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5 Types of Air Fryers: A Guide to Help You Choose

Are you shopping for an air fryer but need help deciding which type to buy?

This comprehensive guide breaks down the pros and cons of the five most common types of air fryers.

I also provide a comparison chart, so you can quickly review the options side-by-side.

Use the links below to navigate the guide:

Types of Air Fryers: Comparison Chart

If you’re in a hurry, this comparison chart provides a quick overview of each type of air fryer.

Basket Air FryersHeats fast, small footprintLimited capacity; you have to remove and shake basket
Oven Air FryersLarge capacity; multifunctional (toast, roast, bake, dehydrate)Requires more space; expensive
Paddle Air FryersCooks food evenly without shaking or flippingRemove the breading from foods, limited capacity
Rotisserie Air FryersCook food evenly (self basting); ideal for roasts and whole chickensRequires more space; expensive
Pressure Cooker Air FryersDual-purpose; if you already own a pressure cooker, you can buy an air fryer lidHeat slow; bulky design; limited options

Basket Air Fryers

Basket air fryers are the most common type on the market. They consist of a removable basket within a cylindrical (pod-shaped) unit. Their capacities range from 2 to 10 quarts but are typically relatively small, with an average of 4 quarts.

Basket air fryer
Basket air fryer

Pros of Basket Air Fryers

Because basket fryers are the most common type, more brands and models are available. Some of the most popular basket fryer brands are Ninja, Cosori, T-Fal, and PowerXL.

Ninja Air Fryer Max XL
Ninja Air Fryer Max XL 5.5 Quarts

Prices begin at $30 and can climb up to $400 for models with dual baskets, cooking zones, and multiple pre-set cooking programs.

Because the basket is removable, you can shake it intermittently during the frying process to ensure even cooking.

Chicken wings cooked in an air fryer
Chicken wings cooked in a basket air fryer

Most basket air fryers can reach 400°F in three to five minutes. A typical gas-powered oven takes up to 13 minutes to preheat to that temperature, and electric ovens take between 17 and 19 minutes.

Relative to larger, more robust fryers like oven air fryers, basket air fryers cool down quickly, so you don’t have to wait too long to store the appliance after use. 

Thanks to their cylindrical shape, basket fryers take up less counter space than other options like the toaster oven style.

Air fryer counter space
Basket air fryer on counter

To give you a better idea, the table below shows the dimensions of top-rated basket air fryers and a few oven-style models for comparison.

Air FryerDimensionsCounter Space Needed (Square Inches)
COSORI 5.8-Quart (Basket)11.8″D x 14.3″W x 12.7″H169
Ninja 4-Quart (Basket)8.5″D x 12.1″W x 11″H103
CHEFMAN 8-Quart (Basket)12.75″D x 13.5″W x 10″H172
T-fal 5.9-Quart (Basket)10.94″D x 13.31″W x 13.11″H146
Instant 19-Quart (Oven)15.55″D x 14″W x 13.89″H217
COSORI 26-Quart (Oven)16.3″D x 16.9″W x 15.5″H275
Breville 30-Quart (Oven)17.5″D x 21.5″W x 12.7″H376

Cons of Basket Air Fryers

The most notable downside of basket air fryers is their limited capacity.

Popular basket air fryers like the NINJA 4-quart and the CHEFMAN 2-quart offer limited cooking space compared to the Nuwave air fryer toaster (with a capacity of 30 quarts) or the Cuisinart Digital Air Fryer Toaster (with 18 quarts of space).

Crispy French fries and fish sticks cooked in an air fryer
Crispy French fries and fish sticks cooked in an air fryer

Overall capacity isn’t the only metric to consider. The diameter of the basket is also important.

For example, this PowerXL basket air fryer has a capacity of 5 quarts, but the basket diameter is only 9 inches. That’s about the size of a 10-inch frying pan (the cooking surface is smaller than the pan’s advertised size).

Diameter of the PowerXL 5 quart air fryer basket
Diameter of the PowerXL 5 quart air fryer basket

You can stack foods like french fries or chicken fingers, but meats and vegetables won’t cook evenly if stacked.

Chicken overcrowded in an air fryer
Chicken overcrowded in an air fryer

Because there is no viewing window on basket air fryers, you can’t monitor your food throughout the cooking process. Pulling out the basket is the only way to check progress, but doing so allows heat to escape.

