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    The 5 best small air fryers of 2024, tested and reviewed

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    After putting 11 small air fryers through a series of cooking tests, we found the Dreo Aircrisp Pro Air Fryer is the best.

    Insider

    Many of the best air fryers and best air fryer toaster ovens have large footprints that can take up premium kitchen space. If you have a small kitchen (or no kitchen at all), you might want to consider a compact air fryer. Our top picks for the best small air fryers quickly produce mouthwatering, golden-brown foods without taking up too much space. 

    Over the last five years, I’ve talked to several experts and tested over 60 appliances for our best air fryer and best air fryer toaster oven guides. I tested 11 small air fryers for this guide, and our top pick is the Dreo Aircrisp Pro Air Fryer because it cooks perfect fries and wings quickly, is easy to clean, and has convenient preset settings. You can save about $20 with our budget pick, the Chefman Small Compact Air Fryer. It cooked nearly as well as the Dreo, but lacks presets.

    Our top picks for the best small air fryers

    Best overall: Dreo Aircrisp Pro Air Fryer – See at Amazon

    Best small version of our top air fryer: Instant Pot Vortex Plus 4-quart Air Fryer – See at Amazon

    Best budget: Chefman Small Compact Air Fryer – See at Amazon

    Best for one: Dash Tasti-Crisp Digital Air Fryer – See at Amazon

    Best toaster oven: Ninja Digital Air Fry Oven – See at Amazon

    Best overall

    The Dreo Aircrisp Pro Air Fryer was among the top three performers in speed and quality in each cooking test. All the units struggled to cook fresh broccoli evenly, but the Dreo did the best, coming the closest to balancing crispy-but-not-burnt florets and tender stems. The wings and fries came out perfectly crispy and evenly cooked. 

    The buttons for adjusting the temperature and time are clearly lit. The presets are only labeled with symbols, which can be confusing. For example, the dehydrate mode is represented by an orange. Still, dehydrating is a useful feature not all air fryers have.

    The Dreo Aircrisp Pro Air Fryer has a cylindrical design that efficiently uses space.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    The basket and tray are dishwasher-safe, though debris comes off these elements easily when you wash by hand. It is slightly annoying that the rubber feet that hold the tray in place and keep it from scratching the basket’s nonstick coating slip off during washing.

    Of the pod air fryers I tested, the Dreo had the best exterior-size-to-food-capacity ratio, meaning it uses the space it takes up efficiently. You can keep items on top of the air fryer when it’s not in use, but you’ll need to remove the items to use it. At 3.6 quarts, I recommend this as the best small air fryer for two people.

    Check out our full Dreo Aircrisp Air Fryer review for more details.

    Best small version of our top air fryer

    The best air fryer I’ve tested is the Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer Oven, but it sports a 6-quart capacity and may be too large for your space. Fortunately, the brand made a smaller version that finished second in our testing for compact air fryers.

    The $110 4-quart Instant Pot Vortex Plus was a top three performer in each cooking test and it was also the fastest. Frozen fries and wings came out crispy, delicious, and evenly cooked. The broccoli wasn’t as evenly cooked or tasty, but it was among the best.

    The Instant Pot Vortex Plus 4-quart Air Fryer cooked the fastest in each test.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    The setup was seamless, and I didn’t need instructions. The buttons are clearly labeled and include presets for convection-free baking and dehydration. While it’s easy to use, the smaller Vortex Plus lacks two features I like in the 6-quart version: the window in the drawer for monitoring your food and the air filter for containing odors.

    The dishwasher-safe drawer and crisping tray are easy to clean, with food sliding off the nonstick coating. You could store items on the flat top, but Instant recommends leaving 5 inches of space above it to allow for airflow when cooking.

    Read our full Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer review

    Best budget

    The Chefman Small Compact Air Fryer performed much better than the other sub-$50 units I tested, the Dash Compact Air Fryer and the Elite Gourmet Personal Air Fryer. It excelled at making chicken, producing crisp, evenly cooked, and flavorful wings. The fries were done quickly, but some fries were overdone. Broccoli was middle-of-the-pack in flavor and speed.

    The Chefman Small Compact Air Fryer is easy to use and clean while fitting in tight spots.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    Using the Chefman compact air fryer couldn’t be simpler. There are just two dials: one for the time and one for the temperature. I had it up and running in two minutes. The drawer and crisping tray of the Chefman are dishwasher-safe, though the elements were easy to clean by hand thanks to the nonstick surfaces.

    The Chefman is the best small air fryer for small spaces because it balances its small footprint — the second-smallest unit we tested — with a decent food capacity. Since it’s so small, though, it’s best for people eating alone and single servings.

