There is no denying it - fried food is delicious. With its golden brown and delicious exterior, crisp texture, and superb mouthfeel, there are many reasons we love it.
At the same time, the added fat and calories are indisputably things that many health-conscious cooks wish to avoid if possible. The air fryer seems to be a fitting solution to this dilemma, though I had to wonder if it could be as good as the real thing.
Short of completely submerging our food into sizzling hot oil, was it possible to have my fries with all the taste and none of the regret?
The first step in the process was deciding where to dive in. There are so many air fryers on the market, and it seems like people are pretty passionate about what works best.
I settled on the Cosori Premium 5.8-quart Air Fryer. With tens of thousands of favorable reviews, this seemed like a great place to start. I waited patiently for my package to arrive, hoping that sizzling hot fries and crispy chicken wings were in my future. I could not wait to open the box and unwrap my new appliance, anticipating a low-fat, yet delicious future in air fried food.
Table of Contents
What’s in the Box?
Unsure of what to expect when my package arrived, I opened it to find a surprisingly few parts, and I was pleased! After all, I wanted to get right into my kitchen without having to review a vast manual detailing the assortment of attachments.
The machine itself was completely assembled, with the fryer basket in place. After untaping the movable parts, I carefully removed the basket by pressing the basket release button and eliminated the plastic and foam that protected it during shipping. After a quick wash in some warm soapy water with a non-abrasive sponge, so as to not scratch the non-stick surface, it was ready to go.
It really could not have been more simple. Here's what to expect inside the box.
- Air fryer unit with power cord
- Outer basket
- Inner basket
- User Manual
- Recipe book
How Does the Cosori Air Fryer Look/Feel/Sit?
The first thing I noted, when I picked up the machine, is that it was not very heavy. It felt solid and compact, yet surely easy to move when I needed to. The profile is generally quite boxy, with rounded corners and a flat top that fits neatly on my countertop. It has a sort of matte finish which will be less likely to show fingerprints, except for on the display screen.
Like many home cooks, my counter space is valuable to me, and I wondered if it was necessary to have an air fryer with such a large, square footprint. It is, after all, nearly 11 by 12 inches. There are certainly smaller machines out there, so did this one justify its size with its capabilities? I was certainly eager to find out.
How Easy Is It to Set Up?
The manual, I am pleased to say, was very straightforward and easy to follow.
Important to note are a number of general safety guidelines that deserve to be reviewed. These safeguards certainly should not be overlooked by the first-timer. I soon realized that I needed a generous amount of space, so that air could circulate behind the machine while in use, which dictated where I would do my cooking. I was pleasantly surprised by the length of the electrical cord as it allowed me to find the optimal position while still plugging it in with ample cord length to spare.
I familiarized myself with the way the inner and outer baskets clicked into one another and was feeling quite confident in my understanding. This actually seemed quite simple. Within 5 minutes I felt I was thoroughly prepared and ready to move on to the nitty-gritty.
Cooking Hand-cut French Fries
I decided I would make the seemingly most basic and perhaps obvious thing for my first go with my new air fryer. French fries, it seemed, would be very telling, so I got right down to cutting some russet potatoes.
I chose to peel my potatoes, though skins on would be just as good, I imagine (like Paul's baked potatoes demonstrate). I was hoping to really impress my family, especially my kids, so I went the extra mile to make these fries as close to fast-food fries, as possible. After washing 4 potatoes, I cut them into uniform sizes.
A half-inch thick and about 4 inches long was my goal here - something substantial enough to easily place in the fryer basket, yet thin enough to cook through. I plunged the potatoes into a bowl of cool water to draw out some of the starch. After a 20 minute soak, I drained and rinsed them before drying well with a clean kitchen towel on a large sheet pan.
Meanwhile, I preheated my air fryer with the preheat function on the control screen which quickly and easily brought it up to the proper temperature in a short 5 minutes.
The dry potatoes were quickly tossed with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt before they were ready to go.
