Should You Get An Air Fryer Or An Oven?

Learn what you need to about these two kitchen appliances.

IMAGE from Lazada
ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

Are you debating between the space-age looking air fryer and the conventional oven? We understand. The pros and cons of each of these kitchen appliances are overwhelming. There are so many points to consider and one of these is the ever-controversial price tag. 

We don't think that the price tag is always a big issue when it comes to items we desperately want. Plus, there are now affordable brands that can change your mind about your budget and turn you towards one or the other.

While size will always be a mitigating factor in choosing the right appliance, there are other concerns that might crop up that you need to consider, too. If you're still deciding which of these two kitchen appliances you want or need in your home, here are some things you need to know when you need to choose between an air fryer and an oven

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1 An air fryer uses less oil, not "no oil". 

There's this debate that using the air fryer is basically oil-free cooking. This is partially true. The most common food you will probably cook in the air fryer is the food that you normally would fry, including pork chops, frozen food such as fries and nuggets, and chicken. 

However, if you have ever tried to cook chicken in the air fryer without the skin on or made homemade chicken nuggets coated in panko breadcrumbs, you might be surprised about the resulting dish: it might not brown at all.

This isn't because the air fryer isn't getting hot. Air can get quite hot. The problem lies with the food itself. Neither lean meats nor the breadcrumbs have any natural fats which are needed to develop that beautiful golden brown color in food. (Remember the Maillard Reaction?) Any food that has natural oils such as a pork chop or frozen French fries and nuggets which were flash-fried in oil before being frozen will benefit from being cooked in the air fryer. Without the oil to help promote browning, your food won't brown well nor will it taste as great either.  

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What you can do to these fat-free ingredients is brush or spray the food with a layer of oil. Lightly brush or spray the skinless chicken with oil to get it to brown while in the air fryer.

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2 Oven cooking also needs some oil. 

This phenomenon of not browning is not confined to the air fryer. Even in the oven, food won't brown if there isn't some oil or fat to help it along either. Have you ever tried to cook chicken with just salt and pepper and ended up with a pale-looking chicken that, while it crisped up nicely, didn't look that appetizing since it didn't really brown? 

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You didn't do anything wrong. What you did do was skip a step. All that you needed to do was do one more task while it was roasting in the oven: basted it or brushed it with the drippings. This one step can mean the difference between a beautifully browned roast chicken and an anemic-looking one. This is also the reason why roasted food are best when tossed in oil before roasting.

This countertop oven has a fan inside, turning it into a convection oven as needed.
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3 An air fryer is a tiny convection oven. 

Do you have an oven or are looking for an oven with the convection function? The convection function is the button that makes the fan inside the oven rotate. This claims to make the heat of the oven more even throughout the chamber, resulting in more even cooking inside. This can make the oven hotter by as much as 25 degrees!

Did you know that this convection function runs on the same principle as the air fryer? Yes! That fan is the "air" in air fryer. So if you have an oven with a fan on the inside, you can basically air fry your food in the oven. The same rules still apply whether you're cooking in an oven or the air fryer.   

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4 Size matters. 

What many people don't understand is that size matters when it comes to the oven. A smaller oven such as toaster oven will heat up faster than a bigger, full-sized oven. It's the size that determines the speed with which it will heat up and be ready to use.     

This holds true for the air fryer as well. Since the air frying basket is much smaller than even the smallest oven, it will heat up faster. Since air is being circulated inside the chamber, it heats up even faster, resulting in an almost no need to preheat the air fryer unlike ovens which do require it for even cooking. 

However, what you sacrifice in size means you might not be able to roast a whole chicken in an air fryer nor can you bake a full batch of cookies that would normally take you less than an hour to complete, from start to finish, in a conventional oven.   

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5 Smaller appliances don't always mean using less electricity. 

Smaller appliances don't always use less electricity. What it does mean is that you use it for less time which results in using less electricity since the food that you're likely cooking is also smaller since the size of your food needs to be smaller to fit in the chamber. 

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To make it more understandable, if you're cooking lechon kawali that's 1 kilogram: It cooks in less time in the air fryer than in the conventional oven because the chamber is smaller, you don't preheat, and generally heats up faster. 

On the other side, say you're cooking 4 pork chops or baking cookies. It will cook in the oven faster and more conveniently because it fits on one baking sheet and cooks all in one go. You won't need to cook it batches unlike in the air fryer where you'll have to cook it one by one since you will not be able to cook it all at the same time. 

If you want to get technical, take a look at the wattage of your appliance. Basically, the higher the wattage, the more power it uses up. However, for a more clear comparison, this assumes you use the appliance for the same amount of time.

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For example, if you're using the air fryer which uses 1200 watts for 2 hours for a total of 2400 watts compared to an oven that uses 1800 watts for 1 hour, the air fryer uses more power than the oven will. If you use either for one hour, the air fryer is the more energy-consumption efficient appliance. 

Did we answer all of your questions regarding the oven and the air fryer? 

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here!


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