Air Fryer vs Toaster Oven – Which Is Right For Your Home?

With so many kitchen appliances available nowadays all claiming to be the best thing since sliced bread, it can be easy to write them all off as the latest fad. However, there are a few countertop appliances that can actually be pretty useful. This article compares two such appliances, the toaster oven and the air fryer.

If you’re considering buying a new countertop appliance for your kitchen and can’t decide between these two, keep reading. Because our experts have done all of the hard work and research for you.

What Is An Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a countertop kitchen appliance that uses hot air to cook food without oil that comes out looking and tasting as if it were fried. The air is heated by an electric element and then a high powered fan forces that air all around the food.

Although they’re called “air fryers” they don’t actually fry food, in fact the average meal cooked in an air fryer uses no cooking oil at all. This makes an air fryer a popular and healthy alternative to a deep fat fryer.

The basket that the food is cooked in has many vents which allows the food to get cooked on all sides at the same time. This cuts down on cooking times and ensures crisp, fried-like food that is evenly cooked all over.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of An Air Fryer?

Now we know what an air fryer is and some idea on how it works, let’s have a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of owning an air fryer.

What Are The Pros Of An Air Fryer?

The main benefits of using an air fryer include;

  • Creates Healthier Meals
    Unlike the deep fat fryer, the air fryer uses little to no oil at all. This means the foods cooked in the air fryer are virtually fat free.
  • Lowers The Risk Of Illness
    Eating deep fried food can increase the risk of several diseases and health related problems. These include; Heart disease, stroke and diabetes. As there is no need to use oil when using an air fryer, these risks are reduced dramatically.
  • Easy To Clean
    Due to its non-stick coating, most of the components of the air fryer are simple to clean. With many just needing to be wiped with a damp cloth.
  • Cooks Delicious Crisp, Crunchy Food
    Food cooked in the air fryer is almost identical to food cooked in a deep fat fryer, but without the oil. Crispy fried chicken and chips cooked in the air fryer has the same taste and texture as if it was deep fried.
  • Safe To Use
    Once the food is placed in the basket and the heat and timer set, there is no risk of getting burnt with hot oil for example. Plus the basket is shut so it’s also child safe.
  • Cooks Food Fast
    Compared to the toaster oven, the air fryer cooks food in far less time. The air fryer can preheat in around 5 minutes to a temperature of around 200 C whereas the toaster oven can take as long as 15 to 18 minutes to reach the same temperature. But it doesn’t stop there, the air fryer also cooks food far quicker due to the small chamber of the air fryer compared to the larger area of the toaster oven.
  • Easy to Use
    The air fryer has an easy to understand, user friendly digital display. It is simple to set the timer, temperature and function. All you need to do then is press start.
  • Versatile
    As well as air frying, you can also bake, roast, grill and dehydrate food in an air fryer. 
  • Virtually No Odour
    Compared to the deep fat fryer, the air fryer has virtually no odour at all. 

What Are The Cons Of An Air Fryer?

The main disadvantages of the air fryer include;

  • Limited Amounts Of Food Can Be Cooked At One Time
    If you were to overload the food in the basket of the air fryer, it will not cook evenly and in some cases it will not cook at all. Plus the basket is quite small which means catering for a large number of people will involve cooking small batches at a time.
  • Can Only Be Used To Cook Certain Foods
    There is a relatively long list of foods that can’t be cooked in the air fryer. These include; Rice, pasta, stew, any foods with wet batter etc
  • Not As Healthy As You Think
    Although food cooked in the air fryer is healthier than food cooked in the deep fat fryer, there are far healthier ways to cook food. For instance; Grilling, broiling or steaming.
  • Design Faults
    Even relatively small air fryers are quite large and will take up a considerable amount of space on your countertop. Plus air fryers tend to be quite tall which means you’ll need a good clearance between any top cupboards.
  • Can Be Loud
    As the air fryer uses a fan to force hot air around the chamber and onto the surface of the food, it can be quite noisy. In recent tests, some air fryers were as loud as some hair dryers and some vacuum cleaners.

What Is A Toaster Oven?

A toaster oven is a small countertop appliance that looks like a small oven but can be used as an oven or a toaster. The toaster oven can be used for cooking frozen foods, toasting bread, small batch baking and reheating leftover foods.

A toaster oven is basically a small convection oven that can be used for toasting as well as baking. 

Most modern toaster ovens come with a fan to help cook foods better. The toaster oven works by heating the whole chamber evenly which results in all of the food being cooked at the same time.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of A Toaster Oven?

Now that we have a better idea of what a toaster oven is and how it is used, let’s have a closer look at the reasons for and against owning one.

What Are The Pros Of A Toaster Oven?

The main advantages of the toaster oven include;

  • It Has Dual Functions
    A toaster oven can be used to do everything a regular oven can do including; reheating foods, baking foods, etc plus it can also toast foods as well.
  • Easy To Use
    As the toaster oven sits on the countertop, it is easy to access and easy to use. It heats up faster than a conventional full sized oven, and is easy to understand the functions and controls.
  • Can Be Used At Low Temperatures
    Toaster ovens are capable of keeping at low temperatures for long periods of time. Making them perfect for cooking many dishes at low temperatures.
  • Cooks Food Uniformly
    The heat is distributed evenly all around the toaster oven which means foods cook uniformly.  
  • Larger Capacity
    Compared to an air fryer, the toaster oven has a far larger cooking chamber.
  • Easy To Clean
    As there are less parts, the toaster oven is easier to clean than an air fryer.

What Are The Cons Of A Toaster Oven?

The disadvantages of a toaster oven include;

  • Small Capacity
    Compared to a conventional oven or even a microwave oven, the toaster oven has a small capacity. You will be hard pushed to cook a meal for two in a standard toaster oven.
  • Toasts Unevenly
    Unlike an electric toaster, the toaster oven tends to be inconsistent with toasting correctly. Slices often take longer to get an even level of toasting due to convection heating.
  • Takes A Certain Amount Of Cooking Knowledge To Use Correctly
    Toaster ovens tend to perform differently compared to your conventional oven. This means there is the likelihood of food either being under done or burnt.
  • Cost More To Buy
    To buy a decent toaster oven will tend to be more expensive to purchase than a similar air fryer.

What Are The Main Differences Between Air Fryers and Toaster Ovens?

There are a number of differences between air fryers and toaster ovens which include;

Size

Overall, toaster ovens tend to be larger than air fryers, of course, there are exceptions but generally, air fryers will take up less space on the countertop. However, this translates to a toaster oven having a larger cooking capacity than an air fryer.

Food Texture

As the name implies, air fryers tend to produce food that has the characteristics of fried food. Whereas food cooked in a toaster oven tends to have a juicier constitution. 

Cleaning

As the design and components are completely different on both of these appliances, cleaning is different for both too. However the amount of effort it takes to clean both the air fryer and the toaster oven are roughly the same.

The air fryer has more parts to clean (basket, pan and surrounding area), however, those parts are smaller and easier to manage.

The toaster oven has less parts (cooking racks and surrounding area) but as the parts are larger, they are more difficult to clean. Also it’s harder to access the interior of the toaster oven to clean.

Price

The lower end of the price range for both of these appliances is very similar starting at around £40 and the higher end of the price range is also very similar reaching the almost ridiculous price of nearly £2000.

It’s the mid range prices that differ for each appliance for instance a mid range toaster oven with a 38 litre capacity can be purchased for around £125 whereas a mid range air fryer with a 9 litre duo basket will cost around £180.

Money

Which Is Better: Toaster Oven Or Air Fryer?

There is no better or worse really it’s all about personal taste, need and lifestyle. It all depends on the food you cook and like to eat.

  • Air Fryers – Are far better for cooking smaller items in a short amount of time and leaving them with a crispy exterior.
  • Toaster Ovens – Are the best for cooking larger items in a more traditional way.

It all depends on your personal preference and how you enjoy your food. If you’re looking for something that will give you the taste of just fried food quickly, an air fryer will probably suit you best.

If you prefer baked goods and roasts, then a toaster oven will probably be your best choice.

Still Can’t Decide? There Is An Alternative…

Air Fryer + Convection Toaster Oven

These comprise the best of both appliances in one countertop appliance. With the air fryer + convection toaster oven you can bake, grill, broil, air fry and toast. There are several of these available with prices ranging from around £125 to around £650 depending on the make, model and features.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a toaster oven replace an air fryer?

A toaster oven can’t replace an air fryer as they both perform different functions. They can both cook similar foods, however, an air fryer can cook foods that taste as though they have been deep fried but without using any oil at all.

What’s better than an air fryer?

In terms of capacity or how much you can cook at once, a convection toaster oven is better than an air fryer.

Can I use an air fryer to toast bread?

You can use an air fryer to toast bread. Using an air fryer to toast bread is a fast way of preparing a meal.

Can you fry an egg in an air fryer?

You can fry an egg in an air fryer. Frying eggs in an air fryer will take around 5 minutes.

Can a toaster oven be used for the same types of cooking as an air fryer?

A toaster oven can be used for similar types of cooking as an air fryer. You can bake, roast and grill, but food might not have the same crispy texture as it would in an air fryer.

How do the results of cooking in an air fryer compare to those of a toaster oven?

The results of cooking in an air fryer can be similar to those of a toaster oven. However, the air fryer will probably cook food faster and have a crisper texture because of the hot air that circulates the food.The results of cooking in an air fryer can be similar to those of a toaster oven. However, the air fryer will probably cook food faster and have a crisper texture because of the hot air that circulates the food.

Does a toaster oven take up more counter space than an air fryer?

Although sizes of toaster ovens can vary, they are generally larger than air fryers and therefore take up more counter space.

Can a toaster oven be used to cook foods without oil?

A toaster oven can also be used to cook oil free foods, as it has a heating element and fan that circulates hot air around the food (similar to an air fryer).

How does the price of a toaster oven compare to the price of an air fryer?

The price of toaster ovens can vary, but in general, they will cost more than air fryers.

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