June 23

Air Fryer Vs Microwave | Do You Need One for Your Kitchen or Both?

Author: Gisele Perez
Kitchengearoid.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Do you have a microwave in your kitchen already? If so, do you still have an air fryer?

Microwaves and air fryers are some of the most helpful kitchen appliances meant to make our lives in the kitchen easier. Although air fryer vs microwave devices employ different technologies to work, they both help in cutting time in the kitchen compared to conventional methods.

With the two appliances helping to make work easier in the kitchen, you might be lost deciding whether you need one for your kitchen or both.

You can use a microwave oven (see 'Best Microwaves Under $200') for cooking and baking food to perfection. On the other hand, an air fryer makes it possible to cook a variety of dishes easily.

So, what's the difference between a microwave and an air fryer? Which is better, air fryer or microwave?

What Is an Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a fairly modern kitchen appliance that has gained popularity in the recent past. Kitchen appliances try to recreate the process of cooking using hot air instead of hot oil.

If you want to practice healthy eating, using an air fryer for your cooking is the way to go. The kitchen appliance uses little to no oil in cooking which helps reduce calorie uptake. On the other hand, deep frying is a bit of an unhealthy style of cooking. You cook by submerging the food in fat, and the fat is absorbed into the food during the process. This leads to a lot of calories in your body.

crispy food

Air fryers work using the principle of convection, where hot air circulates inside the chamber using a high-speed fan. The hot air sucks the moisture from the food, resulting in crispy and dry foods.

It works with other reactions, such as the Maillard effect and caramelization, to create a deep-fried effect on the food. Thus, the food looks and tastes like fried food.

Some recipes may require you to add a little oil to the food to offer a crunchy effect.

An air fryer is the best bet for cooking food that would be unhealthy, thereby making it a little more healthy. You can also use these best air fryers for chicken that requires high external temperatures to become crispy.

What Is a Microwave Oven?

Although microwave ovens look quite modern, they are a kitchen appliance that was invented a long time ago. On that note, check out our 'Best Retro Microwave Ovens' review if you feel nostalgic.

The kitchen appliance works by exposing the food at the centre of the oven to electromagnetic radiation in the microwave frequency range. They use high radio frequency waves that the machine transmits through a tube known as a magnetron.

The machines have energy equivalent to 2,450 megahertz, making them ideal for making and cooking food.

microwave oven

Microwave ovens generate microwave radiation and use it on your food. The generated microwaves penetrate the first three centimetres of your food and then heat pockets of water rapidly. The heat from the pockets of water then spreads to other parts of your food using conduction.

The microwave oven has spinning turntables in the middle, which are timed to spin a number of times. The spinning ensures there is even cooking. As such, if you place food in the centre of the microwave, it is exposed to radiation from all sides as the turntable rotates.

Most people use microwaves (see 'Best Microwaves Under $150') to reheat food. Rather, they use them for cooking. Microwaves do an excellent job of reheating food, but do little to add to the flavour. Therefore, people will cook using an oven or a pan and then reheat the food using a microwave.

However, people can use the microwave for cooking small amounts of food for a few people. For instance, you can cook a baked potato or you can microwave eggs for one or two people.

Best Air Fryers for Chicken Wings

What's the Difference Between Microwaves and Air Fryers? 

Cooking Time 

One of the most notable differences between the two kitchen appliances is in the time it takes to cook food.

An air fryer will take more time to cook the same food compared to a microwave.

For instance, the best air fryers for chicken wings will take about six to seven minutes. If you cook the same type of food using a microwave, it might take you about three to four minutes.

However, a longer cooking time means a better infusion of the flavours. As such, the longer time it takes an air fryer to cook means you end up with more delicious food.


Microwaves may take up more of your kitchen space as they come in larger sizes.

On the other hand, air fryers are compact countertop kitchen appliances.

white microwave ovens

Cooking Techniques 

One of the most significant differences between the two kitchen appliances is the cooking technique each of them uses. An air fryer features a built-in coil that helps to produce heat. It then uses a fan to circulate the hot air in the chamber.

A microwave uses an element known as a magnetron, a heating element in the form of a tube. The magnetron blows out the heat produced by the microwaves.


An air fryer is a versatile kitchen appliance as you can use it for cooking seafood recipes such as crab cakes. You can also cook vegan favourites and various chicken dishes.

On the other hand, you have a microwave that you can use to do all that and much more. For instance, you can use it to make food with wet batters, such as wet batter fishes.

In terms of versatility, a microwave performs better than an air fryer.

Air Fryer Buying Guide

Health Factor

If you want to embrace healthy eating, an air fryer will be a better option for you. Air Fryers are considered healthy as you can cook your food with little or no oil. As such, these kitchen appliances help to minimize your calorie intake.

On the other hand, you have modern versions of microwaves that still require oil while brushing the baking tray or cooking lots of food. As such, an air fryer is considered more healthy.

Additionally, electromagnetic radiation in high quantities may put your food at health risk. On the other hand, an air fryer uses rapid air technology to cook your food.


When considering which one to buy between an air fryer and a microwave, it's vital to consider its size and cooking capacity. The capacity matters a lot if you are cooking for a lot of people (see 'Best Air Fryer for Family of 4') and you don't want a limiting kitchen appliance.

The microwave has a larger capacity than that of an air fryer as you can cook large quantities of food at once.

Best Air Fryers for Chicken

You can even place borosilicate bowls in a microwave to warm the food.

On the other hand, you can use an air fryer for cooking smaller batches of food as it has a smaller capacity (see 'Best Air Fryer Under $100'). Additionally, it is compact in size, and it is also lightweight. As such, it is easy to store kitchen appliances.

Energy Efficiency

Before you can decide which one you'll take between a microwave or an air fryer, it will help a lot if you can consider their energy efficiency. This will affect how much you pay for your power bills, etc.

Unlike microwaves, an air fryer will require some time before it can reach the desired temperature for cooking. However, the heating doesn't take a long time, and the kitchen will be ready for use within no time.

Therefore, air fryers are more efficient in terms of power consumption, running between 1200 to 1500 watts.

Additionally, temperature and time are adjustable components of an air fryer. As such, you may not notice a significant difference between a 1200-watt unit and a 1500-watt unit.

Microwave ovens consume around 1200-watts for about 30 minutes, meaning they are more energy-efficient than air fryers.

While in standby mode, a microwave consumes between 2 to 7 watts, which is a negligible amount of energy.

Air Fryer or Microwave: Which One to Take?

There are several factors to consider while deciding which one to take, between a microwave and an air fryer.

For instance, there are certain types of foods that you can cook using a microwave, but you can't cook using a microwave, and vice versa.

For example, you shouldn't cook meat using a microwave. If you want to cook chicken, fish, bacon, etc., an air fryer will be the best choice for you.

Can You Put a Countertop Microwave in a Cabinet

What's more?

Cooking meat using an air fryer is an effortless and straightforward task. You don't even need to add a lot of oil. Just put a light coat on the meat, put it in the cooking basket, and wait for a delicious and crispy meal.

On the other hand, you may not use an air fryer to heat water or melt butter for baking.

Therefore, the choice between an air fryer or a microwave will depend on what you want to cook.

Health concerns are also another consideration when you want to choose between the two. Air fryers use little to no oil while cooking, making them a healthier option.

Best retro microwave ovens

Final Thoughts 

Before you can decide which one to purchase, between a microwave or an air fryer, there are several factors to consider. Such factors include size, capacity, health, energy efficiency, etc.

Ensure that your choice fits the purpose for which you need a kitchen appliance.

About the author

Gisele Perez

When not giving in-home, hands-on cooking classes, or developing recipes, Gisele "cooks" wonderful posts for us. She writes about various topics related to cooking appliances and cooking methods.


You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}