Over the years, I believe I have created posts tackling most, if not all burning issues around kitchen appliances. Some of these posts include Toaster Ovens vs Regular Ovens, Convection Toaster Ovens vs Toasters, Regular Ovens vs Microwaves, and more.
Well, today, we are going to compare the Air Fryer vs Toaster Oven. In fact, I have meant to create this post for a while now because I come across comments such as “that’s one outstanding toaster oven” thrown at air fryer models all the time.
With that in mind, before getting to the main section of the post and differentiating the two appliances, let us start by creating a standardized base upon which we will build on. This is what will help you clearly understand where all the comparisons are coming from.
What is an Air Fryer?
Defined loosely, an air fryer is a compact kitchen appliance that utilizes convection air currents to prepare meals. The appliance has been fitted with very powerful fans that will circulate high-speed hot air in order to deliver crispy meals with fried textures.
I think the fact they can replace deep fryers explains why air fryers boast a massive following among chicken lovers. That said, if you are using an Air Fryer, ensure you do not use any oil at all.
How to use an Air Fryer to prepare food
An Air Fryer comes with a removable bucket that houses the basket that will sit on top of the drip tray.
To initiate the cooking process, simply pull out the bucket, place your items inside the basket, and push it back inside the Air Fryer. Consequently, adjust the temperature control and timer as required to achieve your desired results.
What’s more? Since the appliance’s heating elements are only placed on the top side, you may need to shake the basket a couple of times to make sure that your meal will be cooked evenly. This is particularly essential if the ingredients are stacked together.
What is a toaster oven?
A toaster oven is basically a smaller version of the conventional oven and you can use it to toast, bake, and broil depending on the meal you are preparing. These appliances also retail with front doors that you can either open downwards or sideways and have been fitted with high-quality elements at both the top and bottom.
How a toaster oven works
In order to heat your meal, radiant heat will emanate from your toaster oven’s heating elements and warm up the air within the appliance. This means that conduction from the baking pan will be the main source of heat.
And how about a convection toaster oven?
Well, the only difference between a convection toaster oven and a regular toaster oven is that convection models have been supercharged by fans. I know that could be confusing since I pointed out earlier that Air Fryers also essentially use the convection technique to cook their meals.
That said, Air Fryer’s fans are more powerful, which means the appliance will circulate the heat way more rapidly compared to convection toaster ovens.
In addition to that, an Air Fryer retails with a basket that will allow you to put in a small amount of food. And as you may know, a smaller space equals a more confined space, which means that an Air Fryer’s fan will only focus its heating in a small space.
Now that you clearly understand what the two products are, let us skip to the main section of the post and look at their main differences.
Yes, both appliances create heat. But how do they do it? A toaster oven uses a pretty basic strip of heating elements placed both at the top and bottom of the appliance. If you are using an old toaster oven model, chances are that the heating elements are only placed at the top side.
An air fryer, on the other hand, has slightly stronger heating elements, usually designed in coil forms. But as I stated earlier, the thing that makes the biggest difference is the air fryer’s powerful fan. And even if you pick a toaster oven with the convection setting, it still won’t be as powerful as an air fryer.
Any standard toaster oven you acquire today will boast a few cooking methods. These usually include grilling, roasting, and baking (and sometimes the tool can even act as a rotisserie.)
An Air Fryer, on the other hand, can execute all those functions, plus dehydrating and air frying. This makes air fryers the most flexible between the two. So, if you intend to attain an air fried taste on your meals (instead of the slightly unhealthy deep fat frying), then an air fryer is your best bet.
And as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, ensure you must not use oil.
Which brings me to my next difference.
Ease of cleaning and maintenance
If like me, you do not take pleasure in spending a lot of time cleaning, then I really think you should go with an Air Fryer. The fact you will not need any oil to prepare your meals makes the non-stick drip pan of the appliance really easy to wipe clean.
Both the exterior and interior surfaces are also made of easy to clean materials. To top it off, thanks to their small size, they are also very quick to clean.
That said, toaster ovens are easy to clean as well. It’s just that when you compare their cleaning process to the air fryer’s, the air fryer takes the lead. The most strenuous part of cleaning a toaster oven is using sponge ad detergents to get rid of all the oil, while at the same time trying to ensure that you do not come into contact with the heating elements.
With that in mind, regardless of the appliance you are cleaning, if it has been a long time since your last cleaning session and there has been a build-up of stains, then I advise you to scrub gently using your sponge to ensure that you do not scratch the walls and ruin the paint.
Speed of cooking
A regular toaster oven will prepare most meals with the same speed just as a regular oven would take. An air fryer, on the other hand, can prepare the same meals in approximately half the time, thanks to the powerful fan and fact they have a smaller area inside.
After testing both appliances extensively, however, there is one instance when the toaster oven will be faster: i.e. when you’re toasting bread slices (hence the name of the appliance I guess.) A toaster oven delivered perfectly toasted slices in less than two minutes whereas an air fryer delivered the same type of slices in around four minutes.
A traditional bucket-style air fryer has less space compared to the traditional toaster oven. You will usually need to acquire a larger capacity air fryer to match the cooking space offered by a standard toaster oven.
That said, thanks to technological advancements, recent air fryer product lines have hugely balanced out this difference. You can now acquire an air fryer that matches the size and cooking capacity of a standard toaster oven, but you can rest assured that it will cost more.
Compared to air fryers, toaster ovens boast little insulation and as a result, their exterior surfaces heat up too fast. In fact, when using one of these appliances, experts recommend that you do not place any flammable materials or plastic objects next to a toaster oven to avoid any hazardous fire situations.
You are also advised to ensure you are using your toaster oven in a nicely ventilated space.
With air fryer’s, on the other hand, the cooking basket is usually placed in a perfectly insulated bucket. The appliance itself is also nicely insulated, and this is why air fryers are more recommended if you live in hot areas.
I currently own both a toaster oven and an air fryer. The toaster oven is rated at 1400 watts whereas the air fryer is rated at 1600 watts. And after checking out hundreds of appliances while coming up with this post, I realized that air fryers are generally more powerful, which translates to more power usage.
That said, the difference isn’t that big and won’t be easy to notice on your power bill at the end of the month. So, don’t let this discourage you from investing in the appliance. Add to that the insulation advantage an Air Fryer offers and you will realize perhaps it is even more, energy efficient.
When comparing standard toaster oven and air fryer models, it was clear that air fryers will generally cost more. Of course, they both boast a wide array of products, and that is why I said standard models. After reading the post, feel free to check out the appliances on Amazon and you will realize that the cheapest toaster ovens lie in the $25-$40 range. The cheapest air fryers, on the other hand, lie in the $40-$70 range at best.
That is quite a difference.
As you can see, there is no sure-fire way to assure each of you about which kitchen appliance would suit you the best. You all have your own toasting needs and requirements, so ensure you comprehensively understand both products and choose the one that best meets your needs and requirements.
That said, I can tell you which one is the best for me. I live in a hot area and my kitchen is small. So, the ease of storage and flexibility that the air fryer delivers are the current best solution for me. I also have a toaster oven, but you will hardly find it in my room.