What you can totally expect when you’re looking for the best air fryers under $50 is that most of them will have a 2 quarts capacity.
There will be a few that have a 3 quart capacity but, generally, cheap prices will make you come across mini air fryers.
The exception can be made if you get an excellent deal on bigger air fryers but I’m not going to include those because I don’t know what kind of deals each of us can find when we’re shopping for kitchen appliances.
Thus, a cheap air fryer that will cost around $50 will be quite small.
On the other hand, check out my recommendations for the most expensive air fryer models if you want to see what we find on the other side.
Table of Contents
Best Air Fryers Under $50 Reviews
Air fryers with 2 quarts baskets are mostly perfect for people who cook for one. Their capacity is perfect for one person but it can also be quite adequate for 2 people.
So, we should buy an air fryer under $50 or an air fryer with a 2 QT capacity if we’re cooking for 2 people max.
Thus, if you have a family of 3 or 4, I don’t see how you can find the best air fryer under $50, unless you’re willing to cook in multiple sessions. In that case, it can feed more people.
These cheap models are mini air fryers that can be quite suitable for smaller kitchens. Approximate dimensions will be 11 L x 9 W x 12 H inches. Some will be bigger by a couple of inches so you must check out the exact dimensions if you only have a small space available in your kitchen.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for bigger appliances and you’re willing to spend more, I wrote an article reviewing the best air fryer grill combo.
1. Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Mini 2-quart Air Fryer: Overall the Best Air Fryer Under $50
Full disclosure: while I recommend this Instant Vortex as one of the best air fryers under $50, the price is not clearly under $50. It’s more like $60 or so if you don’t buy it on sale but I really like this model. I think it’s worth the price, even if it’s a bit above our limit.
If you want to make sure that this mini appliance from Instant is the right air fryer size for you, then you should watch this video.
That video shows us that it can cook:
- 2 frozen croissants because the pastry needs space to puff up
- French fries enough for 2 servings
- and 4 standard frozen crisp bakes
The manufacturer also informs us that the basket can fit up to 4 cups of fries or a quarter chicken.
That can be enough for 2 but it also depends on your appetites. I’ll let you decide if it’s more fit for 1 or 2 people.
This 2 QT Instant Vortex is called a 4-in-1 air fryer. What does it mean?
It means that we can air fry, bake, roast and reheat. It’s pretty standard stuff but that’s exactly what we need. I’m glad that it covers everything even if it’s such an affordable appliance.
We also get 4 customizable programs for chicken wings, pizza bites, muffins, and more.
There are buttons for time, temp and a dial to modify these two settings. We can set up our own time and temp according to the recipe we’re following.
The default times for the Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Mini 2-quart Air Fryer are: air fry 12 mins, roast 18 mins, bake 30 mins, and reheat 10 mins.
We also get default temps: 400 F for air fry, roast with 380 F, 330 F for bake, and 280 F for reheat.
Both the time and the temp can be modified from the dial according to what we’re cooking.
The temperature ranges from 120 to 400 degrees F. This is standard for pretty much all air fryers.
The easy-to-use touchscreen displays each stage of cooking. Cooking status can be: preheat, cook, and turn.
There’s little preheating time required and we get ingredients from frozen to golden in minutes.
While preheating is short, it’s still an important step that we shouldn’t skip. The air fryer will signal Add Food for when it’s time to add the food to the basket.
True to form, the Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Mini 2-quart Air Fryer is an appliance that can cook foods quickly, which is one of the best things about air fryers.
Crips, tender food quickly
Another feature is the EvenCrips air flow. This is the part of this appliance that enables us to cook crunchy on the outside tender on the inside foods with 95% less oil.
The nonstick cooking tray is dishwasher safe but I prefer washing them by hand to maintain the nonstick coating intact for a few years of heavy use.
You should also not be using metal cooking utensils to prevent the nonstick coating from peeling off. You can use wooden or silicone utensils.
