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Best small air fryers 2024: Compact countertop cookers from £50

Best small air fryer - Lead image

Want the convenience of an air fryer without the bulk? Our roundup of the best small air fryers has got you covered

While air fryers offer a quicker, healthier way to cook, they often take up a lot of worktop space due to their large internal capacity. The best small air fryers bring all the excellent cooking performance of their larger siblings while taking up much less of your precious kitchen real estate. And while they may be more petite, our favourite tried and tested air fryers have proven they can still reliably produce generous portions of sides and main meals.

To learn more about how air fryers work, what features to look out for, and what price ranges you can expect, check out our handy buying guide further down the page. Beneath the buying guide, you will find our product roundup that includes reviews of our favourite space-saving air fryers.

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Relatively petite, powerful and packed with features, the Ninja AF100UK is a great option for anyone seeking a small air fryer that gets the job done. Ordinarily £150, Ninja’s sale sees this model available for just £120, saving you a solid £30.

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Best small air fryers: At a glance

Best value small air fryerTower T17023 2.2l | £28Check price at Argos
Best small air fryer for most peopleTower Vortx 5l Digital | £55 Check price at Tower
Best small Ninja air fryer for featuresNinja AF100UK | £150 Check price at Ninja
Best-looking small air fryerZwilling 4l Air Fryer | £139Check price at Zwilling

How to choose the best small air fryer for you

How do air fryers work?

Air fryers cook food via convection, meaning they heat food via the rapid circulation of hot air. This cooking method is highly efficient, as it ensures the maximum surface area possible is exposed to heat and can ultimately save you time, space and money on your energy bills.

Though this cooking method doesn’t require any oil, which is handy if you’re trying to stick to healthy meals, it produces excellent results with smaller amounts than with other cooking methods. Thanks to a scientific process known as the Maillard reaction, a dash of oil while air frying can produce golden, crispy treats that are almost on par with the deep-fat fryer at your local chipper.

Want to know more about the ins and outs of air frying? Read our full-length guide to these compact kitchen appliances.

What features should I look for in a small air fryer?

Due to their compactness, small air fryers don’t tend to pack in as many features and functions as their larger counterparts. However, any good quality air fryer should have wide-ranging time and temperature settings, with most models worth their salt also offering pre-set options for common foods like chips, chicken and vegetables. Other features to look out for are solid, well-put-together bodies, clear digital control panels, easy-to-read LED displays, and dishwasher-safe, non-stick crisping plates.

READ NEXT: The best dual air fryers available

To give you a fuller picture of what an air fryer can do, we also looked at what features larger, more premium models can offer. Models like the Instant Vortex Plus (£150), our overall favourite air fryer, offer clear viewing windows, internal lights, and a more exhaustive range of cooking modes. And, specific to dual drawer models, they also come with handy sync settings that allow you to set separate drawers to finish in unison regardless of cooking time or temperature. Other features that caught our attention include internal stirring paddles, like the ones present in the Tefal ActiFry Genius+ (£220), rotisserie functions, available in some oven-style models like the Tower Xpress Combo 10-in-1 (£140) or the Proscenic T31 (£160), and high-temperature modes, like the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone’s (£220) Max Crisp setting.

Looking at functionality, we can also consider fully-featured multi-cookers which have air-frying capabilities. A product like the Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 SmartLid (£300) can air fry, grill, bake, sauté, slow cook, steam, dehydrate, pressure cook and more. The Ninja Speedi (£250) offers similar settings alongside its handy Speedi Meals mode, which allows it to combine functions to whip up meals quickly. For example, it can air fry chicken while steaming rice, all in the same cooking basket.

How much should I spend on a small air fryer?

Due to their smaller size and generally more stripped-back features, compact models can usually be picked up at much lower prices than your average air fryer – making for another great reason to plump for a space-saving appliance.

Budget-friendly small air fryers can be secured for anywhere between £30 and £100 if you buy at the right time from the right retailer. If you want extra bells and whistles or a sleeker, more sturdily designed option, you can pick up a dependable, compact mid-range air fryer for between £100 and £150.

If you decide to pivot to one of the more tricked-out air fryers mentioned above, you can expect to pay somewhere between £150 and £220, while a fully-fledged multi-cooker may set you back somewhere between £200 and £300.

READ NEXT: The best multi cookers you can buy

How we test air fryers

All the air fryers featured in our roundups and reviews go through a thorough testing process before they make it onto our site, as we aim to assess whether all their features, functions and accessories work as described.

For our standard air frying tests, we cook portions of everyday food items like chips, chicken breast, vegetables and ready meals, gauging how well a given air fryer performs on these items regarding cooking speed, external crispness, doneness and juiciness. Alongside manual cooks, we also tried all the preset cooking modes available on the appliance, noting their accuracy and effectiveness.

