7 things you should always look for when buying an air fryer

Choosing the best air fryer that best suits you is a tricky job, so here are the top things you should look out for

Lakeland air fryer on kitchen countertop
(Image credit: Future Photostudio / Philip Sowels)

Choosing the best air fryer is a tricky job, especially when there are so many great options available on the market. Should you go smaller and save money, or splash out of special features?

At Ideal Home we've tried our fair share of air fryers on the market, from the Lakeland Digital aircrisp air fryer to the Tower Vortex 5-in-1 air fryer. So we thought we'd share some of our top pointers on what they look for when buying an air fryer from our own experience. We're here to give you the lowdown on the top factors to consider if you're in the market for a new air fryer.

cooking with air fryer on countertop

(Image credit: Future Photostudio / Philip Sowels)

Things to look for when buying an air fryer

Of course, whichever air fryer you choose will all be down to your own personal preference, but we understand that if you're stepping into this realm for the first time then it can be a little overwhelming. Our experts at Ideal Home have whittled down the things you should look for when buying an air fryer.

Millie Fender
Millie Fender

Millie is the Head of Reviews for Ideal Home, working to ensure that the products we feature have been thoroughly tested before we recommend them to you. Previously Small Appliance and Cookware Editor, she remains our go-to expert for all things air fryer related. She's constantly reviewing the latest and greatest kitchen appliances, and has tested the large majority of options in this guide to tell you exactly what you need to know about them. 

Molly Cleary
Molly Cleary

Molly is the Ecommerce Writer for Ideal Home and is always on the lookout for the next must-buy product for your home. Covering all things appliance related, with an emphasis on floorcare and air fryers, she regularly joins Millie at Future's Test Facility in Reading to thoroughly put products through their paces. She's the proud owner of the Instant Vortex Plus with ClearCook, and uses it every single day while cooking at home. 

1. Capacity

When looking for an air fryer, one of the key questions you must ask yourself is: how many people am I expecting to cater to? Do you live alone or with a partner, or do you have a big household to cater to?

Molly Cleary, Ecommerce Writer at Ideal Home has tried and tested a number of air fryers and advises that 'the first thing to have in mind is capacity. The bigger your family or household size, the bigger your air fryer needs to be. Most retailers will also make a point of letting you know how many people each air fryer can cater to.'

If you do plan on upsizing your choice of air fryer, another thing to keep in mind in terms of capacity is opting for 'the biggest size for the smallest footprint,' says Ginevra Benedetti, Deputy Editor (Print) at Ideal Home. 'So as many 'litres' as possible in the smallest physical size, as it's likely going to live on your kitchen countertop.'

cooking with air fryer on countertop

(Image credit: Future Photostudio / Philip Sowels)

2. Controls and ease of use

If you're planning to use your air fryer every day, ease of control should definitely rank high for factors to consider. 'From experience, having the minimum amount of fuss and buttons helps – you don't want to have to take out the instruction booklet every time you use it!' says Ginevra Benedetti.

Whether you prefer analogue or digital controls, there are loads of different models out there to support your preference. Molly Cleary says, 'I love my Instant Vortex air fryer as it has a lovely touch screen, although some prefer dials or buttons instead.'

If you're not a big fan of machines beeping at you constantly, Molly suggests shopping for a model where you can turn those sounds down or off.

3. Settings and pre-sets

Take your time to have a good look at all the different settings and pre-sets the model provides – but beware of being lured in by a model that offers loads of different settings.

'Alot of air fryers claim to have a bajillion settings for things like frozen food, seafood, chicken, even desserts. Take these with a pinch of salt though, they're just pre-set timers at defined times,' explains Millie Fender, Small Appliance and Cookware Editor at Ideal Home.

'Ultimately, these air fryers won't do anything that a regular one won't, and they actually end up with a lot more confusing buttons. Not one for people that like a minimalist control panel (such as myself).'

Whichever you decide on, 'all of them should allow you to adjust the temperature and time settings so you can reduce each one accordingly if something looks like it's cooking too quickly or slowly,' says Ginevra Benedetti. She adds that 'an auto preheat is really useful, as is an alert when it's finished cooking.'

air fryer cooking chips on countertop

(Image credit: Future Photostudio / Philip Sowels)

4. Removable compartments (baskets, inserts, etc)

Removable compartments in any appliance are always a nice touch, and air fryers are no different. As air fryers can be quite large already, the last thing you want is to make cleaning an air fryer even tougher for yourself.

'My favourite air fryers are ones that have removable baskets that can go in the dishwasher. It just makes the whole process so stress-free and they always come out spotless,' says Millie Fender.

On the topic of removable compartments, Millie also talks highly of air fryers that have removable inserts. 'You can take the base layer out and cook something wetter (like a pasta bake) straight into the bottom of the tray. Like an oven dish, but easier.'

air fryer removable inserts on countertop

(Image credit: Future Photostudio / Philip Sowels)

5. Multi-purpose use

Air fryers are becoming a kitchen essential, as it's pretty much a one-stop shop for nearly all of your cooking needs – many have since dubbed their air fryers as a complete replacement for other kitchen appliances. So ask yourself, is it just an air fryer you're looking for, or are you looking to have it replace quite a few of your traditional appliances?

'If you have a small kitchen and already have a slow cooker, look for a model that does both so you don't clutter your space with unnecessary appliances,' says Thea Babington-Stitt, Assistant Editor at Ideal Home. This is especially key if you already have a small kitchen layout, where you need to make the most of your space.

Ever since investing in an air fryer, Millie Fender says that she's actually gotten rid of her microwave. 'Aside from a bowl of soup or a jacket potato, there's not much that an air fryer can't cook in record time.' 

She's found in her experience that air fryers are amazing for reheating leftovers, as well as great for reheating your takeaway if it's a bit cold when it arrives.

cooking chips with air fryer on countertop

(Image credit: Future Photostudio / Philip Sowels)

6. Aesthetics

As with any kitchen appliance appearance can sometimes be a sticking point, more often than not their design will be catered to fulfilling their purpose rather than serving looks. 'But looks are still important for anything that's going to sit on your countertop, so make sure you like the way it looks too,' advises Molly Cleary.

'I think any model with stainless steel is a winner, and during testing, I was a fan of this Tower model with rose gold accents.' But of course, go for whichever model best suits your kitchen colour scheme.

7. Price point

A final consideration will always be the price point, air fryers are wonderful but you don't need to bankrupt yourself to get your hands on a good a good model. Whatever your budget may be, we can also guarantee you that you'll be able to find whatever you need on the market – air fryers don't discriminate!

If you're considering kitchen appliance layout ideas and are looking for a high-end model to fill an extra spot, opt for the pricier models like the Ninja Air Fryer AF100UK. Or maybe you're looking for the perfect affordable model for your budget kitchen ideas, then, in that case, consider the Instant Vortex Mini Air Fryer.

If you're looking to pick up an air fryer this year make sure you check out the Black Friday sales to try and bag a bargain. 

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.