Finding the Best Air Fryer
The latest gadget to capture our sister brand Taste of Home’s Test Kitchen’s attention (and the attention of home cooks everywhere) is the air fryer. A small appliance that can give snacks like french fries and egg rolls that crisp texture without the fat and mess of frying? Sign us up! But like all new gear, it’s hard to know if you’re getting the best option out there. Unlike basics like pots and pans, there are a lot of unknowns with new tools.
That’s precisely why the Test Kitchen decided to test the most popular air fryers on the market. We had to know which brand gave our favorite foods that crunchy fried texture—and was easy to use. To find our Best Loved Brand (what’s that?), our team purchased several air fryers and put them to the test whipping up all sorts of recipes and judging them to these standards:
- Texture: How well do our favorite air fryer recipes turn out? Is the finished product crisp? Tender?
- Cooking quality: Does the air fryer cook food thoroughly? The Test Kitchen cooked all kinds of dishes, including meatballs, crab cakes, chicken wings and even cinnamon rolls.
- Price: Is the product affordable? Was the performance reflected in the price?
And the winner is: Philips Avance TurboStar Air Fryer
When it came to giving all the air fryers a try, the Test Kitchen was ready with many new air fryer-friendly recipes sent in by readers (you can submit your own recipes here). After months of trials, our cooks and food stylists all agreed: The Philips Avance TurboStar model ($250) was the winner. Try this simple trick for perfectly air-fried food every time.
Features We Loved
- Intuitive controls: Philips air fryer looks sleek and modern with its digital screen, but our prep cooks really loved that this model also has some traditional buttons and dials as well, making it very simple to use.
- Perfect fan speed: Air fryers rely on hot air circulating around the food to get the perfect texture. In some models, the fan that powers the air flow can be too strong, meaning your fried pickles might end up flying all over inside. This Philips model, though, had a great fan that cooked food well without making a mess inside.
- Even cooking: The Philips Avance heated all the tested recipes perfectly—no hot spots, no irregular temperature fluctuations.
- Sharp design: This air fryer just looks pretty! Sleek and modern, it would be right at home in any contemporary kitchen.
How It Performed
In each of the tests—texture and cooking quality—this Philips model outperformed its competitors. When our test cooks made crab cakes, the exteriors were perfectly crisp and the centers warm and tender. They also cooked meatballs, pork chops, and chicken breasts, and found that they were similarly perfect—done exactly as expected.
Of course, a stellar performance like this one—five out of five on our judging scale—does come at a cost. The Philips air fryer is priced at about $225, which is likely too much for someone with just a casual interest. However, if you’re the type that loves frying up frozen apps for your game-day parties or experimenting with new tools, it’s well worth it according to our cooks.
We Also Recommend…
After analyzing the results, we determined that there were two brands that came close to stealing the top spot for our favorite air fryer. Though they didn’t quite beat out the competition, we’d still gladly have them in our kitchen any day.
- Black + Decker Purify 2L Capacity Air Fryer ($150): The Black + Decker air fryer is a budget-friendly alternative to our Best Loved Brand, as you can often find it at a discount price between $80-100. The model has simple dial settings, so you won’t need to constantly flip back to the instruction manual to figure it out. Though the model heated up quickly, it seemed to run slightly hotter than other models. If you’re not careful, you could accidentally overcook your recipe!
- Krups 2.5 L Air Fryer ($120): Similarly, this device was incredibly easy to use. Push the slider left or right to control the heat and spin the knob to determine the cook time. However, if there is such a thing as being too powerful, Krups’ air fryer takes the prize. Recipes cooked more quickly than desired, but the product worked well for foods that need to be tossed and turned frequently (like French fries). Looking for a deal? Try these cheaper items on Jet.com as well.
What to Make with an Air Fryer
For folks new to air fryers, the simplest foods to make are no-prep. Start with basics like frozen French fries (have you tried our Best Loved Brand?), frozen mozzarella sticks, or similar snacks. Once you’ve got a handle on the basics of the air fryer, you can make so many tasty recipes from scratch—and not just typical fried foods either. The air fryer can be used to get your favorite veggies nice and crisp, like these Garlic-Rosemary Brussels sprouts (what a great Thanksgiving side!). You can even bake in an air fryer—believe it! These chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are almost too good to be true. Love your air fryer? Check out these other cool tech gifts you’ll want to keep for yourself.