I know it's super exciting to air-fry all kinds of stuff, especially with almost everyone showing off their air-fried recipes online, but you should first question yourself, "what size air fryer is right for me?" before buying the next air fryer you see.
I promise you; this is one of the BIGGEST shopping considerations you would want to make. Just imagine feeding a large family of 10 with a 2-quart air fryer. How many batches of chicken wings are you going to cook so everyone could get their share? Are you interested in cooking whole chickens with your air fryer? How much space do you need for that? - see our 'Best Air Fryers for Chicken' review.
All of these questions are answered, as well as important air fryer shopping tips below.
Dimensions of Air Fryers in the Market
The dimensions and capacity air fryers "promise" to accommodate depend on the brand and make you buy.
Every air fryer model in the market has product info that tells you about the amount of food that could fit the air fryer basket. This description could include quantities shown in pounds, liters, or quarts, and they are often stated just so users could estimate capacity (and not serve as absolute size guides).
For example, Phillips has multiple air fryer models with a wide range of capacities and functions. The Phillips 2.2-quarts air fryer is able to cook about 1.8 pounds of chicken tenders, while the 3.2-quarts model can easily cook foods weighing up to 2.5 pounds.
Air fryers manufactured by US companies use "quarts" for air fryer sizes, which is why you'd see models specifically stating its size to "5.8-quart air fryer" instead of just advertising it as a "family size air fryer."
Air fryers manufactured internationally often refer to air fryer sizes in liters. This is why you might see air fryers that indicate their sizes as 2.0-liter, 3.0-liter, and so on.
What is the Smallest Airfryer in the market?
The smallest air fryer available online is around 2-quarts or 2-liter in size. Almost every brand has its tiny version launched into the market, from Philips's Compact Airfryer to Dash's candy-colored air fryers (see 'Best Air Fryer Under 100' bucks).
And most likely, these small-sized models are designed to attract consumers who follow kitchen trends, those who see the air fryer as a kitchen tool for prepping snacks, or for solo home cooks. 2-quarts air fryers, in general, are too small to feed a family.
What is the Biggest Airfryer available?
The biggest air fryer you can buy is called the "Big Boss," which is a 16-quart air fryer that can cook a whole turkey and 3 full-sized meals for two people in one go. It weighs about 15 pounds and is designed like a turbo convection oven (see also 'Air Fryer vs Air Fryer Oven' review).
Different Air Fryer Sizes: What Size Air Fryer is Enough for My Family and Me?
How big of an air fryer do I need, you ask?
One way to estimate the size is by defining the number of family members (or friends) you're going to feed. The capacity of a 3-quart air fryer may be enough to feed a couple, but not for a group of 4 people (see 'Best Air Fryer for Family of 4').
- Mini Air fryers (about 1 to 2-quart-sized air fryers). Perfect for the solo home chef, or if you're planning to snack on air-fried french fries regularly, a mini or compact air fryer won't have the most powerful motors in the bunch, but it does the job quickly.
- Standard-sized (2.1 to 5-quarts). These air fryers are ideal if you're cooking for just one person, a family of 2, or a family of 3.
- Larger-sized air fryers (5.4 to 6.5 quarts-sized fryers) These would be more appropriate for large families, such as a family of 4, a family of 5, and so on).
- Extra-large air fryer (6.6-quarts to 15-quarts-sized). This air frying appliance handles enough food for 6 to 10 people, thanks to several cooking compartments, baking cages, and advanced oven functions like baking and grilling.
- Extra Large air fryers. If the XL models are not enough, you can find large air fryers in 16-quarts or higher. These larger air fryers are designed for bulk cooking (or if you have an extraordinarily huge family size). They may also fall under the 'extra-large air fryer' category.
Air fryer sizes and basket space don't matter for some people since they're willing to invest in two or more air fryers and cook their family food simultaneously. And if you are worried about power consumption, check out our 'How Much Electricity Does an Air Fryer Use?' post.
What Size Air Fryer Should I Get for Certain Foods?
If you're shopping for an air fryer based on the food you plan to cook with it, you’re lucky because most air fryer manufacturers have provided a list of food that will safely fit into the cooking compartment. Also, check out our 'How to Preheat Air Fryer' post, for ultimate food preparation.
- Whole Chicken. If you plan to cook a whole chicken, the 6-quart air fryer has enough space for a 4-pound whole chicken. Note that the air fryer's basket may be smaller than the size of your air fryer, so check this detail first before purchase. We covered air fryer basket in more detail separately.
- Chicken legs, wings (see 'Best Air Fryers for Chicken Wings'), chicken tenders, steaks, lamb chops, chicken breasts, etc. A 5-quart basket-type air fryer could easily cook recipes with chicken parts.
- French Fries, cauliflower, and other vegetables. Even a small air fryer could handle french fries and vegetables if you're feeding just one or two people. (This same small air fryer won't work when you cook the same food but for 10 people).
Since the pandemic began in 2020, the air fryer has become the go-to kitchen appliance for people stuck at home and desperate to make cooking as easy as possible (see also air fryer compared to instant pot). For that matter you should also read here how air fryers compare to dehydrators which enable you to store your food longer.
And since you're actually eating healthier when you cook food this way with less oil (check out our 'where to put the oil in this guide, or which oil is best for air fryer) and compared to how you deep-fried chicken breasts before -see air fryers compared to deep fryers - expect more people to create recipes specifically for the air fryers.
Other Size-Related Considerations When Buying Your Air Fryer
Now that you've considered your kitchen's counter space and storage space, the number of friends or family members you're going to feed, and the type of food you'd likely cook, have you decided on the air fryer size yet? If not, read on for these special considerations:
- That basket is smaller than you think. Almost everyone I know who bought their first air fryer complained of the small capacity of their air fryer's basket. The footprint of an air fryer may look big enough for your needs, but only half of its size is for the basket (which is where you'd place the food you'll be cooking). To avoid being disappointed by a small basket, make sure to find details about a model's basket size before purchase.
- Counter space: Extra large air fryers can easily cook an entire chicken, but it is can also eat up a lot of space on your kitchen countertop. For those who have decided to place their awesome air fryers on their kitchen counter, will the space available accommodate your chosen air fryer size?
- Storage space: If you're going to store this kitchen appliance along with other equipment, make sure there is enough space to keep your air fryer clean and well-maintained.
- Functions beyond air frying: Note that some air fryers offer the ability to bake, grill, roast; you might have no choice but to go with larger air fryers. These kinds of air fryers come built-in with baking cages and include rotisserie forks to evenly cook your whole chickens for you. Some air fryer brands and models may require you to purchase these accessories separately (see also 'Air Fryer Vs. Baking' review).
- Cooking compartments: Some air fryer models are designed to cook just one type of food item at a time. However, those with two or more cooking compartments may be bigger in size but allow you to cook different foods simultaneously. If this is something you think you'd like, since it totally reduces meal prep time, you might have to reconsider your decision and find a larger air fryer with these features.
Picking the Best Sized AirFryer for Your Needs
You see, the capacity of an air fryer isn't the only deciding factor when estimating if a particular air fryer size is large enough for your family/friends, applicable to the type of foods you wish to cook, and can accommodate the level of cooking you want to do with this new kitchen equipment.
Like buying your blender, or food processor, buying an air fryer is an investment. Weighing your options ensure you won't regret the first pick you made. I have a handful of friends who went ahead and bought their air fryers at the peak of this air fryer's popularity on social media, only to regret buying a tiny one and eventually switching to a bigger size.