Most of us either own an air fryer or are considering getting one; that’s how popular this versatile kitchen appliance has become.
What started as a simple countertop appliance has now evolved into a multipurpose cooking machine available in a variety of types and sizes.
An air fryer is an indispensable tool to have in your kitchen. However, if you’re new to the air fryer market, you may get overwhelmed by the plethora of options available at your disposal.
So, how to choose the best air fryer size? When choosing the air fryer size that best fits your cooking needs, you need to consider the type of food you wish to make in it, the size of your family, the shape and type of air fryer you need, and the amount of space you have in your kitchen.
Read on to find out more about the different sizes and types of air fryers and how to choose the best one for yourself and your family:
What Is An Air Fryer?
Contrary to its name, an air fryer isn’t actually a fryer. Instead, it works similar to a convection oven by circulating hot air inside it using a fan.
The main difference between an air fryer and a convection oven is that an air fryer blows air faster and the compartment where the food is cooked is usually smaller.
Because of these two things, and the grated rack or perforated basket that it usually comes with, an air fryer doesn’t lose much heat and the hot air hits the food more rapidly on all sides.
Air-fried foods quickly brown on the outside, without overcooking the insides, which is very similar to how deep-frying works, hence the name air “fryer” and the comparison to frying.
Depending on what you are cooking in an air fryer, it is almost always healthier than deep-frying or pan-frying due to the less use of oil and fewer calories.
When it comes to the type of foods you can cook in it, you can use it for a variety of options from crispy bacon to sweet potato fries, and everything in between.
Not only is an air fryer used for fried foods such as chicken wings, French fries, and mozzarella sticks, but also for warming food and reheating leftovers.
Types Of Air Fryers
There are two main types of air fryers available in the market: cylindrical basket air fryers (classic air fryers) and air fryer ovens. Both are essentially countertop convection ovens but differ in terms of their features.
Cylindrical basket air fryers are what you normally picture when you think about air fryers.
Equipped with drawers and removable baskets, similar to the ones found in deep fryers, the air inside them is heated and evenly circulated using a fan.
Air fryer ovens work using the same principle, but instead of a drawer and removable basket, they have racks inside, similar to a toaster oven, used to hold crisper and baking trays.
Also, unlike basket air fryers, air fryer ovens have added functionality such as baking, roasting, and broiling.
Here are their pros and cons to help you choose:
|Air Fryer Type||Pros||Cons|
|Cylindrical Basket Air Fryer||Requires less counter space |
Doesn’t heat up the kitchen
Easy to toss food in the basket
Available in several designs and colors
|Louder than an oven
Cannot see food during cooking
Requires batch cooking
|Air Fryer Oven||Larger capacity |
Multiple cooking functions
Can view food through the glass door
Can move the food closer to or away from the heating element
Most parts are dishwasher-safe
|Takes up more counter space
Cannot shake food for even cooking
Takes longer to pre-heat
Heats up kitchen more
Usually more expensive
Limited designs and color choices
Air Fryer Size Guide
Due to the increase in their popularity, air fryer manufacturers are rolling out different types of air fryers in various sizes, suitable for every kind of kitchen.
On one side, there are compact air fryers suitable for individuals, and on the other, you have big ones capable of cooking an entire chicken or turkey in one go. And of course, there are various sizes in between.
When buying an air fryer, its size is one of the most important things to consider since it will determine the appliance’s capacity and how much space it will take in your kitchen.
Following are some of the most common air fryer sizes, along with their capacities and the number of people they are ideal for!
Small Air Fryers
Small air fryers have a capacity of around 1-3 quarts and are ideal for an individual or a small family of 2 people.
Their basket is large enough to hold two chicken breasts side-by-side, or one chicken breast and a couple of fries on the other.
The slightly larger ones, with a capacity of 3 quarts, can cook 4-7 chicken wings at once and are perfect for two people who plan on using the air fryer regularly.
Medium Air Fryers
Medium-sized air fryers have a capacity of around 3-5 quarts and are more suitable for a family of 3 people or more.
They provide more options and allow the users to experiment with cooking larger items as well.
Although you won’t be able to cook an entire chicken in them, you can cut it down and cook it without an issue.
You can easily prepare snacks or sides such as French fries for 3-4 people, and they are also large enough to cook two things simultaneously.
Large Air Fryers
Large air fryers are quite large, with a capacity of 5-6 quarts, and can easily cook 4-5 chicken breasts at once. They are extremely versatile and can accommodate different-sized foods in big batches.
Ideal for a family of 5-7 people, they come with extra compartments to fit different trays and allow you to fill them up with your choice of foods and cook them at the same time.
Air fryers of this size also often come with additional accessories to improve their functionality.
Extra-Large Air Fryers
Extra-large air fryers are the answer to your cooking needs if you have a large number of people to feed.
Ranging from 6-16 quarts, they are more versatile and incredibly convenient for cooking different types of foods such as whole chickens, turkeys, and pizzas.
