Air Fryers vs Deep Fryers: 8 Reasons One is Better Than The Other

As an Amazon Associate, Ecotero earns from qualifying purchases.

Between air fryers vs deep fryers, we are pretty sure you know air fryers are much healthier than deep fryers, but do you know which is more eco-friendly?

  • Air fryers are energy-efficient kitchen appliances.
  • Air fryers allow frying crispy food without (or less) cooking oil – the production of cooking oil is one of the leading causes of deforestation and pollution.
  • Most air fryers are much easier to clean, which helps conserve clean water.

We have already discussed why air fryers are not exactly more energy efficient than Convection Ovens, and there are some interesting drawbacks to using air fryers. 

Here are our findings. (Read on for the full details)

ComparisonsAir FryersDeep Fryers
Cooking TimeLonger than Deep FryersFaster than Air Fryers
Health ConsiderationsProduces lower Acrylamide. Responsible for the production of CPOs, HCAs, and PAHs in food.Produces higher Acrylamide. Causes formation of CPOs, HCAs, and PAHs in food.
Food TasteInconsistent crispinessProvides real deep-fried consistency
Ease of UseSet and forgetRequires constant attention while cooking
Cooking VersatilityAllows grilling, roasting, baking, and other cooking methodsDeep frying only
Cleaning & MaintenanceEasy to clean after every useIt can be messy and requires more cleaning effort
Average Unit Cost$100 to $300$30 to $200
General SafetySafer to use inside your homeFire hazard; the hot oil is dangerous around kids and pets
Air Fryers Vs. Deep Fryers Comparison Table
Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer

How does an Air Fryer work?

As the name suggests, air frying relies on the appliance’s innovative Rapid Air Technology that utilizes its internal heating element and airflow to give food its delicious crispiness.

So how do air fryers work? 

How does Air Fryer Work

Basically, air fryers circulate hot air inside the appliance cooking chamber using a powerful fan for cooking food instead of submerging it in a container full of boiling oil.

And guess what? You don’t have to worry about burning your food when using air fryers; they have built-in temperature and timer adjustments that allow more precise cooking. 

In most cases, you won’t need cooking oil to fry food with an air fryer because the high heat and circulating hot air inside an air fryer are enough to give food a crispy texture.

Hence, you can enjoy the deep-fried taste without the unhealthy amount of cooking oil.

Here are some of the best Air Fryers.

Pros and Cons of Air Fryers

Requires no (or less) cooking oilAir fryers can be slower to cook food than deep fryers
A healthier alternative to deep fryingInconsistent food crispiness
Easier to use and cleanCan raise the number of COPs when cooking some food
Relatively safer to use compared to a deep fryerMore expensive than Deep Fryers
Provides other means to cook food besides fryingAir fryers are generally smaller, so they can only cook small batches of food
Energy-efficient cooking appliance
Air Fryers Pros And Cons

How does a Deep Fryer work?

How Does Deep Fryers Work

The most obvious difference between an air fryer and a deep fryer is deep frying food involves submerging food in batches of boiling oil to achieve a golden brown, crispy texture.

Deep fryers work by keeping the oil at very high temperatures, and because the food is submerged in the hot oil, they cook quickly and evenly.

As the food cooks, the oil keeps the outside crispy and golden while the inside remains tender and moist.

Some deep fryers have a basket or other mechanism for lowering and raising the food into and out of the hot oil, making it easy to control the cooking process and avoid splatters and burns.

Additionally, many deep fryers have temperature controls, timers, and other features to help ensure that the food is perfectly cooked.

Pros and Cons of Deep Fryers

Produces satisfying, deep-fried food consistencyRequires a bath of hot oil to cook food
Can cook different types of food faster than an air fryerDesigned for deep frying food only
Generally cheaper compared to air fryersProduces higher Acrylamide, HCAs, and PAHs
Cooked Food tastes better than Air FryersYou need to constantly watch what you cook, or it might get burned
Deep fryers can be a fire hazard and risky around kids
Requires more effort and time to clean after every use
Deep Fryer Pros And Cons

Air Fryers vs Deep Fryers: Side-by-Side Comparison

The cooked food from Air Fryers is generally healthier than Deep Fryers, however, in terms of cooking time and taste, Deep Fryers performed better than Air Fryers. There are also other considerations, such as ease of use, maintenance, safety, cost, and functionalities.

So, let’s go through each of them.

1. Cooking time

Air fryers vs deep fryers’ time of getting your food ready will vary depending on what you are cooking.

For instance, air fryers (in most cases) typically take between 10 to 25 minutes to heat and “fry”  your food. This includes chicken, fish, and pork chops.

Meanwhile, the hot oil that has reached the proper temperature on deep fryers can cook a lot of fo food in less time, typically within 3 to 10 minutes. However, this is not considering the time needed to heat the cooking oil to its optimum temperature. 

It also depends on how much cooking oil you use; more cooking oil means it takes longer to boil.

But if we really have to pick a winner, we would say that deep fryers typically cook more food faster than air fryers.

