Even if you’ve never used one before, you can’t fail to have noticed the volume of air fryers that have flooded the market in recent years.
Are these appliances really worth it, or are they just a clever marketing trick?
Well, firstly, you are getting a mini-convection oven when you invest in one of these appliances. You’ll be getting much more than a means of frying – more on that below.
The key selling point of these things is the way you can replicate some of the benefits of deep-fried food without needing to use an unhealthy amount of oil. With powerful heating elements and a fan to circulate heated air all around the food, you’ll get your fries and chicken crisp and golden without swimming in fat.
Why should you opt for a small air fryer, then?
These appliances are usually quite bulky and take up a great deal of space on the countertop. Choose a small model and you’ll still get reasonable capacity without sacrificing all that room.
The models we review today are have capacities ranging from 1.2 quarts through to 2.6 quarts at the top end. This should give you the ability to cook for 1 to 3 people. Singles, couples, and couples with a kid will find these small air fryers absolutely ideal.
So, not only do you get the chance to cook healthy meals in a hurry at the push of a button, air fryers are also incredibly easy to use.
Today, we’ll be reviewing the 8 best small air fryers so you can compare them like-for-like. We state the capacity of each front and center so you can scroll through all of them and find the handful that best meet your needs.
We’ll also throw in our usual concise buying guide stripping away the fat just like an air fryer and showing you everything you need and nothing you don’t when you’re on the buying trail.
So, let’s get right down to business with our reviews.
I. The 8 Best Small Air Fryers
1. Our #1 Pick: Dash Compact Air Fryer (1.2-quart)
Our overall favorite when we curated this shortlist of the best small air fryers is this squat, compact gem from Dash.
If you loathe the sea of black and silver appliances glutting the market, you can choose from 5 color schemes to suit. We know you’re unlikely to be buying an air fryer for its good looks, though. How does this unit perform?
AirCrisp technology ensures you can fry your food without needing a load of oil. Use up to 70% less without losing that trademark golden crispiness.
Capacity is sufficient for a small family of 3. Whack in a pound of fries and 12 chicken wings without the basket getting overcrowded.
The body and handle of this air fryer are cool-touch so safety remains uppermost. This is reinforced by the auto shut-off integrated making this a set-and-forget appliance to grace any kitchen counter.
The best thing? Despite all this functionality, this is one of the cheapest air fryers you can find.
2. Runner-Up: Chefman TurboFry Air Fryer (2.1-quart)
What can you do if you need an air fryer large enough to feed a small family without dominating the kitchen counter? Well, you could avoid wasting your time and road test the Chefman TurboFry. What differentiates this air fryer in a crowded field?
To kick off, you get that rare marriage between adequate capacity for a a couple and a kid, and an air fryer compact enough not to take up all the space on the counter.
Take control of this unit using a simple dial ideal if you dislike tech but want restaurant-quality fried food at home minus the calories.
Using this unit really couldn’t be much easier. All you need to do is pop in your fresh or frozen ingredients, choose the temperature and time then sit back while the Chefman does all the hard work for you. When the indicator alerts you to the cooking cycle ending, you’ll get mouth-watering and crispy golden food without the guilt and calories of gallons of oil.
You can try frying your favorites with a fraction of the oil, but that’s not how we would recommend using this air fryer. For us, part of the fun is cooking up foods you wouldn’t typically deep-fry – vegetables, for example.
Once you’ve whipped up your favorite treats, remove the basket to streamline cleaning. This is safe to pop in the dishwasher for hassle-free clean-up.
3. Dash TastiCrisp Air Fryer (2.6-quart)
Dash produce some excellent kitchen appliances at very reasonable prices, and this is the second of their fine air fryers we’re highlighting today.
If you liked the idea of the our favorite model reviewed above but needed something a little bigger, this 2.6-quart model is tailor-made. You can cook up whatever fried delicacies you can conjure up for all the family or guests. This is at the upper end of what we would consider a small air fryer.
You get this capacity without an overly large air fryer. Some of the early iterations of these things were effective but distressingly large.
Setting the timer and temperature is about the extent of your effort with this air fryer. Once you’ve finished up, slide out the tray and pop it in the dishwasher to minimize any clean-up.
The only point worth raising is that Dash will not be manufacturing this model any longer. This should ben no real concern, but it’s worth being aware of. In all other respects, this is a first-class air fryer at a second-class price. Check it out and let us know what you think.