    Best for one

    The Dash Digital Air Fryer was the best of the three compact Dash air fryers I tested. It makes efficient use of its small footprint, but if you don’t want to keep it on your counter, it features a handle and is lightweight enough to store easily.

    The 2.2-quart capacity is ideal for a single-serving meal. It produced crisp and even wings and fries faster than most units. The broccoli was done quickly, but the stems were too hard and the florets were burned.

    The Dash Tasti-Crisp stores easily thanks to its lightweight design and carrying handle.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    The Dash air fryer took less than two minutes to set up, and I didn’t need the instructions. However, I didn’t immediately recognize that I needed to press the time and temp buttons to make adjustments. Also, the basket doesn’t slide in smoothly — you need to wiggle it in for it to fit right.

    The appliance doesn’t have any preprogrammed presets, but you can add three custom ones for items you cook frequently. Cleaning the Dash Digital Air Fryer was a breeze. The basket and crisping tray are dishwasher-safe, and the nonstick coating makes washing by hand easy.

    Best toaster oven

    I tested two compact air fryer toaster ovens: the Ninja and the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Toaster Oven. They performed similarly, but at less than half the price ($150 versus $350), the Ninja SP101 is our best small air fryer toaster oven, a designation earned in our best air fryer toaster ovens guide.

    The low-profile design of the Ninja Digital Air Fry Countertop Oven allows it to fit in tight spaces, and it can even be stored vertically to free up counter space. Yet, the interior can still accommodate pizzas up to 13 inches in diameter. The eight presets include baking without convection, toasting, and dehydration, all useful and not commonly found in pod air fryers.

    It’s easy to tuck away the Ninja SP101 Digital Air Fry Countertop Oven thanks to its unique low-profile design.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    Both toaster ovens I tested cooked the slowest of all the small air fryers. However, the Ninja cooked the broccoli and wings evenly. The fries were less evenly cooked — more done on the periphery than the interior — but tasted great. 

    The setup took less than five minutes, and the controls were clearly labeled and intuitive. In terms of design, I like that there’s an interior light so you can easily monitor the progress of your food. The air fry basket and baking tray are dishwasher-safe, and there’s an easy-to-clean crumb tray.

    What to look for in a small air fryer

    The Dreo Aircrisp Pro Air Fryer has eight presets, but the symbols can be hard to decipher.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    Choose a small air fryer that is convenient to use, makes efficient use of space, and doesn’t have a bunch of features you won’t use. 

    Size and capacity: If you plan to keep your air fryer on the counter, you don’t want it to take up too much space. Look for a unit that’s easy to store if you don’t plan on keeping it out. A small air fryer should make efficient use of the footprint it requires. In general, we recommend the largest capacity you can fit because it gives you more flexibility in what you can make. The measurements in this guide are my own: I didn’t take the manufacturer’s word for it.

    Functions: Generally, pricier small air fryers have more functions and presets. If you’re not interested in using your air fryer to dehydrate food or non-convection bake, save money by skipping these features. Some air fryers have presets for fries, wings, and more, but these presets aren’t very accurate. You’re better off setting the time and temperature yourself.

    Controls: Look for a small air fryer with intuitive controls so you don’t have to keep referencing the user manual. Dial-controlled air fryers are easy to set, though they don’t allow precise control. They’re also harder to use if your hands are wet. Digital controls offer precise control but may require pressing several buttons to program the settings you want.

    Dishwasher-safe: While most of the air fryers we tested were easy to clean by hand, it’s nice to pop them in the dishwasher. Look for a model with a dishwasher-safe basket and crisping tray if you rely on a dishwasher.

    How we tested

    Cooking: Cooking times vary wildly from one compact air fryer to the next. One air fryer might produce charred broccoli florets in 10 minutes, while another barely reaches the desired tenderness after 16 minutes. I assessed how evenly and quickly the appliances cooked by making three recipes in each.

    Food

    Testing Process

    Result

    French fries

    I cooked 8 ounces of Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Fast Food French Fries, assessing for doneness and even cooking. I cooked them for 8 minutes at 400 degrees F, adding time to reach golden brown.

    The average time until done was 10 minutes. Only the Elite Gourmet air fryer failed to produce delicious, evenly cooked fries.

    Chicken wings

    I halved this recipe, cooking 8 ounces of wings at 400 degrees for 16 minutes, flipping halfway through. I assessed the wings for even cooking and crispiness.

    All units cooked the wings in 16 minutes. My top picks produced crispy, flavorful wings, while the cheaper units made rubbery and unappetizing wings.

