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Air Fryer vs Toaster Oven – Detailed Comparison of Features & Performance

Both are convenient to use after all, aren’t they? And both perform nearly the same functions, don’t they? Nevertheless, there are differences. And there is also a better choice when discussing air fryer vs toaster oven.

The debate can also boil down to what your cooking requirements and personal preferences are. But it’s always a smarter idea to know the type of dissimilarities that exist. So you can make a more well-informed decision. Because the thing is that you want to spend your money on an appliance that makes your time in the kitchen easier.

Source of Heat

So what is the heating element in each case? With an air fryer, you get a huge fan installed under the heating element, which is at the top of the unit.

As with toaster ovens, the heating mechanism is positioned both at the top and bottom. Precisely what delivers more concentrated, faster heating. On top of that, a convection toaster oven is also outfitted with a fan placed in the back, center, or side.

Hot Air Circulation

This is actually a major point of difference between an air fryer and a toaster oven. The way each machine circulates the hot air within their respective chambers is different in both scenarios.

A toaster oven, with the help of its fan, cooks your food directly. As for an air fryer, it cooks the dishes through hot air circulation.

Moreover, most air fryers, in comparison to the majority of toaster ovens, are more compact. Thus, more efficient when it comes to distributing heated air inside the chamber during the cooking application.

Then they also consist of a bottom-positioned basket that circulates heat around the base of the food. This means a better, more thorough cooking session, unlike toaster ovens.

Size

No doubt, an air fryer is smaller, thus more compact than a toaster oven. But this also implies that you cannot use the former for preparing larger batches. However, you can use the air fryer for cooking various types of dishes faster back to back.

On the other hand, toaster ovens have a slightly bigger footprint. So they can handle a larger quantity of food, such as lamb chops, chicken, etc. And you obviously can’t cook these kinds of food items using an air fryer.

Moving to how much space you have in your kitchen. If you don’t have space restrictions, then you should seriously consider buying the best microwave toaster oven combo, which sometimes includes air frying alongside microwaving, toasting, roasting, grilling. But for tight spaces, nothing seems as perfect as an air fryer.

Temperature

An air fryer has the capability of generating heated air faster. And that also means, in this case at least, that they can reach a higher temperature. All thanks to the more evenly balanced heat distribution and more compact size.

But when talking about toaster ovens in this regard, they are often designed with automatic temperature settings. So the machine adjusts heat levels automatically, which saves time, power consumption, and also paves the way for preparing various recipes.

Cooking Methodologies

As is the most logical to assume, certain types of foods are more suitable for an air fryer than a toaster oven, and vice versa. For air fryers, baking chicken nuggets, bread, etc. is better because of the gentle baking properties of the appliance.

So does this mean that a toaster oven cannot cook such foods? To be honest, not necessarily. It all depends on the brand and model you’re choosing. And also on your skills as an at-home chef.

But then there’s no denying that an air fryer minimizes your daily intake of unhealthy fats. Merely because they don’t need oil for cooking. At the same time, the heating process is well-balanced, which means cooking/baking takes place thoroughly.

On the other hand, toaster ovens demand the use of oil. But they can work with a wider range of foods.

Cooking Procedure

Toaster ovens feature baking, roasting, and grilling only. But air fryers are more flexible because they allow you to do all of that and some more without the use of oil. And even with no oil, it gives you crispy results. So now you know which one’s better to encourage healthy eating habits.

Cooking Duration

Air fryers, no doubt, cook much faster because the fan is placed closer to your food. Along with a higher concentration of heat on the food. In comparison to a convection toaster oven, an air fryer cooks your dish in half the time.

On the downside though, it cannot handle larger batches of food. But since the air fryer cooks faster, you can do one batch after another more quickly. Unless you don’t have the time and patience for that, which is when a microwave toaster oven combo seems like a better choice.

Cleaning/Maintenance

As far as the cost and effort of maintenance are concerned, there’s no room for debate. Simply because both appliances are pretty easy and quick to clean. However, air fryers, since they don’t use oil, are a little more convenient in terms of cleaning. On top of that, air fryer pans have non-stick properties. Therefore, once again, easier to clean.

Furthermore, the compact size of most air fryers means the cleaning task is less time-consuming. Now, this is just great news for those with a busy lifestyle and also for the lazy community.

With toaster ovens, however, you have a larger area to cover, with corners that sometimes are difficult to reach. But then top brands are taking note of this and manufacturing microwave ovens with self-cleaning features.

