Microwaves are a staple in most modern kitchens. They can be used to cook food quickly and efficiently, but who’s this new kid on the block?
Air fryer families are growing in insane numbers these past few years and are taking over many kitchens lately.
If you’re still using a microwave, is there any reason to get yourself an air fryer?
In this article, I want to help you decide whether you need an air fryer if you already have a microwave.
Can a microwave air fry?
A traditional microwave, due to the nature of how they cook, cannot air fry food. They can cook food from the inside out, but since the air inside the microwave never gets hot, the food is the only thing that heats up, there is no real way that a microwave can deliver any results that are even remotely like those of an air fryer. There are newer model microwaves that are being designed with air frying capabilities, but these are not microwaves in the traditional sense.
How do microwaves work?
Microwaves work with a part that is called a magnetron. This magnetron emits microwaves that enter the food that is being cooked. The microwaves then agitate the water particles that are inside the food that is cooking, making them move very fast and, therefore, creating heat. This heat is what thaws food in the microwave and what heats it overall.
How do air fryers work?
Air fryers work on the principle of convection, or the circulation of air. An air fryer can be broken up into four parts: the basket or cavity, the controls, the heating element, and the fan.
The controls are what set how hot the heating element gets. The heating element heats up, the blower or fan blows air across the heating element, and the hot air circulates through the basket or cavity to heat the food that is inside. The hot air circulating around the food is what both heats it up and crisps the exterior to simulate frying.
What is the difference between microwaves and air fryers?
Different cooking methods
These are two totally different heating methods. Though both do result in food that is heated up and ready to eat, they are not the same at all. A microwave is not going to be able to give you food that is crispy, and an air fryer is not ideal for things like soups.
Different cooking times
Cooking times with these cooking methods also differ. Microwaves are very fast when it comes to heating up food. Air fryers, though they are also fast, do take a little longer than microwaves, especially if you want to get the exterior of the food very crispy.
Differences in the types of foods produced
To really understand the difference between an air fryer and a microwave, it helps to look at an example. Say you have fried chicken from the night before that has been in the fridge overnight.
When you put this chicken in the microwave, you can only ever hope for chicken that has just warmed up. The skin is going to be gummy and wet, the chicken itself may seem to dry out, and the overall result, while edible, is nothing like the chicken was when you first got it.
With an air fryer, you can heat up the chicken and crisp up the skin. The air circulating around the chicken is going to both heat it back up and crisp the skin up so that you get a meal that is as close to what it was when you bought it without any added effort.
Differences in capacity and sizes
There are also differences in the overall sizes of these machines. The size of a microwave is fairly standard; there are not many differences. The main difference is between a standard and a compact model. With a microwave, however, you are not going to be able to use all of the space as you do need to allow the table to rotate while the food is cooking. Air fryers come in all shapes and sizes, from very small ones that hold around 2 cups of food, to large oven style air fryers that can hold an entire chicken.
Differences in versatility
There are also differences in how versatile your air fryer and microwave are. Microwaves are going to cook food in a fairly one-note manner. This means that you are not going to be able to do things like cook baked goods from their raw state in it, you are not going to be able to cook a huge range of different foods at the same time, and you may be limited in how good the food tastes as well.
Take, for example, what kinds of functions you’d typically find in an air fryer.
- Air fry
- Air roast
If you look at your microwave, you will most likely find it has automatic buttons for:
- Auto cook
- Auto reheat
- Auto defrost
Differences in power consumption
Of the two, a microwave is more energy efficient simply because it does not have to stay on as long to cook the food. A typical microwave uses about 1200 watts while in operation for 30 minutes. This means that if it is used for 2 minutes, it will use less than 100 watts during that time. An air fryer uses about 1700 watts per hour, but they do take longer to cook and do use more power while they are actually cooking.
Differences in benefits and health factors
There is no proof that a microwave takes any nutrients from your food. However, food that tastes good is going to be something that you actually want to eat. Food from an air fryer is going to taste better, look better, and be more appealing to eat overall than food that you get out of a microwave.
Air fryers have been growing in popularity in recent years as what is arguably considered a healthier option for cooking food, but this is mainly when you compare it to deep frying. This means that you can cook your favorite foods without having to worry about adding unhealthy fats.
There have been some studies claiming that microwaves can lead to a loss of important nutrients during preparation. But as I mentioned before, the conclusion of the study stated that more tests needed to be done to confirm the outcome.
Differences in accessories
There are also far more accessories for air fryers that make it possible to cook all sorts of food in them, aside from just things that you want to crisp up.
Advantages and disadvantages of microwaves
Microwaves are a type of oven that uses radio frequencies and electromagnetic waves to heat food. They have become the staple of quick cooking appliances in recent years because they are faster than traditional ovens and easier to use compared to conventional ovens.
