How we test air fryers: how H&G experts assess air fryers

We've spent hours reviewing the best air fryers. Here's how we do it, so you know the assessment is fair.

how we test air fryers
(Image credit: Future/Millie Fender)

There's lots of misinformation about air fryers, and because they became so popular so quickly, there's some pretty dubious reporting on their strengths and weaknesses. That's why we insist on first-hand experience of every air fryer we feature. 

We test air fryers in our test kitchen, testing a huge range of meals to see if they're up to the task. We really try everything - we're as interested in trying these with pizza rolls as we are with trialling gourmet salmon or a whole roast chicken. 

As part of our Customer Advisor process, we also have qualified air fryer experts who test air fryers from home to ensure that our top picks are backed for prolonged use. Below we go into detail about who our customer advisors are, and our process for becoming a certified Homes&Gardens expert. 

Our tests are standardised across each product to keep them fair an unbiased. At the end of the process, we know exactly which are the best air fryers and which haven't made the cut. 

How we test air fryers

We test air fryers in our specialist test kitchen, using them to cook a wide range of air fryer staples. They're tested by our panel of expert consumer journalists with years of experience of testing small kitchen appliances. 

When we can't get our hands on a sample in the test kitchen, we send it to our specialist contributing editors to test in their own homes. We've also taken these air fryers in our own homes, to get a sense of how they perform in the average home as well as under ideal test conditions. 

How we choose air fryers to test

The first step in the process is identifying the air fryers we want to test. We focus on the latest and greatest air fryers, keeping an eye out for new products and checking specifications for updates to old favorites. We tend to stick to name brands but we're open-minded; if there's an air fryer from a small company that looks like it can go to-to-toe with the big brands then we love to give it a shot.

We want to cover a range of price points and different features. We test basic, compact air fryers for those on a budget or working with limited kitchen space, as well as big, expensive air fryers for large families or those wanting a countertop cooker that can do it all. 

Most importantly, we're editorially independent. We never take money to test or promote a particular air fryer, and we never fudge the results. The review you see is the truth of the test - only genuinely good air fryers make the buying guide.  

Our team of experts

Customer advisor

(Image credit: Future)

We use a rigorous five-stage process to become a Customer Advisor. Customer Advisors are proven experts, with hands-on, long-term experience of industry-leading products and the ability to compare between major brands to help you make the best choices for your home. Our Head of Reviews, Millie Fender, is our current in-house air fryer Customer Advisor. 

 The five-step process is as follows:

  1. Home user: We own a market-leading option, and use it in our home or garden on a regular basis. This means we see how the top products hold up over time, and compare new releases to our top choice. 
  2. Industry expert: We know the market leaders, and stay up to date on their latest releases to make sure we're always in the know. 
  3. Behind the scenes: We've been to a factory or showroom to see how products are made, and experienced the behind-the-scenes of how new products are tested and developed. 
  4. Technical know-how: It's one thing to test a product, but the key to being a customer advisor is knowing how it works. We understand the inner workings of a product and can to explain exactly what makes it so great (or not-so-great). 
  5. Reader awareness: We answer to our readers. Ask us questions, request new product releases, or just let us know what your favorite products are! We want to understand how you shop so we can help. 
Customer Advisor, Air Fryers
Millie Fender customer advisor
Customer Advisor, Air Fryers
Millie Fender

Our Head of Reviews Millie has passed our five-step Customer Advisor criteria for air fryers, meaning she's a true expert. Millie has been to see the latest in cooking appliance technology at SharkNinja HQ, tested dozens of the market-leading models in her own home, and can tell you all the differences between popular air fryer models. When she recommends an air fryer, it's because she's tried it and loved it in her own home. 

Millie's air fryer reviews:

Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 Air Fryer with ClearCook and OdorErase Instant Vortex Plus Dual Basket Ninja Foodi DZ401 6-in-1 XL 2-Basket Philips Essential Air Fryer XL Cosori Dual Blaze Ninja Max XL

Alex David author profile photo
Alex David

As Head of eCommerce, Alex oversees all our reviews and sales content, making sure our readers find the right information to help them make the best purchase. After graduating from Cambridge University, Alex got his start in reviewing at the iconic Good Housekeeping Institute, testing and reviewing dozens of household products and appliances. He then moved to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, covering gardening tools, machinery, and wildlife products, before joining the H&G team for the best of both worlds.

Alex's air fryer reviews:

Instant Essentials 4 Quart Breville the Smart Oven

A headshot of Laura Honey, with bookshelves in the background
Laura Honey

Laura is our eCommerce editor. Before Homes & Gardens she studied English at Oxford University. Alongside her studies, she qualified as a barista and trained as a master perfumer. This makes her our certified expert for all things coffee, candles, and fragrance. Laura has worked for luxury retail brands, reinforcing the importance of quality and style over quantity and fads. She looks for products which have been designed with thoughtful finishes.  

Laura's air fryer reviews: 

Paris Rhône Air Fryer

Camryn Rabideau
Camryn Rabideau

Camryn Rabideau is a freelance writer and product reviewer specializing in home, kitchen, and pet products. Camryn's tested hundreds of items over the years, including plenty of air fryers. She does her product testing from her homestead in beautiful Rhode Island.

Camryn's air fryer reviews: 

Beautiful 6-Quart Digital 

helen mccue
Helen McCue

Helen is trained in Home Economics, and has focused on food and cooking throughout her 20-year career. A freelance writer specializing in home appliance reviews, Helen is most at home when trying out the latest kitchen gadgets, including air fryers. 