To open the fryer basket, I depressed the basket release button which allowed me to remove the outer and inner baskets at once. As was recommended by the recipe book and user manual, I took caution not to crowd the basket and, in effect, was able to cook only a portion of the prepared fries at a time. Granted, I certainly could have attempted to cook them all at once, but color and crispness were what I was after, so I abided by the suggestions provided. Allow me to say that had these been frozen French fries, I would have been more likely to cook a far more generous portion, but as these were raw potatoes, I wanted to ensure that they were cooked the entire way through.
Here, I had the choice of using preprogrammed settings or to choose the time and temperature on my own. I know not all air fryers have this functionality (some only allowing presets), so I was pleased with the added convenience here.
I felt that I wanted to go pretty hot for these fries, so I set the temperature to 375 degrees and let it go for 15 minutes, pausing to shake the fries halfway through the cooking time. I gave them a few more minutes at 400 degrees to give them a little extra time to brown. When all was said and done, I was quite pleased with the color of the potatoes. They were deeply golden brown and looked quite delicious. The true test, however, would be in serving them to my family.
In my house, when dinner is ready, my kids come running, and there was a surprising amount of enthusiasm when I told them about the fries that I was preparing in the new air fryer. They were, in fact, quite surprised when I pulled out the basket to reveal just a single layer of fries, which would certainly not feed a family of four at one time.
The verdict was lukewarm initially, though we all agreed the potatoes were well-cooked and well-seasoned. We agreed that the fries were a little dry, though certainly cooked through. This point just solidifies the fact that there is a real benefit to cooking in hot fat, as it creates a moisture barrier preventing food from drying out.
Not exactly the fries they had envisioned, perhaps, but when I explained that these fries had 85% less fat than the deep-fried variety, we all agreed that they would be worth the effort, if you were looking for a quick snack or a side for a couple of people. Certainly, for a family of four, it presents some challenges, so I would probably not plan to go through these steps for my entire family.
I suppose there is somewhat of a novelty to eating potatoes that even resemble french fries in my house, so we proceeded to enjoy them while I continued to cook a few more batches with plenty of ketchup and none of the guilt - which is certainly a trade-off. After a few batches, we were satiated. Truth is, I would probably never deep fry in my house because of the mess, smell, and fat, so this seemed like a reasonable compromise.
Takeaway: For fries not pre-cooked in oil (ie not frozen fries) don't expect that deep-fried texture using an air fryer.
Cooking Frozen French Fries
I was not about to walk away from the French fry experiment just yet. I felt I could get some different results with frozen fries. Because they are actually pre-cooked in oil before the freezing process, I suspected this would translate to a crisp, golden air-fried version. I marched myself down the frozen food aisle of my grocery store and picked up a bag. Nothing fancy for this project - just basic, thin cut, frozen fries. I was looking for something simple and rewarding.
I started by preheating the air fryer to 400 degrees, which is the highest setting for this model. While I waited for it to come up to temperature, I tossed half of the bag of fries (14 ounces ,which seemed ample for the four of us) with some fine salt. After a few minutes, it signaled that it was ready, so in went the fries. I clicked the basket into place and set the timer for 20 minutes, tossing just once before they were sizzling and golden.
My decision to take the frozen French fry route was definitely to my family's liking. These fries were what we had hoped for, salty and crisp, able to stand up to copious amounts ketchup without giving in. These were more like the fries one would expect from a fast-food restaurant. We felt this machine could handle cooking enough fries at once, which was a benefit over the hand-cut fries I tried earlier. Perhaps not as healthy as the non-processed variety, but in a pinch, these were quite pleasing according to my family.
This started to shape the way I felt about the air fryer. It was not necessarily replacing deep-frying, but it could offer an alternative in some cases.
I could certainly see how it would fit into the kitchen landscape of a small apartment dweller, or even a family wishing to make some more convenient dishes without having to fire up their oven.
Cooking Chicken Wings
I knew I would be remiss if I did not attempt to make crispy wings in the Cosori air fryer. It is the quintessential fried food, after all, so without any further consideration, I forged ahead to find the method that would yield tasty, juicy wings with thin crackling skin. My research, coupled with my own experience as a cook, led me to a somewhat unique technique.
First and most importantly, I had to dry the wings well with paper towels. Dry food just fries better - there are no two ways about it. But I took this to the next level with a dusting of baking powder, which contributes to browning, as well as salt and garlic powder to make these wings extra tasty. After a quick preheat, it was time to load the wings into the fryer basket.
Let me say that I had been warned that many air fryers can only accommodate 10 wings at a time. I was pleased to get 15 wings into this unit, making sure they were not touching each other, which is one of the keys to even cooking. I chose to bypass the preset for chicken, electing to go a little higher in temperature. I closed the drawer, set the temperature to 400 degrees, and I waited, turning them once before they were sizzling and golden.
After 20 minutes I was pleased with their color. I checked the internal temperature with a digital thermometer to make sure they reached the optimal 160 degrees. After a quick dip in a traditional Buffalo wing sauce made up of equal parts butter and hot sauce, these wings were ready to be enjoyed, and I had just the right crew, ready to share their unbiased thoughts.
When I opened the fryer basket drawer and began taking the wings out of the fryer basket, I suspected they were going to be tasty, and I was most certainly right. The skin had formed those telltale blisters that indicate desired crispness, and the color was really nice, deep golden brown. The verdict was much as I had thought; these were really delicious wings.
My family was pleased, but were these like traditional Buffalo wings? Not entirely. As they sat, the skin lost a bit of that toothsome appeal, but they remained juicy, due to the high heat of the air fryer. We enjoyed every bit of them and admitted that we would like to revisit this technique, perhaps with different seasonings.
The biggest problem for my family happened to be the limited cooking space in the air fryer. Again, much like the case with the French fries, cooking for fewer people would not be a problem. Perhaps keeping the wings hot in a preheated oven while continuing to air fry subsequent batches would make this work better for a family of four, but I do wonder if you might sacrifice some of the crisp skin I so desired.
The best part for me came as I was cleaning up, removing the inner fryer basket from the outer basket. I noticed that a fair amount of fat sat at the bottom of that pan, and I was encouraged by my findings. One tablespoon of fat had actually been removed from the wings, which was a rather considerable amount, I felt. In lieu of actual deep frying, which inevitably causes a certain degree of fat absorption, this method actually rendered out some of the fat that naturally occurred in the wings. I was pleased to be preparing something I felt good about, and my family didn't miss the added fat in the end at all.
How Easy Is It to Clean?
Cleaning up after any type of deep frying in my history as a professional cook, as well as in my home life, is something I have come to dread. The spattering oil seems to get everywhere, and even when you feel you have gotten every last bit of it, you've missed something. This was absolutely not the case with the Cosori Air Fryer.
As I mentioned, the fryer basket did collect a substantial amount of fat. The inner and outer baskets easily separate with the press of a button, but it seemed in my best interest to fill the baskets with a bit of dish detergent and some hot water. After ten minutes, the baskets were very easily cleaned with a non-abrasive sponge. The non-stick surface of these baskets is the key to easy cleanup so maintaining them well is essential.
An added bonus here is that the baskets are, in fact, dishwasher safe, and I would not hesitate to wash them that way if I weren't so particular about the coveted space in my dishwasher. These baskets are rather large, which is good when it comes to surface area for cooking, but not so great when it comes to dishwasher space. It is nice to know that the option is there for the future maintenance of my air fryer, if I do feel so inclined.
The only other thing that required cleaning was the outside of the machine, and I had success with a general kitchen spray and the wipe of a damp cloth. The one-touch LED control screen was an absolute breeze to clean. Within seconds, everything was restored to its original outward appearance - the touch screen shiny and the matte finish as good as new. Overall, the Cosori was quite easy to clean which was all the encouragement I needed to give this machine another try.
How Would I Improve the Cosori Air Fryer?
Overall, being that I am a bit of a newbie to the air fryer cooking technique, I was rather pleased with the Cosori. It was easy to use and easy to clean. I will say that I struggled a bit with the removal of the fryer basket, and I am wondering if this could somehow be improved.
The button itself is plastic, and I felt that I had to apply a lot of pressure to release it. It was just a bit awkward, and I question its durability. In watching other reviewers in a few videos, I suspected that they struggled with it as well. It wouldn't necessarily be a deal-breaker, but I wonder if this is something that could be improved in future models.
What’s the Warranty?
As with any appliance, it is worth mentioning the warranty of the Cosori Air Fryer. Cosori warrants all products to be of the highest quality in material, craftsmanship, and service for a minimum of 1 year, effective from the date of purchase. There is an option to extend the warranty by one year, as well.
This warranty does not apply to the following.
- Damage due to abuse, accident, alteration, misuse, tampering, or vandalism
- Improper or inadequate maintenance
- Damage in return transit
- Unsupervised use by children under 18 years of age
Beyond the warranty, Cosori has a great website with support, resources, and recipes. They also have a relatively active social media presence, which I thought was smart. After all, looking at photos of delicious air fried food on Instagram is a pretty good incentive to give it a try yourself.
In summary, my thoughts on the Cosori Air Fryer are mostly favorable. I have to admit that, before giving it a try, I did not necessarily think I would ever be a fan of this kind of kitchen appliance. After all, I have spent enough time in kitchens to know that this really is not a tool for actual deep frying. It is really more of a small convection oven which works by circulating very hot air with a fan.
My oven at home has a convection option, and I really do like it some of the time. The truth is, though, that can be messy and perhaps not even worth it for smaller jobs. I did find that this air fryer worked well for what I asked it to do. I would not necessarily count on it to cook wings for more than 2 or 3 people, but for small families, this would be helpful and perhaps even something one would use frequently.
I think the design of this air fryer makes cooking convenient. The square basket with rounded corners provides a good amount of cooking surface. I have not tried it, but I can imagine that cooking burgers would be a success as the shape would accommodate a round-shaped patty. Wings were easily lined up in rows, making it easy to fit quite a few into it, making the best use of its size by providing a sufficient cooking area.
Cooking bacon or pork chops would be an obvious win in this machine, as the air would circulate above and below the strips, rendering fat evenly and eliminating the need for turning it in a pan. There are many accounts of people cooking steaks and burgers in this type of machine. The high fan would be conducive to browning, though I would caution, in these cases, to keep a careful eye on things if using the presets. Depending on the size and thickness, overcooking could easily be a risk.
I think my next step will be vegetables. Brussels sprouts, green beans, or diced sweet potatoes would all do equally well in this machine, achieving browning with a small amount of added oil. Baking bread is among the preset options, though I have to say that, in my experience, I would keep my expectations low. Perhaps something small like a few biscuits would be fine, but I would not expect to produce a quality loaf of bread.
How Does It Compare?
Just like many appliances, there are many options, so I think it is important to understand how the features of the Cosori stack up to some similar models that are out there. Let's have a look at a few so you can better understand what makes an air fryer a perfect fit for your specific needs.
Cosori Air Fryer vs Ninja Max XL 5.5Qt Air-fryer
Cosori Air Fryer XL
Ninja Max XL Air Fryer
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I chose the Ninja Max XL because it is close to the Cosori in both price tag and cooking capacity. As far as price, these two machines are quite comparable. The most obvious difference at first glance is in the outward appearance. The Ninja has a more rounded profile than the Cosori, as well as a circular frying basket. I actually prefer the square fryer basket of the Cosori, but the Ninja certainly has other things going for it.
As far as temperatures go, the Ninja has the ability to heat to 450 degrees which is 50 degrees hotter than the Cosori. Now, this may not seem like much, but at high temperatures with a high fan (the Max crisp function on the Ninja), we are talking about the difference between golden brown and deep brown when it comes to color, and color almost always suggests crisp texture. This may be a pretty big deal when you get down to it.
