There are four different types of air fryers and picking the right one may boil down to features, dimensions, and material. The four air fryer types are cylindrical, basket, oven, and paddle. Air fryer models can come in a basket-type or paddle-type form, while other air fryers can look like a standard oven toaster. Certain air fryers have drawers with removable baskets, while other air fryer types can have racks that hold crispers and trays.
Air fryers can include features like baking, rotisserie, grilling, frying, broiling, and toasting while other air fryers come in a single mode. Air fryer models vary in capacity, size, noise output, heating temperature, visibility, pre-heating quickness, and dishwasher friendliness.
It pays to know the features of an air fryer, including the pros and cons for each type of air fryer, so it’s easier to pick the perfect one for you and your kitchen.
What different types are available for an air fryer?
The following are the different types of air fryer models available in the market:
- Cylindrical basket air fryer
The cylindrical basket air fryer shape includes drawers with removable baskets. The heat comes from the top and a fan blows down the hot air, heating the food evenly throughout. Learn more about how to use an air fryer.
Cylindrical basket air fryers pre-heat more quickly than other types, typically within two minutes. Cylindrical air fryers are compact, allowing the user to have more space in the kitchen. Since these air fryers occupy less room, they do not heat the entire kitchen as compared to a traditional oven.
Two downsides of cylindrical basket air fryers are capacity and functionality. This type of air fryer normally offers a single function. If you want a multi-purpose appliance that allows grilling, roasting, frying, and broiling, you may prefer an oven air fryer over a cylindrical air fryer.
The cylindrical air fryer is great for single-person use or small parties since this type is considered a small air fryer; it can accommodate 3 quarts of food or less on average. If you want to serve larger parties of 4 people or more, then it will require cooking in batches. Because of the style and opaque lids, there is limited to no food visibility inside a cylindrical air fryer. When evaluating the noise levels between a cylindrical air fryer vs convection oven, the former is much louder than the latter with approximately 65 decibels—similar to a vacuum cleaner.
- Basket-type air fryer
A basket-type air fryer features a basket design to place food inside and cook. The basket has tiny holes that allow air to enter and heat the food ingredients. This design can prevent your food from sitting in oil.
- Oven air fryer
An oven air fryer uses the same heating process as the cylindrical basket fryer. One difference is that oven air fryers feature racks that keep a crisper and baking tray in place whereas cylindrical air fryers do not include this feature.
The kitchen oven air fryer features various cooking functions like baking, rotisserie, grilling, frying, broiling, and toasting – and performs them in silence. Resembling an oven toaster, the oven air fryer lets the user see through the glass door. It is also convenient for cleaning since oven air fryer parts can be tossed into the dishwasher.
The oven air fryer takes longer to pre-heat compared to cylindrical and basket-type air fryers. It can also heat the entire room when the pre-heating temperature is reached.
The oven air fryer is larger than the cylindrical basket fryer, which means it occupies more kitchen countertop space. It also means it has greater food capacity, with an average oven air fryer can hold up to 25 quarts of food.
- Paddle-type air fryer
True to its rotisserie origins, a paddle-type air fryer is perfect if you want to “set it then forget it.”
Air fryer types like the cylindrical or basket-type may not always be able to cook food evenly, resulting in one side of the dish seemingly being less cooked than the other. Because of this uneven cooking, these types need the user to pull the food out to stir.
A paddle-type air fryer provides the convenience of turning the food over automatically for its user. The paddle inside moves across the basket to allow the hot air to go around the food more evenly.
This type of air fryer allows its user to remove the paddle for more cooking room and to accommodate larger ingredients. Offering more space, this modern air fryer can cook a wide assortment of dishes – fries, curries, risottos, frozen food, mixed vegetables, and many more.
What are the different ways to use an air fryer?
There are many different ways to use an air fryer. The following are 6 ways to use an air fryer: frying, grilling/broiling, baking, roasting/rotisserie, and toasting.
