Are Air Fryers An Overrated Gimmick? – An Honest Opinion

Are air fryers simply glorified convection ovens? Does an air fryer have any unique qualities that you cannot find in already existing kitchen appliances? Are air fryers any good? There are many questions associated with air fryers coming both for people who plan to get one, who owned one or who are not keen on getting one anytime soon. Here is my honest take on air fryers as a person who has only recently bought their very first air fryer. Let’s go over my very own experience with air frying!

  1. Air fryer – a glorified convection oven?
  2. “Using less cooking oil” point
  3. Capacity issues – air fryer sizes
  4. Easier cleanup – for real?
  5. Energy efficiency?
  6. Owning a convection oven, how often do you really use your air fryer?
  7. So, are air fryers really overrated?

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Air fryer – a glorified convection oven?

Well, the theory basically goes like this: an air fryer is in places more efficient and faster than a typical average convection oven because of better internal air flow and smaller cooking chamber allowing you to cook your food much quicker than in a traditional oven. Traditional convection ovens on the other hand in general have larger capacities than air fryers and can be more versatile in terms of additional features.

Convection Oven vs. An Air Fryer (What’s The Difference?)

Reality is: in my experience an air fryer can actually preheat and cook food much faster than a convection oven (including frozen food), but it can be limited in terms of types of food you can actually prepare in it. While you are able to prepare countless different delicious dishes using an air fryer, there are things that you just can’t do with it.

Air Fryer – What Not To Cook – Do Not Put These Things In!

Other than that, even with the bigger air fryers out there, you won’t be able to stack the food efficiently and you will have to be wary of the way you place your food inside the appliance so it will be evenly cooked.

How does an air fryer really compare to a regular convection oven?
How does an air fryer really compare to a regular convection oven? – Find out here.

When it comes to clear advantages, with an air fryer you will be able to prepare many types of food that are usually meant to be deep fried, and prepare them with using little to no additional oil!

An important thing to add is that an air fryer usually will be louder than a convection oven – mainly because of a larger fan and different case construction design.

So the main pros of an air fryer (from my perspective after a few months of usage) would be: speed, simple cleaning process and ability to emulate the deep frying process without the use of cooking oil.

Does the taste differ? Well, yeah but it’s not exactly a night and day difference with most popular dishes. In my experience an air fryer was able to emulate deep frying quite nicely in most cases (french fries, chicken thighs), not so great in others (frozen grilled vegetables – I personally prefer frying them with a little bit of oil in the traditional way – on a pan).

With all that being said, an air fryer has lots of qualities that a simple convection oven does not possess, however it cannot really replace a regular convection oven in a traditional kitchen.

We have an extensive comparison of air fryers and convection ovens here if you’d like to know more!

Air Fryers on Ebay:

“Using less cooking oil” point

Certainly one of the most prominent selling points of air fryers is an ability to emulate crispy texture of deep fried food without excessive use of cooking oil. This is true, as in an air fryer you can easily prepare food without the use of oil or with just a little bit of it sprayed over the food in the basket.

Using an air fryer you can use much less cooking oil than you would normally do.
Using an air fryer you can use much less cooking oil than you would normally do. | Roberta Sorge

As we’ve mentioned before, the taste can differ a bit compared to regular deep fried dishes, however deciding which way of preparing food is better boils down to personal preferences. In my case I loved some air fried dishes, while there are still some types of food that I prefer to fry in the traditional way.

How Do Air Fryers Actually Work? – Quickly Explained!

The best thing for you would be to find someone who already owns an air fryer and try out some simple dishes by yourself.

The most recurring example of air fried food that there seems to be no agreement on in terms of taste are simple french fries – many people still prefer them deep fried in oil and at the same time there are lots of people (including me) who after trying air fried french fries wouldn’t come back to regular traditional fatty fries.

Capacity issues – air fryer sizes

Even though I personally got myself a quite large 6.9QT/6.5L 1800 W air fryer (it really does look like a small barrel on my tiny countertop), most of the let’s say “entry-level” air fryers meant for one person use won’t really fit that much food.

