Air fryers have become increasingly popular in recent years as a healthy alternative to deep frying. Their compact size makes them convenient for small kitchens. But with so many models on the market, it can be tricky to know what capacity you really need. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of different air fryer sizes to help you choose the right one for your needs.
What is the Smallest Air Fryer Size?
The smallest air fryers on the market typically have a capacity of around 2 quarts. Top brands making 2-quart air fryers include:
- Ninja Air Fryer AF100
- Dash Compact Air Fryer
- GoWISE USA 2.75-Quart Air Fryer
- Chefman 2-Quart Air Fryer
A 2-quart air fryer is ideal for singles, couples, and small families who plan to cook smaller batches of food. The compact shape takes up minimal counter space. The small basket fits up to 2 servings of fries or chicken wings.
Pros of 2-Quart Air Fryers
- Small footprint – fits even in cramped kitchens
- Lightweight and portable
- Quick preheat time
- Energy efficient
- Affordable price point
Cons of 2-Quart Air Fryers
- Only fits small batches of food
- Has to be emptied frequently for large meals
- Limited cooking options
- Can’t fit larger cuts of meat or whole chickens
What’s the Next Size Up from a 2-Quart Model?
The next most common size above a 2-quart is a 3-quart air fryer. Popular 3-quart models include:
- Instant Pot Vortex 3-Quart Air Fryer
- COSORI Air Fryer 3.7 Quart
- Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Air Fryer
- Ultrean 3.5-Quart Air Fryer
A 3-quart basket can hold around 3 to 4 servings of fries or wings. The slightly larger capacity gives you more flexibility if cooking for a family or making larger batches of appetizers for parties.
Pros of 3-Quart Air Fryers
- Holds more food than 2-quart models
- Still compact for countertop use
- Cooks small meals for 2-4 people
- Fits up to 2 chicken breasts or small roasts
Cons of 3-Quart Air Fryers
- Too small for large families or big batches
- Can’t fit a whole chicken or turkey
- Still has limited cooking capacity
What’s the Smallest Air Fryer for a Family?
Once you get beyond 3 quarts, you enter the capacity range best suited for families. The top small air fryers for families include:
- Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Air Fryer Oven
- GoWISE USA 5.8-Quart Air Fryer
- COSORI Air Fryer Max XL
- Ninja Foodi 6.5-Quart Air Fryer
- Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven
A 5 to 6 quart air fryer can hold around 4 to 6 servings of fries or wings. The larger basket is big enough for feeding most families, reheating leftovers, and batch cooking.
Pros of 5-6 Quart Air Fryers for Families
- Cooks meals for up to 6 people
- Fits larger cuts of meat and whole chickens
- Makes bigger batches of appetizers and sides
- More versatility for meal prepping
Cons of 5-6 Quart Air Fryers for Families
- Takes up more counter space
- May be too bulky for small kitchens
- Higher electricity demands
- More expensive than smaller models
Other Popular Air Fryer Sizes
In addition to the most common small capacities, there are a few other sizes worth considering:
4-quart air fryers like the Instant Pot Vortex are a nice middle ground capacity. They can cook up to 4 servings but aren’t as huge as 5+ quart models.
Large Family Size (7+ Quarts)
Jumbo air fryers like the Cosori Max XXL fit a full 5lb chicken or 8 servings of fries. Great for big families but require ample storage space.
Toaster Oven Air Fryers (12+ Quarts)
Air fryer toaster ovens like the Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven double as a toaster oven and air fryer. The extra-large capacity is ideal for batch cooking big meals.
Choosing the Right Air Fryer Size
When buying an air fryer, the right size depends mainly on your cooking needs:
- Single or couple? Go for 2 to 3 quarts.
- Small family? Look for 4 to 5 quarts.
- Large family? Consider 6+ quarts.
- Batch cooking or meal prepping? Get a toaster oven air fryer.
Here are some other tips for picking the best size:
- Measure counter space – Make sure you have room to store it.
- Consider what foods you’ll cook – Whole chickens need bigger models.
- Don’t size down too small – Leave room to grow.
- Match output to meals – Cook enough per batch for your family.
How Much Food Fits in Different Sized Air Fryers?
