Air fryers have become an incredibly popular cooking appliance that claims to produce crispy, crunchy foods without all the oil and calories found in deep-fried foods.
But are they worth the hype? How do air fryers compare to deep fryers, ovens, and microwaves?
Air fryers are great, but they don’t exactly replicate deep-fried foods. They are more like convenient mini convection ovens that cook food quickly, create a crunchy texture, and is pretty hands-off.
So what are the air fryer advantages and disadvantages? The advantages of cooking with an air fryer are: they use less oil, are less messy, and require less hands-on cooking than a deep fryer. They also use less energy and cook faster than a regular oven, and you can use it as a microwave to reheat food.
The disadvantages of an air fryer are: they are smaller than a regular oven so not the best for larger households, they don’t cook all vegetables evenly, they can take up a lot of counter or storage space, and they can be expensive.
Keep reading to learn more about all the advantages and disadvantages of cooking with an air fryer, how air fryers work, and whether it is the right appliance for your kitchen needs.
How Do Air Fryers Work?
While the name might make you think you need to use a lot of oil, air fryers are actually mini convection ovens that circulate super hot air to create crispy food you’ve placed inside, with little to no oil.
The whole purpose of an air fryer is to make foods crispy, like a deep fryer, but without the use of tons of oils or fats, so that the final product is lighter and fresher than something deep-fried. It uses dry heat to do this.
Air fryers use dry heat in the form of circulating hot air to crisply cook their food, similar to a deep fryer without the hot oil.
It’s a pretty hands-off process: pop your food in the air fryer basket or on the wire rack, hit the timer button, and remove your food when it beeps. Easy, peasy!
Advantages Of Cooking With An Air Fryer
Now that we know how an air fryer works, it’s time to look at some advantages to cooking with an air fryer versus something like a deep fryer, a microwave, or even the oven.
There are tons of ways you can use an air fryer to create delicious meals and snacks in no time at all.
Since air fryers are basically powerful mini convection ovens, they can often cook your food much faster than a regular oven.
They are also great for folks who are looking for an alternative to deep frying that uses less oil, is less messy, and can take less time to cook.
Read on to learn more about the advantages of cooking with an air fryer.
1. Air Fryers Use Less Oil Than Deep Fryers
One of the reasons that air frying have gained so much popularity is because they are marketed as a healthier alternative to deep-frying that still creates a crispy, crunchy outside with a soft and tender inside.
Something to consider is that when you air fry, the outside of your food doesn’t get quite as crispy as when you deep fry. However, the difference in calories and fat content is pretty big.
Some estimates claim that air-fried foods have up to 70% fewer calories and a major difference in fat content.
Depending on the food you air fry, it can have as little as 3% fat, while some deep-fried foods can be up to 24% fat, which is a pretty big difference.
If you are trying to watch your fat intake, then air frying may be the better choice for you.
2. Air Fryers Cook Faster Than Ovens
Something I love about my air fryer is that it doesn’t really need to preheat and because it is so powerful, it cooks food way faster than my regular oven.
This speediness means that when I’m home late from work and need a meal FAST, I can throw some veggies and nuggets (or chicken or fish) in the air fryer and have a crispy delicious dinner on the table in under 20 minutes.
3. Air Fryers Use Less Electricity Than Ovens
Depending on how many people you need to cook for, an air fryer can be an energy-saving alternative to using your oven for every meal.
Since it is so much smaller and cooks so much faster than a regular oven, you can save a lot of energy when you use your air fryer instead.
4. Air Fryers Are Less Messy Than Deep Fryers
While nothing quite compares to the delicious, luscious richness of perfectly deep-fried food, sometimes the mess and clean-up that comes with using a deep fryer is just not worth the hassle.
With a deep fryer, you are constantly having to discard and replace the fryer oil, which can be a messy and unpleasant process. You can also get a lot of spattering oil as you cook, which can make for an intensive clean-up.
Deep fryers also emit a lot of oil into the air as the food steams and cooks. This oil can then get all over the kitchen, meaning clean-up isn’t just relegated to the immediate area around the deep fryer.
And don’t forget to clean the fryer basket, the fryer itself, tongs, and anything else you used during the frying process. It all adds up pretty quickly!
When it comes to an air fryer, most models on the market have dishwasher-safe components.
These pieces can be popped into the dishwasher (once cooled!), making clean-up a breeze. The parts that can’t go in the dishwasher typically need a gentle wipe down with a damp cloth.
There is no oil spatter or fryer oil to discard, which makes daily clean-up way easier with an air fryer!
5. You Can Use Your Air Fryer As A Microwave
One of my favorite uses for my air fryer is to reheat my food quickly and easily.
Rather than turning on the oven and letting something reheat for 20+ minutes or putting it in the microwave and ending up with a soggy texture, I just pop my leftovers right in my air fryer.
I’ve reheated everything from leftover taco filling to chicken thighs to veggies and even soups (just put them in an oven-safe container) in my air fryer and the results are always fantastic!
I don’t usually reheat at the highest temperature, especially if I’ve put soup in a glass container, but typically it still only takes a few minutes of hands-off cook time for my food to reheat almost as perfectly as when it was first cooked.
When reheating food in the microwave, it often ends up soggy and can get a strange texture (other than soup since it is obviously already wet) and the oven can take too long and use too much energy.
That’s where the air fryer works perfectly!
6. Air Frying Is More Hands Off Than Deep Frying
When it comes to cooking food in a deep fryer, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into it. You can’t just throw some food in the deep fryer and walk away or you will likely end up with burnt food at best and a grease fire at worst.
The hands-off cooking capacity of an air fryer is a real advantage, especially if you are typically multitasking in the kitchen.
You can easily throw your food into the air fryer in a single layer, hit the right function or time for what you’re cooking, and walk away.
With some models, you may need to shake or rotate your food halfway through, but there is a helpful little beep that reminds you to do so. It takes a few seconds and then you can go back to your other kitchen or household tasks.
Deep fryers can cook batches of food slightly faster than an air fryer, but you have to stand over it the whole time to make sure it doesn’t splash hot oil or burn your food.
Using a deep fryer is also more work than an air fryer for these reasons:
- You need to use a lot of oil
- You need to discard the oil after you’ve cooked with it
- You need to have a kitchen with good ventilation to clear the frying fumes
- It can leave greasy residue in your kitchen
That’s not to say that deep-frying is any better or worse than air frying, but these extra steps are something to consider if you’re hoping to get dinner on the table quickly and without too much hands-on cooking time for yourself.
Disadvantages Of Cooking With An Air Fryer
While it should come as no surprise at this point that we love air fryers, there are some disadvantages to this cooking method that you should keep in mind before investing in one for your own kitchen. Keep reading to discover more!
1. An Air Fryer Doesn’t Hold As Much As An Oven
If you are cooking for more than 3 or 4 people, then an air fryer may not be the best option for you since most of them are relatively small when compared to something like a convection oven.
While you would be able to fit a chicken and some trays of veggies in a regular oven, with an air fryer you would have to choose one or the other since it couldn’t fit both at once.
This smaller size means that if you’re cooking for a large crowd, everything would have to be done one at a time.
With that being said, there are some larger models (such as this one) that you could use if you plan on only cooking the side dishes or the main dish in the air fryer and using the stovetop or other methods for the rest of the meal.
I wouldn’t say the size is a complete deal-breaker, but it is definitely something to consider if you have a larger household that you regularly cook for.
2. Air Fryers Don’t Cook All Veggies Perfectly
I love my air fryer and I cook about 95% of my vegetables in it and get perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside results. However, there are a couple of types of vegetables I find don’t do as well in an air fryer: Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
Now, this could be a personal preference, but I find when I cook my Brussels sprouts in the air fryer, the outside of them gets kind of burnt and the inside is a little dried out instead of soft and creamy like when I roast them in the oven.
I’ve found similar results with broccoli. The outside gets charred while the inside dries out and also stays really crunchy.
It’s like the outside is overcooked and the middle is still basically raw. This texture might be great if you like it, but it’s not for me!!
If you tend to cook a lot of broccoli and Brussels sprouts, then an air fryer may not be the best option.
With that being said, everything from green beans to potatoes to beets all taste great in the air fryer, so it really depends what you will be primarily using it for.
3. Air Fryers Take Up A Lot Of Counter Or Storage Space
While this disadvantage doesn’t have as much to do with how the air fryer cooks, it is still an important consideration depending on how much space you have to spare in your kitchen.
Air fryers are not the smallest appliances and can take up quite a bit of room on your counter or in your cupboards.
If space is at a premium, you will want to think about whether you will be using your air fryer enough to balance out the space it uses. In my case, I use my air fryers 2-3 times a day so it basically lives on my counter.
That’s because I use it to reheat leftovers, so they get nice and crispy, I use it as my toaster, I can dehydrate with it, it has a rotisserie function, and I live alone so it’s the perfect size for my meals.
If you don’t think you will be using it more than once or twice a week and you don’t have a ton of space, it’s worth considering whether it’s worth it.
4. Air Fryers Can Be Expensive
Finally, a good quality air fryer can cost upwards of $100 depending on the functions you want it to have, how big you need it to be, and how nice you want it to look.
Again, this doesn’t impact the cooking style or quality but it is an important consideration when purchasing appliances.
Think about what you plan to use your air fryer for and whether it will end up sitting in the back of your cupboard collecting dust.
If you’re interested in trying one out before you buy, maybe see if a friend or family member has one you can borrow for a couple of days.
If you can test one out before you buy, you’ll be able to gauge whether or not you will actually use it and if it will be worth the price tag.
If you’re new to the world of air fryers and looking for some great recipes to try out, check out this super handy video from the folks over at Tasty!
Up Next: Can You Freeze Coconut Cream Pie?