Helen's air fryer reviews:

Instant Pot Duo Crisp Cuisinart TOA-60

Our standard cooking tests

French fries

Philips Essential Airfryer XL

French fries in an air fryer test

(Image credit: Future/Millie Fender)

French fries are an air fryer classic. Air fryers were pretty much made for these - they take far less oil than a deep fryer, so the calorie content is much lower. Cooking fries in a faster than a traditional oven and costs less on your energy bills. The mark of a good air fryer is a 

We've tested French fries in a couple of ways. We often use frozen fries. They're a proven I-need-food-now dinner, and a great midnight snack, but more importantly, it shows us how well the air fryer can cook food from frozen. We also test homemade French fries to see how how well the air fryer can crisp the skin of the potatoes while cooking soft, fluffy flesh inside.

Aside from the all-important taste test, we also assess evenness. We want all the French fries to be evenly golden, with no overcooked or undercooked patches. We're looking for French fries cooked to perfection as fast as possible. 

Roasting vegetables

Testing the Paris Rhone Air Fryer with Asparagus

(Image credit: Future)

I think air frying vegetables is the single best way to roast them. It takes half the time of roasting them in the oven and needs - at most - a teaspoon of cooking oil. We test air fryers with all sorts of vegetables, from zucchini to bell peppers and aubergines. My personal favorite is to test with asparagus when it's in season. We're looking for vegetables with a delicious char on the outside but moist, juicy interiors. 

This is a good test for speed, but it also shows if the air fryer is overpowered. If the fan in air fryer is too powerful, it will blow the sliced vegetables all over the basket and won't cook them evenly. If the air fryer can't maintain a slightly lower temperature, it will incinerate the vegetables and dry them out, so it's a good check for power. 

Frozen food

Air fryers excel at cooking frozen food quickly. They're the perfect appliance for those evenings where you've had a long day at work and don't have the energy to cook. We've tested all sorts of classic snacks, from chicken nuggets to pizza rolls and whole frozen fish, assessing preheat time, speed, and how the food tasted. 

This is an important way of testing that the air fryers can handle frozen food - it would be dangerous if the air fryer couldn't thaw and cook chicken tenders, for example.

Our frozen food tests are particularly useful because we often use battered frozen food. When we investigated air fryers vs deep fryers, we noted that air fryers won't let you batter your food, because they don't really use oil. However, if you're cooking breadcrumb chicken from frozen or chicken nuggets, they're already battered for you, so we see that the air fryer won't dry them out or burn them.

Meat and fish

Ninja Foodi 14-in-1

Testing salmon in the Ninja Foodi 14-in-1.

(Image credit: Future)

We also test thicker cuts of meat and fish. Air fryers are versatile appliances that aren't just for pizza rolls or tater tots - you can move beyond the late-night Scooby snack and cook delicious gourmet food much faster than a traditional oven. 

This test is not only an important in its own right, but it informs us how well an air fryer can handle larger cuts of meat and fish. Small, cheap air fryers can be great at cooking small amounts of vegetables or frozen meals but stumble when cooking  thicker joints of meat or fish like salmon. 

Crispy bacon

Instant Vortex Plus 6 Quart 6-in 1 Air Fryer with ClearCook and OdorErase

Testing crispy bacon in the Instant Vortex Plus 6 Quart 6-in 1 Air Frye

(Image credit: Future)

Crispy bacon is certainly a popular challenge in the test kitchen - you should see how many people appear when it's time for the taste test. But the bacon test shows a couple of things. As with the roast vegetable test, thin strips of bacon can be blown around by overpowered fans and cook poorly, so we can test power. 

This test is also good at seeing how well the air fryer can render fat. We try to get perfectly-rendered fat, so that the bacon is crisp and crunchy but never dry. It's a good test for seeing how the air fryer handles 

How we test reheat functions

On a test day, we try to test as many foods as possible in the morning. These cool as we go from test to test, and we then reheat what we've cooked for lunch. This lets us test reheating function, assessing and if the air fryer dries out the food. It's also sustainable, because it means we don't waste any food left over from earlier taste tests. 

How we test special features

Testing the Paris Rhone Air Fryer with a whole chicken

Testing the Paris Rhone Air Fryer with a whole chicken

(Image credit: Future)

Some air fryers have bonus features to set them aside from the rest of the market. Where there's a special feature, we put it through the wringer to make sure that it isn't just a marketing gimmick. 

For example, the Paris Rhone 5.3 Quart Air Fryer claims that you can use it roast an entire chicken, so we put that to to the test on top of all the other functions. Lots of air fryers are pretty basic, so there's nothing to test, but if there's WifFi connectivity or a dual drawer system, we make sure to test it. 

How we test cleaning

We also clean every air fryer by hand to see how easy they are to clean. This is a great opportunity to see if they're truly non-stick or if any food sticks to the crisping plate. We can see if there are any fiddly pieces to clean and dry, as this can often be the most frustrating part of using an air fryer. If an air fryer is diswasher-safe, we test this too. 

How we test value for money

All of this is judged against the cost and warranty of the air fryer. We want the best performance for the lowest price. In some cases we mark down air fryers that cost too much, or that have short guarantees that don't help you if there's a malfunction. Cheap air fryers with poor or middling performance are also marked down here, because if there's a better air fryer for a slightly higher price, it's better value in the long run. 

Alex David
Head of eCommerce

As Head of eCommerce, Alex makes sure our readers find the right information to help them make the best purchase. After graduating from Cambridge University, Alex got his start in reviewing at the iconic Good Housekeeping Institute, testing a wide range of household products and appliances. He then moved to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, assessing gardening tools, machinery, and wildlife products. Helping people find true quality and genuine value is a real passion.