4 Best Air Fryer for College Students – Avoid The Rest

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College can be hectic. Classes, assignments, and extracurricular activities leave little time for meal preparation. However, eating healthy and balanced meals is crucial for maintaining energy and focus. That’s where an air fryer can come in handy for college students looking to cook quick, easy, and nutritious meals.

In this article, we look closely at the best air fryers for college students, considering factors such as affordability, size, and ease of use. So whether you’re living in a dorm room or an off-campus apartment, there’s an air fryer out there that can make your college cooking experience a breeze.

Key Points

  • The COSORI Lite Smart 4 QT Air Fryer is the best air fryer for college students based on its affordability, safety features, and app.
  • The Instant Vortex Mini, Air Fryer Max XL, and Foodi Smart XL Pro are also valid alternatives.

These Are The Best Air Fryers for College Students

#1 – COSORI Lite Smart 4 qt Small Air Fryer

Best Air Fryer for College
Cosori Small Smart Air Fryer

The COSORI Small Smart Air Fryer is the perfect mix of compactness, value, and features. It's relatively small, comes with several presets, and comes in 3 different color options.

It also comes with a free smart phone app. The app has hundreds of inspirational recipes. It also is able to control the air fryer remotely.

Let's also talk safety. The COSORI Small Smart Air Fryer comes with automatic shutoff and overheat protection.

As added peace of mind, this device is backed by COSORI with a 2 year warranty.

The Bottom Line:

The 4 qt air fryer is the smallest smart air fryer in the COSORI line up. It can prepare meals for 1 to 2 people just as well as the Smart Pro II models. It's compact design, app integration, and safety features makes it the best air fryer for college students.

  • Only $99 “smart” air fryer in the Cosori line up
  • BPA and PFOA free
  • Compact size
  • Compatible with Alexa/Google Assist
  • Multi-stage cook features
  • Comes with free smart phone app
  • 100s of online video recipes via app
  • Cooks up to 450°F
  • Dishwasher safe & cleans easily
  • Comes with auto shutoff and overheat protection safety features
  • 3 Color Options: Sage Green, Grey, and White
  • Not as large as other models at same price point
  • Not as many presets as other models at same price point.
  • Some customers noted the nonstick coating didn't last very long
  • Uneven toasting of bread and toast
  • Not suitable for cooking more than 2 servings
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09/30/2023 06:11 pm GMT

Composite Scores




Easy to Clean

Easy to use

More Info About the COSORI Lite Smart 4 qt Small Air Fryer

We love the small COSORI Lite Smart 4 qt air fryer for several reasons:

  • It’s affordable
  • It comes in 3 stylish color options, each of which would look great in a college dorm or apartment
  • It has safety features (see page 17 of the user manual) for their peace of mind
  • The app comes with hundreds of video recipes that can show anyone how to cook a meal
  • It’s backed by a 2-year warranty

This air fryer could be better for some, but it is perfect for college students!

Additional Product Photos

diced chicken and potato
Diced Chicken & Sweet Potato
basket 1
Inside the Air Fryer Basket
intuitive controls
Easy to Use Touch Controls

#2 – Instant Vortex Mini

Best Air Fryer for Dorm Rooms
Instant Vortex 4-in-1, 2-QT Mini Air Fryer Oven Combo

Let me be clear: The Instant Vortex Mini Air Fryer is perfect for college students. It costs less than $60 and takes up less than one square foot of counter space. It is perfect for cooking fries, wings, or a quarter chicken for a single person. The Instant Vortex Mini comes in a small collection of colors, allowing you to choose one that best matches your dorm or apartment.

The Instant Vortex Mini comes with 4 functions: air fry, bake, roast, and reheat. That makes it less capable than other air fryers in this category. But most college students are going to use the air fry and reheat functions only, meaning you’ll likely pay for capabilities you won’t need if you go with a different air fryer.

  • Compact, perfect for dorms and small spaces
  • Very affordable
  • Easy to use
  • 3 color options: Black, Aqua, White, & Red
  • Too small if you need to cook for multiple people
  • No temperature probe included
Model #: 140-3009-01
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10/01/2023 08:27 am GMT

Composite Scores




Easy to Clean

Easy to use

More Info About the Instant Vortex Mini

Brought to you by the same folks that created the Instant Pot. The Instant Vortex Mini is a personal-sized air fryer. It is also the least expensive brand-name air fryer we’ve found.

If you want the best air fryer for college students and size and cost are your only concerns, then the Instant Vortex Mini is for you!

The Vortex Mini has just 4 cooking functions: air fry, roast, bake, and reheat.

It is small, so it can’t cook enough for you and your friends, but it is perfect for those late-night meals. It’s also great for reheating leftovers or heating pastries.

We also love that it comes in four color options: black, aqua, white, & red. So you’ll have a few options as you try to come up with your dorm room decor!

