Are Convection Ovens and Air Fryers the Same? (All the Good and Bad!)
Ever since the invention of the microwave oven, cooking has become a lot more convenient.
However, with newer innovations like convection and air fryers hitting store shelves every day, it can be hard to know what is worth buying.
But don’t worry! I’m here to clear things up for you in this blog post by telling you everything there is about these two new kitchen appliances that could save your sanity during mealtime preparation.
Are convection ovens and air fryers the same?
Convection ovens and air fryers are two different types of kitchen appliances, but in more cases than not, they are very similar. Convection ovens cook food using a fan that circulates hot air around the food. It also uses an exhaust system that helps control the flow of air, while air fryers circulate hot air into a closed cylindrical compartment to cook the food. Air fryers are easier to clean because they are smaller than convection ovens and, because they have a drip tray, air fryers can catch oil drippings and crumbs at the bottom of its basket.
Air fryers also cook food faster than convection ovens because they are small and use high-speed air movement. The hot air circulates around the food thanks to the design of the interior chamber, resulting in a quick and evenly cooked meal. Convection ovens cook food quickly, but they don’t have the high-speed air movement that air fryers do. With a more powerful fan strategically moving hot air around every corner of the food, your meal will be done a lot faster than in a convection oven.
Air fryers are a relatively new appliance that has taken the home cooking world by storm. They work similarly to convection ovens in that they circulate hot air around the food, but they also have a fan that helps to speed up the cooking process. That’s the main focus of air fryers: the fan. Foods cooked in an air fryer taste similar to what you would get with a deep fryer—crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
Key differences between convection ovens and air fryers
In most cases, air fryers are usually smaller devices when compared to convection ovens. Convection ovens are usually full-sized kitchen appliances that can handle things like whole chickens. Very few fires are built that large. Keep in mind, however, that the size of the chamber may also have a direct correlation with how fast your food gets cooked. If it’s bigger, then more hot air will be required to fully cook your meal. If you use a smaller chamber, it’s going to be much easier to spread hot air around all the corners of the food. So less heat would be wasted, and the food would cook faster.
2. Fan location
Almost all air fryers will have fans blowing down from the top of the machine. In fact, air fryers aggressively use their fans to push air in a circular motion throughout the chamber of the appliance. Compared to convection ovens, the fans are usually found on the back of the model, and they work by casually pushing air around..
3. Heating source
When it comes to an air fryer, the heating element is usually found at the very top of the machine, along with where the fan is located. I’ve seen heating elements that were either above the fan or below the fan in an air fryer. When it comes to a convection oven, you’ll likely see that the heat source is located at both the bottom and the top. While this may seem like it’s much more powerful and faster, it turns out that with the use of air fryers, the circulated air does wonders for cooking speed.
4. Fan performance
Air fryers will have fans that are much larger and more powerful than those of convection ovens. Air fryers focus a lot of their strengths on the fan and the heat source. And that’s why you often see that air fryers will have fans that are at least one and a half times faster than the smaller fans found in convection ovens.
There are more accessories for air fryers than you can count on your hands. If you own an air fryer, you have likely seen that you can purchase things like extra trays, racks, and replacement baskets to make your cooking experience way better. With convection ovens, they seem to be very limited in what types of accessories you can buy.
6. Power consumption
You’ll notice that air fryers consume less power than convection ovens. That’s because air fryers focus on a combination of the heating element and a powerful fan. They also designed the insides of these air fryers so that the air that circulates goes in a particular direction that helps better cook your food evenly and quickly. It is difficult to create such a design when it comes to a convection oven.
7. Cook time
With all of this explained, it’s pretty obvious that air fryers cook food faster than conventional models. Not only are their fans more powerful, but the compartment that you put your food in is much smaller. This allows for the trapped air to stay in longer and not have to disperse so much and lose its heating. For example, if you were trying to heat up a large room, it might take several minutes. However, if you’re trying to heat up the contents inside a small box, it’s much easier because you won’t need that much heat to accomplish it. This is the same thing that goes on with air fryers being smaller than convection ovens.
