have an oven, a grill and a cooktop."

So before you start swiping left and right on various air fryers, think about whether having one is actually going to add anything to your life, or if you're better off reconnecting with the existing kitchen appliances you've been taking for granted.

Are air fryers worth your money?

CHOICE home economist Fiona Mair shares her advice on air fryers, including some of the pros and cons of this appliance and whether it is worth your money (and kitchen bench space!).

But what if you just want one?

Regardless of your oven situation, there may be a hole in your life that only an air fryer will fill. And there are plenty of reasons to hook up with one. 

They're a good match for singles and small households, caravan and campervan kitchens, those who reheat food more often than cooking it, hungry teenagers who can be trusted to cook up an afternoon snack, people living in hot climates (they won't heat up the kitchen like an oven does), homes with kitchens too small to fit a full-size oven, kitchenettes for offices and granny flats, and even rental homes that have a substandard oven.

Don't fit into any of those categories but still feel a yearning to have one in your life? Well, the heart wants what the heart wants. Who are we to stand between you and true love?

CHOICE perfect match: Air fryer edition

We'll play matchmaker and set you up with your ideal air fryer, plus give you the pros and cons of each type so you'll know what to expect before you commit.

The contestant: Basic fry guys

You just want to bash out a batch of chips pronto to keep the kids' hunger at bay. Or you're new to air frying and you want to find out for yourself what all the fuss is about before you commit to a fancier model. 

Either way, you're after something that's easy to use and doesn't cost a fortune.

pullout drawer air fryer card

Your perfect match: 

The single-drawer air fryer

These no-fuss fryers are good for people just starting on their air fryer journey as they're simpler and often cheaper.

They may be straightforward, but these simple creatures do require more attention and nurturing than their more complex counterparts. 

You'll have to manually shake the basket every five minutes or so, and since most don't have an alert you'll need to put in the effort to remember to attend to your hot date. 

If you're a forgetful fryer, you could seek out a model with a stirrer, which will keep things moving, but not all models do the job well and you can end up with unevenly browned or even squashed food.

If this sounds like too much hard work, a benchtop oven with a rotating basket (see below) might be more your style.

The contestants: Couples and caravanners

You're a household of two who want an easy way to prepare two different types of air fried food for dinner. 

Or you're living the van life and want an air fryer so you can still get that oven-cooked feeling. 

double drawer air fryer card

Your perfect match: 

The double-basket air fryer

These pretty much do what it says on the tin: they have two separate baskets side by side. 

This means they're up for two-timing, so you can cook two different foods at different temperatures if you're after some variety, and even set them to finish cooking at the same time.

But, despite the two-drawer situation, they're not ideal for double dates – they'll only cook enough food for two people. 

The contestant: Family fryer

You're cooking for a crowd and a small air fryer just won't cut it. 

You need a machine that'll turn out hot food quickly so you can keep the ravenous hordes happy.

larger capacity air fryer card

Your perfect match: 

The larger-capacity air fryer

Using a small machine for a large family means one of two things: either no-one eats together, or the first batches go cold while you're cooking the next.

It's go big or go home in this case – if you need to serve up multiple portions, you have to bring out the big guns. 

Some air fryers boast a capacity of up to 10L, but take these figures with a grain of salt. It's what's inside that counts, and some manufacturers will big up their credentials by giving you the size of the whole space inside the fryer, rather than the actual usable capacity.

It's go big or go home – if you need to serve up multiple portions, you have to bring out the big guns

You might think you're taking a 10L model home only to pull out the drawer and find that it can only handle a sad little 500g serve of chips. 

Not all larger air fryers are drawer-style models. If you want to go big, you could also consider a benchtop-oven style fryer, or one that opens from the top.

And don't forget that you probably already have a very large air fryer in your kitchen: your oven! If you need to cook up a big batch, it might be easier to crank the oven than switch on the air fryer. 

The contestant: The multi-tasker

You're someone who wants it all: everything from the crunchiest chips and the crispiest pork belly, through to roast chicken that's evenly browned and perfectly bubbly grilled cheese on toast.

Is that asking too much? Should you settle for less? No – you deserve it. The perfect fry for you is out there; you just need to find it.

rotating basket multicooker card

Your perfect match: 

The rotating basket air fryer

Versatile but not wildly complicated, these multifaceted machines are solid all-rounders: they roast, they bake, they grill, and they air fry. 

Their most attractive feature is a rotating basket that automatically turns your food so it browns more evenly. (There'll be none of that lowly manual shake-it-yourself business you get with a common drawer air fryer, thank you very much.)

Relationships are all about give and take, and while these jacks-of-all-trades will give you a plethora of meal options, they'll also take a bigger chunk out of your bank account and your bench space.

taste the difference air roaster pro af510t

Air fryers with a rotating basket take care of the moving and shaking for you.

They also tend to come with more baggage than the average air fryer – and you'll need to find somewhere to store all their accessories. 

Then there are the ones that only come with the basics and expect you to pay for any add-ons so they can live up to their potential. 

Don't judge a book by its cover, though. Not all air fryers with rotating baskets are benchtop-oven-shaped, and not all benchtop-oven-shaped air fryers have rotating baskets. 

Some models that look like humble standard air fryers from the outside also have a rotating basket and rotisserie rod, while some benchtop ovens lack these features.

The contestant: The overachiever

You can – and will – do it all: roasting, baking, air frying, pressure cooking, sous vide, slow cooking and more. You're great in the kitchen and you know it. 

And your expectations are high: any appliance that you welcome into your life needs to really earn its place, so they'd better be able to handle the heat while juggling everything you throw at them. 

And the more skills they possess, the better – there's no room in your kitchen for one-trick ponies.

multifunction air fryer card

Your perfect match: 

The multifunction air fryer

These modern wonders set home chefs' hearts a-flutter: they tick all the boxes. Roasting, grilling, baking, air frying, searing, slow cooking, pressure cooking – tick, tick, tick. And they usually do all of them well.

Some have as many as 12 different functions, including niche cooking tasks like yoghurt making and sous vide cooking. 

Just think about how many slacker single-function appliances you could ditch if you bought one of these dreamboats! 

Such an accomplished machine obviously isn't cheap – you'll pay around $500 and up for a date with one of these multifunction marvels, and even as much as $700. 

But how much would you have to pay if you bought each appliance separately? You're practically saving money here, right?

Unfortunately you can't always have your cake and eat it with these kings of the kitchen. They're monogamous to a fault: they'll do just one thing at a time. 

If you're slow-cooking a casserole for eight hours, you won't be able to air fry some nuggets for the kids until your multifunction machine has done what it set out to do. 

ninja foodi 11 in 1 6l multi cooker op350anz air fryer mode

Multifunction air fryers cook in multiple different ways. This Ninja has a huge 11 functions!

And while they might initially sweep you off your feet with their impressive list of credentials, you could end up not utilising all of them. 

Just how often do you think you'll make yoghurt from scratch or dehydrate your own jerky?

Before you get serious with an appliance like this, ask yourself what you really want. Do you really need eleventy billion functions, or will a simpler version give you everything you need?

If you just want crispy food, then you only need a simple air fryer

Fiona Mair, CHOICE kitchen expert

"If you just want crispy food, then you only need a simple air fryer," says Fiona. 

"Before you buy a multifunction air fryer, make sure it has functions that suit your style of cooking, and don't bother paying extra for features that you probably won't end up using."

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.