The biggest difference is in the interface of these two machines. The Cosori is equipped with 13 different presets that are designed to take some of the guesswork out of your air frying. For example, if you are cooking chicken, you simply press the button, and the machine will automatically adjust the temperature and cooking time that should meet your needs. I would have to say that the Cosori is probably geared more toward the less experienced cook who may not know where to begin with temperature.
The Ninja, however, has several functions which include Max crisp, air fry, air roast, air broil, bake, reheat, and dehydrate. I would say that the main difference in these functions is in the fan which circulates the hot air. Time and temperature are completely controlled by you, which leads me to conclude that the Ninja may appeal to a bit of a more experienced home cook.
Both machines are certainly manageable, as most recipes offer a temperature suggestion. In terms of the presets on the Cosori, you are always able to dictate the time and temperature of your own choosing with the touch of a few buttons.
UPDATE: We recently completed a review of the Ninja Air Fryer AF101 which is much closer to the Cosori in terms of size and has a lower price. We found this Ninja model stacked up very well against the Cosori and is definitely an alternative worth considering.
Cosori Air Fryer vs Gowise 5.8qt Air Fryer
Cosori Air Fryer XL
Gowise 5.8Qt Air Fryer
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Let's have a look at the Gowise and see how it stacks up to the Cosori. At first glance, we can note that the Gowise has an egg-shaped profile in contrast to the Cosori. In turn, the basket of the Gowise is round and deep, which I feel is not as convenient to lay out as much food as you can in a square basket. After all, what the air fryer really depends on is a single layer of food across the cooking surface in order to achieve even cooking and good color. I think the Cosori wins in this category with its large, wide, square fryer basket.
The interface of the Gowise is a little complicated, with three ways to control the settings on this digital panel. You can control time and temperature separately, or you can choose one of 8 presets based on what you are cooking. Navigating the presets may take some getting used to, and I have to say that I don't think it is fair to assume that all chicken dishes cook at exactly the same temperature (consider for example the difference between roast chicken and chicken drumsticks). Perhaps they are more like suggestions, so I would not expect to rely on this technology with my cooking. In short, I don't feel the presets are truly the best way to use this machine, but the option is there if you so desire.
It certainly is worth comparing prices with these two air fryers. The Gowise retails for considerably less than the Cosori. It really comes down to what you can afford or what you are willing to pay. Based on my experience, coupled with the reviews of both products, the Cosori seems like a better option if you take price out of the equation.
Cosori Air Fryer vs Instant Vortex Plus
Cosori Air Fryer XL
Instant Vortex 9 in 1 Air Fryer
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Also in the same general size and shape is the Instant Vortex Plus. This machine lists for less than the Cosori and boasts a 6-quart cooking capacity, which is just a little larger than the model I tried. It is also square in shape with the desired square fry basket, but this one was a little different. Rather than an inner and outer basket, the Instant model has just one basket with a smaller removable grid that removes easily for cleaning. This feature allows for more cooking space, which is always a plus when it comes to air frying because more surface area means you can cook more at a time without compromising on even browning.
The interface on the Instant Vortex Plus is a little confusing. It features 4 built-in smart programs - air fry, roast, bake, and reheat. That all seems fine, but some reviews indicated that there seemed to be little or no noticeable difference among these functions. The option to set the temperature and time to suit your needs is there.
One last thing about the Instant Vortex that seemed to pop up in a number of reviews: There seems to be a recurring problem with a plastic smell that lingered even sometime after the machine had been used. Some people thought this was problematic enough to send it back.
Overall, all of these air fryers seem generally well-liked by their reviewers, but it is hard to compete with a model that has such a high number of strong reviews. The Cosori 5.8-Quart Air Fryer is a solid choice for bringing nearly-fried foods to your table for small gatherings or cooking for one. It offers a great deal of convenience with a fraction of the fat of traditional frying.