Finally, to assess an air fryer’s stated capacity, we also run one test with the appliance filled to the brim to check whether it can still produce consistent, quality results.

READ NEXT: Best air fryer for two people

The best small air fryers to buy in 2024

1. Tower T17023 2.2l: Best value small air fryer

Price when reviewed: £28 | Check price at ArgosBest small air fryer - Tower T17023 2.2LIf you’re looking for a properly compact air fryer, look no further than the Tower T17023. Measuring 24 x 19 x 27cm (WDH) and weighing just 3kg, the T17023 is the smallest and lightest air fryer we tested by a decent margin. The other side of the compactness coin, of course, is that the T17023 has a smaller capacity than the other air fryers on this list. However, we found it could still fit up to 500g of frozen chips or a pair of chicken breasts, making it a solid option for whipping up sides or extra portions of proteins.

The T17023 will save you space and cash, matching its small stature with an incredibly dinky price tag. Despite being budget-friendly, the T17023 still proved itself up to snuff in terms of quality and performance, feeling well-built and sturdy during setup and producing solid results when tested on a range of items, including bacon, hash browns, spring rolls, chicken breast and mixed vegetables.

While it doesn’t offer extra functions or presets, the T17023’s manual controls are straightforward and help keep the appliance simple, cheap and fuss-free.

Read our full Tower T17023 2.2l review

Key specs – Size: 24 x 19 x 27cm (WDH); Power: 1,000W; Capacity: 2.2l; Accessories: Removable crisper tray

2. Tower Vortx 5l Digital: Best small air fryer for most people

Price when reviewed: £55 | Check price at TowerBest small air fryer - Tower 5L Vortx DigitalThanks to its cuboid shape, which makes it easy to slot into corners and next to other items, and the fact that it’s taller than it is wide, the Tower Vortx 5l Digital remains relatively compact while maintaining a large capacity. The Vortx Digital’s 5l basket is a bit of a marvel given its slim profile, nearly matching the capacity of larger models like the Ninja 5.2l Max and giving it enough space to cook sides for multiple people or even something like a small whole chicken.

Regarding features, the Vortx 5l is pretty straightforward, offering users temperature and time controls and presets for items like steak, seafood, chips and more. We accessed all these settings via the slick touch buttons on the air fryer’s control panel, which proved quick and easy to use. In testing, the Tower Vortx Digital performed surprisingly well given its very reasonable price, producing delicious results on halloumi fries, bacon, chicken breast and honey-glazed carrots.

Read our full Tower Vortx 5l Digital review

Key specs – Size: 27 x 33 x 32cm (WDH); Power: 1,400W; Capacity: 5l; Accessories: Removable crisper tray

Check price at Tower

3. Ninja AF100UK: Best small air fryer for features

Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at NinjaWhile a little larger than something truly miniature like the Tower T17023, the Ninja AF100UK is still well-sized for most kitchens and offers a better capacity and range of features than most smaller air fryers.

At 3.8l, the AF100UK has enough capacity to fit 900g of chips or main portions for several people, making it an excellent option for compact kitchens that still have to serve more than one person. Alongside standard air frying, at which the AF100UK proved highly effective, it also boasts roasting, dehydrating and reheating settings. The latter setting is particularly handy as it enables users to quickly and thoroughly revive leftovers without needing to fire up the oven.

Read our full Ninja AF100UK review

Key specs – Size: 25 x 32 x 36cm (WDH); Power: 1,550W; Capacity: 3.8l; Accessories: Removable crisper tray

4. Zwilling 4l Air Fryer: Best-looking small air fryer

Price when reviewed: £139 | Check price at ZwillingSvelte, handsomely designed and commendably capacious, the Zwilling 4l Air Fryer is a solid mid-range option for anyone looking for a compact cooker that will look smart on your countertop.

Like most air fryers on this list, the Zwilling 4l is stripped back in terms of features, limiting things to time and temperature and controls and a handful of preset options for things like poultry, seafood, cake and pizza. Users can manually adjust the air fryer’s controls via the attractive, glossy touchscreen on top of the device.

In our cooking tests, the Zwilling 4l air fryer showed up well, cooking 500g of thin homemade chips in just 15 minutes at 200ºC without needing to be parboiled first, as with many other models. It also achieved decent results on items such as fish fillets, chicken nuggets and even pizza, being perfectly sized for a small supermarket pie.

Read our full Zwilling 4l Air Fryer review

Key specs – Size: 29 x 35 x 30cm (WDH); Power: 1,400W; Capacity: 4l; Accessories: Removable crisper tray

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