Additionally, microwaves are much more affordable than other types of ovens.
Microwaves are also energy-efficient when compared to other cooking appliances like air fryers, and can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Finally, microwaves cook much faster than almost any other cooking appliance in the kitchen. If you’re strapped for time and late to work, throw it in the microwave and you’ll save yourself several minutes.
While microwaves provide some quality and taste benefits, they also have a few disadvantages.
First, microwaves are generally small, so if you’re cooking for a large crowd, an oven may be a better option.
Second, microwaves can be dangerous because they can cause fires if not used properly, which is not an issue with other types of ovens. If you didn’t know, you can’t microwave anything that’s metal because it would cause sparks and potentially a fire to erupt.
Third, microwaves just don’t produce the same quality of food as an air fryer. If you microwave something too much, you might end up with a dry, leathery meal. If you don’t microwave it enough, you’ll experience cold and hot spots in your food.
Finally, microwaves require less work than other cooking methods but still take longer than air fryers or stove-tops to cook food evenly.
Advantages and disadvantages of air fryers
There are actually many more microwaves in the household than there are air fryers, but air fryers have some distinct advantages.
There are a ton of features when it comes to air fryers, including air frying, broiling, toasting, dehydrating, and much, much more. There are way more options compared to a microwave, which normally just has defrost, popcorn, frozen, etc.
Air fryers often cook without the need for oil. Air fryers can also create a meal from raw to cooked. But, the main advantage is that food becomes crispy on the outside when you cook with an air fryer.
Even though air fryers can cook food faster than conventional ovens, they are much slower than microwaves. You might also need to preheat your air fryer to get it to the right temperature before placing your food in it.
Air fryers are usually smaller than microwaves, and, in turn, they can’t hold as much food as a microwave. However, this really depends on the capacity of the air fryer you own.
Another issue you might run into is that air fryers are a more expensive alternative to microwaves. If you want the larger air fryers, you’re going to have to pay many times more than your typical regular microwave.
Microwaves or air fryers: deciding which one’s better for you
When it comes to air fryers and microwaves, there are a lot of similarities: they’re both appliances used for cooking, they use heat to cook food, and they have their own benefits and drawbacks. However, there are some notable distinctions between the two that may help you decide which one is best for your needs.
For starters, air fryers are typically more expensive than microwaves. They also don’t crisp food as well as microwaves do. In fact, sometimes the performance can be quite disappointing. Air fryers also have a downside because they can’t cook as many things as microwaves can. Most air fryer recipes call for smaller quantities of food than what you would cook in a microwave.
On the other hand, air fryers have some distinct advantages over microwaves. For one, they have a much sleeker design that many people prefer over the boxy look of microwaves. They’re also typically larger in size than microwaves, which means you can cook more food at once. Additionally, air fryers take less time to heat up than microwaves do. While an oven typically takes 45 to 60 minutes to heat up, an air fryer may only require about 2 hours of heating before it’s ready to use.
Finally, it’s important to consider the fact that microwaves and air fryers use different methods to cook food. Microwaves cook food using electricity, while air fryers use the convection method of heating. This means that microwaves cook food more quickly than air fryers do, but sometimes the food can come out dry or rubbery. Air fryers are a better option if you’re looking for perfectly cooked dishes, but they require more time to achieve this outcome.
In the end, both microwaves and air fryers have their own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s up to you to decide which one is right for you. Consider your needs and preferences when making your decision. If you’re looking for quick and easy meals, then a microwave is probably the better choice for you. If you want an appliance with a sleeker design that can cook larger quantities of food at once, an air fryer is a better option.
The convection microwave oven
If you’re looking for a single device that does it all, then you might want to look into the convection microwave oven.
They are a 3-in-1 microwave, air fryer, and convection oven, and they are a great option for those who want ultimate cooking versatility. The combination cooking option is faster than either mode alone. It combines air frying with a microwave’s turntable features. Unfortunately, you can’t run both the microwave and the air fryer at the same time.
With air fry technology, which also uses a heating element and fan, you can cook with little or no oil for healthier items such as fried chicken wings, popcorn shrimp, chicken nuggets, and pizza bites.
The convection technology circulates heated air throughout the oven as food spins 360° on the microwave turntable, cooking your food faster and more evenly. Plus, the microwave has an auto-cook function that ensures that your food is not under or overcooked.
So whether you’re looking to fry up some chicken wings or bake a cake, these machines have you covered. If you want a machine that’s incredibly versatile and does everything a microwave and an air fryer do, then you should look into convection microwave ovens.
Convection microwave ovens are microwaves that can air fry!
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