For reference, below is a comparison of the average time you will need to cook your favorite food using air fryers vs deep fryers.

FoodAir-Fryer TimeDeep Frying (with preheating)
Bacon5 – 10 mins14 mins
Burger8 – 10 mins14 – 16 mins
Meatballs7 – 10 mins14 – 16 mins
Steak7 – 14 mins14 – 16 mins
Pork Chops12 – 15 mins14 – 15 mins
Chicken Breast22 – 23 mins16 – 18 mins
Chicken Thighs25 mins12 – 15 mins
Chicken Tenders14 – 16 mins15 – 17 mins
Chicken Wings10 – 12 mins18- 20 mins
Chicken Nuggets8 mins13 – 15 mins
Shrimp8 mins12 – 13 mins
Cauliflower10 – 12 mins12 – 13 mins
Zucchini12 mins12 – 13 mins
Pickles14 – 20 mins12 – 13 mins
Potato Chips15 – 17 mins12 – 13 mins
Potato Fries10 – 20 mins12 – 13 mins
Brussels Sprouts15 – 18 mins13 – 15 mins
Onion Rings10 mins15 mins

2. Health Considerations

Air fryers have recently been touted as a healthy alternative to traditional deep fryers. This is because frying food in an air fryer uses only a fraction of the cooking oil required when deep frying them. 

And in most cases, an air fryer can fry food using 70 to 80 percent less oil than a deep-fryer, making air-fried foods “healthier” than deep-fried foods.

Moreover, a study also indicated that air-fried French fries contain up to 80% less fat than deep-fried fries.

So if you’re avoiding fatty snacks and food with too much oil but still want to enjoy the taste of your favorite deep fry food, an air fryer is for you.

And there’s more.

Besides the risk of getting too many calories from cooking oil, deep frying also produces Acrylamide.

Acrylamide is a potential carcinogen that can form when starch-rich foods are cooked using high temperatures, such as fried potatoes, aka French fries.

Below is the calorie comparison between popular fried foods when cooked using an air fryer and a deep fryer.

FoodAir FryerDeep Fryer
Fried Chicken280549
French Fries226340
Onion Rings172275
Chicken Nuggets300320
Pork Chops215300
Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer Calories Table

Now, you might be thinking:

“Are air-fried foods healthy?”

Well, not technically.

An article on WebMD mentions that air frying a fish can raise the amount of Cholesterol Oxidation Products (COPs), a harmful substance connected to coronary heart disease, hardening of the arteries, cancer, and other diseases.

And finally, air frying and deep frying are directly connected to forming heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in food. 

The HCAs and PAHs are chemicals that may increase the risk of cancer, and they are formed when muscle meat like pork, chicken, beef, or fish is cooked using high-temperature methods, such as frying or grilling.

3. Food Taste

Let’s talk about the comparison between Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer taste of cooked food.

While food taste is subjective and varies from person to person, most people agree that deep-fried food tastes better than air-fried food.

This is because air frying can’t replace the real deep-fried consistency that can only be attained by cooking food in a vat of boiling oil.

However, we digress.

As we mentioned above, taste is subjective, and it all depends on your personal preference.

Some people prefer that thicker crust that comes from deep frying, while some appreciate the limited amount of cooking oil that enhances the natural flavors of the food.

But for reference, deep fryers will give a traditional taste and are best for thick or wet batters, while air fryers work best for foods with dry exteriors.

Other Considerations

We have talked about the main considerations between air fryers vs deep fryers. Now, let’s talk about the secondary concerns.

4. Ease of Use

Cooking food with an air fryer can be done with minimal effort and is a fairly hands-off process.

Just put your food in the air fryer, set the timer and temperature, and leave it to cook. Air fryers automatically shut off after the allotted time.

How Do Air Fryers Work

Meanwhile, cooking food with a deep fryer requires more attention and an involved cooking method.

For starters, deep frying often requires food to be dipped in wet batter. 

You will also need a lot of cooking oil and ensure that the cooking oil is at the right temperature before submerging your food if you want to achieve the best deep-fried results.

Additionally, you can’t really afford to leave your deep fryer alone while cooking something.

While newer deep fryer models have an automatic shut-off feature, you still need to be there to remove the food immediately when it’s done, or it might get burned thanks to the boiling oil.

5. Cooking Functionalities

Both air fryers and deep fryers can produce delicious crispy fried food. 

However, if you want a kitchen appliance that can do more than just fry food, then you’ll want to go with an air fryer.

Most air fryer models in the market today will not only let you fry food, but you can also use them for baking, roasting, grilling, and more.

On the other hand, a deep fryer is only good for deep-frying food into crispy finishes.

But we would like to hear from you too! Have you tried using a deep fryer other than deep-frying food?

6. Cleaning & Maintenance

Air fryers come ahead of deep fryers when it comes to this topic.

Cleaning deep fryers can be messy and requires more effort and attention. 

For instance, you will probably have tons of oily paper towels to dispose of after deep frying your food, and you’ll also probably have to think of something useful to do with the used and excess oil left in the deep fryer. 