In many cases, the basic small air fryer models won’t be able to fit a whole large bag of frozen french fries in one go. Of course there are larger models such as the one I got, however it’s perfectly normal not to expect the capacity of a generic kitchen oven from an air fryer of any sorts, mainly because stacking the food isn’t an option in many cheaper air fryer models.

Easier cleanup – for real?

Well, it depends. Largely on whether you consider having to take out the air fryer’s basket for cleaning a convenience or not.

Crucial parts of an air fryer can be really easily cleaned and in most cases are dishwasher safe.
Crucial parts of an air fryer can be really easily cleaned and in most cases are dishwasher safe.

When it comes to cleaning an air fryer, most of the baskets and trays used in popular air fryer models are dishwasher safe. The one major convenience with these kind of devices is that you don’t have to reach into the appliance to clean it because only parts that get dirty during the cooking process is the basket and often an optional stand that’s placed inside the basket.

Other thing is that the baskets and/or trays most of the time feature a non-stick surface that helps with removing leftover food.

In most cases, you can also put things like silicon mats or parchment paper on the bottom of your air fryer’s basket underneath the food to make the cleanup process even easier.

Energy efficiency?

Better internal airflow plus not having to heat up a whole oven for small servings of food make up for the common opinion that air fryers are much more energy efficient than larger convection ovens.

This of course further depends on many factors such as the size of your convection oven, wattage of your air fryer and the way you use it in your kitchen.

Air Fryer Buyer’s Guide – How To Choose Your First Air Fryer (Quick & Easy)

In general however, you could safely say that an air fryer is overall a more energy efficient solution compared to a regular sized convection oven when it comes to smaller food servings.

Above all that, air fryers are great for reheating food in minutes. We already tested that with some leftover pizza!

Owning a convection oven, how often do you really use your air fryer?

Well, owning an air fryer since a few months and a classic convection oven for too many years to count, for now I’d say I still use my air fryer on a regular basis. I think what’s more interesting, is what exactly I personally use it for when I choose it over my regular oven.

h fries - in a matter of ~10 minutes and without the use of cooking oil, are definitely one of the best things about an air fryer for me.
Quickly prepared french fries – in a matter of ~10 minutes and without the use of cooking oil, are definitely one of the best things about an air fryer for me. | Photo by: Manik Roy

Here is the list of foods I prepare most often using my Uten air fryer:

  • Fresh grilled vegetables.
  • Frozen (and homemade) french fries.
  • Chicken wings and chicken tenders.
  • Crispy air fried bacon (check the recipe I used here).

For these, I found myself using my air fryer exclusively, both for convenience and taste quality reasons.

So, are air fryers really overrated?

I wouldn’t exactly say that air fryers are overrated, but rather that they are an additional kitchen appliance (a gadget so to speak) that you can use alongside other kitchen devices but it cannot really replace any of them.

As we’ve said air fryers while essentially being close in functionality to mini convection ovens, have many qualities that regular convection ovens don’t have.

If you’re wondering whether or not to get one for yourself or for your family I would say go for it – you won’t regret your choice. Just don’t expect it to completely replace your oven or your deep fryer in terms of functionality – that’s most probably not gonna happen.

Air fryers let you:

  • Prepare meals faster than in regular convection ovens while using less electricity.
  • Emulate some deep fried food qualities that you normally would get only by submerging and frying your foods in cooking oil.
  • Easily prepare some meals that a regular oven would have trouble with.
  • Prepare frozen food and reheat food in minutes (without pre-heating).

Most air fryers won’t let you:

  • Stack food and place food in large heaps (in basic small basket air fryers this poses a risk that the food won’t cook evenly).
  • Prepare large servings for several people in one go.
  • Cook specific types of food not compatible with an air fryer.
  • Enjoy a completely quiet wait for your food while staying in the kitchen (the air fryer hum is just different from a regular convection oven).

With all this information in mind we hope that you are now able to decide on whether or not air fryers are simply an overrated gimmick.

If you’re still interested, check out our guide on how do air fryers actually work.

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