Today we’ll take a look at Air Fryer vs Convection Oven.
If you’ve been hearing a lot about Air Fryers lately, you’re not alone. Air Fryers are one of the fastest selling appliances in the US and abroad.
I’ve been cooking with Air Fryers for a couple of years now, and I have really grown to love using them. But I’ve also used convection ovens, and they have their own uses too.
In principle, both the Air Fryer and convection oven use the same technique to cook foods. So, what are the differences between these two shiny modern appliances? Let’s have a look at the Air Fryer first, and see exactly how hot air fryers work.
How Do Air Fryers Work?
Air Fryers have a high powered heating element located at the top of the unit. The air within the unit is quickly heated up and then rapidly circulated by a powerful fan.
The most important aspect of the Air Fryer is that it uses a basket that is perforated on all sides so that the hot air can be forced 360 degrees ar0und your food. This is why Air Fryers really work well at frying your food using only hot air.
The air that is used after cooking is cooled and filtered, then forced outside by a vent in the back of Air Fryer. If it wasn’t for this venting system, the immense pressure created by the fan would blow the Air Fryer sky high!
How Do Convection Ovens Work?
Convection ovens are in essence toaster ovens with a fan. A heating element is located at the bottom of the appliance which heats the air inside. A fan then disperses the air throughout the oven, resulting in more evenly cooked food.
The convection oven uses standard oven style grates to place your food on. For foods that are small enough to fall through, you’ll have to use a pan.
Main Differences in how Air Fryers and Convection Ovens Work
- The Air Fryer uses a perforated basket which allows all surfaces of the food to cook evenly, unlike the convection oven where you will have to use a pan for most things.
- The fan in the Air Fryer is much more powerful and they tend to cook with higher temperatures than convection ovens. Because of this, Air Fryers typically cook faster than convection ovens.
When frying and grilling, Air Fryers definitely cook more quickly and efficiently than convection ovens.
Ease of Use
High end models of both Air Fryers and convection ovens both offer digital controls with preset modes of cooking. Some Air Fryers only have analogue dials to choose the time and temperature. Although these controls are not fancy, they are extremely to use.
You don’t have to be a french chef to get good results from either the Air Fryer or the convection oven. There is a little bit of a learning curve when first learning how to use an Air Fryer, but overall, cooking with either one is extremely simple.
The Health Factor
Both Air Fryers and convection ovens offer a healthy means of cooking your food. However, the Air Fryers perforated basket allows excess fat to drip from your food and collect in the pan below. This is a natural way of cutting excess fat and calories from your food.
Air Fryers also cook at higher temperatures than convection ovens, and will cook food faster. This means that much of the food’s original nutritional content will not be “cooked out” of the food, which can happen throughout longer cooking processes.
The convection oven uses a pan just like a normal oven, so you’re fattier foods will cook in their own juices, retaining much of the fat content that was there to begin with.
So as far as the health factor, I have to give this one to the Air Fryer.
Air Fryers are available in several different capacities. You can find Air Fryers suitable for cooking for up to 5 people. In general, space is a little more limited in Air Fryers than convection ovens. What Air Fryers sacrifice in capacity, they make up in portability.
Convection ovens offer quite a bit more cooking area than your typical Air Fryer. You can cook up to 13″ pizzas and whole turkeys in them! There is also typically room for two racks, which is nice if you’re baking cookies or brownies.
On the downside, convection ovens are quite large. You really have to have a dedicated place on your counter for them. On the other hand, Air Fryers can be stowed in a cupboard or put in the corner when not in use.
Convection ovens definitely win the Capacity War, but at the price of taking up a lot more space and not being portable.
Air Fryers typically weigh around 14-17 pounds, making them extremely portable. Some Air Fryers even feature a built in handle, making it really easy to carry around.
I love to take my Air Fryer with me when I’m traveling or camping (not exactly roughing it). I often take my Air Fryer to my parents house to cook wings and fries for them, which are always a hit!
Convection ovens are heavy! Typically they weigh in at around 30-40 pounds. Lugging that much weight around just doesn’t sound like a good time, does it? You will probably just want to have a permanent spot for your oven on the counter.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Nobody really enjoys spending a lot of time cleaning, so it’s important to consider this aspect when comparing Air Fryers and convection ovens.
One of the main complaints regarding convection ovens is that they are annoying to clean. Any grills and or pans used will have to be cleaned. You’ll be scrubbing away at that pan for a while. Any food that drips or crumbles will fall to the bottom and you’ll have to reach in there and give it a good cleaning.
Air Fryers on the other hand were designed to be easy to clean. The basket itself is dishwasher safe, but they are also easy enough to wash by hand in the sink. The bottom pan is often non-stick, and can easily be cleaned with some dish detergent and warm water. Other than that, your Air fryer won’t need much more cleaning before it’s ready to go again.
The Air Fryer gets the nod when it comes to cleaning and maintenance.
Versatility – What can you cook with Air Fryers and Convection Ovens?
Since the Air Fryer and convection oven both cook with circulated hot air, it stands to reason that you can cook similar foods with both of them. You can bake, grill, broil, and fry in either of them. They each have their own strengths though.
Air Fryers naturally fry better than convection ovens because of the way the perforated basket allows hot air to rapidly circulate completely around your food. This also gives them an advantage when it comes to grilling. You can also broil with an Air Fryer if you cover the bottom of the basket with tin foil, which disallows the hot air to reach the bottom of your food.
Although baking is possible with the Air Fryer, you will have to purchase an accessory pan to bake with it. The good news is that accessory kits are widely available at affordable prices!
Convection ovens are naturally good at baking. You can bake your favorite foods much the same as you would in an oven. If you are going to fry a batch of french fries, you’ll have to use a pan. The pan will heat the bottom of your food faster than the rest, so you’ll have to remember to do some flipping to ensure evenly cooked food.
I can’t say that there is a clear cut winner in this category. Both appliances have their strengths and weaknesses as far as what you can cook with them.
- Air Fryers are great at frying and grilling foods.
- Convection ovens are naturally good at baking and toasting foods.
Can you really bake in an Air Fryer? Check out my youtube buddy baking fresh cinnamon rolls in her De’longhi Mulitfry Air Fryer.
Air Fryers and Convection oven are comparable as far as price goes. High end models like the Philips XL Airfryer run about $230, while high end convection ovens are in the $300 range.
There are some extremely affordable Air Fryers in the $60-100 range that are very highly rated. You can expect to pay around $150 for a top rated convection oven. Both Air Fryers and convection ovens are more energy efficient when compared to a conventional oven.
Conclusion – Who Wins the Air Fryer vs Convection Oven Battle?
Now that we’ve done a thorough comparison between the Air Fryer and convection oven, let’s recap with the highlights.
- Air Fryers typically cook more quickly and efficiently than convection ovens because they operate at higher temperatures.
- Air Fryers cook food in a more healthy way because excess fat drips into the pan below the cooking basket.
- Convection ovens can cook more food at one time, but you’ll have to have more counter space designated for it.
- Air Fryers are portable, allowing you to stash them away when not it use. They are great for traveling and camping.
- Air Fryers are much easier to clean than convection ovens.
- Highly Rated Air Fryers are available at a better price range.
Although Air fryers and convection ovens share some similarities, it’s clear that Air Fryers are a much better choice for frying and grilling food for smaller meals. If you are planning on cooking a lot of big meals or baking a lot, I can see how you could get a lot of use out of a convection oven. Just make sure you have enough counter space for it!
Thinking about buying an Air Fryer of your own? I would love to help you find one that suits all of your needs. Check out my top 5 Air Fryers or read in depth Air Fryer Reviews on many top models. Feel free to ask for a personal recommendation if you would like!
Thanks for visiting the Air Fryer guide. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment below. I’ll get back to you quickly, I guarantee it! (or I’ll rake your leaves this fall)