Air fryers are a sham

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Air "fryers" are a con. They are by name a fryer, but in function, no such thing at all. In truth, they are nothing but dumbed-down convection ovens made with cheap plastic. They offer less cooking surface area and fewer functions for a similar footprint on your countertop and end up being just one more clunky appliance neither you nor your kitchen ever needed.

Here's why you should stay away from air fryers and buy a toaster oven instead:

Even our reporters who test air fryers don't really like them

Our job is to tell you what to buy, and in some instances, we're assigned to review products we ourselves would never buy. We still consider, test, and review these products with every bit of the respect we give all products and services. At the end of the day, you're going to buy what you're going to buy and that's that. We respect your choice.

Air fryers are a sham

But the kindest thing our reporters, Jen Gushue and James Brains, who have tested dozens of the things, have to say about air fryers is this: "The results are more like oven roasting at a high heat — still a delicious end result, but you won't fool anyone into thinking you just pulled those chicken wings out of a deep fryer."

Essentially, an air fryer is a convection toaster that doesn't toast, which is absurd in my book.

The term "air fryer" is just a marketing ploy for technology that has existed for decades

This is a plea, not in condescension, not out of derision or scorn, but for the sake of all things honest and decent in the worldwide web of consumerism. Don't fall for marketing ploys that clutter your kitchen.

Convection cooking (the technology behind air fryers) has been around since the early 1900s, and in home kitchens since at least 1945 in the form of your trusty ol' toaster oven.

With the addition of a wire tray and a metal sheet pan, any decent convection toaster oven will achieve what an air "fryer" can and more. It can bake, roast, and broil, and it can even toast! Oh, the novelty! Further, thanks to the internal fan that prevents hot and cold spots, a convection toaster oven arguably works better than the regular oven.

Most air fryers are awkwardly shaped and sized

Consider how many batches it would take to cook for even just two, let alone four, in an air fryer. And while the footprint might be a little smaller, it won't fit as neatly into a corner or beneath a cabinet in the way that a boxier, prettier, and usually stainless-steel convection toaster oven would.

The bottom line: skip the air fryer, buy the toaster oven

But for goodness sake, I implore you one more time to save your wallet, your precious counter space — and its aesthetic — and stay away from the bulbous, plastic, hard-to-clean, single-serve pod air fryers that everyone seems to be buying and hawking. Do yourself one better and just stick with the classic toaster oven you probably already have, and if you want to use it to air fry, a roasting pan and wire rack is all you need.

Below are convection toasters recommended by our expert home appliance tester and reviewer, James Brains, who is in full agreement that they will serve you far, far better. If you're still air fryer curious even after all this, I also recommend checking out a multicooker like this one by Instant Pot, which has an air frying feature but can also pressure cook and slow cook.

Give these a try:

Cuisinart Digital AirFryer Toaster Oven$299.95 from Amazon$299.99 from TargetBlack+Decker Crisp 'N Bake Air Fry Toaster Oven$65.00 from WalmartInstant Pot Duo Crisp Pressure Cooker with Air Fryer (8 Qt)$199.99$159.92 from Amazon$199.99 from Instant Home$199.99$159.52 from Walmart

Owen BurkeHome and Kitchen ReporterOwen Burke is a Senior Home and Kitchen Reporter at Insider, helping craft a brand new guides section for Insider Reviews. Ever in search of the perfect espresso, he focuses on espresso machines and equipment, juicers, kitchen knives, grills, meat and seafood, and the odd outdoors product.Previously, he was a contributor at Wirecutter, Outside, Surfer Magazine, and The Atlantic. He's also worked in raw bars, restaurants, and on fishing boats, holding a USCG Master Captain's license.He is a contributing author on The Ocean: The Ultimate Handbook of Nautical Knowledge.Say hello at oburke@insider.com. Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here.Learn more about how we test kitchen products.