Frying: As the name suggests, an air fryer allows you to fry food. If you have soggy takeaway fries, you can toss them into the air fryer to get that crispy back. With an air fryer, there’s no need to use oil.
If you choose to add oil before air frying (no oil can be applied inside the appliance) it will give the food a crunchier texture.
Grilling and Broiling: Whether with chicken breast or steak, an air fryer can grill your favorite dinner without needing to flip the meat repeatedly. Most air fryer types contain a grill pan or a grill layer with a handle, making it easier to pull out and insert it back in as needed.
An air fryer can efficiently grill your dish as it allows the hot air to flow evenly throughout the unit and around the food. It also produces a healthier option as the grill’s surface can instantly absorb any oil or fat residue.
Baking: Baking in an air fryer, while not common, is possible. You can either heat ready-made pastry products or bake homemade cupcakes, cannoli, bread, donuts, brownies, even S’mores!
Roasting and rotisserie: You can use an air fryer to roast meats and vegetables for a quick and easy dinner.
Air frying food produces a healthy, roasted dish, and cooks the dishes faster than a standard oven.
Toasting: You can toast bread using an air fryer To get an air fryer toast, you only need to put butter or olive oil on top of the slice, put it into the air fryer, and set it at 2 to 5 minutes at 320 F. Voila–an air fryer toast.
What sizes do the air fryers come in?
Air fryer types come in different shapes and sizes. Knowing how many people to feed will help determine the right air fryer size for your kitchen. Here are some guidelines:
- 1 person: a small air fryer with a capacity of 2 quarts will be perfect for a person who loves to keep their food crispy and does a lot of reheating single servings or small portions.
Air fryer model to pick: The cylindrical and basket-type air fryers are usually enough for a single person. Paddle-type air fryers are best for extremely busy, on-the-go users.
- 2 people: a couple can benefit from 3-4 quart air fryers, which can be used for cooking fish or chicken with a side of vegetables, reheating leftovers, or getting a little more crunch to their food.
Air fryer model to pick: The cylindrical basket-type or paddle-type air fryers are usually enough for a couple of servings.
- 3-5 people: a family or a share house may need to use a 5-7-quart oven air fryer with racks as this benefits a bigger group without having to batch their food.
Air fryer model to pick: Oven air fryer with racks
What foods can I fry in different air fryers?
An air fryer can cook and reheat a wide assortment of food within 40 minutes on average. While air fryer models vary, they can cook pretty much the same types of food provided they allow multiple functions like baking, grilling, roasting, and frying. The only difference lies in capacity and space.
Foods that can be prepared with each air fryer type are listed below:
- Cylindrical and basket-type air fryer
While considered the smaller models, both cylindrical- and basket-type air fryers can cook a wide range of foods:
- French fries (including a whole bag of frozen fries)
- Chicken nuggets
- Chicken wings
- Depending on the size of the air fryer, a small chicken for four
- Other meats like seafood, pork, beef
- Baked goods like cake, muffins, bread, donut, muffin
- Vegetables like corn, kale, zucchini, asparagus, cauliflower
- Pumpkin seed, if you want them crisped to perfection
- Oven air fryer
This type of air fryer can cook what the basket-type ones do. The only difference is the rotisserie option, where you can easily fit a whole chicken.
While cooking a whole chicken in a basket-type is possible, it can also be tricky due to space. So the oven type is perfect for baking a whole chicken for a big group, all while roasting vegetables on the side within the same unit.
Cooking 12-inch pizzas are also possible with this type of air fryer.
- Paddle-type air fryer
The paddle-type air fryer is similar to what the basket-type air fryers can cook except that you can remove the paddle and make more room for additional food.
What determines the best air fryer type?
The best air fryer can be determined by several factors such as size, price, materials, controls, and even how easy it is to clean.
Size is a massive factor when choosing an air fryer. Selecting the right air fryer may depend on how many people it will feed as well as the counter space available in your kitchen. Users with a big group to feed and those that have a spacious kitchen will benefit more with an oven air fryer. Cooks needing to feed a single or double serving with a limited kitchen space will find basket-type air fryers or paddle-type ones perfect for their needs.
