Slow Cooker vs Air Fryer – Which Is Right For Your Home?
Slow cookers and air fryers are both useful counter top kitchen appliances. Both of these appliances will save you time, and produce healthy, wholesome meals. However, they both cook food in totally different ways and produce totally different types of meals. If you’re looking for a new kitchen appliance for your home and are not sure which is right for you, keep reading.
Slow cookers make moist, juicy, tender meals using meat, vegetables and so on. Whereas air fryers cook crisp, crunchy meals using no oil at all.
As these two kitchen appliances are completely different in the way they cook food, it can be difficult to choose between them. Which is why we’ve put this article together. In this article you’ll find the arguments for and against owning a slow cooker or an air fryer.
How Does A Slow Cooker Work?
A slow cooker is a countertop appliance which cooks food at low temperatures over a long time period. In some cases the cooking process can take as long as 10 hours (depending on what’s being cooked and the temperature it’s being cooked at).
Slow cookers are heated from the bottom via a heating element and that heat moves up the sides of the pot and slowly cooks the food inside. As a direct result of this process, steam builds up inside the pot which helps in the process of cooking the food. As the pot is a sealed unit, none of the liquid can escape which keeps the food moist.
What Are The Pros & Cons Of A Slow Cooker?
Let’s take a few minutes to look at the reasons for and against owning a slow cooker.
What Are The Pros Of A Slow Cooker?
The benefits of owning a slow cooker are;
- Easy to use
To cook healthy, nutritious meals in a slow cooker, all you need to do is place all of the ingredients inside the pot, close the lid, select your preferred setting and turn it on.
- Promotes healthy eating
The slow cooker is a sealed unit which means once you’ve added everything to the pot, nothing escapes. Even the steam created during the cooking process remains within the pot. This means none of the nutrients are lost. Plus as the food is cooked slowly on a low heat over a long time period, the food loses less nutrients during cooking.
- Energy efficient
Compared to using a standard oven, slow cookers use less energy making them one of the most energy efficient cooking appliances available at this present time. Plus you can cook far more food than is needed for one meal and freeze it for later use. Which means you can save even more on the energy taken to cook the food.
- Easy to clean
As the slow cooker uses lower cooking temperatures, there’s less likelihood of food sticking to the bottom of the pot. Also using a slow cooker is basically a one pot meal which means you cut down on washing up in general.
- Great for tenderising meat
You can cook tougher, cheaper cuts of meat in a slow cooker because the long cooking period at lower temperatures helps to tenderise the meat.
- Great for bringing out the flavours of foods
Once the lid is on, the slow cooker seals in all the wonderful flavours of your food. As the slow cooker cooks food at low temperatures, the flavours are allowed time to distribute throughout all of the ingredients.
- The ultimate in turn it on and forget it appliances
There’s no need to stand over a slow cooker and keep adjusting the heat etc. Once all of the ingredients have been added, and the slow cooker switched on, you can literally forget all about it until tea time.
What Are The Cons Of A Slow Cooker?
The disadvantages of a slow cooker include;
- Not good for all recipes
There are limits to the types of recipes that can be cooked in a slow cooker. Obviously, you can’t cook a roast in a slow cooker but on some models you have to brown the meat before cooking it in the slow cooker.
- Takes a long time
This might seem obvious, but it can be a disadvantage especially if you’re in a hurry. The shortest cook time is usually anywhere between 2 to 4 hours.
- Some flavours can be overpowering
The flavour of some strong herbs and spices can be overwhelming when used in recipes in a slow cooker.
- Some foods can be too moist
As all of the liquids are trapped in the pot, some foods can be too moist which is why it’s best to use less liquid than the recipe usually calls for.
- Allows no room for error
Unlike cooking on a hob, there’s no lifting the lid and adding any ingredients you forgot. Once the slow cooker is on, that’s it, so you need to get it right, first time.
How Does An Air Fryer Work?
An air fryer is very similar to a fan oven or convection oven. It uses the same principles to cook food but on a smaller, countertop sized appliance.
It works by heating the air via an element, then that hot air is passed around the food via a fan. The drawer the food is contained in has vents to allow the hot air to cook all surfaces of the food at the same time.
Although it’s called a “fryer”, it doesn’t actually fry food. An air fryer uses that hot air to cook food in a similar way to frying but without oil. The food cooked in an air fryer will taste like fried food but will be far healthier.
What Are The Pros & Cons Of An Air Fryer?
Let’s look at the main reasons for and against owning an air fryer.
What Are The Pros Of An Air Fryer?
The advantages of an air fryer include;
- Crisp, crunchy cooked food
Food cooked in an air fryer cooks perfectly crisp on all surfaces and works great for chips, fish fingers, onion rings, chicken and much more.
- Healthier food
Compared to other ways of “frying” foods, an air fryer uses no oil. Which makes it a far healthier option than a deep fat fryer for example.
- Cooks food fast
Air fryers heat up fast and as the food is cooked on all surfaces at once, they cook faster than a conventional oven or grill.
- Easy to clean
After eating your meal of air fried chicken and chips, cleaning the air fryer is far easier than cleaning a deep fat fryer. There’s no oil to dispose of, no oil splatter to clean up and as the air fryer basket is coated with a non-stick coating, cleaning is simple.
