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Air Fryer vs Oven: Which one is Best?

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Should I invest in a microwave oven or an air fryer – this is one of the common dilemmas faced by people, especially fitness freaks and health enthusiasts.

The concept of both appliances is similar – they cook food without or with less amount of oil.

However, their working mechanism, functioning and features are completely different. Choosing among them usually depends on your cooking needs.

In this article, we talked about each appliance, what they do, and their main differences. This information helps you determine which one is suitable for you.

What Is A Convection Oven?

A countertop convection oven is a rectangular-shaped electric device with a front door that opens on a hinge at the bottom. It works like a conventional one but uses a strong fan to disperse the heat throughout the oven.

The presence of a fan facilitates uniform cooking of food than a traditional one that only heats either from the top or the bottom. The fan’s speed quickly absorbs the steam from the food and allows a crispy texture to form on the surface while retaining the interior moisture. Most convection ovens come with a perforated baking sheet that increases airflow and prepares crispier foods without using oil.

What Is An Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a smaller version of a convection oven that is tall in size, resembling a coffee machine. It has a removable bucket with a handle that contains a removable basket for holding the food. It uses a high-powered fan situated right above the heating element to transfer the heat across the basket.

Since the fan stays closer to the food, it allows even distribution of heat to the food and cooks faster than a convection oven. In addition to that, it requires less oil – be it for preparing French fries or crispy chips. Owing to their ability to decrease calories by utilizing less oil quantity, air fryers soared in popularity. They even became the healthiest option.

Because of its compact size, the air fryer can accommodate only a small portion of food than what an oven does.

Let us move further to explore the differences between an air fryer and oven below.

Difference Between Air Fryer and Oven

Here are the characteristic differences that will help you determine which is the best way to cook:

1. Cooking Capacity

Since convection ovens are comparatively larger than air fryers, you can cook more food. When preparing for a large family or a party, the oven eliminates the need for multiple batches.

In a standard air fryer, you may have to cook in batches as it only serves one or two at a time.

Winner: Convection Oven

2. Size

Coming to space occupancy, since traditional convection ovens are larger in size, they tend to occupy more space on your kitchen countertop. However, once installed, you will not have to move them from their place for years.

If we talk about air fryers, they are smaller in size and lightweight, too. Hence, they are easily portable. You can comfortably place them on your countertop or shelf when using the fryer and later store them in your kitchen cupboards when not in use.

Winner: Both convection oven and air fryer seem to have an edge here.

3. Heating Method

When it comes to the working mechanism, it is almost similar in both convection oven and air fryer – circulation of heat across the device to cook the food. The oven has heating elements present on the top and bottom of the device for heating the food. However, when you place the food in the middle rack of the appliance, the food will not be close to the heat source.

In an ait fryer, the food cooks up faster because of the small size of the appliance. Moreover, the heating element is close to the food position, i.e., at the top of the device.

Winner: Air Fryer

4. Heat Distribution

Both convection oven and air fryer facilitate even distribution of heat. In an oven, the heat disperses from the top and bottom of the appliance, allowing it to cover the entire cooking chamber. This further results in the uniform cooking of the food.

In an air fryer, since the placement of the heating element is right above, the heat comes from the top. Also, the heat source is close to the food, guaranteeing even cooking.

Winner: Both convection oven and air fryer earn equal points here.

5. Fan Placement

Let us move on to fan placement. In a convection oven, you can notice the fan located at the back wall of the appliance built into the rear of the oven.

In an air fryer, the position of the fan is right above the heating element. This allows for quicker cooking of the food.

Winner: Air Fryer

6. Fan Size and Speed

Air fryer fans are larger in size and operate faster than the back-of-the-oven fan in a convention appliance. It is almost 30% faster.

Winner: Air Fryer

7. Accessories

The convection oven does not come with any accessories other than a perforated baking sheet.

Whereas, an air fryer has a host of accessories for cooking a variety of meals. When cooking, you can do a little flipping or tossing, as well. These include the basket, trays, skewers, racks, etc.

Winner: Air Fryer

8. Texture of Food

Convection prepares less crispy food when compared to an air fryer.

On the other hand, an air fryer uses less oil to produce crispier and crunchier food like French fries, crispy chicken, etc. This is because the powerful fan allows even distribution of heat to the food.