While air fryers are not cheap, buying them will achieve great value for money as they come with convenience and utility. Depending on the air fryer model, a unit can cost between $50 to $300.
Air fryer material is an important consideration. Cheaper air fryers are made of plastic that contains a metal basket, which can be both hazardous to your health and the environment. The plastic can produce toxic chemicals and phthalates when heated, and it can go straight to the food. Nonstick coating using Teflon or other chemicals may also produce the same results, which can leach out toxins into the food. Make sure to pick an air fryer that is made of stainless steel, PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), and PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) free, coated with ceramics, or made of glass.
An air fryer can either have dial controls or digital ones. Normally used as temperature control and a timer, dials are manual and can be less accurate. Digital controls can offer pre-programmed settings, a timer, and more accurate temperature control. When looking for an air fryer, find one that has a user-friendly interface, a timer that goes beyond 30 minutes, and an alarm for when food is cooked.
Lastly, ease of cleaning is a factor to consider. Regular cleaning can make air fryers last. For people constantly on the go, it may be worth looking into air fryer models that have dishwasher-friendly parts or units that can fit easily in a standard sink. A drawer that can easily be removed is also great for a quick and easy clean.
Are paddle air fryers safe?
Yes, paddle-type air fryers are safe to use. Because of its “set it and forget it” setting, it cooks food evenly without having to pull it out and stir. It offers hand-free cooking, which reduces the risk of splashing or spilling. Some units may require pre-heating but in most cases, you can start cooking whenever you want to.
Compared to cooking with an oil fryer, it also lowers the risk of creating acrylamide, which is a toxic chemical formed in high heat cooking methods such as deep-frying. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, acrylamide may be linked to certain types of cancers such as endometrial, ovarian, esophageal, pancreatic, and breast cancer.
Air fryers cook food faster and rotate hot air throughout the unit, resulting in healthier, evenly-cooked dishes.
What is the average price for an air fryer?
An air fryer cost ranges between $50-300, depending on the size, technology, performance skills, functionalities, and how recent the model is (i.e. manual dials or digital).
Oven air fryers are bigger than the other models so they usually cost more and are at the higher end of the spectrum. That said, some cylindrical basket-type and paddle-type ones that have multiple functions, bigger room, latest technology, and portability can also be expensive.
What is the lifespan of different air fryers?
The average lifespan of air fryers is 2 to 3 years if used 2-4x per week.
Air fryers can be used for up to 6 years if used less than twice a week. Cheaper air fryers made from inexpensive materials can have a lifespan of fewer than 12 months if used every day.
How does air fryer type affect food?
Air fryer produces an extra crispy effect on food — without the extra oil and fat.
Using air fryers enables a healthier diet as it uses less oil and reduces excess oil and fat. It can reduce calories by 70 to 80 percent.
An air fryer is considered safer than using deep oil fryers, which use a high-heat cooking method and a large amount of oil. As most air fryers automatically cook food in an enclosed container, it reduces the risk of splashing, spilling, and being exposed to scalding oil.
It also promotes weight loss as it avoids deep-fried foods, which have high fat and caloric content and are normally linked to obesity.
What effect does air fryer type have on taste?
If you’re after an extra crispy, oven-baked taste on your food without the grease, then an air fryer can give you just that. However, if you are expecting a crackly, deep-fried texture with that melting sensation, then you may be better off with a standard deep oil fryer.
Is it better to use small or large air fryers in the kitchen?
Kitchen usability should be considered when picking the right air fryer. It refers to the function and structure of kitchen appliances that make them easier to use. If you have a small kitchen, it’s important to organize appliances alongside other items properly to maximize space.
Pick an air fryer that will allow you to make the most of your countertop space. If you feel like you need to store it on a shelf when not in use, then pick one that is compact enough.
However, if countertop space is not a problem, then a large oven air fryer with racks and enough space to accommodate 9×9 casseroles or 9” baking ceramics would be perfect.