What’s an Air Fryer?
Chances are in the last 10 years you’ve heard rave reports from your friends about a new invention called an “air fryer”. For years, the only way to fry foods like french fries and fried chicken has been with the deep fryer, where you place your food into a big tub of oil and then that oil gets soaked into your food (and into your arteries). Air fryers come with the tantalizing promise that you’ll still be able too enjoy fried foods, but with a fraction of the oil.
While some may feel that the air fryer is a big innovation, ironically it’s not really innovative at all. It’s essentially a convection oven–an oven where hot air is circulated within a cooking chamber. Convection ovens have been around since 1945. But in 2010, Philips introduced their “airfryer” line of convection ovens and there was a perfect storm of a really clever brand name and a public that was becoming much more health-conscious. In the years since, air fryers have become a category of their own. They typically are more compact than traditional convection ovens and the placement of the fan blowing the hot air is typically on top of the oven vs. the back, resulting in more evenly cooked food. Air fryers will also come with accessories like basket trays that allow for more airflow to get the foods more crispy.
Can you get an Air Fryer Not Made in China?
It’s tough. The vast, vast majority of air fryers are manufactured in China. This is mainly due to the relative recency of air fryers’ popularity; unlike other appliances that have been around longer, air fryers were never widely manufactured in the United States or other countries before, and so there’s no legacy as far as plants or labor. Most US and European companies just jumped at China’s cheap labor since the history of air fryers began.
Sadly, as you scan Amazon, you’ll see first-hand that virtually all of the top-selling brands are manufactured in China, including Ninja, Cuisinart, Instant Pot, All-Clad, DeLonghi, Chefman, Yedi, and Philips. Some brands try to wiggle around it: Breville says that all their air fryers are “designed and engineered in Australia”, but of course they’re all made in China. Aggravatingly, even the brand named GoWISE USA is made in China, which is pretty sketchy. T-Fal for a while was made in France, but they’ve since outsourced to China. And perhaps not coincidentally, you start to see more and more “fake brand names” like MIMODAY, KITCHER, CROWNFUL, AICOOK and MOOSOO saturating the marketplace.
Out of the literally hundreds of air fryers, there was only one that I could find that was not made in China. The Total Chef Air Fryer from Koolatron is made in Canada.
October 2021 Update:
I recently had a great chat with a customer service agent in Wayfair. Wayfair is listing the Total Chef TCAF03 as being made in China, so I sent a note to Koolatron asking about. For now, I’ll keep them as #1, but that’ll change if I get confirmation they’ve sold out.
In the meantime, the Wayfair rep went above and beyond to research other options, a level of transparency that Wayfair can provide that Amazon evidently can’t. If you buy one of these, be sure to buy from Wayfair.
November 2021 Update:
Koolatron customer service confirmed to me that their air fryers are assembled in Brantford, Ontario in Canada, although one of our readers reached out to me on Facebook to confirm that the parts themselves are manufactured in China (thank you Cézanne). This is one of those situations where it seems that the choices are limited. If I had to get an air fryer, I would still go for the Total Chef–at least SOME of the revenue will go to workers not in China. But clearly this is an industry that China has near total control over. Let’s hope the same fate doesn’t happen to others.
Best Air Fryers Not Made in China – Quick Ranking
|1||Total Chef TCAF03 7-in-1 Air Fryer||5||View on Amazon|
|2||2. Dash Express 2.6 Quart Tasti-Crisp Air Fryer||4.6||View on Wayfair|
1. Total Chef TCAF03 7-in-1 Air Fryer – Best Overall
I had to do a double-take when I read the Manufacturer’s answer to the question “Where is this manufactured?”
Like the fat free yogurt episode of Seinfeld, I thought that maybe this was too good to be true, but with further research on the Web I believe this to be accurate. The manufacturer’s name is Koolatron who is known for producing a number of “made in Canada” products.
There aren’t a lot of Amazon reviews to go by, but looking at Costco Canada’s site where this has been on sale for a longer period of time there are lots of positive reviews (most of the negative reviews driving the overall rating down seem to focus on Costco sending out used units). Overall, people rave about the simplicity, the quality of food (crispy on the outside, tender on the inside), the very reasonable price, and of course the fact that it’s made in Canada.
One can only imagine the pressure that Koolatron is to be the last to shut down their Canada manufacturing facilities and outsource to China. If you’re in the market for an air fryer that is NOT made in China, this may be your last chance to send a message to Koolatron and all their competitors that you will support any company that stands strong.
- NOT made in China
- Adjustable timer and temperature
- 3.6 liter (3.8 quart) capacity
- Dishwasher safe
- Not many reviews yet
I’ve been checking Wayfair, Williams-Sonoma, and Amazon and seeing contradictory information about this one. Wayfair customer service clearly confirms on their pages that this is made in Indonesia, although they do it in their Q&A section and not their usual product information. Williams-Sonoma, on the other hand, clearly states “Made in Indonesia” on their product page.
Amazon provides contradicting information–the Country of Origin in the product listing says it’s made in China, but customer reviews and Q&A from as early as February 2020 to as recently as September 2021 confirm they’re getting units made in Indonesia.
I’m going to guess that all the supply chain and lockdown issues that happened during the pandemic are playing a part in the inconsistency here. Making matters worse, Wayfair country of origin information isn’t exactly the most reliable. My best advice is to try to find this in a store so you can check for yourself. If I had no choice but to buy it online, I’d choose WIlliams-Sonoma, only because if they send you a made in China model you can always send it back.
This Dash air fryer is half the weight of a standard fryer so it’s perfect for apartments or dorms. Its 2.6 quart capacity is perfect for serving 2-4 people at a time. It fries food with 75% less fat than traditional deep frying and couldn’t be simpler to operate: just fill the basket with the food you want to fry, set the timer, and let the frying begin. An automatic shut-off timer ensures that your food will always be perfectly done.
It has a rating of 4.6 on both sites.
- NOT made in China
- Adjustable timer and temperature
- 2.6 quart capacity
- May be smaller for some people’s needs
Do you have any experience with these Air Fryers? Or have you found another manufacturer who has not sold out to China? Let us know in the comments below!