Before actually talking about air fryer sizes and establishing how big of an air fryer you need, we must first cover the types of air fryers we can buy.
The two main types of air fryers we can buy have different sizes and they can feed a very different number of people.
Air Fryer Sizes: Types of Air Fryers
Before talking about air fryer sizes, I like to introduce the type of air fryers we can buy because I think it’s a more important classification than an air fryer’s size.
There are three main types of air fryers to choose from:
It is the the most popular.
A drop-in basket is used for cooking the food.
Multiple shakes might be called for when cooking the food so it requires a bit of attention during cooking.
They allow for great volume of food to be cooked at one time.
And they offer the highest versatility among the three.
We get a countertop oven and an air fryer function, among other interesting cooking functions.
Last but not least, we also the paddle type. This is a self-turning air fryer. And the least popular of the three.
So, when we consider air fryer sizes we need to make the distinction between the two most popular types: basket and countertop oven air fryers.
Basket Air Fryers Sizes
These are the air fryers that have round square or rectangular baskets.
They’re not as versatile as countertop oven air fryers because the shape of the basket is a bit more restrictive in what we cook in them.
The sizes and prices vary.
You can’t always assume that a bigger size would mean a more expensive price.
The cheapest are the 2 quart models and that’s the only thing we can say for sure about basket air fryer prices.
Overall, basket air fryers are among the most affordable. They’re also the most popular type and, even the most expensive among them, typically won’t exceed $200.
The smallest size is 2 quarts. We can buy 2 quarts, 2.1 quarts or 2.5 quarts air fryers.
Obviously, this smallest size is also going to be among the cheapest machines we could get.
If we want to buy an air fryer for $50 or a bit more, then an air fryer with a capacity around 2qt is what we’re going to get.
They’re mainly used for cooking for one person.
Next we have 3 quarts air fryers. There aren’t that many to choose from in this size. The 2 quart size is a lot more popular.
As you might have expected, the 4 quart size is what comes next for the basket type. We’ll also come across 4.5 quart machines.
4 qt models are extremely popular.
We’ll find options for a large variety of manufacturers and the prices are very decent, too.
A budget around $100 can allow you to buy one of the best air fryers on the market.
They cook food for 2-3 people so the 4 quart air fryer size is not a good pick for bigger families.
5 quart or 5.5 quart air fryers are up next.
Surprisingly, the prices between 4 qt and 5 qt models are pretty similar.
You won’t have to pay a lot more if you want the bigger size, which is recommended for a family of 4.
When we reach 6 quart basket air fryers, we’re starting to talk about big air fryers.
Instant Vortex describes their 6qt models as being perfect for 4-6 servings.
7 quart basket air fryers are also a thing. Some can also be very affordable.
For example, the GoWISE USA 8-in-1 7-Qt is a model under $100. It feeds up to 6 people. It can cook: 2 pounds French fries, 5 pounds chicken, 8 inches round cake, and 14 chicken wings.
As I’ve already said, the easiest way to determine how big of an air fryer you need is to look at the quantities of food the appliance can cook.
Chefman has a pretty cheap XL 8 quart air fryer. The basket has a divider so you can cook two different foods at the same time.
This XL appliance won’t occupy too much space on the countertop because it’s rather tall. It has about the same dimensions as a 7 quart model.
Ninja has a few interesting models with 10 quarts baskets. It achieves this size by actually incorporating two baskets per air fryer.
These Ninja models with two baskets can cook 2 6 pounds chickens or up to 8 pounds of chicken wings.
If you have to cook for more than 6 people or if you want to cook a main and a side at the same time, 10 quarts 2-basket XL air fryers are a good option.
Air fryer sizes: how to decide how big of an air fryer you need
I might be a bit controversial here, but I don’t actually believe that 1 quart per person is quite enough when it comes to air fryers.
Deciding how big of an air fryer you need will be based on how many people you’ll feed at one time.
Let me tell you why I believe that the 1 quart per person rule doesn’t work all that well.
4 quart air fryer for 2-3 people
I reviewed the Ninja AF101 in quite a few of my articles, including when I reviewed the best ceramic air fryer or the best air fryer with a dehydrator.