As for efficiency, the prize goes to air fryers. Heating elements take a lot of energy, but fans are relatively easy to operate and don’t require as much power consumption. By harnessing both heat energy and the fan, air fryers and their small compartments are able to heat up to the right temperature sooner and cook food faster. You probably won’t get this type of efficiency when it comes to those larger convection ovens since some of them have more than one heating element on the top and bottom, and they only use their fans as an exhaust.
Key similarities between convection ovens and air fryers
Both use heating elements to cook
Both an air fryer and a convection oven use heating elements to create the heat that is needed to cook the food. These heating elements are not in the same area, however. With a convection oven, there is a heating element on the top and bottom of the cooking chamber, while the air fryer only has an element on the top.
Both use fans to help circulate the heat
Both a convection oven and an air fryer use fans to help circulate the heat around the cooking chamber. An air fryer is much smaller than most convection ovens, so they have a smaller fan.
Both cook at a lower temperature than a traditional oven
Both the air fryer and the convection oven cook foods at about 20 to 25 degrees lower than what you would need in a traditional oven. The reason for this is that they do have fans to help circulate the heat, which means that the heat is going to be more even than it would be in a traditional oven. Since there is no fan circulating the heat in a traditional oven, you do have to use a higher heat to cook food all the way through.
Why would you prefer an air fryer over a convection oven?
Convection ovens have a larger cooking capacity
The first benefit of a convection oven over an air fryer is that they are almost always larger than an air fryer. They are larger, so you can cook more food in them, and you can have larger batches but still cook them faster than you would if you were to cook the same food in a conventional oven.
Convection ovens can cook more evenly
Another benefit of a convection oven is that, with its larger size, it is often easier to get a more even cook. This means that if you do have food that is harder to cook, something that is a bit more difficult or something that is a bit more delicate, it may be better to opt for a convection oven.
Convection ovens are are a bit more reliable
Since they are somewhat like a normal oven in their setup, they may be easier to use for those that are not tech savvy or who might not know how to use a traditional air fryer. They are easier to use if you are not sure how to use an air fryer.
Why would you prefer a convection oven over an air fryer?
Air fryers are smaller and more portable
Most air fryers are quite a bit smaller than convection ovens, even the larger ones. A great air fryer is going to be smaller, and it is going to be a great option if you want something that is going to be compact and work well in a place like an apartment or a small kitchen space.
Air fryers are faster
Another benefit is that they are quite a bit faster than convection ovens. If you have an air fryer, you have a much smaller area to heat, so it is going to heat up faster and stay hot longer. This means that you are going to have a much shorter cook time with an air fryer than you would with a larger convection oven.
Air fryers are easy to use
These are very easy to use, and they are simple in that they do not have a ton of buttons or settings that you have to learn how to use. They are relatively straightforward, they are simple to use, and they get the job done; they can cook just about anything that you might want to cook.
Air fryers are easy to clean
They are also very easy to clean. They are not going to have a ton of parts to move or to clean, as the basket is the only part that you can really wash in the dishwasher or sink.
Which is better: A convection oven or an air fryer?
Convection oven or air fryer? If you want something that is larger, something that is going to cook more food, or something that is going to be closer to your traditional oven, a convection oven might be what you are looking for.
Convection ovens are great if you want something that is just a little different than your traditional oven. If you want something that is smaller, something more compact but still powerful, and something that is easy to use and easy to clean, the air fryer is the way to go. These are also often cheaper without really sacrificing quality, and they are a great option if you have limited space, perhaps, and you still want something that is going to get the job done.
Air fryers are great for apartment living, for those kitchens that need a bit more cooking power but that might not have space for a convection oven, and for those that still want a great machine that is going to cook great food.
Other interesting articles: