When the air fryer craze swept kitchens across the country, I held off. Maybe it’s because I don’t really have that much counter space or because I already have an Instant Pot—a previously viral appliance trend—gathering dust on top of a cabinet. But after making the zillionth sheet pan of not-quite-perfect brussels sprouts, I figured anything promising to get my veggies closer to the restaurant sides I know and love was worth a try.

Now that I’ve tested the Beautiful by Drew Barrymore air fryer, available exclusively at Walmart, I’m a total convert. I love fried things but hate frying, and this convection method is the closest approximation I’ve found that doesn’t involve lots of oil or leave a lingering smell. Since it takes up a good amount of counter space, I was glad to have five color options and almost went with forever-popular sage before settling on cornflower blue, a sleek matte shade. Plus the design is simple and versatile (with a removable center divider, you can cook two foods two different ways, or something larger with the full basket), and the touch-screen interface is satisfyingly easy to work.

I started with brussels sprouts, but when I didn’t see any way to preheat the air-frying drawer I worried I was doing something wrong. Turns out, there’s no extensive preheat needed. Ten minutes later, I had a perfect batch of crispy veg. It’s not a deep fryer, so you’re not going to get those addictive fast food–y fries, but the sweet potato fries I made came out much better than the ones I do in the oven. I was also impressed by how a roast chicken turned out and am excited to try wings.

If a kitchen appliance isn’t easy to keep clean, my usage plummets. So I was happy to see that the center divider and baskets are easy to remove and all of the components (tray included) are dishwasher safe. There are no tiny parts to worry about losing or crevices that are difficult to wash. And though it is a big appliance, it also comes in a smaller size that would work well in tiny kitchens and for people making meals for just one or two. That said, I grew to like the dual basket and flexibility of the large drawer.

Initially I imagined I’d use the air fryer for fun weekend cooking experiments, but I’ve found its biggest impact is on weeknights, when cutting down cooking time after a long day is especially gratifying—especially when you can just walk in, don’t need to preheat the oven or wait for a tray of vegetables to roast, and end up with better results in less time. And I’m all for a tool that makes me look like a more competent cook, which is exactly what having the ability to sync the two separate sides to finish at the same moment does. Now I just need to plan my next dinner party.

Beautiful by Drew Barrymore 9QT TriZone Air Fryer, Cornflower Blue, Walmart ($139)
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