Over the past few years, I've seen air fryers become a larger, more integral part of the home-cooking landscape, primarily because they offer a low mess alternative to traditional tabletop fryers.
These "fryers" offer a convenient, low-stress option for preparing a ton of different dishes, and it seems there are new recipes and techniques for them being developed every day. While an air fryer might not be for everyone, it can add a lot of versatility to your kitchen, creating new opportunities for experimentation and enjoyment.
The only downside is that there are now so many air fryers to choose from, that picking one can be a nightmare.
In this review I took a look at the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven and evaluated it's overall performance while comparing it to other air fryers with similar feature sets.
I cooked two recipes that I thought would best gauge the performance of the machine as a "fryer": dry rubbed chicken wings, and hand cut french fries.
I also took some time to experiment with other foods/recipes to better understand the various features of this model overall. I hope to explain the pros and cons of this fryer, as opposed to other comparable machines, and give you enough information to confidently gauge whether this is the air fryer for you!
Table of Contents
- A Quick Note on Air Fryers
- What’s in the Box?
- How Does the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven Look/Feel/Sit?
- How Easy Is It to Set Up?
- Cooking Chicken Wings
- Cooking French Fries
- How Easy Is It to Clean?
- How Would I Improve the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven?
- Verdict: Should You Buy it?
- How Does It Compare?
A Quick Note on Air Fryers
Before we dive into this breakdown, I think it's important to briefly discuss what an air fryer is and what it is not. At its core, an air fryer is nothing more than a small, well contained, convection oven, equipped with a high powered fan, and the heating element placed at the top. This combination of features allows food to get crispy very quickly, with limited excess oil or fat. That being said, an air fryer is not a fryer.
A fryer is a device that allows you to fully submerge ingredients directly in hot oil. Because the food is submerged, things like tempura or battered fried chicken will work well, because the batter, when surrounded in oil, gets very crispy and cooks evenly. Also, it doesn't stick to the basket.
Because an air fryer is essentially a small convection oven, it is not going to work well with wet, battered foods. Things like tempura or beer-battered items will stick to the basket and drip batter onto the pan below, as the air fryer blows hot air over the food. However, air frying foods that are dredged in seasoned flour or breaded, using a flour/egg wash/breadcrumb method, or naked and without a coating, works extremely well. Recipes like chicken wings, breaded country fried chicken/steak, or french fries or veggies, are going to turn out really well. Something like beer-battered fish, on the other hand, is going to make a really frustrating mess.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's dive in!
What’s in the Box?
Unpacking the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven was incredibly straight-forward. The entire unit and accessories were self-contained. Other than two manuals and some styrofoam, there was almost zero waste, which from an environmentally-conscious standpoint was a nice touch.
The air fryer unit contained:
- An oven rack
- Baking/drip tray
- Pull out crumb tray
- Air fryer basket
All the parts were of high-quality stainless steel and definitely feel well-made and well-designed. Sadly the oven pieces are not dishwasher safe and need to be hand-washed with warm soapy water after use.
The manuals that I found in the box included a quick-start guide/air frying chart and a full user manual. I recommend taking a long look at the user's manual when you have time, but if you're itching to get air frying, the quick start guide will get you on your way in just a few minutes.
The manuals are written in Spanish and English, and the controls for the machine are in English as well. I am writing this article from the USA, and those two languages are by far the most common here, so I am not sure if the product is available in other languages abroad.
How Does the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven Look/Feel/Sit?
As with most Cuisinart appliances, this air fryer feels well-made and sturdy. It has a very attractive metal body, that feels hardy and up to the rigor of a busy kitchen. It is larger than most air fryers, but it also functions as a toaster oven, convection oven, and broiler, so it needs to be able to hold different arrangements of food than most air fryers which are designed in more of a basket or bucket fashion.
The cooking chamber is large enough to hold a hefty amount of food.
At 0.6 cubic feet, it can fit up to 3 pounds of wings or 6 pieces of toast with ease. It is easily large enough to handle a generously sized pizza or enough chicken breast strips for 3-4 people.
Though it does have a metal body and sturdy construction, the machine is lighter than it appears and is very easy to move around the kitchen if needed. The control knobs are crisp and snappy, and the timer bell is loud enough to be heard, even over the din of a hectic household. This is a convection toaster oven as well as air fryer which is great for making quick work of a bagel or Texas toast. The fan is strong but also quiet, and it's easy to hear and work when the machine is in operation.
The feature I loved the most, especially for the sake of this review, was the internal light. It allowed me to check the food as it was cooking, both to observe the process and check the doneness without opening the door.
When the air fryer is in operation, the oven light will come on automatically, but you can activate it with the push of a button, which is located on the right side of the control panel.
