Air Fryer vs Toaster Oven – All Similarities and Differences Explained

Are air fryers worth getting? For frozen foods, an air fryer, no doubt, seems like a healthier choice in comparison to deep-frying. On top of that, fried food is never over-fried with an air fryer. What about toaster or convection ovens then? Well, these also cook frozen meals along with reheating leftovers.

So what you should buy – air fryer vs toaster oven – is something that needs to be figured out very wisely because you are going to be spending a good sum of money. So that money better be well-spent, right?

Time to find out what each appliance has to offer and how well they perform when pitted against one another!

What’s An Air Fryer?

Air Fryer

Air fryer, basically, is a small-sized convection oven that doesn’t take up much space on a countertop. It features high-powered, heat-circulating fans that are installed inside, so the heat is blown onto your food directly. That’s how an air fryer is not the same as regular baking. Air-frying results are crispier but without the presence of any bubbling oil.

And this extra crunchy texture of air-fried food becomes like that faster too. Meaning your food gets prepared sooner than you think. Frying, roasting, broiling, baking, and even dehydrating – these are all your options with an air fryer.

It goes without saying that frozen food items and air fryers are like best buds! Chicken wings, raw veggies, pizza bagels, and all kinds of frozen stuff. Fewer calories and more crispy deliciousness!

As for the design of an air fryer, it’s taller in comparison to convection ovens. There’s a metal-built basket inside the drawer for holding the food during the cooking process. But then this basket doesn’t accommodate a lot, which means small batches for air frying. However, an air fryer cooks your food faster, so that’s a relief to know.

As a matter of fact, it’s the compact size of an air fryer that makes it so likable irrespective of the most inevitable drawback of limited space. In comparison to regular convection ovens, an air fryer is smaller plus it cooks food faster.

Why Buy An Air Fryer

  • Smaller, more compact design
  • Faster cooking of frozen foods
  • Easier to clean and store
  • Often comes with extras, such as skewers, racks, etc.

What You May Not Like

  • Small-batch cooking and uneven browning due to limited basket size
  • Not for making toast or baking goods like cake
  • Operation is slightly noisy

What’s A Convection Oven?

Convection Oven

Why not make the most of technology simply by using a convection oven! It’s like a toaster oven equipped with a built-in fan that blows the heat around. With convection ovens, your food is cooked through the process of convection baking with the help of heating elements that are installed at the bottom and top, instead of just at the top like the air fryer.

The air fryer basket is replaced with interior racks inside a convection oven to hold the sheet pans. Broiling, roasting, baking, toasting, dehydrating, and even air frying are possible here.

The size, as you can guess, is generally larger than most air fryers. This means perfect for those cooking large batches of food. The wide design allows you to lay out your food more evenly on the interior rack, unlike in the case of an air fryer that forces you to stack, thus crowd your food. So it’s safe to say that in a convection oven, food becomes crispy more evenly.

And the most monumental advantage that convection or toaster ovens have over air fryers – the former can cook a wide range of food items. This includes baked dishes, pizza, roasts, meat, desserts, and more. For example, for baking cheesecake or soufflé, you just have to turn off the fan in order to create a moist environment.

Why Buy A Convection Oven

  • Cooking of larger batches of food at once
  • Wider cooking space, thus more even results (golden brown)
  • Great for making pizza, baking muffins – hence more multipurpose

What You May Not Like

  • Takes up more kitchen counter space
  • There may or may not be a ‘fryer basket’
  • Food doesn’t become very crispy

The Ultimate Comparison Between Air Fryer and Toaster Oven

Similarities

The first thing both have in common is the process of cooking. Meaning both air fryer and convection oven employ high-powered, high-speed fans for circulating heat around your food to cook it evenly from every side. Although the former, most times, generates more speed.

The second thing is the easy-to-clean design of both. With an air fryer, just lift the basket and clean it in the sink. And the same can be said about the pan of convection ovens.

Shape and Size

One is more compact than the other, which means it’s also a more suitable choice for someone with limited kitchen countertop space. And that would be an air fryer. On the other hand, a toaster oven is much like a full-sized, traditional oven.

Since air fryers are smaller, the heating elements are placed closer to the food, right? This makes way for faster cooking.

But here’s the thing – air fryers are taller but narrower while convection toaster ovens are broader and flatter. And when it comes to an ideal cooking surface, broader and flatter is certainly a more beneficial design in that it allows the food to become golden brown and crunchy more efficiently since the evaporation of moisture from the ingredients takes place more easily.

Storage and Portability

Shape and size are often tied to storage and portability. As you may be able to guess on your own, an air fryer is much more convenient in terms of moving it around and storing it.

You can just place your air fryer in the cupboard and then take it out whenever needed. But you definitely can’t do that with a toaster oven, which requires a more permanent spot because of its heavier and larger footprint.

Heating Element

The composition of an air fryer is such that the heat comes from above because the heating component is placed at the top. While in a convection oven, the heating elements are at the top AND bottom. But it’s the former construction, that of an air fryer, that is more concentrated, so it cooks the food faster.

Processor

The processor positioning in air fryers is right below the heating component. In convection ovens, the placement is at the back, on the side, or in the middle.

Fan Speed and Size

The precise reason why air fryers cook food faster is that the fans in this case are bigger and rotate faster. To be more specific, 30-percent faster in comparison to convection or toaster oven fans.

Method/Speed of Cooking

With a typical convection toaster oven, you can grill, roast, and bake. But with an air fryer, you can all of that AND air fry and dehydrate your food. Needless to say, the primary appeal of an air fryer is air-frying your favorite frozen foods (for a healthier diet), which most times is not a part of toaster ovens.

As for the speed of cooking, it’s already established that food cooks faster in an air fryer. The only function that’s actually easier and faster in a convection oven is toasting.

Power Usage

To be honest, this has a lot to do with insulation. Little insulation (thin metal) means less heat retention, thus more energy needed for producing and maintaining heat. Unfortunately, this is often a part of the toaster oven experience.

As for air fryers, these feature cooking baskets placed inside a cooking compartment that’s well-insulated. Now, this is also beneficial in that it doesn’t heat up a small kitchen in hot weather.

Keeping that in mind, an air fryer and toaster oven with more or less the same level of wattage power do not perform on the same level. The former, in most cases at least, is more energy-efficient.

Cooking Space

Obviously, you get more cooking space with a traditional convection oven. The small-capacity basket of an air fryer compels you to stick to small batches, hence not the most suitable choice when cooking for a crowd. However, there are air fryers with a larger capacity as well. It comes at a higher cost though, quite literally!

Potential Safety and Mechanical Problems

Who would have ever thought that air frying would one day become a possibility! In that case, it’s only logical to assume that the appliance and its technology here are certainly more complex, also because an air fryer is a more powerful unit.

On the other hand, toaster ovens are much simpler in terms of their design and features (ovens indeed are not new inventions).

Taking all of that into consideration, it’s only natural for an air fryer to give rise to a higher number of potential mechanical issues. But then I’m not saying that you should expect every air fryer to break down easily or quickly. It’s just that the possibility of something like that happening is more likely with air fryers, and even more with cheap quality air fryers.

The same can be said about the safety factor. Because of higher speed and heat production, even safety concerns are bound to increase. So be extra careful when it comes to using your air fryer correctly.

Digital Display

The greater part of air fryers features that smart-oven-like digital display. While the majority of toaster ovens still have the traditional rotary dial.

Accessories

With air fryers, you get plenty of extras like skewers (yummy kebabs), rotisserie spits, racks, trays, and baskets. And then you can place your little baking tins or pans on the racks if need be. These perforated accessories surely know how to making cooking quick and uniform with the help of tossing or flipping.

All the Yummy Foods You Can Now Cook

The menu options that come with both appliances are definitely quite impressive. Chicken wings, sweet potato fries, and even cookies as a matter of fact. Let’s find out more.