More Instant Vortex Air Fryer Photos

vortex 1
The Vortex’s basket is small relative to most air fryers
vortex 2
It takes up the smallest amount of space relative to other air fryers
vortex 3
This air fryer is perfect for cooking items for 1 person

#3 – Air Fryer Max XL

Cooks Fast & Easy to Use
Ninja AF161 Max XL Air Fryer
$149.95 ($149.95 / Count)

Max Crisp, Air Fry, Air Roast, Air Broil, Bake, Reheat & Dehydrate, with 5.5 Quart Capacity, and a High Gloss Finish

  • 30% Faster Cooking vs. Previous Model
  • Dishwasher Safe Parts
  • Very Easy to Use
  • Sleek Design Looks Great on Countertop
  • Internal Fan Can Blow Light Items Around
  • Harder to Fit Large Items in Round Basket Design
  • Area Around Heating Element Tends to Accumulate Stains
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09/30/2023 10:17 pm GMT

Composite Scores




Easy to Clean

Easy to use

More Info About the Max XL

If you want a full-on air fryer that’s still compact just not tiny, then the Max XL is for you.

At 5.5 quarts, it’s big enough to cook for two people. It is more expensive than the first two items on this list. But with this unit, you are getting a full-sized air fryer. It has over twice the capacity as the Vortex Mini.

It is easy to clean, with dishwasher-safe parts. But it only comes in one color. So if the decor and style of your dorm or apartment are important, the Max XL may not be for you.

All in all, this is a great air fryer with the quality we have come to expect from Ninja.

#4 – Ninja Foodi Smart XL Pro All-In-One Cook Station

Best Multi Function Air Fryer
Ninja Foodi Smart XL Pro 7-in-1 Indoor Grill/Griddle
$369.99 $274.00

It's a grill; it's a griddle. It also can air fry, roast, bake, broil, and dehydrate. This flexible device from Ninja can just about do it all! And the smart thermometer takes all of the uncertainty out of perfectly cooked meats.

It's easy to clean and can reach temperatures up to 500°F (260°C). It has two heating elements–top and bottom–so it cooks really fast. Throw your George Forman out with this much more capable device!

Ninja Grill Rating:
Model #: IG651
Smart Cook System: Yes
Functions: Grill, Griddle, Air Crisp, Roast, Bake, Broil and Dehydrate
Grill Grate Size: 9 in x 13 in
  • Smart thermometer = perfectly cooked meats
  • Even cooking temp from edge-to-edge
  • Cooks with lid open or closed unlike previous model
  • Very versatile. Use it to air fry wings or cook pancakes on the griddle
  • Griddle, basket, etc. are all dishwasher safe
  • At 27 ½ pounds, its a beast!
  • Must use non-metal utensils or you'll damage the cooking surface
  • Cooking with butter, olive oil, and margarine may cause smoke
  • Cooking capacity not as large as pure air fryers
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10/01/2023 02:03 am GMT

Composite Scores




Easy to Clean

Easy to use

More Info About the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Pro

You should check out this workhorse of a cook station if space limitations are of only minor concern. About the only thing this Swiss army knife of a cook station can’t make is soup!

It has 7 cook functions: Grill, Griddle, Air Crisp, Roast, Bake, Broil, and Dehydrate; so it is extremely versatile.

The best feature is going to be the smart thermometer that is included with the unit. Just insert it into your protein before you begin cooking it, and the device will turn off when the protein is done. It’s that easy!

Why You Should Avoid The Rest

There are hundreds of air fryers out there. And most of them are good. But not very many are good for college students.

Students usually don’t have a lot of counter space, so that’s why we’ve focused on those that are small. To be sure, one large air fryer made our list. But that’s because it can save space by cutting down on the pots and pans that you’ll need.

Our Methodology

We considered five factors when ranking the best air fryers for college students. We also detail how much we weighted each factor into our rankings.


As we’ve mentioned, space is at a premium for college and university students, so compactness makes up 25% of our overall score.


Students typically don’t have a lot of money. And their parents are many times footing a large tuition bill already. So we considered value strongly in our ranking methodology. For this article, we weighted 15% of the score.


We know (or hope) that a college student’s diet consists of more than just pizza and chicken wings. So Versatility accounted for 15% of the total score.

Easy to Clean

If something is time-consuming to clean, it doesn’t get used much. So we felt this needed to account for 20% of the overall score.

Easy to use

I know I didn’t know how to cook when I was in college. So we wanted the ideal college student air fryer to be as easy to use and understand as possible. It is 25% of the overall score for this category.

Summing it Up

We hope this has helped you. If not, please let us know in the article review section below.

If you feel these air fryers don’t have exactly what you are looking for, check out the Best Ninja Air Fryers as well as the Best COSORI Air Fryers. Those two brands are popular at the moment with COSORI Air Fryers being the more affordable of the two options.

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