Winner: Air Fryer

9. Transparency

Convection has a transparent window that allows you to see the status of the food inside. This helps you judge the different stages of the food cooking inside the appliance.

When it comes to an air fryer, it does not provide any transparency as such.

Winner: Convection Oven

10. Energy Consumption

The energy consumption of either device is entirely dependent on the capacity and the settings of the device. While a convection oven consumes around 2400 watts of power on medium settings, an air fryer uses about 1400 to 1700 watts of electricity on average.

When seen, an oven utilizes more power than an air fryer.

Winner: Air Fryer

11. Cleaning

A convection oven is very easier to clean, as you only need to clean the pan.

Whereas in an air fryer, you will have to clean the perforated basket and the bucket.

Depending on the recipes you are cooking, there are chances for oil to drip into the bucket. This can be a little difficult task.

Winner: Convection Oven

12. Noise

The fan in the convection oven tends to be less noisy than the one in the air fryer.

Air fryer fans generate more noise, which sounds almost like a vacuum cleaner.

Winner: Convection Oven

13. Cost

Coming to the price, a traditional convection oven costs less than a standard air fryer.

Although the air fryers have less capacity when compared to the oven, you can prepare lots of recipes in this appliance.

Winner: Convection Oven

Which is better? An air fryer or a convection oven?

Undoubtedly, air fryers have shorter preheat and take shorter cook time than a conventional oven. In addition to that, they even have perforated racks or basket that requires less oil and also, allows fat or excess oil to drip onto the basket or drip. This minimizes the oil consumption of the food while making it crispier and cruncher.

Despite all the above, an air fryer does have a few drawbacks. The first one is that it limits the food preparation, as it has less capacity to hold the food. You may have to cook in multiple batches to serve. Although you can stack French fries in the perforated basket, you may have to toss it at least once.

The other downside is the noise. An air fryer can be very loud when operating.

What food should you cook and what to avoid in an Air Fryer?

There are certain limitations when cooking recipes in the air fryer. You can prepare anything and everything you want in it. Let us take a look at what to cook and what to avoid in an air fryer:

Avoid these in an air fryer –

  • Broccoli: Never put broccoli inside, as it can become completely dry and even tasteless.
  • Large Chicken Roast or Whole Chicken: It is advisable not to put the whole chicken or a large one inside the basket. This may not facilitate even the cooking of the item. While the parts closer to the heat source may burn, the other parts far from the heat may not cook properly.
  • Food with Wet Toppings: It is better to avoid food with wet toppings or batter, as they may stick to the basket surface because of the intense heat.
  • Cheese: Using cheese sticks inside an air fryer is a strict No-No. The cheese may melt inside the pan, leaving a mess.

You can cook these in an air fryer –

  • Chicken Breast
  • Steaks
  • Cookies
  • Frozen Food Items

What food should you cook and what to avoid in an oven?

Similar rules apply for an oven, too. It is not for everything. Let us see what can go in the oven and what should not:

Avoid these in Oven –

  • Certain Frozen Food Items: Most convection oven manufacturers do not recommend cooking frozen food items. There are certain things you should definitely avoid like, chicken parts or casseroles. You need to defrost them first at room temperature before you cook them.
  • Whole Eggs: Convection ovens are not for eggs. Even if they do, the process might take about 45 minutes with unsatisfactory results.
  • Grilled Fish: You should avoid cooking grilled fish in the oven, as it can leave a mess inside.

Items you can cook in an Oven –

  • Baked Pasta
  • Margherita Pizza
  • Lemon Tart
  • Mushroom
  • Baked Chicken

Conclusion:

To sum it up, although both the appliances deliver tasty and crunchy food without using too much oil, a convection oven outperforms an air fryer in cooking. What you want to choose is again up to your preferences.

If you want to cook large quantities of food at the same time and an affordable price, you should definitely go for a convection oven. Moreover, you can use an air fryer too, for some recipes.

On the other hand, an air fryer mimics the results of traditional deep-frying with less or no oil. If you love the crispy texture and delicious taste of fried chicken or fried veggies, then an air fryer is all you need.

I hope this article helped you simplify your purchasing decision. Please write to us in the comments section below if you have more points to add. You can also let us know your choice in the same. If you need more information or have any questions, do not hesitate to write to us. We would be happy to help you and answer all your queries.

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