If you want to avoid cleaning the cooking tray, I recommend using parchment paper or you can use air fryer liners that are already shaped to suit various basket shapes and sizes.
Last but not least, we also get to choose from 4 colors for the exterior: black, white, aqua, and red.
If you don’t get a user manual, you can check it out here. It comes with a bunch of useful tips on how to use this Instant Vortex.
For more recipes, you can check out their website. Or you can download the Instant Pot app if you’re hungry for more.
Where to Buy?
2. Elite Gourmet EAF1121 1.1 QT Air Fryer: Cheapest Air Fryer
If you’re looking for one of the cheapest air fryers on the market, you’ll want to check out this Elite Gourmet machine.
However, I strongly recommend checking out the negative reviews, too. There are plenty of users that mentioned that this air fryer from Elite Gourmet is good as long as it works.
It seems that it can stop working after only a few uses. That’s a serious concern that we must take into account.
Let’s first talk about this 1.1 quart size that this cheap appliance features.
This means one thing: we can only cook one serving in the basket.
While we might buy a 2 quart air fryer for up to 2 people and get some decent servings, this 1.1 quart model is clearly made for cooking single servings.
The manufacturer informs us that it can cook up to 0.75 pounds of food.
But it works nicely for very small kitchens and for people who cook only for one.
Moreover, Elite Gourmet also has a 2 quart model that I’m going to review just below for those who need to make 2 servings. It’s just slightly more expensive than this small model but it can still be reviewed as one of the best air fryers under $50.
It’s an absolutely basic model. There are no touch buttons, no customizable modes, nothing like that.
We actually get 2 dials: one for temperature adjustment and the other one for setting up the time.
Well, we don’t need more than two dials for an air fryer to cook whatever we want to cook. After all, even when we use a home oven, we do the same: we set the time and temp and that’s about it. Only convection ovens have that additional fan to turn on if we want.
Actually, air fryers work on the same principle as convection ovens, only that the fan works by itself. We don’t get to choose whether we want the fan on or not as we get to do for countertop convection ovens.
The idea is that if we already own a convection oven, then you really don’t need an air fryer because that’s pretty much what we buy, just in a smaller size and different shape. And the smaller size means a smaller electricity consumption.
The temp for the Elite Gourmet EAF1121 can be adjusted from 176 to 395 degrees F.
The 30-minute timer is another classic feature for these kitchen appliances, although I like those who offer a 60-minute time limit more.
The Elite Gourmet EAF1121 also includes 26 delicious and healthy recipes to get you started.
I must say that I’m truly impressed by the fact that the drawer pan and frying rack are PFOA/PTFE-free.
That’s surprisingly nice, although Elite Gourmet doesn’t mention exactly what non-stick coating they’re using to achieve that PFOA/PTFE-free attribute.
Ceramic air fryers, just like ceramic rice cookers or stainless steel rice cookers, are PFOA/PTFE-free but Elite Gourmet doesn’t mention that their basket and frying rack are made with a ceramic coating. Still, it’s nice to see this feature on such an affordable appliance.
The manufacturer also mentions that the tray is dishwasher safe but I would wash it by hand to prolong the life of the nonstick coating.
Moreover, you can use air fryer liners or simply use parchment paper to avoid serious cleaning and to protect the coating.
Last but not least, use only silicone or wooden utensils, metal utensils are going to scratch the coating.
Where to Buy?
3. Elite Gourmet EAF2612D 2.1QT Air Fryer
There are a few differences between this 2.1 quart Elite Gourmet and the above 1.1 quart model that I reviewed above.
The price difference between the two is not very big. Nevertheless, if you want to buy one of the cheapest air fryers on the market, the Elite Gourmet EAF1121 1.1 QT is the model to keep in mind. Just remember that it only works for cooking single servings because it’s tiny.
When it comes to 2 quart air fryers, my opinion stands: I consider the Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Mini 2-quart Air Fryer as my favorite.
