If you’re only cooking for one or two, an air fryer might not be on your small kitchen appliance wishlist. After all, many are designed to prepare enough food for a crowd, and they tend to take up counter space.
But there are small air fryers that are great for households with fewer limbs. Consumer Reports tests show that these machines can produce crispy foods to perfection, using little or no oil. They also tend to cost less than many larger models.
How do you find one of these little cooks among the dozen? You can’t judge by the footprint of an air fryer, or even by its claimed capacity. Instead, the key is the size of a model’s basket or tray, which determines how much food it can actually handle.
In CR’s air fryer lab, our engineers measure the capacity of each model, which is usually less than advertised. Capacities measured in our ratings range from 1.3 quarts up to 8.9 quarts, while claimed capacities range from 1.8 pounds to 9.5 quarts.
Comparing models can also be a challenge as brands use different units of measure (pounds, liters, or quarts) to indicate how much food a model can hold. âWe convert all of the models in our ratings to quarters so people can compare apples to apples,â says Larry Cuifo, chief engineer for CR air fryer testing.
In a review of the models recommended from our reviews, we found that regardless of the size of a basket, these devices do a great job. Fries, frozen chicken nuggets and wings are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dishes and meals you can cook in a fraction of the time. Note, however, that you can expect one of these small fryers to contain a chicken patty or two, but not a whole chicken.
We’ve rounded up the top five small air fryers in our tests, listed alphabetically below. All have a measured capacity of 4 quarts or less. Looking for an air fryer that can cook for a family of four or more? See our picks for the best large air fryers.
For more information on these popular kitchen appliances, check out our air fryer buying guide. And for full specifications of the full line of air fryers we’ve tested, CR members can view our air fryer reviews.