The control panel is large and well-designed. It has four controls - an oven timer, temperature control, function settings, and a toast shade selector. All the buttons are self-explanatory and easy to understand. One thing to note is the oven will not operate unless you set the timer. However, it does have a 60-minute timer, so you can easily set it to any time you like and remove or replace items as needed.
Finally, the machine needs to be placed a minimum of 2 inches away from the wall or other cooking equipment, because of the amount of hot air being expelled from the vent on the rear of the machine. It comes equipped with two small brackets on the rear corners to ensure it stays the required distance away from other objects it may be placed against.
How Easy Is It to Set Up?
This air fryer was a breeze to set up. It was easy to remove from the packaging and slid right onto my counter into its new, permanent spot. Because this fryer is also a toaster oven and broiler, it will most likely stay a fixture in our kitchen, so there wasn't any reason for me to worry about storing it somewhere when not in use.
The three parts to the fryer other than the machine - the baking rack, drip tray, and frying basket - were all stored inside the machine, and after a quick rinse with warm water, I was ready to get frying. The directions were easy to understand and included both a full instruction manual and a quick start guide with a temperature/cook time chart. I flipped through the manual and focused mostly on the quick-start guide, as I had used air fryers in the past and this machine was pretty self-explanatory.
Cooking Chicken Wings
For my first test, I wanted to prepare dry-rubbed chicken wings. Wings are absolutely one of my favorite foods, and every year for the Super Bowl, I try to find a way to prepare fryer-quality wings without having to set up my deep fryer. I've gotten better over the years at employing my oven and using the broiler setting, but they're never quite right. So when I made a list of foods I had to try in this Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven, wings were definitely in my top 3.
To start, I took 2 lbs. of whole, chicken wings, with the drummette, wing, and wingtip all attached, and tossed them into a simple dry rub. I followed the instructions and laid the wings in a single layer in the frying basket and then easily loaded them into the top level of the air fryer, thanks to the oven-style door and cooking chamber.
I turned the oven to 400°F. and made sure the function knob was set to the air fry/broil setting. I wanted to keep the quantity of product below the maximum allowed to get the ideal frying experience, but I could have easily increased the number of wings to 3 lbs. total with zero issues.
At this point, I ran into my first and only issue. Because the wings were whole, they sat up a bit in the basket, and one of the wingtips was touching the heating element for a minute or so before I realized it.
Once I recognized the spacing issue, I removed the wings and resituated them before returning them to the air fryer. Theoretically, I could have moved the basket to the bottom level of the machine, but being as close as possible to the heating element helps the food fry better, so in the future, I plan to separate the wings, so they sit evenly in the basket, to avoid the issue.
After 20 minutes I checked the temperature of the wings, and they were ready to go. I turned the timer knob to zero to stop the oven from cooking and carefully removed the tray from the cooking chamber. Again, this process was very simple because of the "oven style" design.
The wings were absolutely incredible! Compared to everything I've ever tried to prepare in my home oven, these were light years ahead in every way. They were crispy all around with a nice snap to the skin as you took a bite. Tender, juicy, and ready in 20 minutes, I could absolutely see myself loading batch after batch into this air fryer while entertaining during the Super Bowl. Moving forward, I intend to give the wings a flip halfway through the cooking process to make sure they get completely crispy all the way around. But even without flipping, these wings were delicious.
While I must admit, these are not the same as traditionally deep-fried wings, they are as close as you can get. And thanks to the ease of prep and cleanup, they are a much more attractive option than using a fryer. Setting up a fryer is a pain. It's hot, smelly, and messy. Air frying wings using the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven, on the other hand, is as easy as laying some wings on a tray and turning a knob. Wait 20 minutes, et voila, you have restaurant-quality wings in the comfort of your own home!
Three pounds of wings only barely made a meal for two people. So if you plan on entertaining for a crowd, make sure to keep the oven running, so you can replenish the buffet every 20 minutes or so.
Lastly, it's important to remember that, even though deep-fried wings will always be a special treaty, these wings taste just as good and have 90% less fat overall. All-in-all, l will be air frying way more chicken wings in the future.
Cooking French Fries
French fries are not an easy thing to achieve without the use of a deep fryer. I've always wished I could just cut up a potato, throw it into the oven and pull out a pile of perfect fries.
Having worked in restaurants for most of my adult life, I have had the privilege of making a ton of fries. From pre-blanched frozen fries to hand-cut, perfectly-blanched pommes frites, to hand made tater tots and sweet potato, I have been frying potatoes for the better part of the past 25 years. So when I was settling on foods I thought would really test the capabilities of an air fryer, fries were number 1.