It’s my first recommendation for the best air fryers under $50, even though it’s a bit above this price limit by a few dollars. Still, I believe that it’s worth it.
Well, if you don’t like Instant Vortex machines, the Elite Gourmet EAF2612D can be a good alternative.
Just make sure to read a few negative reviews before making your final decision.
This 2.1 quart Elite Gourmet has a quite different design that the above 1.1 quart.
We get a small panel where we can adjust the time and temperature.
The temp can be set up between 176 and 392 degrees F.
The 30-minute timer is expected.
Moreover, in this 2.1 quart Elite Gourmet we can cook up to 1.5 pounds of food, which is perfect for single or couple size meals.
We get to cook all this food in a PFOA/PTFE-free non-stick coated air fryer pan with rack.
The rack is dishwasher safe but I recommend washing it by hand. Moreover, consider using liners or parchment paper if you want to increase the lifespan of this nonstick coating.
We also get a cooking guide and 15 recipes to get us started.
Where to Buy?
4. Chefman TurboFry 2-Quart Air Fryer
Another candidate for the best air fryers under $50 is this one from Chefman.
It’s another 2 quart model but I’ve told you right from the beginning of this article that if you want to keep the price around $50, then you’ll have to contend yourself with smaller sizes.
Still, the 2 quart is a decent choice if you’re cooking for up to 2 people. If you cook for 2, the portions are not going to be very large but it also depends on how much you eat.
I would say that 2 quart size is absolutely perfect for generous single servings.
Chefman also has a 3.5 quart model in this series but that’s one almost twice more expensive than the 2 quart model. If you have that kind of budget, I actually recommend checking out the Ninja AF101.
This is another very simple design. It’s quite similar to how the Elite Gourmet EAF1121 is built.
We get 2 dials: one for temperature and the other for setting up the time.
The maximum temperature is 400 degrees F and the maximum cook time is 60 minutes.
Their user guide come with cooking tips and cooking instructions regarding quantity, temp and time for various ingredients: bacon (2 slices), chicken breast (2 pcs 3-8 oz), chicken drumsticks (2 pcs), chicken nuggets (8 pcs), chicken wings (7 pcs), fish sticks (7 pcs), French fries thin (12 oz), French fries thick (1 pound), hamburgers (1 patty), mozzarella sticks (8 pcs), pork chops bone-in (1 piece), pork chops boneless (3 pieces), steak (1 pieces 10 oz), salmon fillet (3 pieces 4.5 oz), shrimp large (1 pound), muffins (3 pcs).
I enumerated this long list of ingredients together with their respective quantities because it offers you a better idea of how much food you can cook in this Chefman TurboFry 2-Quart Air Fryer at one time. It can help you decide if it works for 2 people or just for 1.
Where to Buy?
5. Magic Bullet Air Fryer 2.5 Quarts MBA50100
While my favorite recommendation remains the Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Mini 2-quart Air Fryer as one of the best air fryers under $50, I still wanted to review this Magic Bullet Air Fryer 2.5 Quarts because it has a different size than any of the models I included above.
Thus, what I want to establish is whether the 2.5 quarts is really all that different from the 2 quart models.
From my experience with various air fryers, although I prefer those that are 4 quart and bigger because I cook for more people, I would say that the 2.5 quarts size isn’t all that different from all those other 2 quarts machines.
This is another air fryer that has a simplistic design, like so many others on this list. Instant Vortex is a nice exception.
The Magic Bullet Air Fryer 2.5 Quarts has one dial for temp (from 180 up to 400 degrees F) and one dial for time (60-minute dial timer).
For this 2.5 quarts basket, the manufacturer mentions that it’s perfect for up to 3 servings. I would say that it’s perfect for 1 to 2 people but that’s just my personal opinion.
On top, we get some info for time & temp for various foods: vegetables, fries, chicken wings, frozen chicken wings, fish, and poultry.
Food quantities in a 2.5 quarts air fryer
The user guide contains all the needed information for properly using the Magic Bullet Air Fryer 2.5 Quarts so make sure to read it at least once.
Unfortunately, we don’t get a table with useful information (quantity, time, temperature) for various foods, like we do for the Chefman TurboFry 2-Quart Air Fryer, as I’ve exemplified above.
What we get is this page with a few useful recipes, make sure to check them out.
To be fair, we get some of the info on top of the air fryer, like I’ve mentioned above.
For example, the recipe for sweet potato fries is for 2 sweet potatoes cut into batons.
I guess that would be the equivalent of 1 pound of medium sweet potatoes, although this average weight can be exceeded if we choose to cook with 2 very large sweet potatoes. Make sure not to overcrowd the ingredients in the basket because they’re not going to be crispy enough.
Another recipe is for chicken parmesan. The recipe is made with 2 chicken breasts, 6 oz each.
As we saw for the Chefman TurboFry 2-Quart Air Fryer, the baking rack is big enough to accommodate up to 2 8 oz chicken breasts that are cooked in 20-25 minutes at 380 degrees F.
Not all the different
Thus, this is a clear example that the 2.5 quarts is not all that different from the 2 quarts models.
Nevertheless, you must keep in mind that this is just my personal opinion.
The manufacturer mentions that it’s perfect for up to 3 servings. I really think it’s good enough for up to 2 servings.
Another recipe is for chicken wings. The quantity cooked is 10 chicken wings. In my opinion, I don’t think that’s enough for 3 people but maybe I eat too much.
Where to Buy?
6. Dash Compact Air Fryer 2 Quart
If we’re talking about one of the most popular recommendations for the best air fryers under $50, then Dash Compact Air Fryer 2 Quart should be the first pick in any reviews.
And yet, for my reviews, I chose to recommend it as my last choice. Why am I not all that crazy about this Dash appliance?
When I checked out the negative reviews, I came across a few disturbing things. Of course, complaints about appliances that stopped working after a few uses or a few months are not uncommon for most air fryers, no matter their prices.
However, for this Dash Compact Air Fryer 2 Quart I also came across warnings about being a fire risk. And there’s someone who posted pictures of their model that caught fire.
I will be honest so I’ll mention that there are just a few reviews that complain about a fire risk for this Dash model among 16,000+ reviews but I think some of you might prefer being warned. After that, you can make your own choice and decide if those negative reviews will influence your purchases or not. That’s up to you.
There certainly are thousands of people who love the Dash Compact Air Fryer 2 Quart so there’s that to consider, as well.
Once again, we have a simplistic design for one of the best air fryers under $50.
We get two dials: one for temperature and the other for setting up the time.
We get a maximum temperature of 400 degrees F and a time limit of 30 mins.
Just as I’ve mentioned a few times already, the 2 quart is perfect for 1 generous serving but it can also be good enough for 2 smaller servings. It depends how much you’re used to eating.
Dash suggests that this appliance can cook 1/2 dozen chicken wings and 1 pound French fries, as examples of food quantities we can fit in the basket.
The user manual includes a chart for cooking time and temperature for a few ingredients (fries, wedges, steak, pork chops, hamburger, chicken breast, drumsticks, chicken nuggets) but no quantity is mentioned in the chart, which is a bit disappointing.
If you’re interested in a few kid-friendly recipes for air fryers, you can check out this cookbook from Dash.
Where to Buy?
Best Air Fryers under $50 Buying Guide
Let’s see which are the top features we must be aware of when we’re shopping for cheap air fryers.
Before that, I just want to mention one thing.
If you can spend a bit more money, about twice than this price limit, I would recommend checking out the Ninja AF101. It’s a 4 quart air fryer so it can cook large portions for 3 people. It also has a lot more functions, like air fry, roast, reheat, and dehydrate, and it has a ceramic coated basket and crisper plate. It’s one of my favorites.
You might wonder why I want to talk about prices when we have a $50 limit.
Well, some models exceed this limit by a few dollars, like the Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Mini 2-quart Air Fryer.
Others are a bit cheaper than $50, like the Elite Gourmet EAF1121 1.1 QT Air Fryer, which is also the smallest model among my reviews.
Thus, I tried to stick to this limit as best as I could but a few models exceeded it by just a bit.
Another feature that truly stands out among these many affordable air fryers is that they’re all one the smaller side.
The smallest has a 1.1 quarts capacity and the largest has a 2.5 quarts capacity.
However, as I’ve made my point quite clearly, the 2.5 quarts size is not all that different from the 2 quarts baskets. Although, the manufacturer for the Magic Bullet Air Fryer 2.5 Quarts MBA50100 mentions that it can cook up to 3 servings.
I would say that these affordable air fryers make generous portions of food for 1 person and they can cook acceptable servings for 2 people.
Obviously, the 1.1 quart model only cooks enough food for 1.
A lot of these appliances look quite similar, have similar shapes, designs, and dials for temperature and time.
The exception is the Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Mini 2-quart Air Fryer. It has a more complex design with customizable modes: air fry, roast, bake, and reheat. Thus, it’s more complex and dare I say, a bit more fancy. Although, the shape might not seem all that pretty.
The general idea is that cheaper air fryers work the same as the more expensive models. They use the same principle of heating elements and a fan to circulate the heat and to cook food faster. That’s borrowed from convection ovens.
The food is cooked with less oil and we can expect to get crispy food on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. That applies to all fryers, no matter their prices.
The difference is that these more affordable models are among the smallest we could buy and most have a basic design. The pricier models have more functions, some come with a grill or some transform into a pressure cooker and other fantastic things like that.
Moreover, among the most expensive air fryers on the market are those that are shaped as countertop ovens or toaster ovens because these offer a lot more versatility and the option to cook larger quantities of food.
How to use your air fryer
Each appliance comes with a user manual. It’s very important to read the instructions written there. They all say basically the same things.
When you get your machine, you must first clean the basket and the accessories with warm soapy water.
Then, dry the washed components with a towel.
Plug in your air fryer and preheat it. Preheating is very important for cooking in these appliances, which is what we also do with regular ovens.
Basically, treat your air fryer as a countertop oven in a different shape and where you have to use almost no oil for cooking foods quickly.
If you have an air fryer with multiple cooking functions, which in the case of looking for the best air fryers under $50 only applies to the Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Mini 2-quart Air Fryer, select the air fry function.
For all the other models reviewed in this article, you just have to use the two dials to set up the temp and time.
Place food on the rack, secure the basket, and begin to air fry.
Shake the food if the recipe instructs.
Unplug the air fryer when your food is done.
And these are the basics of it. Some brands will include some recipes, others will suggest downloading their app with recipes, and others won’t include much more than some basic but much needed instructions.
As you become more experienced, you might want to buy a cookbook or you’ll search for many wonderful recipes online.
Useful tips for all air fryers
Most manufacturers for the best air fryers under $50 will mention that their cooking racks/trays are dishwasher safe.
However, we also know that the racks and baskets have a nonstick coating. I recommend washing both by hand to maintain the nonstick coating intact for longer.
Moreover, don’t use metal utensils on nonstick coatings.
Another thing you can do is to line the rack and basket with parchment paper or to use air fryer liners, which can be made from parchment paper or you can also get silicone liners for air fryers. These accessories can keep your cooking chamber clean and they can protect the nonstick coating.
Last but not least, avoid using cooking spray on the air fryer basket because it can corrode the material used in the air fryer baskets. You can buy a mister and fill it up with olive oil. A single mist can be enough for most foods.
You can also check out my recommendations for what to put under an air fryer if you’re concerned about your furniture or countertops.
All in all, the best air fryers under $50 will cook food just as well as more expensive models, the differences lie in their simple design and smaller sizes.