There’s no denying the pleasure of biting into your favorite fried foods. That deep-fried taste when French fries, chicken wings, and pretty much anything else has been cooked to perfection is beyond compare.
Or is it?
Increasingly, one of the most popular kitchen appliances making its way into the home is the air fryer. As the name suggests, air fryers work by air frying food, using a combination of super-heated air and significantly less oil.
In terms of how a deep fryer and an air fryer compare, it depends entirely on who you ask. Some cook food exclusively with their trusty air fryer and wouldn’t even consider resorting to a deep fryer. Elsewhere, there are those who would argue there is no substitute for a traditional deep fryer for any recipe that involves frying foods to perfection.
Hence, it’s worth taking a step back to look at both cooking methods from a purely objective standpoint. As with most things, there are pros and cons to consider with both.
Though when it comes to avoiding extra calories and combating high cholesterol (even heart disease), there’s a clear winner between the two.
How Do Deep Fryers Work?
The simplest of the two appliances is, of course, the deep fryer. In the whole air vs. deep fryer trade-off, the deep fryer is the most straightforward cooking method.
As the name suggests, deep frying is a method that uses plenty of oil to submerge a variety of foods completely in high-temperature fat. This is an extremely efficient way to cook food as every bit of the exposed surface is exposed to the hot oil at the same temperature and at the same time.
There’s no need for flipping, and you don’t really need to do anything, in order to achieve a crisp exterior and juicy interior. You simply sit back and let the hot cooking oil do its thing before diving into your favorite deep-fried foods.
How Do Air Fryers Work?
With an air fryer, the goal is to achieve the same with little or no oil at all. Significantly less oil is needed in an air fryer as the device primarily relies on the use of hot air.
An integral fan blasts this hot air around the air fryer at a carefully controlled temperature, which in conjunction with a thin layer of oil, gets the food cooked evenly and quickly. Most models feature timers and precise temperature controls, along with a removable cooking basket which is usually dishwasher safe.
Different air fryers - see air fryers for 4 people - have different configurations, features, and design traits, though they always use the same basic mechanism for the air frying process.
What are the Differences Between Deep Frying and Air Fryers?
1.The biggest difference between the two is the way in which traditionally fried foods cooked in a deep fryer need significantly higher quantities of oil to get the job done.
2. As there is more oil used in a deep fryer than an air fryer, it can be a quicker cooking method and result in an even crispier exterior.
3.Those who prefer the air fryer cooking method are often motivated by the prospect of fewer calories and a lower risk of the various diseases associated with excess fat consumption.
4. In addition, a good air fryer can be used for a wide variety of different recipes – they can roast chickens, bake desserts, and more.
5. With a deep fryer, the same oil is usually used multiple times before being discarded. With an air fryer, you use new/fresh oil with each cooking cycle.
6. You need a lot of oil to be able to use a deep fryer, whereas cooking with air fryers is possible with just a tiny amount of oil, or even no oil whatsoever.
Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer: Which is Best?
To a degree, it really is purely a case of personal taste and preferences. All approaches to cooking that involve frying foods can produce decadently delicious results – a true guilty pleasure.
Air fryers and deep fryers excel in different areas and have different points of appeal. It’s therefore worth comparing the two on a point by point basis, in order to work out which is best for you.
Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer: Taste
Conduct a taste test, and most would agree there really is no comparison. Air fryers are able to air fry a lot of different foods to crispy and delicious perfection without needing much oil. Nevertheless, deep fry the same foods to crispy perfection in a deep pot of oil, and the taste really is beyond compare.
From chicken nuggets to chicken tenders to French fries and so on, there’s no cooking method that can produce the same identical results as deep frying. Though, in fairness, some of the best air fryers on the market right now pull it off with a solid 90% accuracy or so - see best air fryers to prepare chicken or chicken wings.
Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer: Health
On the flip side of the coin, the potential health benefits of switching to an air fryer are extensive, to say the least. Using as little oil as possible and ensuring your food isn’t drenched in the stuff forms the core of healthy eating. Even where healthier oils like olive oil are concerned, you can still do a number on your health by eating too much of it.
There are certain foods like sweet potatoes that have a habit of sucking up fat like a sponge. Across the board, the air fryer wins by a clear mile where healthier eating is concerned. A great way of limiting the extra calories and lowering your risk of heart disease while still enjoying your favorite fried food exactly as you like it.
Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer: Versatility
As previously touched upon, one of the biggest benefits of owning an air fryer is the fact that it can be used in so many different ways. They function in the same way as small and energy-efficient convection ovens - see also air fryer toster ovens - meaning they can be used to bake, grill and roast just about anything. Again, without the need for much (or any) oil.
Deep fryers can also be hugely versatile, but for obvious reasons, they can only be used to deep fry food. Their heating element is submerged in the oil itself; therefore, the device cannot be used as a substitute for a conventional oven or any other kitchen appliance.
For this reason, the air fryer takes the title of most versatile of the two.
Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer: Cooking Time
Some would say that the deep fryer is the obvious choice when it comes to cooking times for the simple reason that deep-frying food does tend to be quicker than air-frying it. However, you also need to consider the time it takes to heat the vast quantity of oil in the fryer itself.
Many air fryers are so powerful and efficient that they are ready to use in just a couple of minutes. By contrast, a comparable deep fryer may need at least 10-12 minutes to reach the right temperature.
But given how the deep fryer would then subsequently fry the food much faster, there’s no real difference between the two.
Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer: Cleaning
Last up, the basket that fits inside both an air fryer and a deep fryer will usually be safe to clean in a dishwasher. Other than this, there are not typically any other removable parts that are dishwasher safe.
However, giving the interior of a deep fryer a deep and hygienic clean can be a much more labor-intensive job done than cleaning an air fryer. This is simply to do with the quantity of oil coating the surface, which after numerous cooking cycles, can be difficult to remove.
In addition, a deep fryer is much more likely to spit and splatter oil across your cooktops and kitchen than a sealed air fryer.
Bottom Line: Can an Air Fryer Replace a Deep Fryer?
For all intents and purposes, the answer is yes – air fryers are fantastic substitutes for deep fryers, with a long list of benefits. Once you’ve got to grips with the basics of air-fried foods, you can transition away from deep-fried without compromising on taste or enjoyment.
The fact that deep fryers require so much more oil makes the air fryer healthier, cleaner, and more convenient to use. Plus, the versatility of these fantastic appliances is another huge selling point. Finally, you can buy an excellent air fryer for less than 100 bucks, which makes it even more desirable.
Of course, you could (quite rightly) argue that the traditional deep frying method produces the best tasting results and the ultimate in crispy-coated goodness. The truth is, deep-fried food is beyond compare when it comes to guilty pleasures you know are not doing your health any good.
Compare exquisite deep-fried chicken to even the best air-fried chicken, and there really is no comparison.
But when it comes to enjoying your favorite food more often and without the guilt, it simply makes sense to choose a method that uses as little oil as possible. Coupled with how incredibly easy air fryers are to use, it’s an affordable and efficient gadget you really need to bring into your kitchen.