4. Bella Air Fryer (2.6-quart)
The Bella air fryer is another pocket-friendly gem well worth popping on your shortlist. The 2.6-quart capacity gives you enough leeway to whip up a glut of deep-fried food for the whole family so how else does this thing stack up?
Well, in spite of the powerful 1500 watts of performance, this unit measures up at 14 x 11.4 x 13 inches so you won’t need too much room to accommodate it.
Your cooking options are diverse with this multipurpose beast. You could stick to deep-fried classics like fries, breaded chicken and fish, onion rings or chicken. Step things up to baking and you might be surprised at the breadth of recipes you can rustle up from small cakes to artisan loaves.
In effect, this air fryer gives you the capability of a convection oven with a much smaller footprint.
Cool-touch components and housing allows you to operate with confidence.
For deep-fried food the way you love it, and the freedom to cook much more besides, we’d strongly recommend checking out this versatile air fryer from Bella.
5. BLACK + DECKER Air Fryer (2.1-quart)
Best known for their showstopping power tools, BLACK + DECKER also produces a mean line of cookware and kitchen appliances. This poky 2.1-quart air fryer is ideal for anyone looking for a solidly built and neatly engineered appliance promoting a range of different cooking applications in one piece of kit.
8-cup capacity – that comes out to just over 2 quarts – gives the latitude to whip up a batch of deep fried snacks or a full meal for a family of 3.
A broad temperature band of 175F to 400F allows you to create a nice variety of snacks and main dishes without using the oil you’d typically require for deep-frying.
The pan, basket, and separator are all non-stick and removable so you’re not faced with an uphill struggle and a mountain of dishes when you’re done.
With a 60-minute timer and auto shut-off, this air fryer is as close to set-and-forget as you can get. The cool-touch handle completes a package where safety is uppermost.
As a crowning bonus, if you act quickly, this air fryer is available at close to half the normal price so why not check it out to grab yourself a real bargain?
6. Elite Gourmet Air Fryer (2.1-quart)
Available in a clutch of commanding colorways to brighten up any kitchen, this air fryer is another 2.1-quart model ideal for singles, couples, and families. Pile up to a pound and a half of food inside and feast on deep-fried delicacies without worrying about your waistline.
Tweak the temperature from 180F through 395F so you can rustle up a huge choice of foods and get everything cooked all the way through at the push of a button.
Where this model falls down concerns build quality. A good handful of customers have complained about issues developing over time. While this is a cheap air fryer, if you’re looking for an appliance that will last for years, we’d suggest you look elsewhere.
Rated at 100 watts, you get that perfect sweet spot of all the performance you need without drawing down too much power.
7. Gourmia Digital Air Fryer (2.2-quart)
If you don’t mind spending out a little in pursuit of a design-driven air fryer to help you cook deep-fried treats with a fraction of the fat, we’d strongly advise you check out this Gourmia digital model.
You can see everything you need at a glance on the crisp LCD which is super-simple to navigate even if you’re not a great tech-lover.
The Perfect Crisp system onboard delivers as promised. Sure, you’ll never get the same results from any air fryer as you would from a deep-fat fryer. The thing is, you won’t need to use anywhere near as much oil either and the food on your plate will be much healthier for you. What price can you put on that?
Cooking times are roughly one-third quicker than you could expect in an oven so anyone in a time-crunch will appreciate the freedom this air fryer affords you.
Your food will be cooked through a full 360 degrees so whatever you put in will be perfectly crisped up without being scorched.
8. Lofter Air Fryer (1.7-quart)
Are you hoping to cook healthier food using less oil with an aim of losing weight? If so, an air fryer is no magic bullet, but it’s certainly a handy addition to your kitchen.
You can use a fraction of the amount of oil you’d need to drop into a deep-fat fryer thanks to the efficient heating element and fan that combine to cook your food from all angles so it’s golden brown but not burned and crispy like you’d expect from your favorite deep-fried treats.
If you’re new to air frying and you’re stuck for idea, you’ll appreciate the recipe book thrown in giving you plenty of inspiration to get your new appliance working hard.
Cleaning couldn’t be easier thanks to removable and dishwasher-safe components.
The timer allows you to cook up to 30 minutes and generate awesome fried snacks without feeling guilty or bloated by all that oil.
OK, now you have a good idea of the type of air fryers at your disposal if you’re looking for something with reduced capacity and a compact footprint, how can you avoid buying a lemon?
