Are Air Fryers Worth It? The Pros and Cons of the Registry Favorite

We asked around to decide if they're worth the hype.
An airfryer sits beside plates of chicken wings and pizza.
cathryn haight the knot
by
Cathryn Haight
  • Cathryn is an editor at The Knot, where she focuses on all things planning—from inspiration and design, to traditions, to invitations.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Cathryn spent years as a food editor
  • Cathryn holds a bachelor's degree from Trinity College and a certificate in publishing from Columbia University
Updated Mar 30, 2023
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It's on every wedding registry, every kitchen countertop and in every conversation about easy weeknight dinners: the air fryer. If you're considering hopping on the bandwagon—either adding the appliance to your wedding wish list or clicking "add to cart" on the spot—we're settling the debate: Are air fryers worth it?

We haven't seen any other type of appliance garner such a cult-like following in the registry world (it's right up there with the iconic KitchenAid stand mixer), so we decided to determine once and for all if an air fryer is a must-have in married life and, most importantly, if it's worth the splurge from you or your wedding guests. To delve into the pros and cons of an air fryer, I tapped my trustworthy editor teammates that are air fryer owners as well as a couple of culinary professionals to see if the machine measures up to the hype. Read on for the final verdict!

In this article:

What Is An Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a love child between a convection oven and a microwave, in so many words. It's got the countertop appeal of a microwave, while using a fan-and-exhaust system to cook food by circulating hot air like a convection oven. Its smaller size also helps get your dinner done much quicker than a typical oven, since you're cutting way down on preheat time and the hot air is held closer to the food (not escaping to the empty corners like in a larger oven).

The small-but-mighty appliance's initial claim to fame was its ability to "fry without oil," but in recent years, its popular uses have expanded to common kitchen tasks like roasting vegetables, toasting nuts and even baking a petite portion of cookies or scones. And if you're wondering if your trusty toaster oven would offer essentially the same hands-off cooking experience, the answer is no. Toaster ovens typically use radiant heat which comes from a single direction, rather than the circulating heat of an air fryer, so you don't get that same crispy quality. Though, there is one style of air fryer that looks kind of like a toaster oven that can do double duty, as opposed to the more common egg-shaped, pod-style version, which features that snap-in cooking basket we're all used to seeing in those viral recipe videos.

The Benefits of Air Fryers

Is an air fryer worth it or not? That's the question. To figure this out you'll have to ask yourself how you plan on using it (more for cooking or just reheating), who you're cooking for (yourself and your partner or more people) and what the real estate situation looks like in your kitchen. (Would the air fryer and your toaster have to duke it out for coveted counter space? Or can they live together in harmony?) If you're not sure if an air fryer is for you, read on as we hammer out the pros and cons of investing in this trendy kitchen gadget.

Air Fryer Pros

The big winning benefit of an air fryer is its quicker cooking capabilities. As aforementioned, there's no preheating time, so you can get dinner on the table typically faster than using a regular oven. (Not to mention, cutting down on energy, too.) This especially comes in handy when reheating leftovers that the microwave might leave soggy. Another draw: It's low-maintenance. Like an Instant Pot, air fryers operate under a "set it and forget it" mantra, many with built-in timers that will shut the appliance off when your food is ready. The promise of easy convection cooking (which is designed to promote even browning) is also a draw—many ovens, especially those in city apartments, aren't fancy enough to have a built-in convection setting.

Other pros include potential multifunctionality (if you invest in the model that doubles as a toaster oven) as well as the appliance being easier to clean than a wall oven (which, in all honesty, gets a scrub-down way less than it should). Our favorite unique plus might just be the fact that the popular pod air fryers eliminate the need for oven mitts: You can easily pull out the basket by the plastic handle, which stays cool to the touch, so there's no more searching the kitchen for your oven mitt before the food burns or singeing your fingers on a fresh-out-the-oven pan.

Air Fryer Cons

We must acknowledge that, when you're considering adding any appliance to your kitchen cohort, you'll be sacrificing space. Some air fryer models are smaller and more compact, but still might not make the countertop cut for city dwellers in small apartments without sacrificing something else. If empty cabinet shelves are at a premium, too, you might want to consider how often you'd be reaching for it. And though they will take up some room, they're usually not large enough to cook for any kind of crowd or meal-prep big batches of food—even if you invest in one of the larger, more expensive models. Lastly, unless you're a professional recipe developer or all-around culinary wizard, you'll have to dig up special recipes to accommodate the appliance. Yes, they're in abundance these days, but finding dishes that are compatible with the appliance still takes some extra time. Plus, most air fryer recipes are designed to serve two, so they're not really dinner party- or big family-friendly.

Is An Air Fryer Worth It? Hear From the Experts

We chatted with home-cooking couples, trusted fellow editors and a couple culinary professionals to get their take on the much-asked question: Is it worth getting an air fryer? Here's what they had to say.

