Air fryers provide the crunch and flavor of fried food with less fat and a fraction of the oil that deep frying requires. In an air fryer, instead of submerging food into a vat of oil, hot air and fine oil droplets circulate around food to make it crisp. The best air fryer provides options when cooking from home, enabling you to make a hearty meal in just a few minutes.
The best small air fryer takes up little space in the kitchen, offers a temperature range for precise cooking, and uses minimal oil. Some top picks for the best small air fryer include the following models.
- BEST OVERALL: Ninja Air Fryer
- RUNNER-UP: Chefman TurboFry Air Fryer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: GoWISE USA Programmable Air Fryer
- BEST FOR ONE PERSON: DASH Compact Air Fryer Oven Cooker
- BEST ULTRA-COMPACT: Elite Gourmet Personal Air Fryer
- ALSO CONSIDER: DASH AirCrisp Pro Electric Air Fryer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Small Air Fryer
The best small air fryer saves space in the kitchen, works efficiently, and cooks food at a range of temperatures. When shopping, consider some important factors, including size and capacity, power, temperature control, functionality, presets, safety, and ease of use.
Size and Capacity
An air fryer should fit in the kitchen, whether on the counter or in a cupboard. An average-size small air fryer has about the same dimensions as a small drip coffee maker.
Capacity depends on the size of the household and the average servings required. Those who don’t like leftovers probably should investigate a smaller-capacity fryer. Typically, air fryer capacity is listed in quarts.
- 1- to 2-quart fryers prepare dinners and snacks for one or two people
- 2- to 3-quart sizes are suitable for two people
- 3- to 5-quart fryers are large and can feed three or more people
Air fryers use less power than a conventional oven because they require less time to preheat and cook food. Some manufacturers boast their air fryer uses less energy to cook an entire meal than a conventional oven uses just to preheat.
Most air fryers range from 800 to 2,175 watts. Typically, the higher the wattage, the higher the temperature an air fryer can generate. On average, small air fryers require around 1,425 watts, while a standard oven uses an average of 2,400 watts. With power needs similar to other small kitchen appliances, small air fryers are relatively inexpensive to operate.
Like a standard oven, air fryers cook at a range of temperatures, but they don’t get as hot as a conventional oven. Depending on the model, temperatures range from 100 degrees to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
The air fryer’s circulating air makes the cooking environment more consistent than a regular oven, so high temperatures aren’t required to obtain similar results. Generally, to cook a dish previously cooked in a conventional oven, lower the air fryer’s temperature by 25 degrees from the recipe’s recommendation.
The simplest air fryers have only one function: fry food. Other models have multiple cooking modes, and some may be combination machines, such as an air fryer toaster oven. Additional functions include:
- Roasting or broiling options allows users to roast food or brown food before cooking.
- Dehydrating racks pull the moisture out of food to make apple chips, raisins, or beef jerky.
- Baking brownies, cakes, and other desserts is possible in some air fryers. When converting oven recipes to an air fryer recipe, remember that baking requires precise temperatures.
- Reheating leftovers in an air fryer crisps food better than reheating in a microwave.
Presets are programmed time and temperature settings for cooking certain types of foods, including frozen fries, poultry, or seafood. They aren’t standard on every air fryer.
Each preset button cooks a certain amount of food, weighed in grams. Adding or reducing the weight requires an adjustment in cooking time. Some models contain manual controls for time and temperature.
Air fryers are safer than deep frying. Since the food cooks in an enclosed space, users don’t have to worry about hot oil spills and splashes. Other safety features may include:
- A cool-touch handgrip protects users from burns and allows the removal of the air fryer basket without an oven mitt.
- Overheat protection detects when internal components become too hot and automatically shuts down the machine. If too much oil or food is added, air fryers can overheat.
- An automatic switch-off, if included, turns off the machine when the timer counts down to 0 or shuts off if the fryer hasn’t been used in a certain amount of time.
Ease of Cleaning
Small air fryers are relatively easy to clean. The air fryer basket and other components, such as the crisper plate or wire racks, are usually dishwasher safe. If the manufacturer’s specs don’t mention a dishwasher, be safe and wash it by hand. The housing cannot go in the dishwasher, but the interior can be wiped clean with a damp cloth dipped in warm, soapy water. Use a soft sponge or clean cloth and avoid abrasive materials. Always dry each part before reassembling the air fryer.
