July 21

Air Fryer Vs. Baking | What Is the Difference in the Way They Cook Food?


Author: Cornelia Suehr
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Probably you are wondering, "What's the difference between air frying and oven baking, and which one is better and healthier?"

The quick answer is there is no much difference between air frying and oven baking. There is no actual frying that happens in an air fryer. Instead, the kitchen appliance cook foods using little to no oil.

If you cook your recipe by deep frying, the food is immersed in hot oil. As such, the food gets crispy as the hot oil surrounds each part of the food. On the other hand, during oven baking or air frying, the food gets less crispy as it is surrounded by hot air, which is not a good conductor of heat like oil.

What Are Air Fryers?

Air fryers are more or less a smaller or more portable convection oven. Air fryers are tall and resemble a coffeemaker instead of having a shape of a toaster oven. On the other hand, this nifty air fryer from Galanz combines both a convection oven and microwave.

Air fryers also feature a removable bucket with a handle, and you get a basket inside the bucket. The basket is where you place the food. On the other hand, the bucket slides into the kitchen appliance, you turn it on, and it starts to cook. It also features a fan situated overhead above the heating element.

mint fryer

An air fryer is small and has a fan situated close to the food. As such, it focuses a large amount of heat in a smaller area enable the recipe to cook faster.

Additionally, it can only accommodate small portions of the recipe because of its size, thereby reducing the cooking time.

If you are cooking food for more than two people, you may have to cook in batches. As such, it may take longer to serve a meal than you'd take using a convection oven.

Air fryers cook your food by circulating hot air around the meal. Convection ovens also use the same method in cooking your food.

However, there are a few differences between the two kitchen appliances.

For instance, an air fryer and a full-size convection oven both use a fan to move hot air around the chamber. However, an air fryer is more compact in size. As such, the hot air circulates more rapidly in an air fryer than in a convection oven, which speeds up the cooking process.

Additionally, an air fryer uses a basket to more evenly moving the hot air at the bottom of the food.


If you have limited space in your kitchen, you may be better of with an air fryer. The inexpensive kitchen appliance (see 'Best Air Fryer Under $100' we reviewed) has a compact size that takes up limited space on your kitchen countertop.

Do you want to embrace healthy eating? If yes, air fryers are an excellent choice of kitchen appliances. Air frying doesn't involve deep-frying. In deep frying, using an oven with a deep fryer, the food is surrounded by oil, and the food can also absorb oil. This leads to lots of calorie uptake. It is all well explained in our earlier air fryer or deep fryer post. 

Food prepared using an air fryer comes out just as good if not better than food from a convection oven.

Also, some types of foods seem better suited for an air fryer. For instance, breaded foods such as chicken nuggets (see 'Best Air Fryers for Chicken' reviews) and mozzarella sticks tend to do better than burger patties and baked chicken wings - for top air fryers for chicken wings follow this link.

Pros of an Air Fryer

  • The kitchen appliance has a compact size making it flexible. A convection oven will have to live on the countertop of your kitchen. An air fryer, on the other hand, can fit in your cupboard when you are not using it.
  • An air fryer helps you to prepare healthy food without a lot of calories
  • It saves you time by cutting your meal preparation time significantly

Cons of an Air Fryer

  • An air fryer doesn't allow you to see your food. Although it is not as important, seeing your food in the appliance can help you judge whether it's done or not.
  • Cleaning an air fryer is also a challenge. You have to clean the perforated basket together with the bucket it fits in. On the other hand, you only need to clean the pan of a convection oven.

Convection Oven

As mentioned earlier, an air fryer has a small size and is suitable for preparing food for one or two people. However, if you want to prepare food for many people using an air fryer, you'll have to do it in batches.

Alternatively, you can go for a full-size convection oven.

Besides having a larger capacity to prepare more food, a convection oven produces equally good, if not better tasting, food than an air fryer. If your oven doesn't include convection, an air fryer will pretty much help to bridge the gap for crispy cooking.

If you want to find out whether your oven includes convection baking, you should check out the back wall.

pizza in the oven

Convection ovens come with a built-in fan at the rear of the appliance. The ovens are available in electric and gas, and they offer superb and even baking of your food.

Additionally, you can get ovens that offer both regular (fan off) and convection (fan-on) modes. You can also get high-end ovens that come with European or true modes. In these modes, the fan is surrounded by a heating element that offers extra-heated air.

Unlike an air fryer, a convection oven doesn't come with a basket to help circulate air underneath the food. However, a roasting pan or rack helps to replicate the airflow underneath your food.

As mentioned earlier, capacity is a significant consideration when choosing between an air fryer and a convection oven. A full-size convection oven will help you cook food for more people than a standard air fryer.

If you are cooking for a large family or you are hosting friends, a full-size convection oven will save you the trouble of cooking in several batches (see 'Best Air Fryer for Family of 4' here).

Convection is not a unique or new way of cooking your food as it has been there for a while.


Additionally, an air fryer will use more energy than an air fryer which means more power bills.

A convection oven also requires more time to preheat before you can start cooking.

Convection baking comes out as better than air frying in offering the most delicious taste for your food. It especially performs better than an air fryer for foods that are not frozen or breaded.

As an air fryer, convection baking is an excellent option if you want to try healthy eating. Just like the air fry method of cooking, convection baking uses hot air to cook your food. The fact that you don't use a lot of oil ensures less calorie intake in your body.

Still, convection baking offers crisp results and the best taste for your food.

Toaster Oven vs Conventional Ovens

How Is Air Frying Different From Convection Baking? 

The heating method in air frying is pretty much similar to that of convection baking in that they use circulating hot air to cook food. However, an air fryer is more compact in size than a convection oven. The small size ensures that both the appliance and the food heat up pretty fast, meaning the food gets cooked fast.

Another difference between air frying Vs. convection baking is that due to the small size of the air fryer, the food is much closer to the heating element. The heating elements are at the top of the appliance and helps to circulate the hot air faster.

convection oven

A convection oven, on the other hand, has a bigger dimension than air fryers. As such, it has heating elements on both the top and bottom. It is preferred to cook using the middle rack. If you are cooking using the middle compartment, the food is not close to the heating elements.

Another difference between air frying and convection baking is how the hot air circulates inside the kitchen appliances. In both kitchen appliances, a fan helps to circulate the hot air for even cooking of the food. The fan in the air fryers is situated beneath the heating elements; it is bigger and operates at enhanced speed.

What's more?

The air frying method of cooking does an excellent job of giving your food a crisp texture. This is made possible by the fryer-style basket that enables hot air to penetrate while the oils fall into a perforated tray. Thus, you require less tossing and turning of the food during the cooking process.

What is a Convection Toaster Oven 2

Ensure that you get your recipes right at all times to ensure you end up with the best dishes.

Final Thoughts 

Should you air frying or baking your food? And which of the option is healthier?

The decision to air fry or bake your food depends on a variety of factors. For instance, if you are cooking for a large family or hosting friends, convection ovens will be the better option as it has a bigger capacity. However, the kitchen appliance requires preheating, and the food is not in proximity with the heating elements. Air fryers have a smaller capacity, and the food is close to the heating elements, making the appliance faster.

About the author

Cornelia Suehr

A professional chef and a passionate writer on all topics related to cooking, baking, appliances and kitchenware. Her posts resonate with foodies, home chefs and professionals.


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