    Broccoli

    I sprayed 8 ounces of broccoli florets with olive oil and cooked them for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, evaluating for even cooking and doneness.

    The florets tended to burn before the stems were tender enough. My top pick did the best, producing evenly cooked results I enjoyed eating. 

    Ease of use: I timed how long it took to unpack and set up each air fryer (only the Breville took longer than 5 minutes). I didn’t need to reference the instructions for any of them. Since space is an important factor with compact air fryers, I assessed whether you could store items on top of the units. Most get too hot or have controls in the way. Only the Instant Pot Vortex Plus and Ninja AF101 were flat and cool enough for storage.

    Cleaning: I washed all the air fryers by hand to see if burned food came off easily. If the appliance featured dishwasher-safe elements, it earned extra points, and I put the parts through a normal dishwasher cycle. The dishwasher got the job done each time.

    Small air fryer FAQs

    The 6-quart Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer Oven is significantly larger than the 4-quart version.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    What size air fryer is best for one person?

    Laurie Fleming, the creator of Fork To Spoon, advises against anything smaller than 4 quarts. “If you have a hamburger and french fries, you don’t really want a 2-quart,” said Fleming. She suggests 4 to 6 quarts. We agree with Fleming, but wanted to give a tiny option for individuals: we recommend the 2.2-quart Dash air fryer as the best small air fryer for one.

    What size air fryer is best for two people?

    Fleming also suggests 4 to 6 quarts for two people. “I always advise people to buy bigger because if you are cooking for two people, you really want the option to make the whole meal in the air fryer,” she said.

    Is it worth getting a small air fryer?

    Fleming said yes, recommending them for older individuals, dorm rooms (where allowed), and cooking sides. We agree though we suggest getting one of the best air fryers at a full size when possible since it gives you more versatility in what you can make.

    Best overall: Dreo Aircrisp Pro Air FryerThe Dreo Aircrisp Pro Air Fryer has a cylindrical design that efficiently uses space.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    Size: 13 x 9.4 x 11.6 inchesCapacity: 3.6 quartsDishwasher-safe parts: YesPreset modes: French fries, steak, chicken, fish, bread, vegetable, dehydrate, and reheatPower: 1500 watts

    Pros: Cooks quickly, produced perfect wings and fries, was the best at making broccoli, easy to use and clean, dishwasher-safe, uses space efficiently

    Cons: Preset symbols are confusing, rubber feet on the crisping tray come off easily

    The Dreo Aircrisp Pro Air Fryer was among the top three performers in speed and quality in each cooking test. All the units struggled to cook fresh broccoli evenly, but the Dreo did the best, coming the closest to balancing crispy-but-not-burnt florets and tender stems. The wings and fries came out perfectly crispy and evenly cooked. 

    The buttons for adjusting the temperature and time are clearly lit. The presets are only labeled with symbols, which can be confusing. For example, the dehydrate mode is represented by an orange. Still, dehydrating is a useful feature not all air fryers have.

    The basket and tray are dishwasher-safe, though debris comes off these elements easily when you wash by hand. It is slightly annoying that the rubber feet that hold the tray in place and keep it from scratching the basket’s nonstick coating slip off during washing.

    Of the pod air fryers I tested, the Dreo had the best exterior-size-to-food-capacity ratio, meaning it uses the space it takes up efficiently. You can keep items on top of the air fryer when it’s not in use, but you’ll need to remove the items to use it. At 3.6 quarts, I recommend this as the best small air fryer for two people.

    Check out our full Dreo Aircrisp Air Fryer review for more details.

    Best budget: Chefman Small Compact Air FryerThe Chefman Small Compact Air Fryer is easy to use and clean while fitting in tight spots.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    Size: 9 x 7 x 12 inchesCapacity: 1.8 quartsDishwasher-safe parts: YesPreset modes: NonePower: 1000 watts

    Pros: Made crispy, flavorful wings, cooked fries quickly, easy to use and clean, requires minimal space

    Cons: No presets 

    The Chefman Small Compact Air Fryer performed much better than the other sub-$50 units I tested, the Dash Compact Air Fryer and the Elite Gourmet Personal Air Fryer. It excelled at making chicken, producing crisp, evenly cooked, and flavorful wings. The fries were done quickly, but some fries were overdone. Broccoli was middle-of-the-pack in flavor and speed.

    Using the Chefman compact air fryer couldn’t be simpler. There are just two dials: one for the time and one for the temperature. I had it up and running in two minutes. The drawer and crisping tray of the Chefman are dishwasher-safe, though the elements were easy to clean by hand thanks to the nonstick surfaces.

