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Black Friday Deals on Air Fryers Are Heating Up. Should You Buy One?

Here are the FAQs to answer as you mull over your purchase

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Black air fryer
Ellie Krupnick is executive director of editorial operations for Vox Media's lifestyle brands, and focuses on keeping Eater running smoothly. She previously edited Eater's shopping content, as well as lifestyle content on Racked, Mic, and HuffPost.

The air fryer heated up (sorry) fast: It was an appliance few of us had ever heard of, and then suddenly last winter, it was at the top of everyone’s Black Friday lists (or at least every retailer’s Black Friday circulars) and on the tip of the media’s tongue. As the New Yorker’s Helen Rosner put it in December 2018, “Is the Air Fryer the New Instant Pot?” In some ways, yes: Google searches for the kitchen gadget skyrocketed during the 2018 holiday shopping season and spawned a cottage industry of air fryer cookbooks.

Meaning you’ve probably heard of it by now and maybe have considered buying one. And there will be sales upon sales for Black Friday 2019 enticing you to do so. So... should you? Here are some (extremely subjective) FAQs to help you figure it out. Oh, and the deals. We have the deals.

What is an air fryer? The countertop appliance functions like a small convection oven, circulating hot air around food. When you add just a teensy bit of oil, the food is coated in a light layer and the hot, moving heat cooks it, producing a crispy layer on the outside. Hence the effect of frying, but without submerging anything in a vat of oil.

So it’s basically a healthier way to fry things? Pretty much, as well as cleaner and neater. It also works quickly, promising to cook a rack of lamb or french fries in about 15 minutes.

So why wouldn’t I buy one? Well, for starters, air fryers are expensive, many ranging from $120 to $300. They’re not tiny and will be just one more clunky (and generally unattractive) appliance on your countertop. They also aren’t as “healthy” as some may assume, in that most of them still require some amount of oil to work. Then there’s the serious question to ask yourself: How often do you fry stuff? On the spectrum of appliance usefulness, from the essential microwave to the gathering-dust waffle iron, where does a gadget that fries food fall for you?

How do I know which one to get? Unlike the Instant Pot, a zillion brands make air fryers, and they’re not all created equal. Consumer Reports has a recent ranking of the best, including air fryers from Ninja and NuWave. Philips is also a popular brand, and Instant Pot now has its own air fryer. For inexpensive versions, the brand Bella pops up a lot. But we can’t claim to have tested them all; you’re going to need to do your research (even if it breaks you).

Okay, you know what? I’m into it. I’m gonna do it. What are the best deals? It’s practically impossible to know the best deal. But here are a few:

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