Sam Langabeer

Associate Director, Editorial Operations at The Knot

"A good air fryer was my husband's one request for our wedding registry and, after two years of having a giant egg-style eyesore of a fryer on our countertop, my one request was that we register for something a little sleeker—enter: the Ninja Foodi. We use our Ninja several days a week and I love that the oven folds up to take up less counter space and doesn't require us to constantly take it in and out of a cabinet. Overall, the oven is very easy to use and it's hugely versatile. We've used it for everything from cooking frozen food, to roasting vegetables, to even baking salmon. It's also great for keeping the crisp when reheating breaded leftovers, such as chicken. Word of advice: Do not fold the oven up before it's done cooling or any collected grease can run out of the bottom—definitely not a dealbreaker, just a word of caution from our own user error."

Wes Martin

Director of Culinary Production at Christopher Kimball's Milk Street

"If someone is looking for a simpler cooking device that can produce with less mess and actually less hands-on cooking, then it is something to consider. Personally, though, I'd rather spend the money on an All-Clad skillet as a wedding gift than a big appliance that won't get used much. I know they are popular, but if someone is considering one as a wedding gift, they should have a good grasp on how much cooking and what type of cooking the couple actually does. I have friends who have them and love them, so I think it's a case-by-case basis."

Sarah Hanlon

Associate Editor at The Knot

"Owning an air fryer has become one of my personality traits. I use it just about every week and, honestly, can't imagine my life without it. As someone who likes the idea of serving nice meals, but hates the act of cooking, my air fryer is the most-used appliance in my kitchen. Whether I'm making viral TikTok salmon bowls from scratch or heating up Trader Joe's appetizers for my friends, I love how easy it makes my culinary escapades. Even as I've moved around small NYC apartments, I've always made sure there's enough room to store my air fryer because, at this point, it's essential. Air fryers are definitely worth the hype, and they definitely deserve a spot on your registry. Plus, thanks to all the different sizes and models available today, there's no doubt that you can find an air fryer perfectly fit for your kitchen."

Kevin Clark

Kitchen Manager at Christopher Kimball's Milk Street

"I can appreciate that the air fryer is essentially a small countertop oven and I can appreciate the energy savings when cooking small items in it the way you would use a toaster oven vs. your large conventional oven. However, since I am someone who is cooking for a family of four at home, I feel that the air fryer would be more cumbersome than helpful and would most likely go unused. That being said, I bet my wife and I probably would have used it more as a couple before we had kids. Many recipes that I have seen for the air fryer are intended to serve two. During that stage of our life, the air fryer would have probably felt like more of a convenience for us."

Kim Forrest

Senior Editor at The Knot

"We absolutely love our air fryer and use it several times a week. I have two kids (ages seven and 10) and they are super-picky eaters. Making crispy and delicious foods quickly, easily and without a ton of oil is a huge benefit. We literally made empanadas in it for dinner tonight (one of our faves). It's very easy to operate, and totally worth the hype (at least in our household). If air fryers existed when I was putting together my wedding registry, I absolutely would've included it. The main issue might have been storage space. If I lived in a small apartment with minimal cabinets or counter space, it might have been difficult to store this fairly large item, which could be a dealbreaker for some. But in general, highly recommend!"

Our Favorite Air Fryers Right Now

The final verdict: An air fryer can be a great option for couples short on time, who have some extra kitchen space and would consider the appliance a way to level-up their cooking game. But it might not make the registry cut if you or your partner already have ample cooking prowess or many mouths to feed. If you think the appliance is a kitchen or wedding registry essential, you'll find a handful of air fryer models we love below.

DASH 2 Qt. Compact Air Fryer

A retro-inspired air fryer.

If you and your partner are city dwellers short on space and not fully ready to commit to the air fryer lifestyle just yet, this entry-level option is for you. First of all, you won't want to ever put this countertop cutie in the cabinet, given all of the pretty hues it comes in, and it doesn't take up much more space than a small coffee maker. Also, it's super affordable, so if you find yourself not using the appliance as much as you thought you would, you can part with it without guilt. The biggest draw is definitely that it's super user-friendly, with only two dials to deal with. It's totally worth sacrificing a few bells and whistles for the sheer convenience of this sweet little pod-style model.

Ninja Foodi 2 Qt. Digital Air Fryer With Convection Oven

A modern and chic horizontal airfryer.

This sleek air fryer-slash-toaster oven combination is Sam's favorite for its great cooking capabilities and ability to flip up flush against the back wall of your counter for easy storage. It has a wider capacity than many air fryers given its low-slung silhouette, so it has plenty of room to make a sheet pan dinner. The eight-in-one appliance has specialized settings to roast, broil, bake and more. It's also a breeze to use: Just select the cooking time and temperature and wait for dinner to be done.

Cuisinart Stainless Steel Air Fryer Toaster Oven

A modern and sleek metal airfryer.

One of our 2022 Registry Award winners, this all-in-one air fryer-toaster oven can do it all—crisp bacon, roast veggies and anything else you could imagine. The stainless steel exterior and digital display are super chic, while the temperature range (it goes up to 450 degrees) offers limitless cooking possibilities. We love the large frontal window, so you can keep an eye on your eats, as well as the cube-like shape—the extra height can accommodate more rotund foods, like a roast chicken even.

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