What size air fryer do I need? 4 things to consider when choosing an air fryer, according to experts

Ensure the perfect purchase for your household

Air fryers line up from testing day
(Image credit: Future Photostudio / Philip Sowels)

Air fryers have become quite the non-negotiable for every kitchen, namely because of the versatility and convenience they offer right at your fingertips. However, understanding the air fryer hype to its core firstly lies in one major thing: choosing an air fryer that's the right size for you and your household. 

So, if you've ever been dumbfounded with the question of: 'What size air fryer do I need?' look no further, because we've got you covered.

Ensuring you purchase the best air fryer for your needs will be the difference between whether you see the appliance as a game-changing addition to your kitchen, or if it simply collects dust on your worktop. Similar to being able to identify the signs you bought the wrong air fryer, taking a step back to carefully consider you're buying the right size air fryer certainly pays, seeing as the market for air fryers now is huge.

From dual-zone air fryers to multi-zone air fryers, rest assured there's a model out there to suit your cooking needs – irrespective of whether you only require a model of small capacity or demand a larger air fryer for a family of four. That being said, here's how to know what size air fryer you need to buy.

Breville Halo Flexi Air Fryer on countertop

(Image credit: Breville)

What size air fryer do I need?

'Air fryers come in various shapes and sizes, but ultimately it is the capacity which decides how much food you can cook at once,' begins Thea Whyte, AO's air fryer expert.

While there is no obvious 'right or wrong answer', it's important to consider factors such as how many people you're feeding, how often you plan to use your air fryer and the available space in your kitchen to keep you from falling foul of an air fryer buying mistake.

What to consider when choosing the size of an air fryer

1. How many people you're feeding

First, it's important to take note of how many people you'll be cooking for regularly. According to SIA's air fryer buying guide, a general rule of thumb is to consider each litre of capacity as one portion.

2-4L is perfect for single households or small families, with a 2L air fryer providing 1-2 portions with a 4L giving 3-4 portions. For larger households, 5L+ is likely the way forward to comfortably feed everyone as it will provide more than 5 portions. Therefore, the portion size of your chosen air fryer can be a good indicator.

VonHaus Nordic air fryer cooking food

(Image credit: VonHaus)

2. How often you will use your air fryer

'For occasional use, a smaller litre air fryer may suffice, yet if you're cooking all your meals for a large household, then a bigger litre air fryer may be the one for you,' explains Thea.

However, given the lower cost of running an air fryer and its ease of cooking delicious meals quickly, we guarantee you'll be reaching for it a lot more than you originally thought.

3. What you plan to cook in an air fryer

Similar to the last point, the kind of meals you plan to prepare and cook in your air fryer will make all the difference in what size air fryer you opt for, too.

'Do you want to cook a whole chicken or other similar-sized roasts? In this case, you need an air fryer that is big enough to complete the task,' explains Sam Milner, air fryer expert and co-author of The Complete Air Fryer Cookbook. 'This would mean a larger dual, a flex-drawer (like the Ninja FlexDrawer Air Fryer), or an air fryer oven where you can cook the roast on the rotisserie as you see in the supermarket.'

Then, ask yourself if you plan to cook with a lot of wet ingredients in the air fryer such as curries, chicken casseroles, and similar wet ingredient-heavy recipes. 'If this is the case then you want an air fryer with a removable crisper plate. You can get these for single-drawer air fryers that look like baskets but are a drawer, or a dual air fryer,' adds Sam.

Salter 7L dual air fryer with divider on kitchen worktop

(Image credit: Salter)

Alternatively, if you're looking to cook full feals in the air fryer then opting for a dual-zone air fryer is best as it'll allow you to cook two things at the same time.

Not to mention, Gareth Till, UK country manager at Bodum notes that a 'two-drawer model is brilliant if you're cooking different foods at the same time, including any dietary needs like gluten-free or a mixed meat-eating/veggie household.'

4. The available space in your kitchen

Last, but certainly not least, considering how much space you have to work with is also incredibly important. Steering clear of the worst places you can put an air fryer will mean ensuring sufficient worktop space in your kitchen for it, so if you have a small kitchen then opting for a smaller air fryer is probably also the best way forward.

However, if you're blessed with more room to play around with in a kitchen, you've got a lot more options you can consider – including some of the more advanced air fryer innovations we've seen, like French door air fryers and air fryer ovens.

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Of course, on top of that, there are a handful of other features and things to look for when buying an air fryer that can impact your decision, but that's beside the point right now as all we're concerned with is size at the moment.


How big of an air fryer do I need?

How big of an air fryer you need will depend on several factors as we listed above. However, according to air fryer expert, Sam Milner, 'If you don't want all the bells and whistles and just want to cook a whole chicken and make a simple everyday dinner such as meat, potato, and veggies, then a traditional air fryer basket would be right up your street.'

'This is what people had before more and more air fryers were developed and was all that was on the market from the birth of the air fryer in 2010 to 2019.' So rest assured, a single-basket air fryer is more than enough.

What size air fryer should I get for one person?

According to SIA's air fryer buying guide, opting for anything between 2-4L is ideal for one person. A 2L air fryer will provide 1-2 portions of food while 4L will provide between 3-4.

What size air fryer do I need for a family?

A 4.5L is a useful size for individuals or a small family, with XXL models for bigger households. As we mentioned above, consider each litre of capacity as equal to roughly one portion of food.

Having highlighted all these necessary factors to consider before just going off and buying the next air fryer you see trending, we assure you that taking the time to read up and figure out which air fryer size you need will be one of the best time spent.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.