Frozen Food

Most people looking for an air fryer are doing so just for cooking their most favorite frozen foods the healthier way. Plus, air-frying food is something that happens way faster. As for cooking frozen items in a convection oven, check both the oven and frozen food packaging to see if that is even a possibility.

Pizza

What an air fryer is for frozen food, a toaster oven is for pizza. Needless to say, you can’t expect to cook a large or even whole pizza in your air fryer.

Roasted Vegetables

Both air fryer and toaster oven can prepare roasted veggies for you. But it’s the latter that creates a more golden brown, crispier texture because of the larger cooking area.

Chicken Wings

An air fryer for chicken wings is a much better choice than cooking them in a toaster oven.

Toast and Bagels

You simply cannot toast bagels, bread, etc. in an air fryer. So let’s choose the namesake product for that, which would be a convection toaster oven.

Whole Roasting

No matter the size of the chicken, an oven is the best place for meat to roast. Unless you have in mind an industrial, extra-large air fryer.

Cakes

A large pie, no doubt, cooks in a more even, better manner using a convection oven. Not that an air fryer is no good when it comes to efficient baking!

What About the Task of Cleaning Them?

Modern technology has now paved the way for non-stick surfaces, removable parts, etc. So it has become so much more convenient to clean these types of appliances (including both air fryer and convection oven).

But when comparing, the air fryer enjoys the upper hand because almost every part in it that touches your food is removable, hence dishwasher-safe.

Although there are some convection ovens that have a more extensive, handier stand, which, in fact, is much easier to clean than the standard basket of an air fryer. Food leftovers often have to be scraped or scrubbed off the grid of the basket and rack.

Does the Difference In Price Matter?

Comparatively speaking, air fryers, in general, are much more inexpensive or affordable than convection toaster ovens. But then there are all kinds of models these days – low-priced, mid-range, and high-end.

You can now purchase a budget-friendly air fryer for $40 with the more reliable and popular extra-large ones costing anywhere between $100 and $150.

As for toaster ovens, the most basic unit costs about $60 while the best value for money falls in the range of $150 to $250.

You certainly have to pay a higher price than that for an all-in-one, combo appliance Air Fryer Toaster Oven.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is An Air Fryer An Alternative to Toaster Oven?

A convection oven can indeed replace a toaster while also giving you the air frying option. However, an air fryer, on its own, is no replacement for a toaster oven because it doesn’t perform the task of toasting bread, bagels, etc.

Plus, air fryers don’t even cook large, whole pizzas (unless you happen to buy a heavy-duty, extra-large capacity air fryer). In that case, you can cook whole meals in it!

Does Food Cook Faster In An Air Fryer?

Simple logic should be applied here – air fryers work at a higher speed because of the faster fan, so the preheating time is practically non-existent. Hence, food cooks much faster in an air fryer.

What Is Better, Air Fryer or Toaster Oven?

To be 100-percent truthful and unbiased with you, the answer to this commonly asked question depends on your personal needs and preferences.

If you have a small kitchen, get an air fryer. And if you consume more “fried” food than toasted, get an air fryer. But then if you do more toasting than frying, choose a convection toaster oven.

What Is Healthier, Air Fryer or Toaster Oven?

One side of the picture has you deep-frying your favorite frozen foods. And on the other side, you have your air fryer that doesn’t require that much oil. Just brush some of it over the surface of your food and you’re good to go!

But then cooking in a convection oven demands no oil whatsoever. So in that sense, toaster ovens may just be the healthier choice.

Final Say – Air Fryer or Toaster Oven?

Convection ovens are time-tested for cooking proper, whole meals while air fryers are more suited for those who enjoy consuming appetizers and snacks (frozen food, chicken wings, etc.). So only an air fryer is able to produce that perfect extra-crispy texture. However, a convection oven performs more even cooking because of the larger cooking area.

Even how much space you have in your kitchen matters at this point. An air fryer, with its more compact size, can be placed and stored just about anywhere. But the same cannot be done with a toaster oven.

In the end, just keep in mind that the best appliance for you is that which you know you’re going to use the most.

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