Ok, so something that I’ve noticed is that whenever the topic of ‘air fryer’ comes up, a comparison will always be made to a convection oven because of the similarities.
A lot of people who want to buy an air fryer always ask the same question.
‘So this product is like a convection oven, right?’
Well, I’m going to clear the smoke on this topic and provide some crystal clear comparisons so you can understand whether or not your new air fryer can actually be a replacement for a convection oven.
Air Fryers vs Convection Ovens: Similarities
Roasting, baking and grilling are just some of the cooking methods that both convection ovens and air fryers can do. They are also quite similar in the way they cook food:
- Convection ovens and air fryers both cook food by circulating hot air with a fan.
- The air is heated using some sort of heating element. This could be an electrical coil or halogen lamp.
- Typically, a convection ovens and air fryers come with controls for temperature and time. This can either be an analog or digital implementation. Furthermore; you’ll find extra features like pre-sets and smart save options available.
Both appliances leave food crispy and moist in the center if desired. However; it’s up to the build quality and features of the individual appliance that will determine how good the food results can get.
That’s the core similarities, so what are the differences?
Air Fryers vs Convection Ovens: Differences
Of course both these tools have striking differences and it mainly comes down to how they look:
- Convection ovens are typically larger and take up a lot more space. In fact in many kitchens, the convection oven will be a permanent fixture (similar to a microwave or traditional oven). They are usually rectangular in shape and sit horizontally to a surface. Air fryers are essentially counter-top convection ovens. That is, they are small enough to carry and place anywhere in your kitchen. Most air fryers follow an egg shape modern design that is rounded and upright.
- The heating element of an air fryer is above the food, while the element is situated below the food in a convection oven.
Disadvantages and Advantages
Right, so now we know the core similarities and differences between both appliances, but what about the all important advantages and disadvantages? Let’s break this down into sections:
Convection ovens can be significantly larger in size, meaning they can fit a lot more food. In fact, you’ll typically find several ‘shelves’ in an oven with each being used to cook food items.
Cooking lots of food with an air fryer will mean putting in multiple batches whereas you can probably get the job done in one sitting with a convection oven.
This leads onto the next point…
A no-brainer. An air fryer wins hands down! It’s significantly smaller and easier to move around.
However; it’s not all bad for the convection oven. These days, a lot of convection ovens are taking the miniaturization route that so many appliances are following. You’ll be able to find a lot of small ovens on Amazon that you can pick up and move around.
Both are comparable in price around the $100 – $300 mark, but you’ll find convection ovens hitting price points that are beyond air fryers.
This is where things start favoring air fryers.
An air fryer can commonly cook food twice as fast as a convection oven can. So much so, that many air fryers come with a timer that only goes up to 30 minutes!
You may be surprised to find out that air fryers can produce food quicker and crunchier than in convection ovens. This is to do with the whole air speed concept we already went over.
However; due to the size and shape of convection ovens, they are usually better for toasting.
Again, air fryers are smaller and usually come with dishwasher friendly and detachable components. Due to the smaller size, there is literally less to clean, making the job easier. Typically, the basket holding the food, and the drawer holding the basket are the only components you need to clean.
Convection ovens will also come with dishwasher friendly components (usually the racks or ‘shelves’), but it’s likely you’re still going to have to put in some elbow grease to clean the interior chamber that will have leftover oil and food particles. Check out this article for a cleaning guide.
One important factor is the presence of an oil collector – basically a reservoir to collect the oil that drips off the food. Most air fryers come with such an ability, and it is less common in convection ovens. Further to this point, air fryers require significantly less oil for the same results in a convection oven. In fact, a teaspoon or no oil at all is usually enough. This makes the air fryer a healthier choice and contributes to an easier clean up process. Note that convection ovens can also come with a ‘dry fry’ feature that requires less oil, but it’s more of a feature rather than a main function.
Can an Air Fryer replace a Convection Oven?
At the end of the day, it’s really up to your own preference, but the short answer is definitely yes. Sure, convection ovens have more room and can cook some food items better, but air fryers can do all of the above, and in some cases, to a better degree.
As always the choice is up to you.