    The Chefman is the best small air fryer for small spaces because it balances its small footprint — the second-smallest unit we tested — with a decent food capacity. Since it’s so small, though, it’s best for people eating alone and single servings.

    Best toaster oven: Ninja Digital Air Fry Countertop OvenIt’s easy to tuck away the Ninja SP101 Digital Air Fry Countertop Oven thanks to its unique low-profile design.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    Size: 15 x 19.7 x 7.6 inchesCapacity: 9.1 quartsDishwasher-safe parts: YesPreset modes: Air fry, air roast, air broil, bake, dehydrate, keep warm, toast, bagelPower: 1750 watts

    Pros: Did a good job of making delicious, evenly cooked foods, interior light, uses space efficiently, fits pizzas up to 13 inches in diameter, easy to use and clean

    Cons: Cooks slowly, larger than the pod air fryers we tested 

    I tested two compact air fryer toaster ovens: the Ninja and the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Toaster Oven. They performed similarly, but at less than half the price ($150 versus $350), the Ninja SP101 is our best small air fryer toaster oven, a designation earned in our best air fryer toaster ovens guide.

    The low-profile design of the Ninja Digital Air Fry Countertop Oven allows it to fit in tight spaces, and it can even be stored vertically to free up counter space. Yet, the interior can still accommodate pizzas up to 13 inches in diameter. The eight presets include baking without convection, toasting, and dehydration, all useful and not commonly found in pod air fryers.

    Both toaster ovens I tested cooked the slowest of all the small air fryers. However, the Ninja cooked the broccoli and wings evenly. The fries were less evenly cooked — more done on the periphery than the interior — but tasted great. 

    The setup took less than five minutes, and the controls were clearly labeled and intuitive. In terms of design, I like that there’s an interior light so you can easily monitor the progress of your food. The air fry basket and baking tray are dishwasher-safe, and there’s an easy-to-clean crumb tray.

    Best for one: Dash Tasti-Crisp Digital Air FryerThe Dash Tasti-Crisp stores easily thanks to its lightweight design and carrying handle.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    Size: 10.7 x 8.7 x 11.3 inchesCapacity: 2.2 quartsDishwasher-safe parts: YesPreset modes: None, though you can program three custom presetsPower: 1000 watts

    Pros: Uses space efficiently, stores easily, simple to clean, cooks quickly, cooked wings and fries evenly, dishwasher-safe, custom presets

    Cons: Struggled cooking broccoli, basket doesn’t fit cleanly

    The Dash Digital Air Fryer was the best of the three compact Dash air fryers I tested. It makes efficient use of its small footprint, but if you don’t want to keep it on your counter, it features a handle and is lightweight enough to store easily.

    The 2.2-quart capacity is ideal for a single-serving meal. It produced crisp and even wings and fries faster than most units. The broccoli was done quickly, but the stems were too hard and the florets were burned.

    The Dash air fryer took less than two minutes to set up, and I didn’t need the instructions. However, I didn’t immediately recognize that I needed to press the time and temp buttons to make adjustments. Also, the basket doesn’t slide in smoothly — you need to wiggle it in for it to fit right.

    The appliance doesn’t have any preprogrammed presets, but you can add three custom ones for items you cook frequently. Cleaning the $60 Dash Digital Air Fryer was a breeze. The basket and crisping tray are dishwasher-safe, and the nonstick coating makes washing by hand easy.

    Best small version of our favorite air fryer: Instant Pot Vortex Plus 4-quart Air FryerThe Instant Pot Vortex Plus 4-quart Air Fryer cooked the fastest in each test.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    Size: 13 x 10.2 x 11 inchesCapacity: 3.2 quartsDishwasher-safe parts: YesPreset modes: Air fry, roast, broil, bake, reheat, and dehydratePower: 1600 watts

    Pros: A top performer in all the cooking tests, cooks quickly, intuitive controls, dishwasher-safe, features dehydration and baking modes, good capacity for its compact size

    Cons: Broccoli could have been more evenly cooked

    The best air fryer I’ve tested is the Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer Oven, but it sports a 6-quart capacity and may be too large for your space. Fortunately, the brand made a smaller version that finished second in our testing for compact air fryers.

    The $110 4-quart Instant Pot Vortex Plus was a top three performer in each cooking test and it was also the fastest. Frozen fries and wings came out crispy, delicious, and evenly cooked. The broccoli wasn’t as evenly cooked or tasty, but it was among the best.