II. What To Look For When Buying A Small Air Fryer
Now, buying a small air fryer is a straightforward decision once you’ve got most the capacity. If you focus on all these pointers, you’ll find the right piece of kit the easy way:
- Type of Air Fryer
- Temperature Band
- Ease of Use
- Ease of Cleaning
- Warranty and Price/Performance Ratio
Type of Air Fryer
You’ll find air fryers in 2 broad types:
- Basket: The vast bulk of air fryers come with a cooking basket where you place your food, lightly coated with oil. Hot air is briskly circulated to cook your food perfectly and evenly at the push of a button
- Paddle: With a paddle variant, a motorized paddle keeps the ingredients moving around as they cook so they’re all evenly done throughout
The first serious consideration you’ll face, though, concerns the question of size. Since you’re reading a guide to small air fryers, we’re assuming you don’t want a hulking unit that takes up all the available space on the kitchen counter. To that end, we’ve clearly demarcated the capacity of each model we review.
All of the air fryers on our list will allow you to cook for at least 1 person, and up to 3.
Look for an air fryer with a wide band of temperatures if you’re an adventurous cook and like to experiment with a range of recipes.
As with all aspects of this buying decision, if you only ever plan to whip up a few chicken wings or the occasional batch of fries, it’s pointless hankering after this as you won’t make use of the functionality.
All that counts here is thinking about what best gels with your requirements. Personalize your buying decision and get the right small air fryer the easy way.
Ease of Use
Now, just as important as how well the air fryer cooks is how easy it is to use.
Most of these things demand for doing little beyond pushing a button and throwing your food in along with a little oil.
Ensure that the interface and display of any model you’re considering are up to scratch and easy to navigate.
Ease of Cleaning
Last but not least, check that the air fryers on your shortlist are all easy to clean.
Look for removable and dishwasher-friendly baskets and components so you won’t be faced with the prospect of scrubbing away at food smeared all over.
You should also look for non-stick coating on the interior. Make sure there’s no bad press about this degrading and peeling off over time.
Warranty and Price/Performance Ratio
Now, when you’re thinking about price, we’d advise looking beyond the bottom line…
You should consider build quality and expected lifespan to give you a more accurate gauge of overall value. After all, you’re not really getting a cheap air fryer if it plays up and stops working after a few months, right?
We advise looking at the length of the warranty. No manufacturer offers this guarantee expecting to lose out. By this rationale, problems typically start manifesting around the expiry of the warranty.
Before we tail off for the day, we’ve curated the questions we’re most frequently asked about air fryers so you have everything you need in one place.
1) Is an air fryer worth the investment?
This is a nuanced question. Firstly, if you’re thinking that all air fryers are expensive, nothing could be further from the truth. While these appliances were ruthlessly expensive when they came to market, the amount of competition has driven prices down within most people’s budget. So, you can find a cheap small air fryer without too much trouble. If you think it’s worth a punt, you’ll enjoy the ability to get similar results to air frying but without using the same amount of oil. This allows you to cook healthier meals while also spending less on cooking oil. Beyond air frying – which is really the same as using a mini-convection oven – you’ll also be free to whip up a variety of other foods in your new best friend. So yes, an air fryer is certainly worth the investment in more ways than one.
2) How much oil do I need in my air fryer?
This varies from model to model. As a rule of thumb, you use at least 70% less oil than you would when deep-frying.
3) What constitutes a small air fryer?
There’s no fixed rule here. For our purposes, we considered 1.2-quart to 2.6-quart air fryers as small. This gives you enough capacity for 1 to 3 people. Singles aim for the lower end of that band, couples somewhere in the middle, and couples with 1 kid should shoot for the upper end of that range.
4) What other cooking methods can I use in my air fryer?
Many air fryers allow you to bake, dehydrate, broil, roast, and make pastries. Look out for a model that delivers the cooking applications you use most often.
5) Does food cooked in an air fryer taste deep-fried?
It doesn’t, no. You will get that trademark golden crispiness, but you won’t get the same results without the oil required for deep-fat frying. You will, of course, not get the excess of calories either. Try recipes intended for an air fryer to really get the most from your new investment.
If you began today without the faintest idea of what to look for in the best small air fryer, that should have changed by now.
Stick with any of the models we review today and you can buy with your eyes wide open. If you spot an air fryer we don’t include on our shortlist, we’d suggest first making certain that the capacity is adequate for your requirements. Refer to our buying guide above and you’ll see what other pointers to focus on.
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