In my reviews I also mentioned that the Ninja AF101 is a good enough size for a family of 3 but not more than that.
Keep in mind that the Ninja AF101 is a 4 quart air fryer. If we were to follow the 1 quart per person idea, we would consider that this 4 quart air fryer would be enough for 4 people. Maybe if you eat really small portions.
How can we tell so easily that a 4 quart air fryer will feed up to 3 people?
Well, manufacturers will mention that their air fryer can cook x pounds of French fries at a time or things like that.
Frankly, checking out this info about different quantities that a specific air fryer can cook is the easiest way to understand air fryer sizes very easily. And to more accurately establish how big of an air fryer you need.
For the Ninja AF101, we are informed that it can cook and crisp up to 2 pounds of French fries with little to no oil. You might need to add fewer French fries if you want them crispy.
We can also cook 2 chicken breasts or 2 steaks.
I would say that it can work for a family of 4 if it’s made up of 2 adults and 2 small children under 7 who don’t eat all that much most of the time.
Otherwise, for a family of 4 or 5, you’ll need a 5 quart or 5.5 quart air fryer.
Who are 2 quart air fryers for?
Since I said that, in my opinion, 4 quart basket air fryers are good for preparing meals for up to 3 people, then that would mean that 2 quart air fryers are best for those who are cooking for one.
I guess we could stretch it and say that it’s good enough for 1 to 2 people but I would say that it’s better for a single person.
Let’s take the Instant Vortex 4-in-1 2 QT Mini Air Fryer. The manufacturer mentions that it’s perfect for 1 to 2 servings.
If you have a budget around $50, this small air fryer size would be a good fit for a single person but the portions can be stretched to accommodate a 2-person family.
Should you get a 6 quart air fryer?
When you’re wondering how big of an air fryer do I need and you know that you have to feed 4 to 6 people, then you need the 6 quart size.
6 quart air fryers are a bit more expensive, they can cost around $150.
Another thing to keep in mind is that they’re going to take up a lot more countertop space.
To give you an idea of the space they take up, the Instant Vortex Plus 6-Quart Air Fryer has the following dimensions: 14.92 L x 12.36 W x 12.83 H inches.
The Ninja Foodi DZ090 6 Quart has the following dimensions: 15.55 L x 13.99 W x 11.18 H inches.
As you can see, we get two very different manufacturers but the sizes are pretty similar.
Check out my article on the best heat resistant mats for air fryers if you need something to put under these appliances.
Countertop Oven Air Fryer Sizes
These air fryers look very similarly to countertop ovens.
Some might be taller and not as long as our regular toaster ovens but the shape is definitely similar.
Air fryers shaped as countertop ovens have flat large square or rectangular trays. The trays have a metal mesh but otherwise their shape resembles that of very small sheet pans.
Obviously, countertop oven air fryers will have different sizes than basket air fryers.
The countertop oven air fryers can also have multiple shelves. If that’s the case we’ll get a basket for each shelf. That means that we can air fry different foods at the same time.
But air frying different foods at the same time also increases the overall time it takes until everything is cooked properly. Some people seem surprised by that but it’s quite logical.
How to rightly size air fryer countertop/toaster ovens
The size of air fryer toaster ovens is not always measured in quarts. That mostly applies to the appliances with round/square/rectangular baskets.
Some air fryer ovens will mention a 19 quart capacity or something like that. But it’s not telling us much because it’s not the size of the air fryer basket, which resembles a baking sheet with a mesh.
With air fryer ovens we can only tell about their potential capacity from their dimensions.
Moreover, manufacturers will mention things like: fits a 13-inch pizza, 6-9 slices of toast, a 4, 6 pounds chicken, a number of chicken breasts, etc.
While countertop air fryer ovens can be more versatile because they can be used as a toaster and as a regular countertop oven on top of the air fryer function, they also take up much more space on the countertop.
Last but not least, these ones shaped like countertop ovens also tend to be a lot more expensive. The more affordable options are found among basket air fryers, those that resemble the original design.
Thus, besides considering air fryer sizes and how big of an air fryer you need based on the number of people you’ll feed, we must also consider prices and countertop space.