- Easy to use
Due to the digital display and easy to read instructions, using an air fryer is easy to grasp. All you need to know are the cook times and temperature of the food you intend to cook most of which can be found online. However, as all air fryers are different, sometimes the recipe might state the wrong time or temperature for your model. If in doubt consult your handbook.
- Safe to use
As there is no need for boiling oil, there’s no chance of oil spitting from the pan and burning you. There’s also no chance of the oil catching on fire. With that said, you do need to be aware that the contents of an air fryer will become very hot during the cooking process.
There are so many different foods that can be cooked using an air fryer. Meats vegetables, seafood, pizza, cakes, desserts and much more can all be cooked using an air fryer.
- Doesn’t smell the kitchen out
Compared to a deep fat fryer which forces the smell from the oil all around the kitchen, an air fryer is virtually odour free. As long as you keep your air fryer clean, it will hardly produce any odour at all.
What Are The Cons Of An Air Fryer?
The disadvantages of an air fryer include;
- Not as healthy (in all cases)
It’s easy to assume that because you’re not using oil to cook your food, that the meal is healthy. Whilst it is true that it’s healthier to cook food in an air fryer compared to a deep fat fryer, there are far healthier ways to cook foods. Broiling, steaming and grilling are way more healthy ways to cook than using an air fryer.
- Takes up much needed counter space
Whichever model of air fryer you purchase, it will take up vital space on the worktop. Even the smallest air fryer will take some room on the countertop.
- Limited capacity
If you have a large family or you’re catering for a large family gathering, the limited capacity of even the largest air fryer will prevent you from cooking all foods at one time. You will probably need to clean the air fryer drawer between courses as well
- Not suitable for all foods
An air fryer can cook an impressive range of foods but it’s not suitable for cooking all foods. For instance anything that has a wet batter like fresh fish for example, cheese, grains like rice and pasta, very fatty meats (bacon, pork etc), leafy green vegetables, popcorn etc will not be able to be cooked safely in an air fryer.
- Can be quite noisy
As the air fryer relies on a fan to pass hot air around the food that’s cooking, it can generate quite a bit of noise. Some air fryers are as loud as vacuum cleaners and hairdryers. It is possible to find quieter air fryers but it’s worth checking before you buy if this is a big concern of yours.
What Are The Main Differences Between An AIr Fryer and A Slow Cooker?
There are several differences between an air fryer and a slow cooker which include;
The average air fryer has a wattage of around 1500 watts whilst the average slow cooker has a wattage of around 300 to 400 watts. Granted the air fryer is only used for a short span of time compared to the slow cooker which is running for anywhere between 2 to 8 hours.
However, the air fryer will still use more power in that 15 to 20 minute spurt than a slow cooker will use over 8 hours of low power slow cooking.
Totally Different Cooking Styles
The slow cooker is used to cook stews, soups and casseroles over a long time period. Whereas an air fryer is designed to cook food that would usually be cooked in a deep fat fryer.
One cooks healthy soups etc while the other cooks not so healthy chips, fried chicken etc.
Air fryers can do far more than just frying food, an air fryer can also roast, broil and dehydrate foods. The slow cooker on the other hand can only really be used to cook similar types of meals all of which are heavily liquid based.
Slow cookers start at around the £30 mark for a 1.5 litre model whereas air fryers start at around £65 for a 6 litre model. A decent air fryer will cost more like £100 at least.
The design of the slow cooker is such that you simply add all of the ingredients, close the lid, and set the timer dial then forget about it for a few hours. On your return, the casserole is completely cooked. The air fryer on the other hand, has far more controls to worry about.
Many have touch sensitive screens with a number of settings needed to be selected before any cooking can be accomplished. This leads us to believe that the average slow cooker will probably outlast an air fryer simply because there’s less to malfunction.
Air Fryer Or Slow Cooker: Which Is Right for You?
Ultimately, the choice is yours and it all depends on your lifestyle and personal preference. This is because these two appliances cook food in a totally different way. The slow cooker takes lots of preparation and then no fine tuning at all and takes many hours to cook food slowly.
Producing healthy casseroles, stews and soups. Whereas the air fryer air fries foods in a short time. You can’t fry any food in a slow cooker and you can’t make a casserole in an air fryer.
However, an air fryer will take up roughly the same amount of space as a slow cooker. But has the ability to cook in more ways and can replace at least 3 kitchen appliances (deep fat fryer, microwave and oven).
If you really can’t decide between an air fryer or a slow cooker there is an alternative that will give you the best of both worlds. There are appliances which give you the convenience of an air fryer with the same abilities as a slow cooker.
We’re talking about either a Ninja Foodi or an Instant Pot Duo. Which is basically a slow cooker with an Air Fryer lid. Both of these appliances are currently popular choices with families that don’t have space for too many appliances on their worktop.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s hard to say whether an air fryer is better than a slow cooker because they are both used for different cooking techniques. Slow cookers are great for making soups, stews and casseroles whereas an air fryer is great for frying, baking and roasting food.
Slow cookers don’t use a lot of electricity. Even though a slow cooker might be running for up to 8 hours per day, it only uses the same amount of electricity as a standard electric light bulb.
Frozen chips can be cooked in an air fryer, they will take around 10 to 12 minutes depending on the amount cooked and the make and model of your air fryer.