Modern-day cooking inspired by innovative kitchen appliances is a rising trend like never before. While convection oven was considered a staple in every kitchen to ease baking and cooking, air-fryers a new kitchen invention is fast gaining ground. But are air fryers any different from our mother’s traditional ovens or is it just a fancy and catchier name for the same humble device that has helped generations to roll out the best recipes from their kitchen counters? Let us find out…
Before we begin comparing the two kitchen appliances it is imperative to understand the working of each of these and how they help homemakers in making ordinary-looking dishes look exotic and mouth-watering.
What is a Convection Oven?
A convection oven resembles to a large extent its predecessor the toaster oven.
However, what makes a convection oven more upgraded than a standard oven is the placement of a fan inside that blows hot air all around the compartment. The fan allows hot air to be blown around and onto the food for even cooking. The force of hot air transfers more heat to the surface of the food making it crispier than in an ordinary oven.
The circulation of hot air within an oven is called the convection effect and it results in greater heat transmission to the surface of the food, resulting in better cooking. It accelerates the cooking process and gives your food a better browning and crispier look.
What is an Air Fryer?
An air fryer is a small portable convection oven that essentially does all the functions of an oven sans its huge design.
It is small like a coffee maker that sits smartly on your kitchen top. It has a removable basket and a sturdy handle. Inside the basket is another perforated basket where the food is placed. The bucket slides into the bigger removable basket and when the appliance is switched on, the food starts to cook. It too has a fan that is placed just above the heated element.
Compared to the convection oven, food cooks much faster in an air fryer because the cooking compartment is small and the fan is placed much closer to the food. Thus the heat is more focused on the food. Consequently, the food not only cooks faster but is crispier and brown.
However, the air fryer has limited cooking space, which means that it cooks only two servings at a time as compared to an oven that has a large baking tray.
So, if you are planning to cook large amounts of food in a fryer, you have to either cook in batches or periodically shake the basket to toss the food items ensuring uniform cooking of all pieces.
What Makes the Two Different? Air Fryers Vs Oven
Having understood the functioning and usability of both an oven and an air fryer, let us see what makes the two similar yet different from each other in terms of the following parameters.
Traditional convection ovens are large or reasonably big to occupy substantial space on your kitchen countertop. They are usually installed one and mark their place there for years. Their large size offers you space and convenience to cook enough food for the family in one take.
Air fryers are portable, compact and they too are often placed on kitchen tops or shelves. However, when not in use they can be stored in cupboards or kitchen cabinets. Their lightweight makes them portable and easy to move.
Since the fan in an air fryer is placed above the heating element, heat in an air fryer comes from the top. In a convection oven, the heat is dissipated both from the top and the bottom to cover the large cooking compartment. The top and bottom heat generation lead to even cooking of the food.
Placement of Fan
In an air fryer the fan is located on the top while in a convection oven, the fan is placed at the back of the oven either in the center or on the side.
Size and Speed of the Fan
Air fryer fans are large and operate faster than convection oven fans. They are noisier as compared to convection ovens. Some air fryers generate as much sound like a vacuum cleaner.
An air fryer is far more expensive than a traditional convection oven. While on the other hand, air fryers have less capacity in terms of holding food as compared to ovens. The variety of dishes cooked in an oven is also far more than an air fryer.
Texture of Food
Air fryers produce crispier and crunchier food as the heat from the fan is concentrated on the food. The food cooked in an oven is less crispy as compared to an air fryer.
In an air fryer, you cannot see the food that is being cooked inside; whereas a convection oven helps you see the food through the transparent window. Viewing food at different stages of cooking gives you a better judgment of the cooking process and the time needed for each recipe.
Energy consumption largely depends upon the make and capacity of the kitchen appliance. On average air fryers use up to 1400 and 1700 watts of electricity, this translates into 1.4kwh and 1.7kwh hour of use respectively. Ovens can use a lot of energy depending upon the temperature set. Average ovens use about 2400 watts on medium to high heat.
Final Words: The Better of the Two
Well, choosing between an air fryer and a convection oven can be a bit tricky. If you prefer fried foods or finger foods or frozen dishes that just need frying then an air fryer is good for you because it gives the taste and texture of fried food without binging on those extra calories that come from deep-frying. However, it serves good only for a couple or a small family.
If you intend to treat your friends or family over a party or social gathering then a convection oven comes to your rescue. It cooks a large variety of food and that too in good quantities, without you having to spend the entire evening in the kitchen.
Similarly, if you plan to bake cakes or confectionary or roast a large meat piece with a burnt charcoal aroma then air fryers are no good for you. For such dishes, stews and kebabs, you need to make the best use of an oven that ensures meticulous cooking of large pieces of food.
So, where do you plan to put in your investment- in an air fryer or oven? Well, we leave that on you… to choose between conventional or modern cooking options.