    The setup was seamless, and I didn’t need instructions. The buttons are clearly labeled and include presets for convection-free baking and dehydration. While it’s easy to use, the smaller Vortex Plus lacks two features I like in the 6-quart version: the window in the drawer for monitoring your food and the air filter for containing odors.

    The dishwasher-safe drawer and crisping tray are easy to clean, with food sliding off the nonstick coating. You could store items on the flat top, but Instant recommends leaving 5 inches of space above it to allow for airflow when cooking.

    Read our full Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer review

    What to look for in a small air fryerThe Dreo Aircrisp Pro Air Fryer has eight presets, but the symbols can be hard to decipher.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    Choose a small air fryer that is convenient to use, makes efficient use of space, and doesn’t have a bunch of features you won’t use. 

    Size and capacity: If you plan to keep your air fryer on the counter, you don’t want it to take up too much space. Look for a unit that’s easy to store if you don’t plan on keeping it out. A small air fryer should make efficient use of the footprint it requires. In general, we recommend the largest capacity you can fit because it gives you more flexibility in what you can make. The measurements in this guide are my own: I didn’t take the manufacturer’s word for it.

    Functions: Generally, pricier small air fryers have more functions and presets. If you’re not interested in using your air fryer to dehydrate food or non-convection bake, save money by skipping these features. Some air fryers have presets for fries, wings, and more, but these presets aren’t very accurate. You’re better off setting the time and temperature yourself.

    Controls: Look for a small air fryer with intuitive controls so you don’t have to keep referencing the user manual. Dial-controlled air fryers are easy to set, though they don’t allow precise control. They’re also harder to use if your hands are wet. Digital controls offer precise control but may require pressing several buttons to program the settings you want.

    Dishwasher-safe: While most of the air fryers we tested were easy to clean by hand, it’s nice to pop them in the dishwasher. Look for a model with a dishwasher-safe basket and crisping tray if you rely on a dishwasher.

    How we tested

    Cooking: Cooking times vary wildly from one compact air fryer to the next. One air fryer might produce charred broccoli florets in 10 minutes, while another barely reaches the desired tenderness after 16 minutes. I assessed how evenly and quickly the appliances cooked by making three recipes in each.

    Food

    Testing Process

    Result

    French fries

    I cooked 8 ounces of Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Fast Food French Fries, assessing for doneness and even cooking. I cooked them for 8 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I added time to reach a golden brown appearance.

    The average time until the fries were done was 10 minutes. Only the Elite Gourmet air fryer failed to produce delicious, evenly cooked fries.

    Chicken wings

    I halved this recipe, cooking 8 ounces of wings at 400 degrees for 16 minutes, flipping halfway through. I assessed the wings for even cooking and crispiness.

    All units cooked the wings in 16 minutes. My top picks produced crispy, flavorful wings, while the cheaper units made rubbery and unappetizing wings.

    Broccoli

    I sprayed olive oil on 8 ounces of broccoli florets and cooked them for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Then, I evaluated the broccoli for even cooking and doneness. If necessary, I added extra time.

    The florets tended to burn before the stems were tender enough. My top pick did the best, producing evenly cooked results I enjoyed eating. 

    Ease of use: I timed how long it took to unpack and set up each air fryer (only the Breville took longer than 5 minutes). I didn’t need to reference the instructions for any of them. Since space is an important factor with compact air fryers, I assessed whether you could store items on top of the air fryer. Most get too hot or have controls in the way. Only the Instant Pot Vortex Plus and Ninja AF101 were flat and cool enough for storage.

    Cleaning: I washed all the air fryers by hand to see if burned food came off easily. If the appliance featured dishwasher-safe elements, it earned extra points, and I put the parts through a normal dishwasher cycle. The dishwasher got the job done each time.

    Small air fryer FAQsThe 6-quart Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer Oven is significantly larger than the 4-quart version.

    James Brains/Business Insider

    What size air fryer is best for one person?

    Laurie Fleming, the creator of Fork To Spoon, advises against anything smaller than 4 quarts. “If you have a hamburger and french fries, you don’t really want a 2-quart,” said Fleming. She suggests 4 to 6 quarts. We agree with Fleming, but wanted to give a tiny option for individuals: we recommend the 2.2-quart Dash air fryer as the best small air fryer for one.

    What size air fryer is best for two people?

    Fleming also suggests 4 to 6 quarts for two people. “I always advise people to buy bigger because if you are cooking for two people, you really want the option to make the whole meal in the air fryer,” she said.

    Is it worth getting a small air fryer?

    Fleming said yes, recommending them for older individuals, dorm rooms (where allowed), and cooking sides. We agree though we suggest getting one of the best air fryers at a full size when possible since it gives you more versatility in what you can make.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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