Meanwhile, cleaning an air fryer can be a breeze. Since you’re not using plenty of cooking oil, there’s not much cleaning up to do.

In most cases, all you need to do after air frying your food is to remove the air fryer basket and put it in the dishwasher, remove the food particles left on your air fryer, wipe it clean, and you’re done.

The worse thing that can happen is you might need to clean the inside of the air fryer using a damp cloth with soap and water to remove grease and food debris.

7. Costs 

If we’re talking about initial investments, deep fryers are generally cheaper than air fryers.

  • Air fryers typically range from $50 to $200+, with most right around the $100 mark.
  • Deep fryers typically range from $40 to $200+, with many options available around $50-$60.

However, you also need to consider the cost of cooking oil when using a deep fryer, whereas most air fryers don’t require any oil to cook food.

Electricity Usage
Air FryersDeep Fryers
Between 1.4 and 1.7kWh1.8kWh
kWh (kilowatts of energy per hour)

8. Safety

If you have kids and children in your house, air fryers can be a safer alternative to a deep fryer.

As you may already know, cooking with a deep fryer involves boiling a lot of oil in an open container.

Even as an adult, you must keep a safe distance from the deep fryer and boiling oil to avoid the risk of scalding or getting burned.


Meanwhile, air fryers are completely covered with a lid while cooking.

What to Consider when Buying a Deep Fryer?

  • Cooking capacity: Make sure that the cooking capacity of the deep fryer you buy is enough to prepare a meal for your family. Deep fryers come in different sizes, from small to medium to large.
  • Safety features: Electric deep fryers are much safer than propane deep fryers since the former have sophisticated control features to keep your kitchen and family safe.
  • Price: Newer deep fryer models with larger cooking capacities are generally more expensive, so make sure you know how much you are willing to spend for a new appliance.

Some of the most popular deep fryers on the market today include the Cuisinart Deep Fryer, Presto FryDaddy Electric Deep Fryer, and T-Fal Deep Fryer.

What to Consider when Buying an Air Fryer?

Things to Consider when Buying an Air Fryer?
  • Cooking capacity: Start by determining the amount of food you cook in the air fryer. If you have a larger family, then air fryers with bigger cooking capacity are best, if you live alone, go for smaller ones.
  • Wattage: Air fryers with smaller wattage consume less electricity. However, if you want an air fryer that can go high temperature quickly, buy one with more wattage.
  • Adjustable cooking settings: Look for air fryers that come with various cooking settings so you can air fry different food properly. Also, make sure you know what temperature settings you need for the foods you plan to cook before buying an air fryer.
  • Safety features: Some air fryer models can get really hot when used. Hence, buying an air fryer with an insulated exterior should help lessen the threat of getting accidental burns.

If, at this point, you’ve decided to buy an air fryer, check out our list of the top 10 best air fryers to buy this year.

Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer: Which is Better?

Deciding whether you should get an air fryer vs a deep fryer for your home comes down to your personal cooking preference and needs.

If you want a more eco-friendly kitchen appliance that provides an easy way to cook healthier fried delicacies, go for an air fryer

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a cooking appliance that fries faster and provides you with a rich fried finish, go for a deep fryer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you fry battered food in an air fryer?

If the battered food is pre-fried and frozen, it’s okay to put it in the air fryer.

Can an air fryer replace a deep fryer?

Most people agree that while air fryers can produce a crispy exterior with a similar result to a deep fryer, they cannot replace the real deep-fried consistency of the food that can only be attained by submerging food in hot oil.

Do air fryers use a lot of electricity?

Air fryers are designed to be energy-efficient, and according to the data from CNET, a standard 4-quart air fryer will only cost about 25 cents per hour to operate.

What food is best cooked with an air fryer?

Air fryers are great for foods that you can fry with dry exteriors, such as french fries, chicken breast, chicken tenders, chicken wings, pork chop, veggies, and grilled sandwiches. You can find more delicious air fryer recipes here.

What food is best deep fried using a deep fryer?

Deep fryers are great for bringing the best flavors out of foods that are often dipped in batters, covered with breading or have wet exteriors. This includes a fried whole chicken, tempura, doughnuts, fish, onion rings, or chips.

What are the key differences between air fryers vs deep fryers?

1. Deep fryers generally cook crunchy food faster than air fryers.
2. Air-fried food has fewer calories and is considered to be “healthier” than deep-fried foods.
3. Traditional deep fryers require plenty of cooking oil to cook the food, while air fryers can cook food with minimal use of oil.
4. Cooking food in an air fryer is easier and more convenient than in a deep fryer.
5. Deep-fried food often has a thicker crust and more consistent crispiness than air-fried food.
6. You can use different cooking methods with an air fryer; however, a deep fryer is only for deep-fried food.
7. Air fryers are much easier to clean after use than deep fryers.
8. Air fryers are more expensive than deep fryers.
9. Cooking with a sealed air fryer is relatively safer than boiling lots of cooking oil openly with a deep fryer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *