If you didn’t know by now, an air fryer would show you a world you’d never thought existed. This world is full of brand-new possibilities for some of the tastiest ingredients and recipes. You can transform your favorite veggies, juicy meats, and decadent desserts into something crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
That’s the beauty of air-fried creations: they are a beautiful blend of all the things we love about food. If you’re curious to know how it works and how it compares to any other cooking methods and gadgets, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what you need to know:
Air fryer compared to oven
Probably the most obvious contrast between a standalone air fryer and an oven is the size. For instance, an air fryer is basically a countertop appliance that can easily cook one dish at a time, while an oven is a full-sized appliance that can handle multiple dishes or even larger portions.
The second important difference is the function. An air fryer can easily and rapidly move the heated air to properly cook and crisp up a wider range of foods, while a conventional, non-convection oven needs the air to cook food. This particular type of oven has other useful functions, too, so it can properly broil, bake, and roast.
If you have a convection oven, you might get closer to what an air fryer could get you since they use the same technology. So honestly, the best of both worlds would be a countertop oven with an air fry setting. A countertop-friendly footprint with the same functions as a full-sized oven and an air fry function.
Some countertop ovens with an air fryer have a wider range of essential cooking settings, from proofing and dehydration to toasting and baking. They have the same possibilities as a full-size oven, with better results and a more convenient countertop size. You can easily cook your air fryer beef jerky if you feel like cooking something tasty.
Air fry compared to bake: the difference between these two cooking methods
An air fryer is known to move the heated air throughout the whole cooking cavity in order to get that crispy exterior on food. A perforated basket is then used to help expose all the sides of your dish to the air. That’s how you get that nice, all-around fried result.
On the other hand, conventional, non-convection ovens technically use heating elements on the top and bottom of the cooking cavity while the air remains static. This way, the moisture stays inside the food, but the outside gets crispier. You can easily bake in some air fryers, but you generally can’t air fry in an old-fashioned oven.
Air fryer compared to a convection oven
You could consider that the air fryer is somehow like a mini convection oven. Both of these appliances need a fan to circulate heated air throughout the cooking cavity. An air fryer or countertop oven on the air fry setting might circulate the air a bit more efficiently than a convection oven.
This could also give you a crispier finish that is a bit better than a deep-fried finish, depending on which recipe you want to try. The convection oven over an air fryer has pretty much the same advantages as a regular oven: size.
If you want to make more than one dish or batch at once, a convection oven is the best way to do so. However, if you’re only cooking one pan of crispy fried cauliflower, an air fryer could be the right size, but it also saves you time that you would otherwise waste heating the entire oven. For more flexibility, you could have both.
Use the air fryer or countertop oven for single batches and the convection for bigger jobs. Additional countertop options you can choose from might be helpful, especially when you’re making dishes with different cooking needs. Air fry a couple of appetizers in your countertop oven as you slow-roast your entree in the convection oven.
Toaster oven compared to an air fryer
An air fryer is generally limited to the convection-like air frying function, but a toaster oven or countertop oven can oftentimes come with a wider range of functions, like broiling, roasting, and even baking. Some countertop ovens, like the ones from KitchenAid, have an air fry setting, making it possible to replace your air fryer with a regular toaster oven.
Countertop toaster ovens with an air fryer might allow you to explore other interesting techniques, such as dehydrating dried fruits or other specialized options for pizza and even dough proofing.
Both of these appliances usually come in a convenient countertop size that can easily prepare one batch at a time of fried recipes such as chicken tenders, sweet potato fries, spring rolls, and many others. Air fryers could also include a more vertical basket where you layer the food later. This usually means you must shake the basket or flip the food halfway through cooking.
Air fryer compared to microwave
Some microwaves might even offer air fry settings or any other features that could help achieve the desired crispiness and fried-like results. One of the most important differences between these two appliances is that the air fryer or countertop oven not only moves the dry heat that removes all the moisture from the exterior of foods but also microwaves simultaneously, using electromagnetism, to speed up the particles within the food. However, if you’re looking for the best results on that air-fried dish, go for an appliance specifically made for the task.
Air fryer compared to slow cooker
A slow cooker is basically a bigger pot with a lid and a heating source that efficiently cooks food at a lower temperature. We’re not even talking about the same temperatures that would be required when it comes to air-frying. Slow cookers could also require some amount of liquid to roast, steam, braise, and simmer all the ingredients. This is one of the many reasons why slow cookers can’t air fry foods because it would require a dry environment with faster-circulating air.
Air fryer compared to the deep fryer
Deep frying is an efficient cooking method that requires submerging food in hot oil or any other fat. Air frying is known to achieve a similar result but solely relies on hot, moving air rather than oil.
A deep fryer appliance is made of a deep container filled with oil and heated in the basket that you later lower the food into. There’s little to no oil used in an air fryer, as food is placed within that cooking chamber using a perforated pan. If you don’t know what to get between a deep fryer and an air fryer countertop oven, you might be surprised to know that the countertop oven has a bit more versatility.
Pressure cooker compared to an air fryer
This is how a pressure cooker works: it converts liquid to steam that can’t escape, which creates the needed pressure in this particular cooking method. Given that moisture is the number one enemy of crispy fried exteriors, you can’t really air fry in a pressure cooker unless you have the right accessories or attachments.
Also, you can’t really pressure cook in an air fryer, given the fact that the seal is not really airtight enough to build the needed pressure just from steam. If you want the best of both worlds, you’ll probably have to buy two separate appliances.
If you’re interested in reading more about slow cookers, here’s what we recommend: 9 Reasons Why You Need a Slow Cooker in Your Life