Similarly, you need to pull the basket out periodically to shake the food, so it cooks evenly, but this action also allows heat to escape and slows the cooking process.

Oven Air Fryers

Oven air fryers are also called toaster oven air fryers or convection toasters. They look like small ovens, with a rectangular shape, cooking racks, and a large front-facing viewing window to monitor the cooking process.

Air Fryer Oven
Air Fryer Oven

Most models are multifunctional, allowing you to toast, bake, roast, dehydrate, and, of course, air fry.

Pros of Oven Air Fryers

The most notable advantage of oven air fryers is that most models are multifunctional. Besides air frying, you can use them to toast, bake, roast, and dehydrate. An oven air fryer is a great way to consolidate if you don’t have the counter or storage space for multiple appliances. 

Air Fryer Oven Settings
Air Fryer Oven Settings

Another advantage is their size. Compared to pod-shaped basket air fryers, oven air fryers have a larger capacity, ranging from 5 quarts to 30 quarts, with an average of around 18. These appliances allow you to cook big meals for many guests. For example, this Breville oven air fryer can cook a 14-pound turkey or 12 muffins.

Air Fryer Oven With Open Door
Air Fryer Oven

Similarly, the larger cooking surface lets you spread the food out, so it cooks more evenly. And most models come with racks so you can separate food types and cook more than one thing at a time.

With an oven air fryer, you can view your food as you cook to ensure it doesn’t burn without opening the door and allowing the heat to escape.

Cons of Oven Air Fryers

I recently tested basket air fryers vs. oven air fryers by cooking chicken wings, french fries, and Brussels sprouts in both appliances.

The basket air fryer cooked the food much faster, and the results were significantly more crispy.

Chicken wings cooked in an air fryer and convection toaster oven
Chicken wings cooked in an air fryer (left) and oven air fryer (right)
French fries cooked in an air fryer and convection toaster oven
French fries cooked in an air fryer (left) and oven air fryer (right)
Brussels sprouts cooked in an air fryer and convection toaster oven
Brussels sprouts cooked in an air fryer (left) and oven air fryer (right)

Also, the oven air fryer was more challenging to clean because rendered fat from the wings dripped and splattered all over the walls and door.

Besides the longer cook time and inferior results, oven air fryers are pricey and tend to be more expensive on average than other types of air fryers. Cost varies drastically by brand and model but expect to pay between $150-$320.

With their rectangular shape, oven air fryers take up more counter/storage space than other air fryers.

For example, the Cosori basket air fryer is 14.3 inches wide and 11.8 inches deep, but the Cosori oven air fryer is exceptionally larger at 16.9 inches wide and 16.3 inches deep. On average, oven air fryers take up 50% more counter space than pod-shaped basket air fryers.

Paddle Air Fryers

Paddle air fryers differ in that they possess a center agitator paddle inside the bowl that constantly moves the food to ensure consistent cooking on all sides. Paddle fryers typically have a top viewing window so you can watch as your food cooks.

T-fal FZ700251 Actifry Oil Less Air Fryer with Large 2.2 Lbs Food Capacity and Recipe Book, Black

Pros of Paddle Air Fryers

The main advantage of paddle air fryers is that they require less attention.

The center agitator paddle keeps the food moving throughout the cooking process so that it cooks evenly without you needing to pull out a basket and shake it.

With paddle air fryers, you don’t need to monitor the food as closely as you would with a basket air fryer.

Most paddle air fryers have a removable paddle, which allows you to increase the capacity for cooking dishes that don’t need stirring.

Cons of Paddle Air Fryers

There are a few downsides to paddle air fryers.

First, they’re more expensive than basket air fryers. While basket air fryers start at $30, the most affordable paddle air fryers are usually over $200. 

Second, they have limited capacity. While most paddle fryers are similar in size to the average basket air fryer (4 quarts), they’re smaller than other air fryer types. As mentioned above, rotisserie air fryers can cook 10 quarts of food, and some oven air fryers can fit up to 30 quarts. 

Lastly, the paddle can over-agitate food and break it up. One of the most common complaints is that the paddle mashes fries and removes breading from fish sticks and chicken nuggets. You need to be extra careful not to overload the basket so the paddle can operate freely.

Rotisserie Air Fryers

As the name suggests, rotisserie air fryers are ideal for meats or sides that can be skewered on a spear and rotated while they cook.

Instant Vortex Pro Air Fryer, 10 Quart, 9-in-1 Rotisserie and Convection Oven, From the Makers of Instant Pot with EvenCrisp Technology, App With Over 100 Recipes, 1500W, Stainless Steel

Many rotisserie air fryers also offer a rotisserie basket that rotates food that can’t easily be skewered, like chicken wings or cut vegetables. They usually have a large viewing window to monitor progress.

Pros of Rotisserie Air Fryers

The main advantage of rotisserie air fryers is that air circulation is consistent. With no barriers blocking the hot air, each side is exposed to the same level of heat.

Rotisserie air fryers are a great option for cooking meats as the constant suspended rotation allows the meat to self-baste, keeping the inside moist and the outside crispy.

With a rotisserie air fryer, you don’t need to flip, stir, or shake your food during the cooking process.

You also have the added benefit of a viewing window with most rotisserie air fryers, meaning you won’t compromise the quality of the food by taking a peek inside.

Lastly, most models are multifunctional. For example, this Instant Vortex air fryer comes with a rotisserie spit and basket and two cooking trays.

Cons of Rotisserie Air Fryers

Since these models are designed to fit whole chickens, hams, and other large meats, they occupy much more counter space.

If you don’t have a large kitchen, keeping a rotisserie air fryer on the counter is not an option, and storing it is even more difficult.

For example, this Peach Street air fryer takes up 256 square inches of counter space, and this Instant air fryer takes up 91 inches.

Similarly, these larger units are also more expensive. Expect to pay at least $100, but the top-rated models cost around $200.

Before you splurge on a rotisserie air fryer, consider how often you’ll actually use the rotisserie feature. Setting up the spit is more complicated than putting food on a tray and sliding it in. You need to truss (tie the wings and legs) chicken and other large meats to ensure even cooking.

Pressure Cooker Air Fryers

Pressure cooker air fryers integrate two systems into one appliance: a pressure cooker and an air fryer.

Ninja OS301 Foodi 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer with Nesting Broil Rack, 6.5 Quart, Stainless Steel

Pros of Pressure Cooker Air Fryers

The main advantage of pressure cooker air fryers is that they’re dual-purpose. You can use the pressure cooking function for stews, pulled pork, and other liquid-based meals, and the air fryer function for anything you want crispy.

Similar to oven air fryers, these models save space in the kitchen.

If you already own a pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot, you only need to purchase the compatible air fryer lid instead of a whole new combination appliance.

The lid has a built-in heating element and fan to blow hot air down onto the food. It also comes with a fryer basket, broil tray, and protective storage cover.

Cons of Pressure Cooker Air Fryers

Pressure cooker air fryers require a large, bulky lid, so they take up more vertical space than other options on the market.

Compared to the other types, pressure cooker air fryers don’t perform as well. Sole-purpose air fryers heat up quicker and cook food faster.

There are limited options when purchasing a pressure cooker air fryer.

The two most popular models are the Instant Pot Duo Crisp and the Ninja Foodi Multicooker.

Bottom Line: Which Type of Air Fryer Is Best For You?

Ultimately, all air fryers function the same way, with a heating element and fan to circulate the hot air. The differences between each type are size, shape, cost, and additional features and functions.

Some things you’ll want to consider when making your selection are:

Types of Meals: Basket air fryers are ideal for fries, wings, and other crispy food, paddle air fryers are best for veggies, rotisserie air fryers are great for roasts and whole chickens, and oven air fryers are the go-to choice if you want to cook a variety of items at the same time.

Capacity: Avoid basket and paddle air fryers if you want to cook larger meals. Instead, look for an oven or rotisserie air fryer.

Counter Space: The oven, rotisserie, and pressure cooker air fryer take up the most space on your countertops. Basket air fryers can be taller but occupy less surface area.

Single- vs. Multi-Purpose: While basket air fryers can cook various foods, pressure cooker, rotisserie, and oven air fryers are more versatile.

Budget: Basket air fryers are the most affordable option, and oven air fryers tend to be the most expensive. But prices vary by brand and model.

Bottom line — the right type of air fryer depends on your lifestyle, intended use, budget, and counter space. I believe oven air fryers are the best investment because they can replace multiple appliances, allow you to cook more at once, and the extra capacity results in better airflow and more even cooking.

Still not sure if an air fryer is right for you? Check out this guide, where I break down the pros and cons of air fryers.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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