Air Fryer vs. Convection Oven – What’s the Difference?
Cooking technologies and appliances keep changing and new ones are always popping up now and then. One that is fast becoming popular in many homes across the world is the air fryer which is mostly because it promises to be a healthier and more efficient method of cooking.
But as popular as it might be, many people will still not trade their convection oven for this newer cooking technology as they still find it more efficient.
Also, a huge chunk of home cooks out there can still find it hard to choose between the convection oven and the air fryer despite the latter being the trendier cooking option.
Although both use quite similar cooking methods, they still differ in several aspects and knowing these differences should make it easier to pick one. Here we explain these differences in detail, but first, check out our overviews of these two amazing appliances.
Air Fryer Overview
Air fryers might not have been around as long as the convection oven and other convection cooking methods but there is no doubt that they are now one of the most popular cooking appliances.
What makes them special is that they will allow users to make their favorite fried foods without having to deep-fry them and will hence get healthier food with significantly fewer calories.
Besides being healthier, these are also super easy to use appliances which will allow you to make your favorite dishes without doing much. Better yet, they are the kind of appliance that will not clutter your kitchen as they typically come in a small and space-saving design.
Unlike the convection oven, they will not take a lot of time or resources to maintain given that they are simple devices that often come with removable and dishwasher-safe parts for easier cleaning.
When compared to a convection oven, it will cook relatively faster, and while it might not be as versatile as the latter, it will also be ideal for various other cooking methods besides frying.
But, if you are planning to cook for a larger family, an air fryer might not be the best for you as most will typically have a relatively smaller capacity. While they make delicious foods, the taste is quite different and will take some getting used to.
Read More: Pros and Cons of Air Fryer
Whether you want to bake, grill or roast food, the convection oven will always come in handy as it can do all this and much more as it is one of the most versatile cooking appliances you can have at home.
The convection ovens are more like a regular oven, but will include a fan inside that helps to circulate air around the food to ensure faster and more even cooking just like an air fryer.
However, unlike the air fryer, most convection ovens will come with a relatively larger capacity to allow you to cook more food at ago. Given the more open design, even the smaller ones can still accommodate larger and awkwardly shaped foods like a whole chicken.
To make them even more versatile, some convection oven will also include an option to turn the fan off which allows you to use them as regular ovens. Generally, they will also often be better-built with heavier gauge materials than air fryers.
But, given the exposed heating element and hard to reach corners, convection ovens will often take more time and effort to maintain which for many users can be a significant drawback.
How they Cook
Forceful circulation of hot air
Conduction and forced convection
Size and Footprint
Small and space-saving
Takes up a little more space
Ease of Use
Requires more monitoring
A little hectic
$100 to $300
$150 to $400
Air Fryer vs. Convection Oven
Given that the air fryer and convection oven cook food in quite similar manners, picking between them is not always a straightforward affair. But as much as they are similar in various aspects, these cooking appliances will also have some key differences which should help make your choice easier. And here are some of their few differences.
1. How they Cook
These appliances will use quite similar cooking methods as they will both cook by spreading hot air over and around the food. However, there are still a few differences in how they do this.
The air fryer will generally cook food by forcefully circulating air over the food and many models will use a special rapid air technology that allows them to heat up fast.
They will have either one or two heating elements and also just one fan or a couple. The cooking chamber is often always sealed out completely almost like in an instant pot.
Read More: Instant Pot vs. Air Fryer
Another point to keep in mind is that air fryers will typically be electric as it is hard for any other power source to work well with the cooking technique.
Convection ovens, on the other hand, will be more like regular ovens but with a built-in fan, and they can use either gas or electricity.
They will cook by producing heat using conduction means like a regular oven, but they will also have forced convection which will force the hot air to circulate inside to speed up the cooking process.
It is also worth noting that while air fryers will cook by forcing the hot air over the food, the convection ovens will circulate the hot air around the food.
When it comes to the healthiness of the food cooked, there is hardly any other cooking method that outperforms the air fryers including the convection oven despite the two cooking with relatively similar technologies.
