More people have cooking at home this past year, and according to appliance brand Hamilton Beach, almost all new oven developments have included an air fryer setting. So what’s the difference between air frying and convection cooking? Air fryers and convection ovens both cook food faster than traditional ovens by relying on a fan to circulate hot air, but air fryers make food more crispy and work even quicker than convection ovens, thanks to the placement and size of their fans, allowing you to make chicken wings in about 20 minutes and “doughnuts” in less than ten!
In the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances Lab, we tested 15 different air fryer toaster ovens for their ability to air fry, bake, broil, and, of course, toast. That means we air fried more than 15 pounds of wings and frozen fries to see how well they crisped up, as well as how quickly and evenly. We, of course, didn’t stop there. In each one, we baked a cake, roasted a chicken, broiled a steak, and toasted more than 12 slices of bread (that’s more than 180 slices in total!) to make sure it would live up to all of your toaster oven needs.
A few things to consider before shopping:
Size: Most toaster ovens can fit a whole, four-pound chicken, but if you’re tight on space, you might not need the extra height. If you mostly plan on using your toaster oven for bread and heating foods, a compact model is sufficient. If you’re looking to cook in it, or use it as a second oven, consider a larger one; some can fit a whole turkey.
Dials: Toaster ovens can have digital or mechanical controls. We recommend digital for more precise cooking control when it comes to setting the temperature and timer. If you don’t mind guessing, or keeping an additional timer close by, mechanical dials will save you money.
Accessories: At minimum, all toaster ovens should come with at least one rack and one baking/broiling pan. Air fryer toaster ovens usually include an additional basket or rack for air frying. The baskets usually sit on the baking/broiling pan and provide safe cooking at high temperatures as well as easy maneuverability and cleanup. If the basket cannot fit on the pan, a pan can usually be placed in the position below the air frying rack; this style makes it tricky to remove the air frying rack from the toaster oven to check on food or remove without dripping grease everywhere. Some air fryer toaster ovens offer the option to purchase more air fryer racks (that can also be used for dehydrating in most cases) to use at the same time, and some include a rotisserie attachment.