Imagine if you could cook everything you normally would with a convection, but also fry, grill and roast much faster!
Fortunately, with the introduction of the air fryer kitchen appliance, this is now a reality for all cooks and kitchens across the US and world!
The two technologies have many similarities and differences, and an understanding of their fundamental operation, along with knowing what aspects each excel at, will be covered in this post.
We hope you find our “air fryer vs convection oven” post informative and useful!
what is an air fryer?
An air fryer is a modern kitchen appliance that circulates hot air rapidly around food to cook it. With only a small amount of oil, a powerful heating element and fan circulate the heated air around the food and coats it in a thin layer of oil.
The chemical reaction, known as the Maillard reaction, leaves the food with the crispy texture and flavor everyone is used to from traditional deep fat frying.
In case you are concerned that an air fryer is using radiation, like a microwave, read more here!
Air fryers come in different sizes, but most are between 3 to 6 quarts in volume. The combination of small volume, high heat and fast circulating air allows the air fryer to cook most foods efficiently and quickly when compared to traditional cooking methods.
If you want to know even more, click this link to learn about how an air fryer works!
In addition to cooking food quickly, and coming in a variety of sizes, air fryers have a lot of other great features and benefits! Here are some of those features!
- Air fryers are safe and easy to use
- They are simple to clean and maintain
- They “fry” with less oil, which means less calories and fat
- The are available in a variety sizes
- They don’t take up much countertop space
For an in-depth analysis of air fryers, check out our reviews of the best air fryers on the market!
Click on the image to learn more!
what is a convection oven?
A convection oven, or commonly referred to as a fan oven, circulates hot air around the food to cook it. The constant airflow allows it to cook more evenly in a shorter amount of time when compared to a conventional oven, which does not have a fan.
Convection ovens come in various sizes from small countertop units to large ones reminiscent of traditional ovens. Heating elements can be located on the top, bottom, both, or sometimes they are external to the unit and only the hot air is blown into the cooking chamber, thus isolating the radiated heat from the food.
Just like air fryers, convection ovens are loaded with features!
- Built-in timers
- Temperature controls
- Easy-to-use buttons
- Large enough to toast 4 to 6 pieces of toast at once, or even a small frozen pizza!
Click on the image to learn more!
similarities and differences of air fryers and convection ovens
From the descriptions above, it is apparent that airfryers and convection ovens share many similarities. Below is a list of some of those similarities.
- They both use a radiating heat element.
- Convection ovens and airfryers both use a fan to blow air across the heating element.
- Both can cook or roast food, giving it a crispy and flavorful outside, while leaving the inside juicy and not over-cooked.
- Both of them have their limitations when cooking baked goods.
- Both have size options that fit comfortably on a countertop.
On the other hand, air fryers and convection ovens have many differences worth noting.
- Air fryers are smaller and warm up quicker, making them more energy efficient.
- Convection ovens are larger, thus making them more versatile for larger food items, like turkeys, roasts, or large trays of baked goods.
- Some convection ovens can accommodate a rotisserie, something that most air fryers cannot fit inside of them.
- Air fryers direct the hot air down the sides of the unit and not directly onto the food, whereas the convection oven blows the hot air directly on the food. This can be problematic for more delicate baked goods like custards, flans and souffles.
- Air fryers can be taken apart and cleaned more easily when compared to a convection oven.
If you want to see a quick comparison of how an air fryer works compared to a convection oven in cooking french fries, check out the video below!
cleaning air fryers and convection ovens
There is nothing worse than having to clean up a mess after a great tasting meal.
In this category, the air fryer wins hands down. The basket removes easily and is dishwasher safe, and the bottom of the inside is typically non-stick and cleans up well with warm water and soap.
To simplify the clean process even more, air fryer liners can be used to catch a lot of the drippings!
If you want to know a step-by-step process for cleaning an air fryer, check it out in our cleaning tips here!
In contrast, the convection oven will leave you with dirty pans and dishes, many of which will need a serious scrubbing to get the ‘crispy and flavorful’ stuff off it. And if anything drips onto the bottom of the convection oven, then get ready for oven cleaners and some major elbow grease.
air fryer and convection oven sizes
Air fryers take up much less room when compared to convection ovens. While there are small and large ones, most are about the size of 1 foot cubed (1 foot x 1 foot x 1 foot).
They vary in weight, but 10 to 15 pounds is a good estimate for most air fryers. They are small enough that most people don’t mind leaving them on the counter, because they know it won’t be long before they are using it again!
Convection ovens vary much more in size. Small countertop units are typically around 16 inches wide and about 12 inches tall and 12 inches deep. Large ones, like the size of a standard oven, are about 2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet, or bigger!
Both sizes are heavy and are not moved on a regular basis in most homes.
convenience and efficiency
When you are looking for something that is quick, efficient and convenient, then the air fryer will do the job! Whether it is cooking some crispy french fries, or reheating pizza and leftovers, the air fryer will heat the food and give it that crunch you are looking for.
Due to the time it takes to warm-up, and cook, convection ovens just cannot compete with air fryers in this aspect. Unless you are looking to wait longer and spend more on electricity, for similar or possibly unfavorable results, then the air fryer is the appliance for you.
When purchasing an air fryer or convection oven, the price primarily revolves around the size and features of the product.
Air fryers will range between $50 and $300 depending on size, brand and features. However, you will find most of the 2 to 3.7 quart designs are in the lower $50 to $150 price range. Yep, you guessed it, the larger ones between 4 and 7 quarts will cost between $150 and $300.
While there are always exceptions, and sales, these cost estimates will help give you an idea of what it will cost to get your next air fryer.
Convection ovens cost considerably more, in general. Since they are larger, you can expect to pay $100 to $400 for countertop varieties, and up to $1000 or more for the large, permanent ones. However, some smaller, toaster oven-type convection ovens are available for near $50.
The price should not be a deciding factor when selecting to buy an air fryer or convection oven because you will want to purchase the appliance that can perform the jobs you are looking for it to do. Size, efficient, time and ease of cleaning will usually dominate the selection criteria.
conclusion – air fryer or convection oven?
Hopefully, this article helped explain the similarities, differences, pros and cons of air fryers and convection ovens.
There are many factors to consider when purchasing either of them. If you are looking for an appliance to works quickly, efficiently and will give you the closest thing to that fried food taste and texture, then air fryers are the clear winners. If you want something with a larger capacity and takes longer to cook, but still can create the flavorful, brown crispy outside on foods, then you might want to consider a convection oven.
If you have the room and budget, then both appliances could be utilized in most households.
Happy air frying! … or convection oven baking!
With so many air fryers on the market, how do you pick the right one for you? Let us help you pick the best air fryer based on your needs, price budget and preferences!
Does an air fryer really work as well as everyone says? Let us help prove to you that air fryers really are that good, but you don’t have to take our word for it! We compiled a review of reviews from across multiple stores to bring you the overall impressions people have of air fryers!
Are you a little uncertain of what you can cook in an air fryer? We’ve compiled a list of types of foods and meals that can be made in an air fryer, along with many examples for each type and category. Once you’re done drooling about all of these goodies, you’ll be ready to go find the perfect air fryer for you!