2021 was prime time for at-home cooks to spend time in their kitchens experimenting with recipes. But now aspiring home chefs are taking everything they learned in lockdown, including all of those new tips, tricks, and tempting new tools, to continue cooking up the deliciousness in 2022.
One tool in particular stood out for its popularity last year — the air fryer! It seemed like everyone was trying out recipes for air fried potatoes, crispy green beans, and cauliflower tots. And just about everyone who tried an air fryer said they didn’t know how they ever managed without one!
Air fryers circulate air around food to cook and crisp it quickly. Not only do they take 30 – 40% less cook time than a conventional oven, but they also use considerably less oil, resulting in a “fried” food that is delicious and healthier.
So now you’re ready to get in on the frenzy… but maybe you don’t know which of the seemingly endless models would be best for you.
Here are Pursuitist’s picks for the top five best basket-style air fryers:
Ninja Air Fryer 101 ($199.99)
The Ninja Air Fryer 101 is a quality product from a brand customers know and trust. Slimmer than other bulkier air fryers, its 4 quarts fit easily on a countertop without taking up all of the space, and it is the perfect size to make meals for one or two people.
Less flashy than some other air fry options, the Ninja AF101 has only four programmable functions (air fry, roast, reheat, and dehydrate) but users can also manually control their cook time and temperature, and its simplicity of controls makes it one of the easiest to use and most intuitive to understand.
Gourmia GAF698 Digital Air Fryer ($115.99)
The Gourmia GAF698 Digital Air Fryer is a reasonably priced workhorse that has some unique features that novice cooks will especially appreciate. This one truly eliminates the guesswork with 12 one-touch cooking functions and guided cooking prompts. Pre-programmed buttons have both written and pictorial descriptions on them, so you can cook your wings, bacon, seafood, or vegetables at literally the touch of a picture button.
Plus, the 6 quart basket — which can get hotter than others to the touch — is elegant with its stainless finish accents, coordinating with your kitchen’s other stainless appliances.
Some users may also like that the Gourmia GAF698 Digital Air Fryer comes pre-set with a longer pre-heat period than other air fryers, which allows for a little extra time to prep and add food to the basket. This function can be disabled.
Dreo Air Fryer Pro Max ($119.99)
For air fry enthusiasts looking for an extra large 6.8 quart basket with enough room to cook for a group or a larger family, the Dreo Air Fryer Pro Max is a top option. Well designed, with easy to understand LED touch pad controls on top for its six cooking modes and presets, this air fryer heats up to 450 degrees (on broil) and actually has a helpful “unfreeze” setting.
Even with its extra large bucket — seriously, we could fit in a whole small chicken! — clean up was simple; the basket fits in the dishwasher or can be sponged clean.
And here’s the best feature! The Dreo Air Fryer Pro Max has a transparent viewing window which lets you check on the food status without removing the basket and interrupting the cooking. We haven’t seen this (much appreciated) feature anywhere else.
Cosori VeSync Pro Air Fryer ($129.99)
While Cosori has several enticing bucket-style air fryer options, this is our favorite of the line for its features and price. Despite its sizable 5.8 qt basket, it is compact enough not to take over the whole counter. And it boasts some remarkably useful tech — dinnertime is almost done for you!
The Cosori VeSync Pro Air Fryer has 11 pre-sets on an LED touchscreen as well as a handy auto shutoff function. Our favorite feature was the ability to customize and save our own pre-sets to schedule meals in advance, but we suspect that most people will love it for its smart functionality. The Cosori VeSync Pro Air Fryer connects to your phone via a mobile app to control and monitor meals remotely by taking advantage of cooking alerts, timers, and reminders.
Ninja Foodie 6-in-1 2 Basket Air Fryer ($199.95)
Here’s another great air fry model from Ninja, because one basket may be life-changing, but two is twice as nice! The Ninja Foodie 6-in-1 2 Basket Air Fryer with Dual Zone technology has two 4 quart independent baskets that let you air fry cook two foods at once, with different times and temperatures. The versatility of this design is incredible since it also boasts a Smart Finish feature that ensures your two foods finish cooking at the same time.
The Ninja Foodie 6-in-1 2 Basket Air Fryer has six customizable program settings so you can air fry, air broil, roast, bake, reheat, and dehydrate any of your food at either twice the capacity or cook your sides and main together so that a complete dinner is ready in a Smart Finish flash.
With all of these top five best basket-style air fryers, we suggest running it once or twice to burn off any smell that may result from an inaugural use. But whichever you choose, enjoy leaving your oven off and making delicious meals in your new low-fuss cooking device that gets food crispy with less fat.
Kate Michael is a Writer, Emcee, On-Camera Host and Fashion/Commercial Model. Follow her at @kstreetkate