There are four distinct types of air fryers to choose from—cylindrical, basket, oven, and paddle. Picking the one that suits your kitchen needs depends on dimensions, material, functionalities, features, and price.
Some air fryer models may have a basket-type or paddle-type design, while others can resemble a regular oven toaster. Some air fryer models have baskets and drawers that can be rearranged for the food you wish to cook, while other air fryer models look like a regular oven and can include racks for holding food.
Air fryer models vary in size, available temperatures, noise level, style and design, capacity, pre-heat speed, and dishwasher-friendly parts.
Some models consist of features that can be used to bake, rotisserie, grill, fry, broil, and toast food items, while others come in a single mode.
By knowing the air fryer’s features, its difference from other kitchen appliances like the wall oven, and the pros and cons of each type, you can decide what is best suited for your kitchen.
Available Types for an Air Fryer
Cylindrical Basket Air Fryer
A cylindrical basket air fryer is a type of air fryer that uses a cylindrical basket to cook food. The basket is typically made of metal or mesh and has a handle to remove the food quickly. The basket is placed inside an outer casing which contains the heating element and fan.
The cylindrical basket air fryer works by circulating hot air over the food in the basket as a fan blows it down. This cooks the food evenly and gives it a crispy exterior.
The advantage of this type of air fryer over other types is that it can cook a decent quantity of food suitable for singles or couples at once. They have a capacity of 3 quarts or less on average. It can also perform quicker pre-heating compared to other air fryers.
It does not take up significant space in the kitchen and can be placed on the countertop. Because of its size, it does not heat the entire kitchen. It is also easier to clean than other air fryers because it includes drawers and removable baskets.
However, these air fryers can only cook small quantities of food at a time, making them less suitable for large families or entertaining.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for an air fryer with multiple functionalities like grilling, roasting, frying, and broiling, you may want to consider other types. Cylindrical basket air fryers are typically designed with single functionality. They also often come with opaque lids, so you may not see whether the food is cooked or if the skin is crispy enough (or burnt).
It can also be loud in the kitchen—its noise level is approximately 65 decibels on average, similar to a vacuum cleaner.
If you are looking for an air fryer that can quickly and easily cook large quantities of food, then a cylindrical basket air fryer is ideal.
Basket-type Air Fryer
A basket-type air fryer uses a basket to hold the food. The basket is usually made of metal or plastic and has a handle to remove the food quickly.
The basket-type air fryer has tiny holes that allow air around the food—a design that helps minimize the likelihood of your dish being cooked in grease.
The basket-type air fryer is better than other air fryers because it doesn’t produce as much smoke and odor as different types.
The basket-type air fryer may not always cook food evenly; it requires occasional tossing and stirring to ensure even cooking. The basket-type air fryer can be tricky to clean as the baskets are often hard to reach.
Oven Air Fryer
An oven air fryer is a type of air fryer that uses convection technology to circulate hot air around the food, resulting in a crispy and evenly cooked finish. Air fryers are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to deep-frying, as they can achieve similar results without the need for large amounts of oil.
Oven air fryers typically come with several features that make them more versatile than other air fryers. They have a larger cooking capacity with up to 25 quarts of food, allowing you to cook multiple items at once and making them ideal for entertaining or feeding a large family.
Oven air fryers also have adjustable temperature settings, which allow you to customize the cooking process to suit your specific needs. They often come with a timer that ensures your food is cooked for the perfect amount of time and not overcooked or undercooked.
However, the oven air fryer is often more significant than the cylindrical basket fryer. While it allows greater food capacity, it requires more kitchen countertop space. It also takes a long time to pre-heat ingredients compared to basket-type and cylindrical models and can heat the whole kitchen.
Paddle-type Air Fryer
A paddle-type air fryer is a type of air fryer that uses a flat, circular paddle to circulate hot air around the food and cooks food evenly on all sides.
Paddle-type air fryers are generally more energy-efficient than other air fryers and can cook food faster because they circulate hot air more evenly around food. This means that food will cook more evenly on all sides, resulting in less burnt or overcooked food.
Additionally, paddle-type air fryers can cook food faster because the hot air circulates more evenly around the food. The paddle also helps turn over the food automatically. You can set it and forget it—you can let the unit do all the tossing, turning, and stirring.
Most paddle-type air fryers come with digital controls to set the temperature and timer. This is convenient because it takes the guesswork out of cooking.
Some paddle-type air fryers also have built-in safety features like an automatic shut-off function, which prevents accidental fires.
Many paddle-type air fryers have non-stick surfaces that make cleanup easy. Non-stick surfaces also prevent food from sticking to the air fryer and burning. This also makes this model easy to clean.
One of the disadvantages of using a paddle-type air fryer is that it can be noisy and sometimes throw food out of the basket while cooking.
Different Ways to Use an Air Fryer?
Air fryers are versatile kitchen appliances that can be used for various tasks. While they are most commonly associated with fried foods, air fryers can also be used in different ways, such as baking, roasting, and grilling.
Frying. Air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food, creating a crispy exterior without all of the oil typically needed for traditional frying. This makes air frying a healthier alternative to conventional frying methods.
Baking. You can heat ready-made pastry products or make homemade sugar pastries, cannoli, sweet bread, donuts, brownies, and other foods with an air fryer.
Roasting/rotisserie. You can use an air fryer to roast meats and vegetables to create a quick and easy meal. Air frying foods cook dinner faster while producing a healthy roasted dish.
Grilling. Whether chicken or steak, an air fryer can grill a delicious grilled meal without flipping the meat repeatedly. Many air fryers have grilling trays, so it’s convenient to take out and insert them back in as needed.
Toasting: You can have an air fryer toast very quickly. You have to place some butter or olive oil on your toast, roll it into the air fryer, and set it at a level between 2 and 5 minutes at 320 F.
It’s essential to know how to use an air fryer to maximize its benefits for your kitchen.
Sizes of Air Fryers
The different air fryer types are designed in various sizes.
Cylindrical and basket-type air fryers with a 2- to 4-quart capacity are typically suitable for singles or couples who do not need to prepare large batches of food and only use the appliance for reheating small portions.
A family of 3 to 5 people will require a 5- to 7-quart air fryer with racks for cooking large batches of food. An oven air fryer is typically suitable for this need.
For food lovers and home cooks serving 5 to 6 people, a large oven fryer would be perfect for preparing cakes, pies, and casserole dishes.
Basket Type Air Fryers vs. Convection Oven Air Fryers
If you’re looking for an air fryer, you may be wondering which type is better: basket type or convection oven? Both have their pros and cons, depending on your needs and preferences.
Here’s a quick rundown of each type to help you decide which is right for you.
Basket Type Air Fryers
- Usually less expensive than convection oven models
- Smaller and more compact, so they take up less counter space
- Many models come with a removable basket, making them easy to clean
- Some models don’t have adjustable temperature settings, so you can’t fine-tune the cooking process.
- The baskets can be small, so they may not be able to accommodate large batches of food.
- Some models don’t have a timer, so you have to watch the food to make sure it doesn’t overcook.
Convection Oven Air Fryers
- Usually have more features than basket models, such as adjustable temperature settings and timers.
- The large size means you can cook large batches of food at once
- Many models come with multiple racks, so you can cook multiple items at different levels simultaneously
- More expensive than basket models
- Bulky and take up more counter space
- It can be challenging to clean, especially if the racks are not removable
Which one is better depends on your needs and preferences. If you want a more affordable option that doesn’t take up a lot of counter space, then a basket model may be a good choice.
However, if you want more features and the ability to cook large batches of food, then a convection oven model would be a better option.
Whichever you choose, read the reviews before buying to ensure you’re getting the type that will meet your needs.
What Foods Can I Fry in Different Air Fryers?
Foods that can be cooked with each air fryer type are listed below:
- Cylindrical and basket-type air fryer
You can fry various foods in a cylindrical and basket-type air fryer, including meats like chicken, fish, and pork, French fries, onion rings, baked treats like donuts and muffins, and vegetables like kale and zucchini.
- Oven air fryer
Oven air fryers are great for cooking potatoes, chicken, fish, and vegetables. They usually come with a basket or pan in which you put the food and then set the temperature and timer. The food will cook in the hot air and come out crispy on the outside and tender inside.
Oven air fryers also have the rotisserie function, which allows some space for a whole chicken and vegetables on the side.
- Paddle-type air fryer
The basket-type air fryer cooks the same as paddle-type air fryers but allows you to remove the basket to allow more space and additional food.
Criteria for the Best Air Fryer Type
You’ll want to consider several factors to find the best air fryer for you. The criteria to consider include size, features, ease of cleaning, price, and brand.
Size: Air fryers come in various sizes, from small countertop models to larger ones that can feed a whole family. Think about how many people you typically cook for and choose a size accordingly.
Features: Some air fryers come with digital controls, timers, and automatic shut-off features. Decide which features are most important to you and look for a model with them.
Ease of cleaning: Constant and regular cleaning of air fryers can help extend their lifespan. Especially for busy people, it could be worth looking into air fryer models that make cleanup as easy as possible. A removable drawer or basket would be great to consider when it comes to quick and easy cleaning instead of trying to clean the insides of an oven, for instance.
Price: Air fryers can range from around $30 to $200 or more. Again, think about your needs and choose a model that fits your budget.
Brand: There are many different air fryer brands on the market. Do some research to find out which ones have the best reviews, and make sure to read customer feedback before making your purchase.
Air Fryer and Safety
Air fryers are safe to use as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It is straightforward to use because of hand-free cooking devoid of spillage and splashes—you only need to put your preferred settings and leave the rest of the work to the unit.
Air fryers are also safer than oil fryers. It avoids the risk of acrylamide, a toxic chemical created during deep fry and other high-heat cooking that can cause certain cancers such as esophageal and ovarian cancer, breast, endometrial, and pancreatic.
Make sure to keep the air fryer clean and never overload it. Never leave an air fryer unattended while it is in use.
Air Fryer and Price
An air fryer will cost between $50 and $300 based on different factors such as features, size, model, material, and brand.
More extensive models such as the oven air fryers often cost more than basket-type units. Types with more space and multiple features and functionalities, such as cylindrical and paddle-type models, can also be more expensive than singular function ones.
The lifespan of Different Air Fryer Types
Air fryers often last for 2 to 3 years if used as often as four times a week and up to 6 years if used less than twice weekly.
Air Fryer Types and Food Taste
The air fryer produces an extra crisp effect on food minus the grease and excess oil. Because of this, people opt to use air fryers if they prefer a healthier meal and reduce calories by up to 80 percent compared to deep-fried dishes.