Air Frying vs Oven Baking – What Is the Difference & the Best Way to Cook?

Whether it’s about devouring lip-smacking samosas, pakoras, or fried chips, the deep-fried food tastes mind-blowingly delicious. However, deep-fried food doesn’t please your heart due to its rich oil content. That’s where air fryers and ovens come into play.

The deep-frying involves immersing the food directly in the hot oil so that it is surrounded by oil everywhere and becomes uniformly crispy throughout. On the contrary, air fryers and ovens involve baking cooks using hot air in oil for heating.

As air fryers and ovens don’t use oil, they produce crispy finished food more healthily. However, as hot air is a lesser conductor of heat than oil, the baked cooks are generally less crisp.

Are you wondering which one to buy among air fryers and ovens as both of them are great kitchen appliances? Keep reading as this article explores the features and differences between air fryers, convection ovens, and toaster ovens.

Convection Baking

Before we explore the nitty-gritty of the air fryers and ovens, let’s understand the concept of convection baking. The convection ovens differ from ordinary ovens as they feature a fan in the oven’s interior. This fan blows hot air on and around the food.

Due to the force of the air, more heat gets transferred to the food’s surface, and it becomes crispier than food cooked in an ordinary oven. The air fryers are the smaller convection ovens; however, they differ from convection ovens.

Air Fryers

An air fryer is a kind of portable and smaller convection oven. However, it does not look like your regular oven. Instead, it features a removable basket within a removable bucket with a handle.

While using an air fryer for cooking food, you need to keep your food in the basket and then slide the bucket into the air fryer. Now turn on the device to begin the cooking. It has a small fan positioned above the heating element that blows hot air on the food.

Due to the fan’s proximity to the food, an air fryer transfers a high amount of heat onto a small cooking area. This gives it an advantage over the convection oven, as it cooks food more quickly than cooking in a convection oven.

The drawback of using an air fryer is that its smaller size allows only a limited amount of food to be cooked. With an air fryer, you can cook only two servings at a time. Thus, it becomes time-consuming to cook in batches when cooking for a large family or gathering.

On the other hand, a convection oven can accommodate a large amount of food and is suitable for feeding many people. Thus, when you need to cook for a larger family, an air fryer takes longer to serve meals than a convection oven.

To cook more food, if you try to stack your food in an air fryer rather than spreading out an even layer, it prevents the hot air from the fan to flow evenly around it and neutralizes the convection effect.

Moreover, using an air fryer also requires you to shake the basket periodically while cooking to ensure even cooking food items like French fries or onion rings. Thus, you may need to put in more effort physically with an air fryer.

Pros of an Air Fryer

An air fryer accelerates the cooking process by circulating the air quickly inside a small chamber. It uses a basket for uniform circulation of hot air at the bottom of the food item.

Air fryers serve as a healthier and heart-friendly option compared to deep frying cooking as it does not contain the risks of an oily mess.

Certain food items are better suited for air frying, such as breaded foods, chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, etc.

The smaller size of an air fryer makes it easy to store in your cupboard when not in use, as it occupies less space. However, a convection oven takes a large amount of space on your kitchen countertop, and it stays there full-time.

Cons of an Air Fryer

While you can see inside your oven to judge and confirm the completeness of cooking, an air fryer does not allow you to see inside during cooking.

An air fryer is louder than a convection oven as it may generate sound up to 65 decibels.

While an air fryer is more expensive than a convection oven, it cooks less food and lesser varieties of food.

You need to put in more time and effort to clean an air fryer than a convection oven, as you need to clean the perforated basket along with its bucket. On the other hand, a convection oven requires you to clean the pan only.

Convection Ovens

A convection oven looks similar to the standard toaster oven that is rectangular. It is a countertop oven with a front door that opens at the bottom on a hinge. It differs from an ordinary oven as it comes equipped with a fan for blowing hot air around the food.

A convection oven ensures faster cooking than an ordinary oven as the circulating hot air inside the oven during cooking transfers higher temperature heat to the food’s surface. Moreover, it improves the crispiness and browning of the cooked food.

A wide convection oven features an interior rack with a sheet pan, unlike an air fryer. This allows you to spread out the food evenly instead of stacking them in layers. Its perforated sheet pan allows maximum airflow.

As you don’t need to stack or layer your food inside a convection oven, you get evenly cooked food. Thus, using a full-size convection oven easily overcomes the drawbacks related to the air fryer.

With a convection oven, you get better-tasting or equally crispy foods than an air fryer as it uses a similar convection effect technology.

Some advanced ovens feature regular (with the fan off) and convection (fan on) modes. These variants are great for producing crispier food along with nice and even baking.

In an air fryer, you have a basket that circulates air underneath the food; however, a convection oven comes with a roasting pan that circulates the air at the bottom of the food.

A full-size convection oven has a larger capacity than an air fryer. This allows you to cook much more food as compared to a standard air fryer. Thus, it is ideal for cooking food for large gatherings rather than an air fryer that requires cooking in multiple batches.

A convection oven takes less time to preheat and consumes less energy than a standard toaster oven. It also outperforms air fryers in various taste tests, especially while cooking unfrozen or non-breaded food.

Toaster Ovens

A toaster oven is your standard oven that packs various functionalities in a rectangular box. It is ideally suited for cooking large varieties of food, including snacks, appetizers, cookies, mozzarella sticks, pizza bites, etc.

Some toaster ovens feature speciality modes for cooking specific foods like pizza or cookies. Some advanced models also feature air frying. However, it offers more functions as compared to an air fryer.

A toaster oven is inexpensive than a full-size oven. It uses less energy and preheats faster as compared to a full oven. If you don’t need a full-size device, prefer a toaster oven with an air-dry option instead of purchasing a solo air fryer.

Which Appliance Offers the Best Way to Cook?

Use an air fryer for cooking breaded and frozen foods. It saves time and energy in cooking these food items as compared to a convection oven. Moreover, it ensures easy handling when you are cooking food for one or two individuals.

Use a toaster oven with air fryer functionality if you don’t want to spend heavily on a full-sized convection oven. A toaster oven serves as a versatile alternative that comes packed with numerous functionalities.

If you have a full-size convection oven, you wouldn’t be impressed by an air fryer or a toaster oven. However, it is suitable for meeting most of your cooking requirements.

To summarize, each of the above kitchen appliances has its pros and cons. Therefore, consider various factors before selecting the one among them, such as your budget, cooking preferences, counter space, frequency of cooking certain foods, etc.


Preksha is passionate about writing articles that will inspire readers to make better choices. You will find her eating desserts for lunch, dinner and any time of the day. Also, she is the chief playlist engineer for any road trip.

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