Consumer Reports tests best countertop air fryers

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Air fryers are becoming more popular because they claim to cook your foods to a crackly crunch without the fat.

So are air fryers more than just hot air? Consumer Reports checked out a batch.

Jillian Pacella makes chicken nuggets and french fries for her kids four times a week. And thanks to her Air Fryer - she's not giving them fried food.

"It does not require a lot of oil to cook the food," she said. "And we're looking for ways to make things the kids like to eat healthier and the kids love it."

An air fryer works by circulating hot air around food that's suspended in a basket. It's essentially a countertop convection oven. Many recipes call for foods to be tossed with a bit of oil, rather than being fully immersed when you use a traditional frier.

Consumer Reports tested seven appliances and although they appear similar from the outside,CR found some real differences.

"One big difference you'll see is basket size. Some are so small they require you to cook in batches and that's not as good when you're cooking for a whole family," said Sara Morrow, Consumer Reports Home Editor.

The Nu-Wave for $140 dollars is the largest one tested with a 5.8 quart capacity. It has easy-to use controls but is a little noisy - comparable to a microwave.

Consumer Reports calls this Farberware model a Best Buy. It costs $70 dollars, and is one of the quietest they tested. The controls are fairly easy to see and use and it holds 3.2 quarts. But note that the nooks and crannies in the food basket make it a little tough to clean.

The fryer from Black+Decker has temperature settings printed so tiny they're difficult to read. And the small basket holds just two quarts - fine if you're not cooking very much, but you'll have to do multiple batches if the kids bring their friends for nuggets.

Consumer Reports points out that since this is a little convection oven, these air fryers can also be used for cooking meats and even baking.

To read the full story from Consumer Reports:

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