Most modern-day kitchens come equipped with the full set of cooking appliances including conventional and microwave ovens, and air fryers. By and large, you use these kitchen or culinary appliances for grilling, frying and baking a wide range of fares. However, it is the distinct cooking process used by these kitchen gadgets that distinguishes one from the other.
Apart from the cooking technique, there are many other factors or attributes that help differentiate air fryers, convection and microwave ovens. In this review, we walk you through the aspects that help you distinguish between an air fryer, microwave oven and convection oven. Understanding how these kitchen appliances operate and cook food helps you decide which device to use more often.
Cooking Technology: Air Fryers, Convection and Microwave Ovens
Air fryers come equipped with a heating element, usually a coil that starts heating up when you switch them on. When the coil attains the desired temperature, a built-in fan starts dispersing the heat uniformly all over the food. The uniform or even heating ensures that food is cooked consistently, thereby guaranteeing that the food tastes great.
The technology that an air fryer exploits for cooking food is very much similar to the technique used by convection ovens. However, air fryers make better use of the natural oils and fats abounding in foods for cooking compared to microwave or convection ovens. So, air fryers hardly need any oil for cooking yet these appliances cook food with excellent consistency.
At the same time, air fryers tend to have a superior ergonomic design than convection or microwave ovens. Owing to its better ergonomic design and compactness, a deep fryer occupies less space than a microwave or convection oven. Convections ovens and deep fryers use convectional heating technology circulate heated up air within the heating chamber to cook food.
Deep fryers and convection ovens both disperse hot air uniformly throughout the compartment, resulting in uniform cooking of food items. At the same time, both convection ovens and deep fryers feature built-in thermostats allowing you to set the appropriate cooking temperature. Topnotch deep fryer and convection oven models also have timers which lets you preset the duration by which your food should be cooked.
Microwave ovens exploit radiation technology that creates electromagnetic waves or microwaves in the same way as television and radio transmitters. Radiation heating technology facilitates superfast transmission of heat, thereby enabling the appliance to fry or roast food quickly. The microwaves generated by microwave ovens excite the molecules of water inside the food items, leading to their agitation.
As the electromagnetic waves produced by microwave ovens agitate the water molecules, they become heated, thereby furthering the cooking process.
Food Capacity and Size
Regardless of whether you go for a microwave or convection oven or an air fryer, you’ll always consider your countertop space before purchasing. After all, you’d want to ensure that the kitchen appliance you’re thinking of buying fits perfectly on the kitchen countertop to enable you to cook comfortably. You’ll also want to take into consideration the number of individuals you’ll usually cook for before deciding on the appropriate size.
Convection and microwave ovens, by and large, tend to be larger in comparison to air fryers. So, you’ll need to keep aside sufficient space on the countertop for installing a microwave oven or a convection oven. Or else, you’ll not be able to move around freely in the kitchen with a view to monitor the cooking.
Air fryers, on the other hand, are much more compact than convection or microwave ovens. Hence, you’ll be able to position an air fryer comfortably on the kitchen countertop even if it’s small in size. However, the benefit that the compactness of an air fryer offers also works as a disadvantage.
Air fryers being smaller than convection or microwave ovens do not allow you to cook large portions or servings of food. Though a convection or microwave oven takes up ample space on your kitchen countertop, both appliances let you cook sizable food servings. You can fit an air fryer easily in a kitchen countertop where space is at a premium, and yet access it comfortably.
An air fryer also happens to be a very energy-efficient culinary appliance, cooking food quickly using up minimal electrical energy. At the same time, air fryers hardly need any oil for cooking, unlike microwave or convection ovens. Nowadays, you’ll come across many air fryer models that come equipped with deep heating compartment, despite having a compact profile.
So if you don’t have sufficient space on your countertop yet wish to rustle up large portions of food, you can purchase this innovatively designed product. In order to find a compact air-fryer that also allows you to cook large chunks of mutton or chicken, you’ll need to fine-tune your search.
Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance
Air fryers not only occupy less space than convection or microwave ovens but are also easier to clean and maintain. The exterior and interior surfaces of a quality air fryer usually have a durable nonstick coating, enabling you to clean the appliance conveniently. Sometimes, you simply need to wipe the air fryer’s inner and external surfaces with a dry and clean cloth for cleaning it.
Also, maintaining air fryers on a continual basis should not be an issue, thanks to their compactness and ergonomic profile. Convection and microwave ovens, in sharp contrast, can be somewhat difficult to clean and maintain, owing to their large size. Additionally, microwave and convection ovens contain more components than air fryers which means you’ve to devote more time to clean the former.
You’ll have to struggle to remove the crumbs, oil drippings, and dregs from the interior chamber and components of microwaves and convection ovens. You’ll find that the area where your microwave or convection is installed looking messy and dirty. More often than not, you’ll need a great effort to access hard-to-reach areas, resulting in incomplete cleaning of the appliance.
You’ll find air fryers easier to clean compared to microwave or convection ovens owing to the former being more portable. You can comfortably pick up an air fryer and position it vertically or horizontally for cleaning it with remarkable ease.
Microwave and convection ovens still continue to be extremely popular with a large proportion of chefs and housewives, thanks to their versatility. Not only do convection and microwave ovens enable to you bake, roast, and grill food conveniently but safely as well. However, the majority of chefs and cooks prefer a convection oven over microwaves because the former helps retain the foods’ nutrients.
Since a microwave oven uses electromagnetic waves or microwaves for cooking, the cooked foods lose their inherent nutrients. Microwave ovens that fan hot air over the food items are best used for rustling up baked treats and goodies. Convection ovens that facilitate heat transfer to water molecules of meat cuts and vegetables are more suitable for cooking mutton and beef dishes.
Usage of Raw Food Items
A convection oven makes optimum use of a raw food item’s natural oils and juices, and therefore needs minimal cooking oil for roasting or steaming. Hence meals prepared in convection ovens tend to be healthy, nutritious, and wholesome. Nevertheless, you should avoid using a convection oven for preparing baked entrees like biscuits, cakes, and cookies.
Convectional air currents circulating over these food items could suck up too much moisture, eventually dehydrating the baked goodies excessively. Air fryers and microwave ovens incorporating similar cooking techniques too can cook food in a healthy manner. Microwave ovens and air fryers have built-in fans (instead of heating elements) for evenly dispersing the hot air over foods.
Air fryers in particular can help cook food faster compared to convection ovens as the former attain higher temperatures faster. An air fryer can heat and cook foods perfectly without oil yet the foods are not overly dehydrated. When you prepare French fries or chicken wings in an air fryer, you can rest assured that the cooked dishes will retain their nutrients.
So when it comes to choosing between an air fryer, microwave or convection oven which one will you settle for? Bear in mind that nowadays microwave ovens tend to be more versatile than their earlier editions. Simply put, a modern-day microwave enables you to cook a variety of foods, apart from letting you heat leftover items.
Additionally, microwave ovens do not heat up your kitchen as much as air fryers or convection ovens do. Yet most chefs and housewives will choose an air fryer or convection oven over a microwave, and for good reasons. For a start, you do not need oil for cooking food in air fryers thereby keeping your deep fried treats perfectly crisp and healthier to eat.
Microwaves, in sharp contrast, always require a specific quantity of oil for deep frying or cooking certain food items. Then again, you’ll find air fryers easier to clean in comparison to microwaves or convection ovens. Cleaning an air fryer is a breeze because there are no oily deposits or sediments to remove in the first place.
Also air fryers come with a detachable frying compartment that you can take out easily for cleaning. To say the last but not the least air fryers help save on cooking time as they cook food quicker than microwaves or convection ovens.