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Air fryers are incredible devices, delivering the tastiness of fried food and baked goods without the unhealthiness.
What many people don’t realize is that they’re major space savers, too, since they’re able to cook things the same way as many larger kitchen appliances like ovens, toaster ovens, microwaves, and even rotisseries!
I know that I would’ve loved a small air fryer in my early twenties, when I lived with my boyfriend in a city apartment. My biggest complaint about the place was that the kitchen was barely big enough to hold two people at once, let alone appliances like an oven that would allow me to prepare many meals. A small air fryer just big enough for a couple would have been a compact solution to my problems. Alas, I didn’t know about them back then.
I realize that many people (especially young couples) do not have a spacious kitchen, and I want to help all of you overcome those size limitations. So in this post, I’ve rounded up some of the best small air fryer picks for you and explained what the devices can do.
About Small Air Fryers
Air fryers are a relatively new kind of kitchen appliance. Until recently, the only really good ones available were very bulky. In the past few years, though, the quality of small air fryers has increased dramatically.
What Size Constitutes a Small Air Fryer?
A “small air fryer” is between two and three quarts. This size is compact and easy to store or to transport, but it’s also big enough to cook a nice meal for two people. I usually recommend an air fryer with a capacity of 1-1.5 quarts per person, so a couple could even prepare enough for themselves plus a guest in a pinch.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Small Air Fryer
If you’d rather look through air fryer options yourself than choose from my recommendations below, make sure to consider these factors.
How much food can the air fryer cook at once? For 2-3 people, I’d recommend a small air fryer with a 2-3 quart capacity.
Apart from the actual food container in the air fryer, how much space does it take up? Some air fryers might be too bulky for kitchens with minimal counter space, even if they are small in terms of capacity.
Does the temperature on the air fryer go up as high as you need it to? Higher temperatures decrease cooking time and can even produce healthier foods.
Is the air fryer durable enough to last for years and years? One way to assess this is checking if sturdy-looking materials were used in construction, but the best way is to read reviews from longtime owners.
Basket Fryer vs. Convection Oven Fryer
There are two main types of air fryer designs: basket and convection ovens. Basket air fryers are taller and contain a removable basket where you place the food while it is cooking. Basket fryers are quicker and easier to use, but they have trouble with large foods like whole chickens and have been known to cook unevenly at times.
Convection oven air fryers are shorter and wider. They take up more counter space (which is why there are very few small convection fryers) and are usually harder to clean, but they often attain the best cooking results.
What Can a Small Air Fryer Do?
Small air fryers circulate extremely hot air around the food placed in them to give the food a crunchy texture similar to deep frying. You can use them to mimic lots of other cooking styles too, such as:
6 Small Air Fryers for Couples
I’ve spent hours going through the most important considerations for buying an air fryer and cross-referencing them with reviews on the top models.
To share my results with couples who want to buy an air fryer for their smaller kitchens, I’ve put together an easy-to-digest table with each of my six top picks, their capacity, and their price.
Below the table, I get into the weeds with a description of each pick and its pros.
1. Instant Pot 2-Quart Vortex Mini Air Fryer
by Instant Pot
All air fryers work by circulating scalding hot air around the food with rapid air technology, but this one seems to do an especially good job. With other air fryers, especially basket type models, I’ve had (or read about) occasional issues with foods like french fries coming out with some undercooked pieces, but this one has done a great job every time.
This model also looks great. The boxy design is nice and compact, but all of the available colors are applied in an attractive sheen that keeps the appliance from being an eyesore. The digital display is surrounded by buttons that let you set time and temperature with precision (the temperature goes up to 400 degrees), as well as choose from four preset cooking settings.
2. Elite Gourmet Personal 2.1 Qt Air Fryer
What I appreciate most about this model is how well it seems to insulate the cooking area. Even while it’s operating, the device is quieter than most small air fryers and does not smell like the food being cooked (which can be seen either as a good or bad thing; I actually love when my kitchen takes on the odors of the food I’m cooking).
It also does not get hot on the outside while it is cooking, which is a great feature for a household with kids or pets that could burn themselves. It seems almost like there’s a thick wall of insulation built around the cooking basket, but the fryer is no bulkier than most of its competition so I’m not sure how they do it.
3. Dash Tasti Crisp 2.6-QT Air Fryer
This model is less expensive than most small air fryers and has a larger capacity than many of them. Not only that, but it’s available in a range of attractive colors you don’t see often like aquamarine, magenta, and midnight blue. It’s very simple to use, too, which is great for non-techies like me.
My one big complaint is the dial for setting heat and cooking time. After some time, the markings around the dial began to wear off. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend this air fryer for someone who is going to be using it every day. For people who only use it occasionally, though, it’s an attractive and budget-friendly choice.
4. Power XL 2 qt. Vortex Air Fryer
This model works well and works fast. It has ten presets, which is a little excessive in my opinion, but that’s by no means a downside. It is too bad that the presets are all pre-programmed and don’t allow for user-defined controls, but all that is probably too confusing for 90% of chefs out there anyway. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out the fryer’s awesome nonstick capabilities. Somehow, they work better than on most of the competition, and they make cleaning the device super easy.
5. Philips Premium Digital Airfryer
It’s significantly more expensive than most small air fryers, but you can definitely see why. It can not only air fry or roast foods like all small air fryers, but it can also do more complex tasks like baking cakes or pizzas. The larger capacity allows for good-sized meals that are more than enough for a couple and can even serve three.
I also love the app for this air fryer. One of the biggest problems with most air fryers is that the cookbooks that come with them are not very good and it’s hard to find recipes. But with the Phillips air fryer app, you can manually choose the Phillips air fryer you have and then be given thousands of great recipes to make in it. You can filter recipes by occasion, cuisine, cooking time, and much more, and many of the recipes come directly from famous chefs.
6. Chefman 2 Qt Air Fryer
This is very much a budget option. It looks a bit cheap and you have to occasionally shake the basket during cooking to make sure all sides of the food cook evenly, since the rapid air technology circulation is not as good as in some other models.
Small Air Fryer FAQ
The smallest air fryers have a capacity of about 1.1 quart. Their dimensions are about 7.75” wide, 7.75” deep, and 8” tall. This size air fryer would be classified as a “mini air fryer” and can only prepare enough food for one serving. An example is the Elite Gourmet Compact Electric Hot Air Fryer.
Yes! You can use any type of bread. Set the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and put in your bread for 2-3 minutes. Flip the bread to the other side, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Now remove the bread, spread on toppings, and enjoy!
No, although there is a type of air fryer called a convection oven air fryer that works in a similar fashion. Like all air fryers, convection fryers preheat much more quickly than conventional ovens. Unfortunately, convection fryers are on the larger end of the spectrum for air fryers.
Ideally, you should clean your air fryer with an oiled-up rag after every use to avoid gunk buildup. Realistically, you can just clean it every once in a while like a conventional oven.
Cook with an Air of Confidence
When talking about versatile cooking devices perfect for cramped kitchens, small air fryers cannot be ignored. They pack an amazing amount of cooking power into a tiny device, and they’re not too expensive either.
I hope this post provides couples and small families with the resources they need to pick a small air fryer that will serve them well for years to come.
Last update on 2022-03-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API