The Dash Compact is a good all-around air fryer that offers great cooking performance at quite a low price. It is a great option if you want to try out air frying but don't want to invest too much into the venture. However, if this is the case, we still think you might be better off spending just a bit more on the GoWISE USA 3.7 Quart Programmable. It usually doesn't cost much more, but air fries equally as well and is noticeably easier to clean. Plus, the Dash Compact stays true to its name with a 1.6-quart fry basket that can often feel restrictively small, whereas the GoWISE offers a relatively palatial 3.7-quart basket.
Dash Compact Review
Pros: Good cooking performance, inexpensive
Cons: Very small capacity
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dash Compact did quite well in all of our tests except for temperature accuracy, putting it in the top half of our overall leaderboard.
Earning one of the top scores in our air frying tests, the Dash Compact is generally able to handle most recipes with panache.
The Dash Compact excels at preparing onion rings and chicken breast. Its rings came out perfectly golden and delicious, and its chicken breast treated us to a delightfully tender and moist texture.
It also fared slightly better than most when prepping sweet potato fries, with the crispiness becoming a bit more pervasive. However, as with all the models we tested, the sweet potatoes never got crispy enough to really be called fries.
The Dash's somewhat surprising weak points in our cooking tests were tater tots and doughnuts. With tater tots it struggled with consistency, making some tots quite crispy while leaving others somewhat soggy. Its doughnuts came out without much of a crisp to them. We believe this may be because its fry basket is so small that the doughnuts had to touch the sides of the basket.
The Dash Compact has more user-friendliness drawbacks than many other models, which earned it a somewhat average score in this metric.
While nothing about the Dash Compact feels very difficult to use, we do have at least minor complaints about pretty much every facet of its user experience. First off, the temperature dial is oddly spaced and it's somewhat hard to tell where exactly each number is, so it takes some thought to set it at the exact temperature you want. The same can be said for the cooking timer. Overall, we think opting for dials over digital controls makes things a bit more difficult. Also, oddly, the fan turns off 2 minutes before cooking is done, which can throw things off a bit if you're supposed to shake foods midway through cooking.
Our biggest complaint about the Dash Compact is its basket. The fit is a bit off, so you have to jiggle it to get it in and out of the machine, but the worst part is its size. The 1.6-quart capacity can feel quite limiting (most models are at least 2, with many being north of 3) and may force you to split some recipes into multiple batches.
Ease of Cleaning
While the Dash Compact isn't particularly arduous to clean, things could be easier. The frying basket itself sheds grime quite well, but there are a number of grooves and other places for messes to hide. The one thing that's nice about the basket being so small is that it won't take over the top rack of your dishwasher like other models do.
Temperature accuracy represented the worst performance turned in by the Dash Compact. It is able to keep things fairly accurate at low temperatures, but it quickly starts running hot once the set temperature gets over 325˚, with it registering a whopping 425˚ on our thermometers when it was set to just 400˚. The slightly cryptic labeling of the temperature dial doesn't help this situation either.
Even at its low street price, we think the Dash is only a worthwhile purchase if you're ok with a very small capacity. For most people we think the GoWISE USA 3.7 Quart Programmable would be a much better budget option.
The Dash Compact is a relatively good air fryer, but the very small fry basket limits its usefulness to those cooking for one, and that don't want any leftovers.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell