Air fryer next to an oven against a white background

Air Fryer vs Oven and other Cooking Methods

An air fryer opens up a world of new possibilities for your favorite ingredients and recipes. Transform your favorite vegetables, juicy meats and decadent desserts into crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside air fried creations.  Learn how it works and how it compares to other cooking methods and appliances to find out if an air fryer is essential for your kitchen ambitions. 

Sheet pan of food inside a wall oven

Air Fryer vs Oven

The most obvious difference between a standalone air fryer and an oven is size. An air fryer is a countertop appliance that can usually cook one dish at a time while an oven is a full-sized appliance that can handle multiple dishes or larger portions. The second major difference is function. An air fryer rapidly circulates heated air to cook and crisp up a range of foods. A conventional, non-convection oven uses still air to cook food. This type of oven has additional functions like broil, bake and roast. If you have a convection oven, however, you can get closer to the results of an air fryer since they use similar technology.

A countertop oven with an air fry setting may give you the best of both worlds—a countertop-friendly footprint with the same functions as a full-sized oven plus air fry. KitchenAid® countertop ovens with air fry feature between 9 and 12 essential cooking settings from proofing and dehydration to toasting and baking. They offer the same possibilities as a full-size oven with quality results in a convenient countertop size.

An air fryer can help add air frying or convection baking capabilities to your kitchen and offers a convenient size when preparing a single batch of chicken wings, zucchini fries or other fried favorites. However, an air fryer can’t replace a conventional oven when it comes to capacity. If you frequently prepare multi-dish meals or larger quantities, you’ll still want to have a full-sized oven in your kitchen.

Air fryer with food inside and heat coming from the top and bottom

AIR FRY VS BAKE: HOW DO THE COOKING METHODS DIFFER

An air fryer rapidly circulates heated air throughout the cooking cavity to create a crispy exterior on food. A perforated basket is used to help expose all sides of your food to the air for a nice, all-around fried finish. Conventional, non-convection ovens use heating elements on the top and bottom of the cooking cavity but the air remains fairly static so doesn't help remove moisture from the outside of the food for a crispy result. You can bake in some air fryers, but you usually can’t air fry in a conventional oven. Learn more about how to cook in an air fryer with our guide.

Three different dishes inside the oven at the same time

Air Fryer vs Convection Oven

An air fryer can be thought of as a sort of mini convection oven. Both appliances use a fan to circulate heated air throughout the cooking cavity. An air fryer or a countertop oven on the air fry setting usually circulates the air a bit faster than in a convection oven. This can sometimes give you a crispier finish that is just a bit closer to an actual deep fried finish, depending on your recipe.

A convection oven has the same advantages over an air fryer as a regular oven—size. If you’re making multiple dishes or batches at once, a convection oven can help prepare it all at once. But if you’re simply preparing one pan of crispy fried cauliflower, an air fryer is just the right size and can save you the time of heating an entire oven. 

For maximum flexibility, why not have both? Use your air fryer or countertop oven for single batches and your convection oven for bigger jobs. Having the additional countertop options is also helpful for when you’re preparing dishes with different cooking needs. Air fry some appetizers in your countertop oven while you slow-roast your entree in the convection oven. Lean more about how a convection oven works and how to use it.

Pastries on the countertop next to an air fryer

TOASTER OVEN VS AIR FRYER

An air fryer is usually limited to the convection-like air frying function, while a toaster oven or countertop oven can offer a wider range of functions such as broil, roast and bake. Some countertop ovens, such as options from KitchenAid, even feature an air fry setting, making it possible to replace your air fryer with a toaster oven. Countertop toaster ovens with air fry can enable you to explore new techniques beyond air frying with settings like dehydrate for dried fruits and meat jerky or highly specialized settings for pizza and dough proofing.  

Both appliances come in a convenient countertop size that will usually prepare one batch at a time of fried recipes like chicken tenders, sweet potato fries, spring rolls and more. Air fryers usually include a more vertical basket in which you layer food. This typically requires you to shake the basket or flip the food halfway through cooking. KitchenAid® countertop ovens with air fry feature a No-Flip Air Fry Basket and 360° Air Fry System so there’s no need to interrupt the cooking process.

