Air fryer vs Convection Oven: Which is More Energy Efficient?

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The air fryer vs convection oven debate has been going on for years, with people wanting to know which appliance is more energy efficient, which cooks better food, and which is healthier.

With various kitchen appliances now available, it can be challenging to determine the best option for your cooking needs.

Air fryers and convection ovens are both fantastic options for achieving crispy fried foods without the added fat and calories of deep-frying.

One similar key characteristic between both countertop appliances is that they use hot air for cooking food and use less oil than traditional deep-frying methods.

However, the main differences lie in the cooking method and energy efficiency.

Air Fryer vs Convection Ovenn

How do Air Fryers Work?

Air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food using a fan, similar to a convection oven. The main difference is the size and speed of the fan.

Air fryers typically have a smaller, faster fan that can circulate the hot air generated by its heating element. The air fryer basket or perforated tray allows hot air to circulate the food and cook evenly.

How Does Air Fryers Work

One of the advantages of air fryers is that they can cook food quickly, which means, it uses lesser electricity.

And they can cook with little to no oil, making them a healthier choice than deep fryers. Using less oil also means that air fryers produce less excess oil and a more even cooking method, resulting in golden brown and crispy food.

However, the small size of air fryers can be a disadvantage, as they can only cook a small amount of food at a time. This means that larger meals may need to be cooked in batches, increasing the cooking time.

Additionally, the small size of the basket can make it hard to spread out an even layer of food, which may result in uneven cooking if the food is stacked.

Despite these limitations, air fryers remain a popular choice for hook cooks. They are a great option for those with limited countertop space or who prefer a faster cooking method than a conventional oven.

How do Convection Ovens Work?

Convection ovens have many similarities with air fryers. Convection ovens are also popular among home cooks like air fryers.

Like air fryers, they use a fan to circulate hot air inside the oven, resulting in a more uniform appearance and faster cook times. Unlike traditional ovens, convection ovens also have an exhaust system to remove air and fans to help air circulate within the oven.

How Convection Oven Works

Countertop convection ovens are a great option for those with limited kitchen space. They work similarly to standard convection ovens but are much smaller in size.

When using a convection oven, it is important to arrange the food in a single layer on a perforated tray to allow maximum airflow. This will help ensure even cooking all around and the crispiest results possible.

Convection ovens are excellent for roasting meats, cooking pizza, baking casseroles, roasting vegetables, baking scones, and crunchy cookies.

For those who prefer to cook with less oil, convection ovens are a healthier way to achieve crispy results compared to deep frying. Again, similar to air fryers.

Air fryer baskets or perforated trays can mimic air frying in some convection ovens, resulting in golden brown and crispy food without the excess oil.

The key differences between Air Fryers and Convection Ovens

Size and Cooking Capacity

SizeConvection Ovens
(Cooking Capacity)
Air Fryers
(Cooking Capacity)
Small10 – 30 Liters0.95 – 2.8 Liters
Medium47 – 99 Liters3.8 – 7.6 Liters
Large100 – 141 Liters8.5 – 28.4 Liters

As you can see, a convection oven’s typical size and cooking capacity is much larger than a typical air fryer.

Convection Ovens

There are multiple sizes for convection ovens:

  • Smaller countertop convection ovens are typically between 15 to 19 inches (About 38 – 48 cm) wide, with a cooking capacity of about 10 to 30 Liters.
  • Full-size wall convection ovens are 24 to 36 inches (About 61 to 92 cm) wide, 16 inches (About 41 cm) deep, and have a cooking capacity of about 47 to 99 Liters.
  • Full-size stand-alone convection ovens are 30 to 36 inches (About 76 – 92 cm) wide, have a standard depth of 16 inches (About 41 cm), and have a cooking capacity of about 100 to 141 Liters.

