Air fryers have recently become a very popular way to cut back on fats and oils when frying crispy foods. If you have been in any home appliance store in the past couple of years, you have likely seen an air fryer or two on the shelves, but you might not have known what you were looking at.
Although air fryers are getting more and more common in kitchens around the world, many people still do not know the difference between cooking food in an air fryer and in a traditional convection oven. Below, we have gathered all the information you need to understand the differences between these two appliances, and to know which one is best for you.
What is an Air Fryer?
An air fryer is a type of kitchen device that can be place on the countertop and plugged into just about any outlet for power. It is not a stationary device, but can instead be moved around easily as needed. These products are usually made of sturdy plastic and feature separate, removable cooking pans, trays, or racks.
Air fryers work by heating the air inside the appliance quickly to high temperatures. Once the air is heated, an internal fan circulates this hot air around your food, cooking it from the bottom to the top and on every side at the same time. The end result is a crispy, delicious piece of food that has a great texture without having to be cooked in large amounts of oil, butter, or other fat. Some fryers can fry with no oil at all.
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What is a Convection Oven?
Convection ovens are also portable devices that can be placed on the countertop and used with just about any power source in the kitchen. Some convection ovens are much larger than this and stand alone, but these are usually used for commercial purposes rather than in the home. These products can be made of plastic or metal, but metal ovens are much more common. Although convection ovens work in a similar way to air fryers, they are also somewhat different.
These products cook heat using a heating coil or other radiant heating element that may be found either inside or outside the internal cooking area. A fan circulates hot air throughout the oven to cook your food at the same time on all sides, at a lower cooking temperature than a conventional oven might require.
When to Use an Air Fryer
There are certain situations where air fryers are the better option. Below, we have listed our recommendations for using these great appliances.
- Use air fryers for cooking food with little to no fats or oils.
- When you have a limited amount of time to cook, air fryers can prepare your meals quickly.
- Air fryers are great for cooking side dishes and servings for two to four people at a time.
When to Use a Convection Oven
In some instances, a convection oven might be the better choice for you. Check out our tips for the right times to use these appliances.
- Use a convection oven when you need to prepare larger amounts of food.
- If you have more time to spend on cooking, convection ovens can be a good alternative.
- Entrees work well in convection ovens, but more oils may be required.
There are several qualities that convection ovens and air fryers both have in common. It may help you to better understand their differences if you first know what they share.
- Both products can be placed on the counter top and come in a variety of sizes to suit just about any family.
- Both products use hot air circulated throughout the appliance to cook food quickly.
- Both products come with removable cooking trays, baskets, or grills that can make cleanup much easier than in a conventional oven.
- Both products retail for similar prices.
Now that you know what convection ovens and air fryers have in common, you can check out their differences. We have compiled a list of what separates these two types of appliances below.
- Most convection ovens are a little bit smaller than air fryers in terms of counter top footprint.
- More foods can be prepared in a convection oven than in an air fryer.
- Air fryers can produce much crispier foods than convection ovens.
- Convection ovens are not as good at reheating or keeping food warm as air fryers.
- Food can cook in about half the time in an air fryer than in a convection oven.
- Air fryers require little to no oil for cooking, where convection ovens may need larger amounts.
In the end, it can be a great idea to have both a convection oven and an air fryer in your kitchen. However, if you do not have room for both appliances, we recommend choosing an air fryer. These products are more beneficial in the long run, and can be a great way to provide a healthy meal to yourself and your family, even when you are low on time.