Tuesday, July 5

The 5 best air fryers we tested in 2021

The best multitasking air fryer

Jen Gushue/Insider

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, and air fryer all in one, making it one of the most useful and economical small appliances I tested.

Pros: Multiple functions; doesn’t dry out delicate foods; can perform multiple steps in a recipe in the same appliance

Cons: Food on lower level of fryer basket cooks more slowly, many pieces to store, difficult to agitate food mid-cook, removing lid exposes heating coil

Air fryers often get a bad rap for being unitaskers, but Instant Pot has bucked the trend by adding air fryer functionality to its already quite versatile multicookers. The Duo Crisp comes with two separate lids — a traditional Instant Pot lid you’ll use for all your pressure and slow cooking and another equipped with an electric heating coil and fan that you’ll use for air frying, broiling, dehydrating, and more.

If you’ve used an Instant Pot, you’re already familiar with about half of the Duo Crisp’s features. It works just like any other Instant Pot and is great for a batch of pressure-cooked beans, slow-cooked stew, or simple steamed veg. The only major setting you’ll sacrifice in favor of air frying functionality is the yogurt setting, which isn’t present on the Duo Crisp.

The air fryer function excelled in all of my tests, producing tender broccoli and crisp frozen fries, though the tall cylindrical basket presented some small downsides. The basket allows you to stack two layers of food to make up for the lack of horizontal space, but because the heat comes from above, the food on the bottom layer is often less crisp than the top. The air fryer basket also lacks a handle, so it’s tough to agitate food mid-cook, and there’s no way to get to the bottom layer to flip food without unloading everything on top of it.

The heating coil’s presence in the lid also means you’ll expose it when you lift it off to check or retrieve your food. If you’re not careful, it could be a burn hazard. The unit comes with a special plate that serves as a trivet when you need to place the hot lid somewhere, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind in terms of safety.

All told, this is the air fryer I reach for most for personal use, because it has earned the space it takes up in my kitchen by being so versatile.

If you already own an Instant Pot, you can purchase an air fryer lid separately for your 6-quart model. The only difference is that instead of the cook settings being built into the pot itself, they’re built right into the lid.

$129.94 from Amazon

Originally $199.99Save 35%

$129.99 from Target

Originally $199.99Save 35%