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:
- At Belk, the Everyday Air Fryer Oven from Dash is marked down to $99.99, from $199.99.
- Kohl’s has announced its Black Friday sales already. The Toastmaster Power XL 6-Quart air fryer will be $76.49; the Bella 3-Quart air fryer will go for $69.99; the
NuWave Brio 14-Quart Digital Air Fryer Ovenwill be $119.99; and the Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Ovenwill be marked down to $152.99.
- Target will also have air fryers on sale, with the Dash AirCrisp 3-Quart Air Fryer currently on sale for $59.99. The Ninja 4-Quart air fryer will be $69.99 (down from $139.99) and the Ninja 5.5-Quart Air Fryer Max for $99.99 (down from $169.99). It will also have the As Seen on TV brand of air fryers, with the 3-quart size for $49.99 (it’s on sale already for $69.99 now, down from $99.99) and the 7-quart size for $58.99 (it’s on sale already for $99.99 now, down from $129.99).
- Best Buy will have the Chefman TurboFry 3.7-Quart Analog Air Fryer for $29.99 (down from $59.99).
- Lowe’s has already started its Black Friday sales, marking down the Bella 3.7-Quart Air Fryer to $45.99.
- And there are bound to be deals from Amazon, Macy’s, and plenty more retailers. Stay tuned.
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.