Air fryers are one of the most popular kitchen appliances available this year. Fans tout the quick cooking, ease of operation, and healthier (less oil) options for normally fried foods. What is exactly is an air fryer and what advantages does an air fryer have when compared to a convection oven? Is an air fryer right for you or should you go with a convection oven?
What is a Convection Oven?
Ovens come in two basic styles: conventional and convection. A conventional oven heats the interior to a set temperature and surrounds the food with a steady temperature. A convection oven uses a fan to circulate air. The benefits of a convection oven include more even temperatures and more consistent results. Since the temperatures can be set up to 25*F lower than in a conventional oven, it saves energy, as does the ability to cook multiple items at the same time without having spots get too hot or under heat.
There are two general styles of convection ovens. The first is as part of a standard range, with stove top and oven. The other is a countertop sized appliance that resembles a large toaster oven.
What is an Air Fryer?
An air fryer is basically a little convection oven. It cooks at very high temperatures and circulates the air using a small fan. It is also supposed to use less oil than an oven or oil fryer and that improves the healthiness of the food. Let’s look at the main difference between an air fryer and a convection oven.
A convection oven, whether countertop or standard oven size, is larger than an air fryer. An air fryer is best suited when cooking for one or two people. A convection oven can handle more food.
Convection ovens come in two configurations, part of a range and as a stand-alone appliance. Both the stand air fryer must be either stored on the counter or in a cabinet. An air fryer would be an ideal traveling companion as it is smaller than a standalone.
A convection oven, like all ovens, is only as clean as the cooking process allows. A spill requires either a self-cleaning feature or use of oven cleaner and elbow grease. An air fryer is more easily cleaned as most of the components are dishwasher safe. That being said, it still takes some cleaning to keep it in tiptop shape.
Prices are fairly comparable for a convection oven and air fryer. A stand alone convection oven runs between $25 and $1500 for non-professional setups. Air fryers range from $21 to $1000.
Air fryers are noted for their ability to turn out crispy foods with the fraction of oil. They also cook very quickly. An air fryer also grills better than a convection oven. If you plan on toasting or broiling, a convection oven is more appropriate. Cooks note that convection ovens create juicier foods while air fryers are noted for crispiness. Finally, most air fryers have a timer that shuts off the heating process and keeps food from getting overcooked.
Reviewers mentioned that air fryers were slighter noisy than convection ovens but didn’t heat the kitchen up as much as a convection oven. Air fryers also don’t have to be preheated – saving energy and decreasing heat transfer.
Choosing Your Appliance
If you are cooking for one or two people, an air fryer is probably your best best. It can handle most tasks, except toasting, and is easy to use. Reviewers mentioned that air fryers are great for teens to prepare after-school snacks or solo dinners. You’ll save some energy and won’t overwork your air conditioner or window fan.
If you are cooking for larger groups, a convection oven is probably your choice. Instead of making multiple batches of food, you can prepare one meal. Check out the latest air fryers on Amazon with 4-star ratings or higher.