Air Fryers

Similarly, there are different sizes of Air Fryers:

  • Small Air Fryers (meant for 1 to 2 people) are typically between 8.5 to 13 inches (About 21 – 33 cm) in depth, 8 to 14 inches (20 – 36 cm) in width, and 11 to 15 inches (27 – 38 cm) in height, with a cooking capacity of 0.95 to 2.8 Liters.
  • Medium to Large Air Fryers (meant for 3 to 6 people) are typically between 11 to 17 inches (About 28 – 43 cm) in depth, 12 to 16 inches (30 – 41 cm) in width, and 12 to 16 inches (30 – 41 cm) in height, with a cooking capacity of 3.8 to 7.6 Liters.
  • Multifunctional Air Fryers (meant for 7 to 9 people) are typically between 13 to 15 inches (About 33 – 38 cm) in depth, 13 to 16 inches (33 – 40 cm) in width, 12 to 15 inches (32 to 37 cm) in height, with a cooking capacity of 8.5 to 28.4 Liters.

Cooking Time

FoodAir-Fryer TimeConvection Oven Time
Bacon5 – 10 minutes20 minutes
Burger8 – 10 minutes13 – 15 minutes
Meatballs7 – 10 minutes15 – 20 minutes
Steak7 – 14 minutes25 – 30 minutes
Pork Chops12 – 15 minutes9 – 15 minutes
Chicken Breast22 – 23 minutes23 – 26 minutes
Chicken Thighs25 minutes25 – 35 minutes
Chicken Tenders14 – 16 minutes15 – 18 minutes
Chicken Wings10 – 12 minutes30 – 40 minutes
Shrimp8 minutes10 minutes
Salmon5 – 7 minutes6 – 10 minutes
Cauliflower10 – 12 minutes35 – 40 minutes
Zucchini12 minutes20 – 30 minutes
Pickles14 – 20 minutes25- 30 minutes
Potato Chips15 – 17 minutes40 minutes
Potato Fries10 – 20 minutes11 – 13 minutes
Brussels Sprouts15 – 18 minutes10 – 15 minutes
Pasta8 minutes15 minutes

The time taken for Air Fryers to cook most food items is much faster than a convection oven. This is probably due to the placement of the fan in each appliance.

Placement of Fan and Food Tray

The fan of the:

  • Air fryer is placed directly above the food tray, which is closer to the food, hence food can cook relatively quicker than in convection ovens.
  • Convection oven is placed at the back of the appliance allowing it to distribute the heat evenly throughout the oven.
Convection Oven vs Air Fryer

Since most air fryers have only one layer of food to cook and are typically smaller in size, it makes sense for the fan to be placed directly above it, allowing for faster cooking.

On the other hand, there are usually multiple layers of food to cook in a convection oven and to distribute the heat evenly. The fan has to be placed at the back of the appliance.

Notably, some convection ovens come with an air fryer function.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Air fryers require more frequent cleaning than convection ovens because of the residue left behind by the cooked food.

Air fryers use a combination of hot air and high-speed circulation for cooking food which cause can leave behind food particles and grease, and if not cleaned regularly, the built-up can cause the appliance to become less efficient and even pose a fire hazard.

On the other hand, the food produced by a convection oven leaves less grease and residue behind on the oven walls and surfaces.

Energy Consumption

You may assume that since Air Fryers cook faster, naturally, they will consume less electricity.

Well, that may be true, but it only applies to small amounts of food.

If you are in a large setting, Air Fryers may consume more electricity because you will need to cook in more batches than convection ovens.

For example, there are 20 chicken wings in 1 kg, and you can only drop 3 wings per batch in an Air Fryer, whereas you can cook 20 chicken wings at one go in a convection oven.

This means that you will need 7 batches of air-fried chicken wings.

Air fryers take 10 – 12 minutes to cook chicken wings, while it takes 30 to 40 minutes to cook in a convection oven.

Total time needed to cook 1 kg of Chicken Wings:

  • Air Fryer: 70 – 84 minutes
  • Convection Oven: 30 – 40 minutes

Appliance Power Consumption:

  • Air Fryer: 1.4 – 1.8 kilowatts per hour (kWh)
  • Convection Oven: 2.0 to 3.0 kWh

Average Electricity Cost:

  • UK: 34 pence per kWh
  • US: $0.168 per kWh

Let’s do the math.

AttributeAir FryerConvection Oven
Total Time Needed to cook 1 kg of Chicken Wings70 – 84 minutes30 – 40 minutes
Power Consumption1.4 – 1.8 kilowatts per hour (kWh)2.0 to 3.0 kWh
Electricity Cost in the US
($0.168 per kWh)
$0.27 – $0.42$0.17 – $0.34
Electricity Cost in the UK
(34 pence per kWh)
£0.56 – £0.86£0.34 – £0.68

Though the power consumption of the Air Fryer is significantly lower than Convection Ovens, it doesn’t mean that Air Fryer is more energy efficient than Convection Ovens.

Air fryers are more energy efficient than convection ovens when cooking small portions of food, while it is more energy efficient for convection ovens when cooking large quantities of food.


Is Air Fryer Healthier than Convection Oven?

Comparing both isn’t about which is healthier because both are healthier options than traditional baking and frying methods.

If you cook up some frozen fries, chicken nuggets, or mozzarella sticks, using an air fryer will be healthier than deep-frying because the food doesn’t soak up as much oil, making them lower-calorie.

But, if you are cooking without oil in a convection oven, the difference between the two becomes less significant.

Sure, if you are trying to eat healthier, an air fryer can be a helpful tool in your kitchen, especially when frying up frozen foods or cooking with oil. But, if you cook without oil or want to grill something, a convection oven can be just as healthy.

So, it is not really about one being better than the other, but rather about what you are cooking and how you are cooking it that determines how healthy you eat.

Verdict: The Healthier option between Air Fryers vs Convection Ovens

Air Fryers and Convection Ovens are healthier than traditional baking and frying methods.

Can you use Convection Oven as an Air Fryer?

Yes, it is possible to use a convection oven as an air fryer and achieve similar results since they are both somewhat similar in circulating hot air in the appliance.

Some convection oven manufacturers integrated air fryer settings into their appliances for the best results. They usually come with unique accessories like the perforated tray designed to work like an air fryer basket.

When using a convection oven as an air fryer, it’s important to keep in mind the cooking time, and temperature as air frying typically requires a lower temperature than traditional frying or baking, so you may need to adjust the settings on your oven accordingly.

Don’t worry; your oven’s user guide should tell you what to do.

Using a convection oven to air fry also offers several benefits, such as convenience and ease of cleanup.

Additionally, convection ovens allow you to cook larger batches of food at once, making them a great choice for families or home cooks who like fast cooking.

The Bottom Line: Air Fryer vs Convection Oven

Both air fryers and convection ovens are great options for achieving crispy and healthy fried foods. They use hot air for cooking food, resulting in less oil and fewer calories than traditional deep-frying methods. However, their cooking method, energy efficiency, and size differ.

An air fryer might be your better option if you have limited countertop space and prefer faster cooking times. Here are the best Air Fryers you can buy.

Air fryers are smaller and have faster fans that circulate hot air, resulting in a more even cooking method and golden-brown crispy food.

However, the small size of air fryers means that you can only cook small amounts of food at a time, which can increase overall cooking time, and stacking the food may result in uneven cooking.

On the other hand, if you have more space and want a more versatile cooking option, a convection oven may be a better choice.

Convection ovens come in various sizes, from small countertop models to full-size stand-alone and wall-mounted ovens, and some even come with air frying options.

However, they may take longer to cook than air fryers and require more energy.

Ultimately, the choice between an air fryer and a convection oven depends on your cooking needs, kitchen size, and personal preferences.

If you have limited space and want faster cooking, an air fryer is a great choice. If you have more space and want a more versatile cooking option, a convection oven may be better.

We hope this article helped.

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