Shop KitchenAid® Countertop Ovens with Air Fry

Deep fried chicken cutlets in air fryer countertop oven
DIGITAL COUNTERTOP OVEN WITH AIR FRY

SMALL FOOTPRINT, FULL-SIZE POSSIBILITIES

  • Even-Heat™ Convection Technology

  • 9 Essential Cooking Settings from proofing and dehydration to toasting and air frying

  • Large Capacity with a 9" x 13" baking pan

     

*Compared to model KCO124

KitchenAid® Dual Convection countertop oven with air fry frying spring rolls
DIGITAL COUNTERTOP OVEN WITH AIR FRY

25% MORE CAPACITY*, DUAL CONVECTION TECHNOLOGY

  • Even-Heat™ Convection Technology

  • 12 Essential Cooking Settings from air fry, to bake, dehydration, pizza, even dough proofing

  • Built-in Temperature Probe

  • 25% more capacity*

Scallops and shrimp cooking inside a microwave on a raised tray

Air Fryer vs Microwave

Some microwaves are beginning to offer air fry settings or other features that help achieve crispy, fried-like results. One of the main differences between these two appliances is that an air fryer or countertop oven circulates dry heat that helps remove moisture from the exterior of foods, while microwaves use electromagnetism to accelerate particles within the food.

If you are looking for optimal results on your air fried creations, choosing an appliance specially designed for the task usually can’t be beat. However, just as with countertop ovens or full-sized ovens, most types of microwaves generally offer more functions than a standalone air fryer. Depending on how often you plan to make air fryer recipes, you could opt for just a microwave with cripsing features. Select KitchenAid® microwaves feature Crispwave™ Microwave Technology and a Crisper Pan that can be used to brown, crisp, and pan-fry foods.

Slow cooker with pudding, pulled pork and veggies surrounding it

Air Fryer vs Slow Cooker

A slow cooker is essentially a large pot with a lid and a heating source that cooks food at a lower temperature. They do not generally heat up to the temperature required for air frying. Slow cookers also usually require some amount of liquid to roast, steam, braise or simmer ingredients. This is another reason they are not able to air fry foods which requires a dry environment with rapidly circulating air.

Crispy fries with a dipping sauce

Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer

Deep frying is a cooking method that involves submerging food in hot oil or other fat. Air frying achieves a similar result to deep frying by relying on hot, moving air rather than oil. A deep fryer appliance usually consists of a deep container that is filled with oil and heated along with a basket that allows you to lower food into the oil. There is little to no oil used with an air fryer— food is simply placed within the cooking chamber using a basket, or perforated pan. Learn more about how to use an air fryer.

When considering a deep fryer vs an air fryer countertop oven, you’ll find more versatility with the countertop oven. With 12 essential cooking settings, the KitchenAid® Dual Convection Countertop Oven with Air Fry offers full-sized oven capabilities in a much smaller footprint. An air fryer can replace your deep fryer for most recipes other than those with thick or wet batter, but you won’t get the extra functions with a deep fryer.

Fried blooming onion with dipping sauce

Pressure Cooker vs Air Fryer

A pressure cooker works by converting liquid to steam that can’t escape, thus creating the pressure used in this cooking method. Because moisture is the enemy of crispy fried exteriors, you can’t air fry in a pressure cooker unless you have special accessories or attachments. Likewise, you can’t pressure cook in an air fryer because the seal is not airtight enough to build pressure from steam. If you want to both pressure cook and air fry foods, you will likely need two separate appliances.

KitchenAid® Countertop Oven on a marble countertop
Crispy fried shrimp
Enchiladas with salsa, guacamole, limes and peppers

Add More Versatility to Your Kitchen

Air frying is an exciting new cooking method that opens up new possibilities for transforming zucchini, chicken, sweet potatoes and more into crunchy, crispy, fried creations. KitchenAid® countertop ovens with air fry can help you get started with this technique and a whole range of additional cooking methods. Learn how to dehydrate ingredients for apple chips, homemade granola with dried fruit, salmon jerky and more. Bake up a batch of your signature cinnamon rolls, or roast two whole chickens* for dinner. Explore countertop oven options from KitchenAid to bring full-size oven capabilities plus air fry to your countertop.

*3.6 lbs each

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