Performance

As far as performance goes, air fryers prepare smaller quantities of food. So if larger batches are a part of your cooking experiences, then side with toaster ovens. Unless you’re okay with cooking smaller portions one after the other in an air fryer, then there’s no problem. But then why waste time, right?

Insulation

It’s almost unrealistic to expect the exterior part of toaster ovens to not heat up after a cooking session. That’s because the outside body lacks insulation.

In fact, it’s highly advisable to keep inflammable objects away from the appliance so as to prevent potential fire hazards. And for the same purpose, the convection toaster oven, or any other microwave and/or oven should be placed in a well-ventilated space.

On the contrary, air fryers have a well-insulated design that doesn’t heat up during and after application.

Power Consumption

Not much of a difference to take into account here. Toaster ovens, on average, consume around 1,400 watts. And air fryers consume 1,600 watts. So the difference in the department of energy consumption isn’t such a big deal.

But then when talking about energy efficiency and insulation properties, hands down, air fryer wins the show.

Cost

Let’s take the standard models of each category. A standard convection toaster oven, more often than not, is a lot more affordable than a standard air fryer.  The price of the former is between $25 and $40, the cheapest (in terms of price of course). And the cost of buying the most basic, most inexpensive air fryer is within the range of $40-$70.

Which One to Buy Then – Air Fryer or Toaster Oven?

No denying that both appliances come with their own special qualities and also disadvantages. So what you choose is largely based on what functions matter to you the most and also on your cooking requirements.

For example, those with limited kitchen countertop space prefer buying something that’s both compact and versatile. And that is an air fryer. It’s also a better choice for those on weight loss goals.

On the other hand, nothing beats the functionality of cooking larger quantities or batches of food while also being able to toast. And this is something that only a convection toaster oven can give you. On top of that, it’s much more affordable and budget-friendly than air fryers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Should Buy an Air Fryer and Why?

If you’re a health-conscious person, then air fryers are manufactured just for you. Those dealing with heart conditions, liver problems, and general overweight concerns benefit a great deal from the oil-free cooking method of an air fryer.

Delicious dishes can be prepared with the help of just heat generation by using air, which means no oil. And just because no oil is used doesn’t mean the taste and texture of the food get compromised. That doesn’t happen either. So you’re keeping unhealthy fats and extra calorie consumption away from your diet.

Also, here’s a little-known fact. Air fryers are also a very suitable choice for you if you like your meals to be prepared faster. Since the machine is highly efficient, it heats very quickly. As quick as less than 3 minutes in some cases!

Is an Air Fryer the Same as a Small Convection Oven?

Compared to traditional ovens, both air fryers and convection ovens deliver faster cooking. Because, in both scenarios, the technology used is pretty much the same. And that involves circulating heated air with a fan. Air fryers don’t really perform actually frying you know. They’re just a more compact, portable version of convection ovens.

What are the Disadvantages of an Air Fryer?

The first one that comes to mind is that air fryers have a compact size, thus a small capacity. So you can’t prepare a larger meal at one go. You have to break it up into smaller portions and then cook each separately.

Then is the sad truth that your food might come out dry since no oil is used. But then, isn’t that the whole idea of air frying?

Other cons include expensive price tag, loud operation, and food crowding. And also that you can’t see your food being cooked, so judging when it’s done is not possible. This opens the door to under-cooking or burning the food.

What Can You Not Cook in an Air Fryer?

You can air-fry nearly everything nowadays. The appliance, after all, mimics the process of deep-frying, but with hot air and minimal to no oil. But then mistakes have been made to prove that certain kinds of foods are just not suited for air fryers.

  • Wet Battered Foods - Because wet batter requires oil to set.
  • Whole Roasts - Because of uneven cooking and the compact size of the appliance.
  • Fresh Greens – Because of the possibility of burning them.
  • Raw Grains – Because air fryers dry cook food, and pasta, rice, etc. need water to cook.
  • Cheese – Because the cheese will simply just melt into a puddle and make a mess.

The Bottom Line

So what’s the final take on the topic? It depends on what your priorities are. If space is not a concern, then go for a convection toaster oven. And if the budget doesn’t seem like a hindrance, choose an air fryer.

It also depends on other factors. For example…

Do you often consume frozen foods? Air fryer then!

Do you often prepare turkey or chicken? Toaster oven then!

Choosing between the two appliances can be quite challenging and confusing. But now that you know what each is capable of providing, you can decide like a well-informed consumer. Just keep in mind that both are outfitted with basic and advanced functions to make your time in the kitchen much more convenient and your meals much more delicious.

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