Our Top Picks
Guided by the considerations outlined above, keep reading to find a compilation of top picks for some of the best small air fryers for the home.
Make wings for game day, cook fish for dinner, or dehydrate snacks with the versatile Ninja Air Fryer. Roast, air fry, reheat, or dehydrate food with the press of a button. A 4-quart capacity makes the Ninja a good pick for households with several people. Preheating takes only 3 minutes, and food cooks quickly thanks to programmable cooking functions and a digital timer. The air fryer’s fan automatically adjusts cooking speed based on the temperature setting.
A ceramic-coated basket and crisper plate allow hot air to get under food for even frying. The Ninja also has a multilayer rack to dehydrate food. All three components are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
The Chefman small air fryer has a two-in-one tank and flat basket design that provides a capacity of more than 3.5 quarts in a small footprint (8 by 8 by 9.5 inches). The Chefman can fry, roast, cook, or bake. A dual-knob control sets the time and temperature from 200 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The Chefman’s auto-off function shuts off the air fryer when the timer hits 0 to save power and reduce hazards. Place the air fryer’s nonstick basket in the dishwasher, and clean the rest of the machine with a soft, damp sponge.
GoWISE’s air fryer has a digital LCD control that lets users set time and temperature manually or use the eight presets. This air fryer can bake and reheat, too; simply shake the basket every 5 minutes to ensure all the food gets crisp. This 3.7-quart air fryer can feed three or more people. The air fryer has safety features including a cool-touch handgrip, overheat protection, and automatic standby mode. The removable pan is dishwasher safe.
This DASH air fryer is suitable for singles or those who use an air fryer only for snacks. The crisper drawer has a 2-quart capacity, large enough to cook a meal for one or snacks for two. This handy little fryer cooks appetizers, snacks, baked goods, and other desserts. The DASH has no presets. Safety features include an automatic shutoff, cool-touch housing, and nonslip feet for stability. The basket is dishwasher safe. This fryer comes in five color options.
Elite Gourmet’s 1-quart air fryer is only 8 inches tall and less than 8 inches in diameter, so it consumes little space on a counter or in a cabinet. Even though it’s tiny, it fries, roasts, cooks, and bakes. Use one of the seven presets, or set a timer for up to 30 minutes and manually select a temperature from 195 to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. This small air fryer boasts an auto-shutoff function and cool-touch handle to prevent burns. The drawer pan and frying rack are both dishwasher safe, and the fryer can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
Photo: amazon.com DASH’s small air fryer has powerful air circulation, a wide temperature range, multiuse functionality, and a digital display to help cook food properly.
The DASH AirCrisp air fryer has presets as well as manual temperature and time settings. Set the fryer to cook at temperatures between 100 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or use one of the eight presets to cook with the touch of a button. This midsize small air fryer holds 3 quarts to feed two to four people. It heats up quickly to prepare meals in minutes. An auto-shutoff function prevents overcooking, and cool-touch housing makes the fryer safer for younger users. The removable basket is nonstick and dishwasher safe, making cleanup easier.[/product-card-1]
FAQs About Small Air Fryers
Some frequently asked questions and answers about small air fryers appear below.
Q. How does an air fryer work?
Air fryers circulate hot air around food to crisp its exterior and cook the interior.
Q. What can I make in a small air fryer?
Many foods can be made in small air fryers, including appetizers, main courses, and desserts. Common preset functions include fries, seafood, poultry, meat, vegetables, and baked goods.
Q. How do you use an air fryer?
Use preset buttons or manually set the temperature and time, load the food, and let the fryer get to work. Periodically during cooking, take out and shake the basket for even cooking.
Q. How do you preheat an air fryer?
Select the temperature to cook the food and let the air fryer heat up for a few minutes. Some models include an indicator light when the air fryer reaches the correct temperature.
Q. How do you clean a small air fryer?
Some air fryers have baskets and racks that can go in the dishwasher, while others require hand cleaning with a damp cloth. Dry all the parts before reassembling the air fryer.