To begin, I hand cut 3-4 Idaho potatoes into ¼-1/2 inch batons. I dressed them lightly in canola oil and spread them in an even layer over the frying basket. Again, I easily loaded the frying basket and drip tray into the top level of the cooking chamber, set the cooking method to air fry/broil, and the temperature to 350°F. I set the timer for 20 minutes, and then I waited.
These fries were passable. While they skirted the line between fry and roasted potato, they did a far better job of approximating a traditional French fry than anything I had seen outside of pre-cooked frozen products or traditionally made French fries.
The potatoes were crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, but because they weren't submerged in oil, the potatoes blistered more and acquired more of a toasted/roasted note than I normally associate with French fries.
Additionally, because they contain 90% less fat than a deep-fried fry, they have a different mouth-feel and overall sensory experience. Again, I definitely will find myself using this machine far more often than a deep fryer, and for making fries at home from scratch, you could do a lot worse than using an air fryer.
After all my testing, I did find one pretty amazing trick for making better fries with an air fryer. The trick is to re-cook the fries to create something that has more of a classic French fry texture.
While testing this recipe, I made a pretty large batch and ended up refrigerating a healthy amount of the cooked fries after we had finished our meal. When you make fries in a restaurant, one of the most important steps is pre-cooking or blanching. If you use frozen fries, they are most likely pre-cooked as well. By pre-cooking the potatoes, you reduce the overall moisture. So when you re-cook the fries, they get crispy on the outside and remain fluffy inside.
I decided to throw some of the cold fries back into the air fryer to see what would happen. I tossed the fries into a bit of canola oil and set the timer to 10 minutes at 350°F. The result was a crispier, much more acceptable version of French fries, with a much better crunch than my first batch had.
How Easy Is It to Clean?
After a few uses, I have found the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven to be super easy to clean, but I am worried about cleaning the inside of the machine in the long term.
The basket, drip tray/baking pan, and oven rack are easy to remove, and with a quick soak in soapy water, they cleaned up in under 5 minutes. These pieces are not dishwasher safe and should be washed by hand in all circumstances.
Because this air fryer is also a toaster oven/convection oven and broiler, the cooking chamber is not removable like a stand-alone air fryer. Like any other toaster ovens or countertop convection ovens, over time the interior of the cooking chamber will build up grease and char. The manual recommends cleaning the inside with a non-abrasive, soap-based cleaner and a wet rag, as opposed to a scouring pad or steel wool. To make sure you get the longest lifespan out of this machine, I would recommend wiping down the cooking chamber after you have finished preparing your meal, to stay ahead of any potential grease build-up.
How Would I Improve the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven?
Though I did enjoy using this air fryer, there are a few small changes I would address if only Cuisinart would include me on the design team.
- I found the clearance between the products in the frying basket and the heating element to be too slim, especially when setting the drip pan in the top oven rack position as recommended in the user manual. If the point is to keep food as close to the element as possible, the lack of space can be frustrating, especially for larger wings or bigger vegetables. I could put the rack in the 2nd or bottom position (and I did when cooking later batches of wings), but the manual does recommend placing the basket on the top rack to ensure the crispiest product possible.
- I would love to see a version of this machine with a digital control panel. It is important to note that, long term, analog controls are going to last longer and fail less. I just really like digital controls, and, given how many options you have when operating it, it would be nice to have an easy-to-navigate, digital menu/display.
- The inside of the cooking chamber could be easier to clean, and that is mostly because this is a combination piece of equipment that allows you to bake, toast, broil, and air fry. It would make clean up a lot easier if the heating elements were removable, so you could get a full interior cleaning done easily.
Cuisinart offers a very generous 3-year limited warranty on this product, provided you register it with Cuisinart and maintain a copy of the original purchase receipt. The warranty covers the repair and maintenance of the oven, under normal use and conditions. It is important to note that if your oven fails due to abuse or unapproved accessories usage, the warranty is void. To register head to https://www.cuisinart.com.
Should you encounter a failure or repair need during your usage, head to the customer care center here.
Verdict: Should You Buy it?
Overall, I truly enjoyed using the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven and would recommend it to the majority of people looking to add an air fryer to their kitchen gadget line up.
Though this product might not be for everyone, the plethora of features included in addition to the air fry feature makes it a highly attractive option for a larger amount of people shopping for an air fryer.
As much as I loved the air fryer option, the convection broil setting, as well as the convection bake and convection toaster oven options, really set this machine apart from the competition.
I am a big fan of kitchen products that can handle multiple tasks, and I usually find a one-task gadget to be a waste of space. So any piece of equipment that can make baked potatoes, buffalo cauliflower, cook pizza, bake cakes, and toast, as well as handle any other recipe you might use a convection oven or broiler for, is a winner in my book. This kitchen workhorse is absolutely a winner.