While both are quite healthy, the fact that the air fryer cooks with little to no oil makes it a little healthier. When cooking foods with natural fats like steaks and chicken with the skin on or processed frozen foods, you will not need to add any oil to the air fryer which makes it healthier.
Also, the fact that food will cook at a higher temperature in an air fryer than a convection oven means that it will cook up faster, and hence retaining most of its healthy natural nutrients.
3. Size and Footprint
Air fryers are quite famous for their small size, and they are the kind of appliance that you can expect to take up insignificant counter space, which makes it perfect for the small urban kitchens.
A typical or standard size air fryer will have a footprint of under 12 inches, and because it is also under 17 inches high, it can fit perfectly under most kitchen cabinets which makes it even more convenient. But, it is also worth keeping in mind that there are many larger models out there that will have a way larger footprint than this.
Read More: What Size Air fryer do I Need?
With the convection oven, the appliance will also not take up a lot of space, but when compared to the air fryer, it has a relatively larger footprint as the smaller ones will take up at least 22 inches on their longest size and will also be over 20 inches in height.
4. Cooking Capacity
While the larger size of the convection oven might be a drawback for those looking for something more space-saving, it also comes with its advantages. And key among these merits is the fact that the oven will have a larger cooking capacity.
With even the smallest convection oven, you should not have any difficulties fitting in a whole chicken in there, but with a small air fryer, this will not be possible without first cutting it down.
Also, the convection oven is more open like a regular oven which means there will be more space in there, and you will not need to squeeze you food into a tight cooking basket or pan like in an air fryer.
But, both appliance will come with different cooking capacities, and so it is also possible to get air fryers with upwards of 5-quart capacity, and can hence cook more food at a go.
5. Ease of Use
For the ease of use, the air fryer also takes the day here because almost anyone can cook with one even with no prior experiences as they will come with few and straightforward controls that are super easy to figure out.
Some will even have just simple knobs that you only need to turn to set the temperature and cooking time. Besides this, the only other thing you need to be to plug in the machine and add food to the cooking basket.
Convection ovens will often come with a digital control interface depending on the model you are buying which should give you an easy time. But since the controls differ from one brand to the other, it can be hard to figure things out. Cooking on the convection oven generally requires a little closer monitoring.
As much you might hate having to clean up your cookware and appliances, it is an important part of using them that you should not skip if you want to keep them in good working condition.
When it comes to the ease of use, the air fryer will give you a much easier time than the convection oven. Air fryers will include a drip tray at the bottom that is designed to catch food cramps and the dripping fluids like oil for easier cleaning.
Also, the air fryer will be more effective at preventing food from splattering or spilling when cooking as they are well sealed off which mean you will not end up with a messy kitchen.
Convection ovens, on the other hand, will give you a harder time because the way they are built makes it hard to reach the far corners, and so you might not clean the interior thoroughly. Also, these ovens will have an exposed heating element at the bottom which means it will end up dirty from the food dripping and hence give you a more tedious cleanup job.
7. Average Prices
Given the many brands that make both the air fryer and convection oven, you can get either at almost any budget, and this is more so given that these brands also have several models in the market.
However, the convection oven tends to be generally more expensive when compared to the air fryers. And while you can still get some very basic models for under $100, to get something well-built, feature-rich and high-performing, you should be ready to part with between $150 and $400.
A good air fryer, on the other hand, will retail for between $100 and $300, but it is also not uncommon to find a small capacity and basic model for a little over $50.
Read More: The Best Budget Air Fryers
As you are shopping for a healthier way of cooking food that does not involve using excess amounts of oil, you will often end up having to choose between a convection oven and an air fryer.
Both make some fantastic food and will cook efficiently enough. While they may cook using quite similar technologies, they will differ in various aspects such as the cooking capacity, healthiness, and their average prices. These differences should make it easy to pick one.
For anyone looking for an easy to use and clean appliance that also has a smaller footprint and makes relatively healthier food, the air fryer is the best alternative. But, if you want something that can cook a lot of food at a go, the convection oven is the more ideal pick.