To give you a better idea of capacity, here’s an approximate look at how much various foods can fit in popular air fryer sizes:
|Air Fryer Size||French Fries||Chicken Wings||Chicken Breasts|
|2 quarts||1 to 2 servings||2 servings||1 to 2|
|3 quarts||2 to 3 servings||3 to 4 servings||2 to 3|
|4 quarts||3 to 4 servings||4 to 5 servings||2 to 4|
|5 quarts||4 to 5 servings||5 to 6 servings||3 to 4|
|6 quarts||5 to 6 servings||6 to 8 servings||4 to 6|
As you can see, the per-batch output increases quite a bit with each size upgrade. The capacity to make bigger batches or full meals in one go is the main advantage of larger air fryer sizes.
Common Air Fryer Dimensions
While capacity differs with air fryer size, so do the exterior dimensions. Knowing the typical width, height and depth of different models is useful when shopping to confirm they’ll fit in your kitchen.
|Air Fryer Size||Width||Height||Depth|
|2 quarts||11 inches||11 inches||10 inches|
|3 quarts||12 inches||12 inches||12 inches|
|4 quarts||12 inches||13 inches||13 inches|
|5 quarts||13 inches||14 inches||14 inches|
|6 quarts||14 inches||15 inches||15 inches|
Air fryer toaster ovens are significantly larger, usually around 20 inches wide by 18 inches deep. Always check manufacturer specs for exact dimensions if fitting it in a cabinet.
Pro Tip: Leave Room to Grow
When in doubt, it often pays to size up. Even if a smaller air fryer meets your current needs, your cooking demands may change over time. Here are some reasons you may want bonus capacity:
- Start cooking for more people
- Want to make bigger batch meals
- Expand your recipe repertoire
- Have guests over frequently
- Prepare for holidays like Thanksgiving
Finding an air fryer with some extra room to grow can save you from having to replace it for a larger model later on. An adjustable temperature and timer can also add versatility.
Cost Comparison of Different Sized Air Fryers
Along with differences in capacity and dimensions, larger air fryer sizes typically come with a higher price tag. Here’s an overview of estimated costs for popular models:
|Air Fryer Size||Average Cost Range|
|2 quarts||$40 – $100|
|3 quarts||$80 – $150|
|4 quarts||$100 – $180|
|5 quarts||$120 – $200|
|6 quarts||$150 – $250|
|Toaster oven air fryer||$200 – $400|
While pricier models tend to have more cooking settings and accessories, you can find budget options even for larger sizes if wanted. Weigh upfront cost vs. long-term utility to find the best value.
Save on Air Fryers
Here are some tips to save on an air fryer purchase:
- Shop sales around holidays and Prime Day
- Check warehouse stores for deals
- Look for coupon and rebate offers
- Buy discounted open box deals
- Wait for new model releases
Popular Brands for Small Air Fryers
When researching your options, these air fryer brands have excellent reputations for quality and performance:
Known for blenders, Ninja also makes best-selling small air fryers like the 4-quart AF100 model. Their bonus dehydrator and broiler functions add value.
Famous for the Instant Pot, Instant also has a range of digital air fryers. The Vortex line offers mid-size 3 to 5 quart options.
A budget brand, GoWISE USA air fryers start around just $60 for the 2.75-quart model. Their 5.8-quart fryer gets rave reviews for family meals.
Specializing in compact appliances, Dash makes an affordable 2-quart air fryer in fun color options like aqua and rose gold.
COSORI offers premium air fryers loaded with presets and smart features. Their 3.7-quart and 5.8-quart models are user favorites.
Known for kitchen appliances, Chefman’s compact 2-quart fryer is ideal for small kitchens. A 3.6-quart model is also available.
Air Fryer Buying Tips
Keep these tips in mind when choosing an air fryer model:
- Match your capacity needs – Consider your household size and cooking habits.
- Mind the measurements – Confirm it will fit with counters and cabinets.
- Read reviews – Check what existing owners have to say.
- Compare features – Look for extra functions like preset menus.
- Quality over size – Pick a compact high-end model over a cheap too-big one.
Get the Most from Your Air Fryer
Once you’ve purchased an air fryer, these tips will help you maximize its use:
- Refer to cooking time charts for guidance.
- Brush oil lightly on food for crispier results.
- Flip and shuffle food mid-cooking for even browning.
- Let the air fryer preheat fully before adding food.
- Buy accessories like pans and trays for more options.
- Try cooking different foods like chips, vegetables, breads.
- Adjust cook times and temperatures as you get experience.
- Follow air fryer cookbooks and blogs for recipe inspiration.
At just 2 to 3 quarts, miniature air fryers are the smallest models available. But they can only handle individual servings. For families, a 5 to 6 quart capacity is ideal for turning out larger batches of crispy favorites. Consider how much you cook at once along with dimensions to choose the perfect size air fryer for your needs.