While this machine is on the more expensive side, you are paying for a high-quality machine that can handle a ton of tasks. There are definitely more value-priced air fryers out there, but this product will replace at least 1-2 other pieces of equipment, that you might already have or need, with ease. Additionally, when buying this Air Fryer Toaster Oven, you are purchasing the quality associated with the Cuisinart brand, a fixture in the kitchen product marketplace.
The majority of reviewers for this product agree with me. Some reviewers did note that this oven cooks faster than many toaster ovens, and that is mainly because of the convection fan feature. Make sure to pay attention to any items you are toasting, and you'll have a more successful experience.
How Does It Compare?
Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven vs Breville Smart Oven
Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven
Breville Smart Oven Air
|Capacity||0.6 cubic feet||1 cubic foot|
|Slow Cook, Proof, Dehydrate||No||Yes|
|Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon|
The Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven and the Breville Smart Oven are very similar products, in form and function. Both are square, countertop-style convection/toaster ovens, and both perform multiple functions, including convection baking, convection toasting, and air frying. The Breville oven does have the Cuisinart Air Fryer beat on size and the total amount of features available.
At 1 cubic foot, the Breville Smart oven is significantly larger than the Cuisinart Air Fryer, and with settings like slow cook, dehydrate, and proof, a serious home cook might be happier with the Breville overall. Additionally, a digital display and control panel offers a streamlined appearance over the Cuisinart.
But for all these features you are going to pay a premium. At almost double the price of the Cuisinart Air Fryer, the Breville is definitely out of the price range for many would-be purchasers, and considering the value and comparable feature set of the Cuisinart option, it's easy to see why this would be the better choice for a greater number of people. However, given the larger capacity, and wealth of feature functions, the Breville Smart Oven is a very attractive piece of kitchen equipment.
Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven vs Instant Vortex Plus
Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven
Instant Vortex Plus
|Capacity||0.6 cubic feet||10qt (it's bigger)|
|Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon|
Again, the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven and the Instant Vortex Plus are similar in size and shape, however, they have very different aesthetic qualities. The Cuisinart Air Fryer is very clearly a Cuisinart product. With clean lines, solid metal finish, oversized knobs, and classic Cuisinart embossed logo, this machine is very "on brand" for the Cuisinart aesthetic. The Instant Vortex is flashier, with rounded edges, a multi-colored digital display, and a multi-tone finish. It feels much like other Instant appliances such as the Instant Pot. This is not to say one is preferable over the other. It just depends on your needs.
Feature-wise, these two machines operate almost identically. The Instant Vortex does have 2 additional functions, in comparison to the Cuisinart product, that some consumers would find very appealing. The Instant Vortex's dehydrate function is a very attractive feature that many cooks would love to have in a multi-purpose appliance. Though I'm sure you could use the Cuisinart Air Fryer as a dehydrator when set to a lower temperature, the 60-minute timer won't allow for long term operation, unless you want to reset the timer every hour. The Instant Vortex also has a rotisserie function and comes equipped with a rotisserie basket and spit. From my research, it seems that many reviewers lament the difficulty in setting up the rotisserie, but many agreed it was a nice option once they figured out the setup.
At half the price of the Cuisinart Air Fryer, the Instant Vortex Plus is definitely the value option in this comparison. With the addition of two unique features, it would make sense that many potential shoppers would choose the Instant Vortex. However, if you value clean lines and ease of use, the Cuisinart Air Fryer is a great option.
Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven vs NuWave Bravo XL
Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven
Nuwave Bravo XL Air Fryer
|Capacity||0.6 cubic feet||1 cubic feet|
|Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon|
The last machine I wanted to compare the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven to is the NuWave Bravo XL. The NuWave Bravo XL offers the same form and function as the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven but with the added benefit of some of the best features that I saw in the Breville Smart Oven.
With a similar size and capacity as the Cuisinart model, the NuWave Bravo XL comes equipped with a digital display, the ability to fine-tune your time and temperature settings, and a hefty set of accessories. With features like dehydrating available and the ability to set the timer for longer increments than 60 minutes, this is definitely a more versatile option.
While the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster oven comes equipped with an oven rack, air fryer basket, and baking tray, the NuWave Bravo XL comes with all these things and more. With add-ons like a pizza peel, pizza cutter, and internal probe, this machine is a very attractive option indeed. The internal probe is unique to this machine (compared to the other three I looked at), in that it allows the digital sensor to record the internal temperature of whatever product you are cooking to avoid overcooking where possible. This is a great feature when cooking temperature-specific items like pork chops or whole chicken. With 3 fan speed settings, you can really fine-tune your cooking process.
While the NuWave XL is slightly less expensive than the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven, the difference is not great enough to really call either one the value option. However, if a fully customizable cooking process is a must-have for you the choice is clear.