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Best Air Fryer Toaster Oven of 2024

 Best Air Fryer Toaster Oven of 2024

Air-fryer chicken wings

Three cooked chicken wings. Three cooked chicken wings.

Ninja’s air-fried wings were a thing of beauty.

David Watsky/CNET

Chicken wings are almost universally loved and a very popular item to air fry. The goal for an air-fried wing is crispy outside and skin with a juicy inside. To test each oven’s air fry ability, I cooked three frozen wings on air fry mode at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes, turning them every 10 minutes. I let each oven come to full preheat before putting the wings in and then photographed them immediately after pulling them out. Naturally, I tasted them too, when they were cool enough to eat. 

Success here depends on high heat and good fan circulation of that hot air, which, in turn, means faster cooking. The faster an air fryer cooks and the more effective the super convection is, the faster the outside skin will crisp, making it less likely the chicken will be dry inside. 

The Ninja Foodi oven won the great wing war by a feather, with the crispiest wings after 30 minutes. They were also perfectly juicy inside and had no real visible burning. The Cuisinart also nailed the wing test, but I actually had to pull them after about 25 minutes because they were fully done. They even had some burnt skin but not enough to bother me. The Breville and Crux also did well with good browning and crispy skin, while the KitchenAid finished sixth and the Calphalon seventh with not enough browning or crispiness for my taste. 

Air-fryer french fries 

Loose french fries. Loose french fries.

Air fryer french fries are very popular in my home. All the ovens did pretty well in this test, but the Ninja and Breville cooked them to a golden brown the fastest without burning.

David Watsky/CNET

This second air fryer test was designed to illuminate the pure power and speed of an individual oven’s air fry function, but also its ability to cook evenly. I placed a handful of frozen french fries (McDonald’s style) on air fry at 450 F and timed how quickly each one got to that golden brown color that we all covet. Because speedy cooking and convenience are key features of the countertop air fryer oven, faster equals better. All of the oven subjects (except for the Cuisinart) reached the desired doneness eventually, but some performed the task much more quickly and consistently than others. 

Breville won the fry test with perfectly golden fries in six minutes. I set the Ninja to a slightly lower temp (390 F) per its manual, and in eight minutes I had perfect fries (a very close second place and it likely would have won or tied if I’d set it to 450 F). KitchenAid also took eight minutes on 450 F while the Crux took nine minutes to get there and the Calphalon took 12. The Cuisinart was actually the fastest at just three minutes, but it burnt the edges of the fries and didn’t cook evenly. At this point, I began to suspect the Cuisinart has an unusually intense air fryer function, for better or worse.

Broiled salmon 

A cooked piece of salmon. A cooked piece of salmon.

In real life, I probably would have given this another minute under the broiler, but the Breville (pictured here) and Ninja were the only ovens that imparted any sort of crust after four minutes.

David Watsky/CNET

To test the broiler, I brushed a 4-ounce salmon filet with a mixture of mustard, olive oil and brown sugar. After the oven came to preheat, I snuck the salmon under the broiler about 2 inches from the top and left it there for four minutes before removing it from the oven for a photoshoot. 

The key thing I looked for here was how well each broiler imported a caramelized crust on the top of the fish. Some ovens, like the Calphalon and Cuisinart, showed almost no signs of browning, while the Ninja and Breville delivered nice color and the beginnings of a good crust. I decided they would share the blue ribbon for this test. The KitchenAid and Crux both showed some browning, landing them in third and fourth place.

Plain old toast 

A piece of toast on a white plate. A piece of toast on a white plate.

Both the Calphalon and Ninja made very pretty toast that matched their medium presets, but the Ninja (pictured) did it in half the time. 

David Watsky/CNET

This test was to see how accurate a particular oven’s toaster presets are and how fast it can toast. I stuck one slice of bread in each toaster and set it to medium. I didn’t weigh this test as heavily as the others because, in truth, any of these ovens will get you to the desired toastiness, it just may take more (or less) time, some tinkering or learning of the presets to get it how you want it.

How long each cook time was for the “medium” preset on each oven varied rather significantly, ranging from over six minutes for the Calphalon to just three and a half for the Ninja. As it was, these two produced the most even and attractive toast that corresponded to the preset, but the Ninja (winner!) did it in half the time. The Breville, KitchenAid and Crux barely toasted the bread at all when set to medium — which simply means you’d have to use a darker setting — while the Cuisinart over-toasted the bread.

Baked cookies

Two cookies side-by-side from a baking test. Two cookies side-by-side from a baking test.

It’s a two-way tie — Breville and Ninja — in the cookie contest. Both ovens hit the set temp and held it consistently throughout the 10 minutes.

David Watsky/CNET

Next, I wanted to see how accurately and consistently each oven could reach and hold a temperature, and baking a cookie is a perfect test for that. I plopped a spherical tablespoon worth of Toll House cookie dough on parchment paper and stuck one in each oven on the middle rack for the recommended time and temp (350 degrees F for 10 minutes). 

The cookie race was a photo finish between Ninja and Breville, both of which delivered near-perfect results. The Cuisinart cookie was overbaked, as was the Crux (although just slightly), while the KitchenAid cookie was a tad underbaked.

Preheat test

Another big draw for using a countertop oven over the big oven is the speed at which it preheats. During the cookie bake-off, I timed each oven to see how fast it came up to 350 degrees F. 

The Ninja Foodi blew all the others away, preheating to 350 at a lightning-fast 50 seconds. Most of the others clocked in around three and a half minutes, while the larger Breville took five minutes to come to temp. While I didn’t do an official test for air fryer preheat, I did notice the Calphalon took markedly longer than the others to get to 450 degrees F on air fry.

Temperature accuracy and consistency test

This is low-key one of the most important functions for any oven, especially if you plan to do some light baking in it. If an oven can’t hold an accurate and consistent temperature, it makes following recipes far more difficult, and you’ll be forever adjusting and hawking your food to make sure it doesn’t burn. I used thermocouples to read the internal temperature of the oven while it baked for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. I was able to get an average temperature reading for the duration of the bake, but I also watched the thermometer in real-time to see how much fluctuation happened during the cook. 

The KitchenAid won this test with an average reading of 350 F on the nose and with very little fluctuation. The Ninja (343 F average temp), Cuisinart (346 F) and Breville (345 F) also did well, although the Breville started off very hot and then came back down. The two last-place finishers were the Crux, which ran hot (365 F) and the Calpahlon, which ran cold (337 F). Both were also the most inconsistent throughout the bakes. 

Cleaning and care

An open Ninja toaster oven. An open Ninja toaster oven.

A smart design feature allows you to get right inside the Ninja oven and give it a good cleaning, something you’ll likely need to do regularly because of its compact hull. 

David Watsky/CNET

With the exception of the Ninja (more on this in a second), there is nothing particularly unusual about caring for or cleaning these ovens. They have standard box interiors of various sizes made from stainless steel that will require regular scrubs and wipes. Each oven also has a removable, dishwasher-safe crumb tray to catch fallen fries and toasty bits. 

Now back to the Ninja. Because of the compact interior, this oven is definitely more prone to splatter and stains, especially when making foods with fat and grease such as wings. Thankfully, there is a smart design feature that allows the entire bottom floor of the Ninja oven to fold out so you can get right inside with a rag or Brillo pad and wipe it down. I am sure the Ninja will require more frequent cleaning than the others. If that’s not something you’re diligent about, it’s certainly something to consider.

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