Air Fryer Vs Microwave: What’s better & cheaper?

Air fryers use a heating element and a fan to rapidly circulate hot air around the cooking chamber, cooking food through a process known as convection. Whereas a microwave oven uses “microwaves” (a form of electromagnetic radiation) to heat food by causing the water molecules in the food to vibrate and produce heat.

  • If you’re looking to heat up leftovers or warm up a quick snack
    The microwave is your go-to appliance.
  • If you’re in the mood to cook some crispy, fryer-style goodness
    The air fryer is the way to go. It’ll give you that fried flavour without all the extra oil, making it a healthy choice for your cooking needs.

In this article, we’re going to explore the key differences to help you make an informed decision when deciding between the two appliances.

What Is An Air Fryer?

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An air fryer is a small kitchen appliance that uses rapid air circulation to “fry” food in a healthier way than traditional deep frying methods.

It works by circulating hot air around the cooking chamber, creating a crispy, fried-like texture on the outside of the food while keeping the inside moist and tender.

And it does this without needing any oil, it uses hot air instead! Making them a healthier choice for those looking to reduce their fat intake.

Air fryers are easy to use and incredibly versatile, as they can be used to cook a wide range of foods, including meats, vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, chips, parsnips etc) and even desserts!

If you’re in the mood for some crispy chicken wings, perfectly cooked chips, or a batch of guilt-free roast potatoes, an air fryer has got you covered.

The best part? It’s not a gimmick. The food really does taste similar to fried food (without using any oil).

white air fryer

People Use Air Fryers For:

  • Chips
  • Onion rings
  • Chicken wings
  • Chicken breast
  • Steak
  • Turkey
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Pork chops
  • Fish fillets
  • Mozzarella sticks
  • Parsnips
  • Tofu
  • Bacon
  • Lamb chops
  • Donuts
  • Cookies

What Is A Microwave?

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Microwaves use a form of electromagnetic radiation to heat food by causing the water molecules in the food to vibrate and produce heat. This process is known as cooking with “microwave radiation”.

To ensure that food is cooked evenly in a microwave, most models have a turntable in the centre that spins during cooking. This helps to evenly distribute the microwave radiation around the food, ensuring that it is cooked evenly.

Microwaves are incredibly convenient and easy to use, making them a popular choice for busy individuals or those looking for a quick and easy way to heat up food. They can be used to heat a wide range of foods, including liquids, soups, and certain types of moist foods.

They are more commonly used to reheat food rather than cook it from scratch. As a result, most people will cook their food using other methods such as a frying pan, air fryer or oven – and if there are leftovers that they want to eat later they’ll reheat it in the microwave.


People Use Microwaves For:

  • Softening butter
  • Making scrambled eggs
  • Cooking porridge
  • Heating up soup
  • Poaching eggs
  • Baking potatoes
  • Reheating pizza
  • Cooking rice
  • Reheating leftovers
  • Making popcorn
  • Warming up coffee
  • Defrosting frozen food
  • Cooking microwave meals
  • Making grilled cheese sandwiches

What Are The Key Differences Between The Microwave And The Air Fryer?

As we already stated, the main difference is in the way both appliances cook food. The best way to look at it is this: Air Fryers cook food and microwaves warm food.

We’re now going to look at some other factors that are worth considering when making a choice between the two.

Which Can Cook A Meal Quicker?

If you’re looking to cook a meal as fast as possible, a microwave oven is the way to go. With its ability to quickly heat food using microwave radiation, a microwave oven can generally cook a meal more quickly than an air fryer.

You can reheat a roast dinner microwave meal in as little as 10 minutes with a microwave!

Keep in mind that although a microwave oven may be able to reheat a meal more quickly, it may not always be able to cook a meal from scratch quicker.

For example, that roast dinner microwave meal would be impossible to cook from scratch using raw ingredients in a microwave, whereas you could cook the whole thing in 40 minutes in a good air fryer.

And in terms of the best choice for nutritional value and flavour of the meal – the air fryer wins hands down.

An air fryer can cook a full, nutritional meal in a fraction of the time when compared to conventional cooking methods (oven and stove), whereas a microwave can’t.

Which Costs The Most To Run & Is The Most Energy Efficient?

In general, microwaves tend to be more energy efficient and cost less to run than air fryers. This is because microwave ovens use less power than air fryers and can cook or reheat food more quickly, resulting in shorter cooking times and lower energy consumption.

It’s worth noting that both air fryers and microwave ovens are far more energy-efficient than any of the traditional cooking methods.

Many people notice a significant reduction in their utility bills when they switch from cooking in the oven to cooking in the air fryer.

How Much Does It Cost To Run A Microwave?

Using a 700W microwave for 10 minutes will cost around 3.3p. Assuming you use the microwave to cook your dinner and lunch, and assuming both meals take 10 minutes – it’ll cost you 6.6p per day to run a microwave.

Let’s now assume you always use the microwave to cook lunch and dinner (and you’re happy with microwave meals) – it’ll cost you around £24.09 per year to run your microwave.

How Much Does It Cost To Run An Air Fryer?

If you use an 800W air fryer for 40 minutes, it will cost you around 18p to run. Assuming your lunch takes 20 minutes to cook (maybe some nice chicken sausages for example), and assuming your dinner takes 40 minutes to cook (such as having potatoes and chicken fillets) – it’ll cost you 27p per day to run an air fryer.

Let’s now assume you always use the air fryer to cook lunch and dinner – it’ll cost you around £98.55 per year to run your air fryer.

Which Is Cheaper To Buy?

Microwave ovens are less expensive to buy than air fryers because microwaves are a more widely available appliance with a simpler design.

Air fryers, on the other hand, are a less common appliance that tends to have a higher price point due to their more advanced cooking technology.

The exact cost of an air fryer or a microwave oven will depend on the specific model and features that you are looking for. It’s a good idea to take a look at a few different models and compare prices from different brands to find the best deal.

Which Is Easier To Clean?

Microwaves are easier to clean than air fryers. In fact, they’re one of the easiest appliances to clean full stop.

This is because microwaves have a simpler design, fewer parts, and no food touches the interior workings of the machine – making them easy to wipe down and clean.

To clean a microwave, you can simply wipe down the interior and exterior with a damp cloth or sponge and a mild detergent.

Air fryers, on the other hand are slightly more challenging to clean. You will need to remove and clean the basket and tray, as well as wipe down the interior and exterior of the appliance.

That being said, air fryers are much easier to clean than a regular oven. And you can’t cook raw chicken in a microwave (you can, but you wouldn’t want to eat it after).

Which Is The Safest To Use?

Both air fryers and microwaves are safe to use as long as you’re being sensible.

Microwave ovens are generally considered to be safer, as they do not produce high levels of heat. Whereas the basket on most air fryers can get hot if you accidentally touch it.

However, they’re both likely to be safer than the conventional cooking methods we discussed earlier as neither have an open flame or any hot areas that are easy to accidentally touch.

Which Do We Think Is The Best?

In our opinion, air fryers are better than microwaves. And here’s our top 5 reasons why:

  • They can cook healthier food
    If you only had an air fryer, you could still eat relatively clean. Whereas if you just had a microwave you’re stuck with microwave meals every day, which are usually high in salt.
  • You can cook a wider variety of food
    There’s so much you can cook in an air fryer that you can’t in a microwave. And we think this is a big selling point.
  • Food tastes better
    Microwave food comes out quite soggy due to it’s cooking method, whereas air fryer food comes out crisp and tasty
  • It means you don’t have to keep cleaning the oven/grill
    Since you can’t cook most of the things you’d usually use an oven for in the microwave, having an air fryer means you don’t have to keep cleaning the oven or grill after you cook dinner. This is one of the best advantages to owning an air fryer, which you don’t get when you own a microwave.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you cook a roast dinner in a microwave oven?

It is generally not recommended to cook a roast dinner in a microwave oven, as the microwave’s cooking method is not well-suited to roasting meats. However there are many microwave roast dinner meals you can pick up from most supermarkets that are precooked.

Can you use an air fryer to cook all types of food?

While an air fryer is a versatile appliance that can be used to cook a wide range of foods, it is not suitable for cooking all types of food such as green vegetables, pop corn, anything with wet batter, rice, pasta etc.

Can you cook frozen food in an air fryer?

Frozen food can be cooked in an air fryer, although the cooking time will be longer when compared to fresh food. You’ll need to carefully monitor the food as it cooks, especially if you’re cooking meat.

Can you put oil in an air fryer?

You can use oil in an air fryer to help create a crispy exterior on the food by brushing it with oil before cooking. However you should not put lots of oil in an air fryer, as it’s not designed to be used in that way.

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