What's The Difference: Air Fryer Vs Air Fryer Oven

Which air fryer do you have?

IMAGE Shutterstock, Hanabishi

The pandemic saw the air fryer as the most-coveted kitchen appliance at the time. Many new cooks were drawn to how easy it was to use, how fast it cooked food, and how convenient it was for many kitchen cooking jobs that usually were done in a more conventional manner a.k.a. deep frying and oven baking. 

There are many models you can find on the market but there is one version that was a useful mishmash of an air fryer and oven: the air fryer oven. Both the air fryer and the air fryer oven use hot air to cook the food but each has features that make it different and more appealing to the home cook from the other. 

This air fryer oven is a perfect melding of air fryer and oven.
Photo by Hanabishi
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1 The air fryer uses a basket. The air fryer oven uses a rack. 

An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that has a basket and a basket holder. What cooks your food is located above the basket when it's inserted into the machine. The basket is usually not removable but it is washable. It can be round or square in shape but overall, this is the most basic of designs for most air fryers. 

Unlike the air fryer which is the more basic appliance, the air fryer oven can do more and thus instead of a basket, it's got a rack instead. The basket is made as part of the accessories and the rack which can also hold food is what's in place so you can place the food right on it or place an oven-safe baking dish on top. A rotisserie spit is also sometimes part of its accessories package since a whole chicken can more easily fit inside the bigger air fryer oven than the conventional air fryer.

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If you envy the many accessories the air fryer oven has, the good news is that there are accessories for the basic air fryer on the market now, too. 

2 The air fryer heats up fast but the air fryer oven is bigger. 

There are advantages to being the basic and smaller appliance between the two. The smaller air fryer is small and compact but that means it heats up more quickly since it has less space to heat up. This means your food will also cook up faster than if you used the bigger air fryer oven. Since it's smaller, it also means you'll have only one layer of food cooking at any given time. 

The air fryer oven is usually bigger than the traditional air fryer but this means you don't have to compensate by looking for a smaller cut of meat or cutting up the meat you do have to make it fit. A whole chicken as well as a bigger slab of pork liempo for lechon kawali can easily fit better in the air fryer oven. However, the bigger the capacity also usually means that it will need more time to heat up. If you don't mind the extra minutes you need to spend for the appliance to heat up properly but need the extra space, the air fryer oven can accommodate that family-sized roast. 

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This large space however is not without its drawbacks. The air fryer oven, while big and may have more than one tray or rack, will also mean that switching around racks will be necessary. That's because the heating element is only on the top, not on the bottom, meaning food will cook as well as brown on top, but anything underneath that first layer of food will not brown since it is not exposed to the heating element. 

The basic air fryer uses a wire basket to ensure air circulates well all around the food.
Photo by Shopee
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3 The air fryer is enclosed but the air fryer oven has a glass door. 

One of the things that make the air fryer such a speedy appliance is the size. However, if you're dealing with food that burns easily or you are not sure how long to air fry yet, you will probably have this need to check the food. This is easy to do in the air fryer oven where the compartment is a tempered glass door. The conventional air fryer however doesn't have a peek-a-boo style door since it's drawer style. You will have to open the drawer if you want to check the food, releasing the hot air that's circulating inside the appliance. 

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