Some extra-large air fryers may have enough space to accommodate two pans and up to three grill racks and have a spacious chamber to create space for baking, dehydrating, roasting, grilling, and much more.
Air Fryer Sizes: Summary
On the most basic level, there are four different sized air fryers available in the market, suitable for individuals as well as large parties and gatherings.
Here is a summary of the air fryer sizes and the number of people they are best suited for:
|Air Fryer Size||Air Fryer Capacity||Suitable For|
|Small Air Fryer||1-3 quarts||1-2 people|
|Medium Air Fryer||3-5 quarts||3-4 people|
|Large Air Fryer||5-6 quarts||5-7 people|
|Extra-Large Air Fryer||6-16 quarts||Large families and gatherings|
Which Air Fryer Size Is Best For You?
Cooking in an air fryer is a less time-consuming method compared to other forms of cooking. This is partly due to its small size and powerful heating element that can start the cooking process in less than 2 minutes.
That being said, it is important to consider the size of the air fryer when making a purchase, in addition to how much it can cook at once.
It is safe to say that the size of an air fryer can single-handedly make or break the experience, therefore, choose wisely.
There is no right or wrong size when it comes to an air fryer since it all depends on what works best for you and your family, and is a good fit for your kitchen.
When choosing the right air fryer size, you need to consider the following things:
The Type Of Food You Plan To Cook
One of the most basic criteria for choosing the right air fryer size is the type of food you plan to cook in it.
For instance, if you need it to make bite-sized snacks, such as tater tots and mini egg rolls, a small to medium-sized air fryer should be perfect for you.
However, if you plan to roast whole vegetables, such as carrots or asparagus, whole chickens, or roast beef, you will need an air fryer with a basket big enough to accommodate them.
Therefore, pay close attention to how you plan on using your air fryer, and whether you need it only for small snacks or proper family meals.
The Number Of People You Will Be Cooking For
The number of people you will be cooking for is an important factor when choosing the right air fryer size since it will help you determine how much you need to cook in one go.
If you are a single person or a small family of two, a small air fryer should be enough for you.
However, if you have more people to feed, you must look into bigger-sized options that are better suited for large families, parties, and gatherings so that you have plenty of space to make big meals at once.
The Type And Shape Of The Air Fryer
As discussed earlier, air fryers come in a variety of types, shapes, and sizes, and you need to choose the right one depending on your use of the appliance.
You will find many air fryers with a circular basket, while others have a square or rectangle-shaped one.
The latter often have racks that allow pans to be placed inside them, while circular-shaped ones are better suited for snacks and smaller foods that can be cooked quickly and evenly.
The Capacity Of The Air Fryer
The capacity of the air fryer refers to the amount of food it can hold in one go. It is usually measured in quarts, which is a measurement for liquid capacity.
You can find small air fryers with a capacity of 1-2 quarts and extra-large ones with a maximum capacity of 16 quarts.
When deciding on the size of the air fryer, think about how big your regular meals are going to be, along with the number of people you will be cooking for.
The cooking capacity of an air fryer will have a direct impact on its size. If you are cooking for one, a small air fryer should be ideal for you. But if you need to cook for several people, it would be wise to look at air fryers with a bigger capacity.
The Available Counter Space
Lastly, since an air fryer sits atop your kitchen counter, you must take into account the available space in your kitchen so that it doesn’t become a hassle to use and store.
The best air fryers are big enough to cook food according to your requirements and compact enough to easily fit in your kitchen.
Also, you must keep in mind that larger air fryers and air fryer ovens will need a permanent spot on your kitchen counter, whereas smaller ones can be stored in a cupboard or closet once you are done using them.
Now that you know all about the different air fryer sizes and how to choose the best one for your needs, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have!
What is a double basket or dual air fryer?
A dual air fryer comes with two separate cooking baskets side-by-side and allows you to cook two different types of foods at the same time using different cooking functions and temperature settings.
You can also set it in a way so that both baskets finish cooking at the same time.
The basic idea is to allow you to prepare a meal in one go, although there is a restriction on the serving size you can prepare.
If you are cooking for a large number of people, you will notice that you will often need both baskets to cook the same type of food. If that is the case, we suggest investing in a single basket air fryer with a larger cooking capacity instead.
If you think a dual air fryer is the right pick for you, this one is definitely our favorite!
How do you clean an air fryer?
Start with unplugging the air fryer and letting it cool completely. Remove the basket, tray, and pan, and wash them with soap and warm water.
You may also place them in the dishwasher, although make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions on whether or not these parts for your specific model are dishwasher-safe.
Clean the main unit of the air fryer using a damp cloth and wipe it to remove any grease or food splatters. Never immerse it in water.
For food stuck on the heating coil, use a soft brush to clean it. Once all that is done, towel-dry or air-dry the parts that you washed before reassembling them.
If you’re new to the world of air frying, here’s a super informative video on how to use your air fryer!