Everyone who has an air fryer would tell you that they can't live without one. It fries whatever you throw in it and dishes out finger-licking good results in no time. There's neither any fire hazard to watch out for, nor any elaborate recipes to follow, and above all, we're getting an oil-free meal - what's not to love?
On the flip side, most of us shy away from air fryers due to their sheer size. If you're a student in the dorms, live in a studio apartment or have a small kitchen, then you'd be more conscious of sacrificing precious countertop space. Plenty of mini air fryers exist in the market, yet you might still wonder if these are worth shelling out for.
Are air fryers worth buying?
A Dubai-based nutritionist and yoga teacher of over 15 years puts her air fryer to use nearly every night.
“It’s a very healthy way to cook if you lead a busy, fitness lifestyle. You reduce oil consumption, which wouldn’t be the case if you cooked in other ways, and you also reduce calories in your food. Plus, air frying retains vitamins and nutrients, unlike deep frying, where the oil is too hot, and it burns everything,” Dayana Solano, who also goes by @dayanasolanob on Instagram, told Gulf News.
Another major bonus, adds Solano, is the convenience of turning it on again and again. "I don't like the smell of cooking in the house, and with an air fryer, I don't have that problem anymore."
From snacks to completely balanced meals, all is possible in an appliance that bakes, grills and roasts, as well. Solano shares a favourite healthy recipe of hers: "I love to thinly slice broccoli, cauliflower and sweet potato into chips, season them thoroughly, and then make them crispy in the air fryer as a side with any lean protein."
Which air fryer is the best for me?
When shopping for one, Solano finds size to be an important deciding factor. "Your choice of size will depend on who you're cooking for, whether for yourself or people in the family. I use a larger Black and Decker air fryer at home, and it serves the five of us," she added.
Air fryers on the smaller side usually feature a basket that has a capacity of two litres and up. If you do end up with insufficient portions, know that you can always fire up the unit again. Mini air fryers do miss out on the wide range of cooking presets found in full-featured appliances, but they perform basic functions just as well.
Initially, however, Solano says that there will be a period of learning to get the temperature and timing right, regardless of preset options.
We curated a list of the best-rated air fryers, slim and short enough to be stored in tight spaces, while paying special attention to performance. Shop with an Amazon Prime membership to get free, fast delivery. Watch out for jaw-dropping deals on Amazon right now.
1. Best Overall: Nutricook Air Fryer Mini
- Compact, square-shaped basket fits in more food
- Unique body and tempered glass panel
- Four cooking programmes and four presets
- Shake reminder for even fry
- Quiet performance
- Limited presets
Nutricook's mini air fryer sits between two and four litres, and offers the ideal space-saving capacity for big meals. At a height of just 30cm, the Air Fryer Mini cooks for up to four people in a 3.3-litre basket - this means 800 grams of fries or 800 grams of a whole chicken. It's a sleek piece of kitchen appliance that's different from most of its kind, topped with a tempered glass control panel. Pick from eight cooking programmes, from methods like fry and reheat, to presets like chicken and steak. A helpful progress bar keeps you updated till your food is ready. The best part is its shake reminder feature that ensures you get an even fry every single time. Reviewers add that it's quiet, easy to clean and the perfect size for two people.
Warranty: Amazon offers an extended warranty for Dh18 and two years for Dh25.
2. Best Versatile Air Fryer: Ninja Air Fryer AF100
- Cooks frozen food quickly
- Dehydrates items and reheats leftovers
- Auto-adjust fan
- Variable temperature and time
- No preset options for foods like chicken, fish, and more
Another compact air fryer with room for larger meals, the Ninja AF100 unit has a 3.8-litre basket that cooks up to 900 grams of food. It's powerful enough to thaw and fry your frozen nuggets in a jiffy. Besides the typical cooking functions, you also get to dehydrate ingredients to extend their shelf life. A built-in fan spreads heat evenly inside the non-stick basket. Reviewers find it an energy-saving and quick option compared to the cooking range oven. Everything fries with a crispy layer, even frozen foods. They also point out the reheat button, which warms up pizza and other leftovers to a quality that's as good as day one.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty.
3. Best Large Capacity: Instant Vortex Air Fryer
- Fries, roasts, bakes and reheats
- Easy dial control for time and temperature
- Spacious square-shaped basket
- Progress indicator
- Has an odour on the first fry, which goes away with use
Coming from the manufacturer of the popular Instant Pot, the Instant Vortex air fryer is a four-in-one unit that fries, bakes, roasts and reheats. A spacious 3.8-litre square basket cooks enough food to satisfy a small family or a couple. You get to set high temperatures of up to 205 degrees Celsius and a cooking time of up to 60 minutes via a smart dial on the panel. Reviewers find the progress indicator quite helpful, and the basket shape holds more food items than round ones. Plus, it's just the right size for compact kitchens, they add. They do note an odour upon unboxing that can be eliminated by running the air fryer on high heat.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a two-year warranty. Amazon offers an extended warranty for Dh23 and two years for Dh33.
4. Best for One Person: Ariete Air Fryer Mini
- Small body and cheerful, retro design
- Decent high temperatures of 200 degrees Celsius
- Simple knob controls
- Enough capacity for one to two servings
- Timer only goes up to 30 minutes
- No presets
If you live alone, you'll likely be content with a two-litre air fryer. Ariete's mini gadget does away with digital and touch controls for a retro look. Turn two knobs to pick the desired time and temperature, or refer to the guide on the top for six baking and frying programmes. Buyers have baked carrot cake in it, made fries and burgers and much more. The petite body lets you tuck it into any corner of the kitchen! Many wrap the air fryer up as a gift because of its bright colour. It leaves behind complex functions and delivers simple results.
Warranty: Amazon offers an extended warranty for Dh12 and two years for Dh17.
5. Best Value: Tefal Easy Fry Essential Air Fryer
- Air-fries, roasts, bakes and grills
- 60-minute cooking timer
- Simple to use
- Square-shaped basket
- No presets for automatic cooking
The Tefal Easy Fry Essential, too, does away with complicated touch controls and replaces them with dials. It's slightly larger than the Ariete at 3.5 litres, with a square basket to accommodate more food. The air fryer uses 49 per cent less energy than a Tefal convection oven to cook 600 grams of frozen fries. With temperature highs of 200 degrees Celsius, you get to slow-cook tougher meats for up to 60 minutes. Reviewers say that their oven goes untouched with this air fryer around. Mums and dads have also managed to sneak air-fried vegetables into their little ones' plates. The basket is dishwasher-safe and non-stick for an effortless cleanup.
Warranty: Amazon offers an extended warranty for Dh18 and two years for Dh25.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.