June 23

Air Fryer vs Convection Oven | Which Is Better for Healthy and Crispy Meals?


Author: Cornelia Suehr
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Are you trying to cut down your calories but aren't ready to give up your delicacies? Air fryers and convection ovens allow you to enjoy your fried guilty pleasures, at almost if not a more enticing taste with a fraction of oil.

But which of these minimal-oil cooking appliances is right for you? A suitable choice depends on which of them best suits your capacity, preparation time, durability, among other requirements. First of all, you'll need to understand what a convection oven is (see this post) and what an air fryer is.

Which Is Better: Air Fryer vs Convection Oven?

Both appliances employ the same technology to circulate hot air quickly. Consequently, you end up with crispy meals without the excessive oil content of a traditional deep fryer (see how air fryers compare to deep fryers). So, between air fryers and convection ovens, which is better?

convection oven

What a Convection Oven Is?

A convection oven is a countertop oven that uses a sturdy fan to circulate air continuously, and it needs a high power supply. Because of its working mechanism, it enables food to cook more uniformly than when using a traditional oven.

The hot air force rapidly drives away steam from your food, resulting in a crisp exterior with the interior remaining moist. Multiple ovens feature perforated sheet pans to facilitate more air and ensure the food is crispier.

Typically, full-sized modern ovens have the convection setting on them and, therefore, the same operation as countertop convection ovens (see our 'Convection Oven vs Microwave' post, and this microwave air fryer from Galanz, too).

Pros of a Convection oven

  • Expansive capacity: These ovens typically accommodate more food than air fryers. Besides, their tiered tracks enable you to prepare vast quantities of multiple food types simultaneously.
  • Enhanced versatility: The majority of convection ovens permit the usage of various cooking functions like steaming, dehydrating, broiling, and roasting using the same equipment.
  • Easily cleanable: When using a convection oven, you don't have to clean it. You only need to take care of your dirty cooking tray, enabling you to handle the cleanup quickly and with little effort.
  • Budget pricing is based on your equipment type: a countertop convection oven and an air fryer usually come with comparable prices. That said, convection models are reasonably cheaper if you consider their feature-packed designs and numerous accessories that deliver value for money.

Cons of a Convection Oven

  • They are large-sized: A countertop convection oven usually comes with a considerable size that occupies a lot of space. Moreover, they are pretty heavy, meaning you cannot easily store them in your pantry or a cupboard.
pizza in the oven


What an Air Fryer Is?

An air fryer is basically a more compact version of a convection oven that provides more portability (see the top budget air fryer picks). Like convection ovens, they feature high-powered fans that circulate hot air, allowing food to be prepared hastily and uniformly while needing minimal oil.

Air fryers usually have larger fans than befits their size. For this reason, they can preheat and cook your food at a faster pace. An air fryer also has its fan and heating element placed on its top instead of on its back. This positioning enables the rapid cooking of food. However, the design may result in uneven cooking, and therefore, you need to shake your basket from time to time to maintain even cooking.

Pros of an Air Fryer

  • Food cooks more rapidly- Air fryers allow for quicker hot air movement than convection ovens, given their smaller size. Being able to get your food ready within a shorter period saves you time.
  • Space-saving design: Air fryers feature a tinier and more portable size than convection ovens. They occupy less space on your counter and allow you to store them in pantries and cabinets easily.
  • Allow cooking of frozen foods effortlessly: Given their powerful fans, they cook frozen meals swiftly and with ease. The continuous stream of hot air quickly drives away moisture to ensure the food doesn't become mushy while cooking.

Cons of an Air Fryer

  • Limited food capacity: this fryer usually fits smaller meals than a convection oven. Some air fryers can only accommodate a single serving or two simultaneously. Given the design of their cooking baskets, your food may fit in awkwardly or fail to do so.
  • They are more challenging to clean: Air fryers come with a bucket and a basket, which need cleaning. When cooking some of the greasiest meals, like mozzarella sticks and chicken wings, it is quite a hustle to clean your equipment after food preparation.
  • They are noisy: Based on your air fryer's brand, you may end up with quite a noisy machine. Some models can even be as noisy as vacuum cleaners.
  • Less sturdy: Air fryers are crafted from materials that are delicate and tend to develop issues or burn. Durability problems are more prevalent in the low-end options, but some pricier models still have flimsy designs.
best air fryer

Can I Use My Convection Oven as an Air Fryer?

