When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
- Air fryers are just small-capacity convection ovens that don't toast and are hard to clean.
- Simply put, they're a poor reinvention of the toaster and another unnecessary kitchen appliance.
- Here's why a traditional convection toaster oven will serve you worlds better.
Air "fryers" are a con. They are by name a fryer, but in function, no such thing at all. In truth, they are nothing but dumbed-down convection ovens made with cheap plastic. They offer less cooking surface area and fewer functions for a similar footprint on your countertop and end up being just one more clunky appliance neither you nor your kitchen ever needed.
Here's why you should stay away from air fryers and buy a toaster oven instead:
Even our reporters who test air fryers don't really like them
Our job is to tell you what to buy, and in some instances, we're assigned to review products we ourselves would never buy. We still consider, test, and review these products with every bit of the respect we give all products and services. At the end of the day, you're going to buy what you're going to buy and that's that. We respect your choice.
But the kindest thing our reporters, Jen Gushue and James Brains, who have tested dozens of the things, have to say about air fryers is this: "The results are more like oven roasting at a high heat — still a delicious end result, but you won't fool anyone into thinking you just pulled those chicken wings out of a deep fryer."
Essentially, an air fryer is a convection toaster that doesn't toast, which is absurd in my book.
The term "air fryer" is just a marketing ploy for technology that has existed for decades
This is a plea, not in condescension, not out of derision or scorn, but for the sake of all things honest and decent in the worldwide web of consumerism. Don't fall for marketing ploys that clutter your kitchen.
Convection cooking (the technology behind air fryers) has been around since the early 1900s, and in home kitchens since at least 1945 in the form of your trusty ol' toaster oven.
With the addition of a wire tray and a metal sheet pan, any decent convection toaster oven will achieve what an air "fryer" can and more. It can bake, roast, and broil, and it can even toast! Oh, the novelty! Further, thanks to the internal fan that prevents hot and cold spots, a convection toaster oven arguably works better than the regular oven.
Most air fryers are awkwardly shaped and sized
Consider how many batches it would take to cook for even just two, let alone four, in an air fryer. And while the footprint might be a little smaller, it won't fit as neatly into a corner or beneath a cabinet in the way that a boxier, prettier, and usually stainless-steel convection toaster oven would.
The bottom line: skip the air fryer, buy the toaster oven
But for goodness sake, I implore you one more time to save your wallet, your precious counter space — and its aesthetic — and stay away from the bulbous, plastic, hard-to-clean, single-serve pod air fryers that everyone seems to be buying and hawking. Do yourself one better and just stick with the classic toaster oven you probably already have, and if you want to use it to air fry, a roasting pan and wire rack is all you need.
Below are convection toasters recommended by our expert home appliance tester and reviewer, James Brains, who is in full agreement that they will serve you far, far better. If you're still air fryer curious even after all this, I also recommend checking out a multicooker like this one by Instant Pot, which has an air frying feature but can also pressure cook and slow cook.
Give these a try:
Sign up for Insider Reviews' weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals.
You can purchase logo and accolade licensing to this story here.
Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at email@example.com.