Yes, you can. You don't require an air fryer to make the chicken wings crisp fries you like (take a look at best air fryers for chicken here and this post for chicken wings). An air fryer is just a tiny oven that features a fan to circulate hot air that dries your food's surface. With a toaster (see this oven from KitchenAid) or convection oven, you can still achieve the same results air frying offers.

Below are the tips for air fryer recipe making if you want crispy air-fried dishes using a convection oven.

Have Suitable Cooking Appliances and Accessories

A perforated crisper tray/ pan ensures the air is evenly circulated, ensuring your convection oven cooks food properly. If you lack one, you can swap these with oven-safe cooling racks. When using racks, line the oven's bottom with aluminum foil or place a baking sheet underneath your rack to trap meal crumbs and drips.

chicken in the oven

Spread Out Your Meals

If you stash your pan until the food touches or piles up, the sides won't brown properly. Your dishes will steam rather than getting baked (see this article for best baking convection ovens and our 'Air Fryer Vs. Baking' post). Spread the food evenly while providing adequate room between the batches to ensure the convection oven cooks the food properly.

Chop Your Food Properly

Foods like french fries are in slender sticks to ensure there is plenty of exterior surface for browning. Cut your food into long sticks or tiny, bite-sized chops. When cooking meals like tofu, consider tearing them to bits rather than slicing them. A craggy shape encourages the food's edges to be crispy and brown.

Properly Prepare Your Food

The less moisture there is in your food before it cooks, the better. Moreover, lightly applying cooking spray or tossing and brushing it with neutral oils (like grapeseed or vegetable oil) encourages crisping and browning. It also gives the food a touch of the tantalizing deep fryer taste without all the fat.

three bowls

Make Sure You Flip the Food

It's essential to flip air-fried food halfway while cooking to enable the food to heat and cook evenly. Likewise, ensure you don't skip this step when using regular or convection ovens.

Determine How to Tweak Your Recipes

Air fryers operate more rapidly and heat the food faster than a convection oven. Therefore, you will likely spend a little longer in a convection oven to get your food ready. Start checking whether your food is good on the go, based on your recipe.

If the meal isn't as brown as you would like it to be, confirm it after every three-minute interval until you achieve your desired browning level.

When it comes to temperature settings, the recommended air fryer temperatures range from 20 to 25 degrees below the temperature you would prepare that particular food using a convection oven.

You will have essentially the same recommendations when using convection ovens. That means the temperature settings both types of appliances use are the same.

Even when using an appliance like a toaster or a regular oven without a convection fan, set the temperature to 25 degrees and heat the oven first before placing your favourite cookies or other foods to cook.

woman in the kitchen

Is an Air Fryer Oven Worth It?

Air fryer ovens are full-sized ovens integrated with an air frying capacity, which minimizes the need to have more appliances occupying your counter space (see earlier 'Air Fryer vs Air Fryer Oven' post).

They save you time while allowing you to cook lots of food simultaneously (we also reviewed top air fryers for a family of 4). Some models have even more features, like an option to bake, toast, among other cooking procedures. It offers you more flexibility, making it a worthwhile choice. Also, if your main worry is how to make more shelf-stable food, read our 'Air Fryer Vs. Dehydrator' post.

Do Convection Ovens and Air Fryers Work on the Same Principle?

An air fryer and an oven essentially provide the same functionality, resulting in crispy and tasty meals without excessive oil usage. Both come with a high-powered fan and prepare food by whisking away the moisture.

While they have several differences, these two work on the same principle.

convection oven

Air Fryer Vs. Convection Oven: Which Should You Get?

A convection oven is excellent for someone looking to fry large meal quantities at once while having a durable and versatile product. If you live in a small studio apartment or simply need to declutter your kitchen counter, an air fryer is a great alternative.

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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