Air Fryer vs Microwave (Which to Choose?)

Air fryers are new home appliances in the market and meant for frying and roasting. After seeing Air fryers many people confused whether to buy Air fryer or microwave oven or both. It in this article we try to address the differences and benefits of both Microwave oven and Air fryer. Please see OTG is meant for exclusively for toast, grill and best baking. Read Microwave vs OTG article for more information.

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Microwave oven technology vs Air Fryer technology

In normal microwave ovens, the food is heated by heating the water molecules in the food. The food is heated with microwave radiation, heat is transferred inside to outside. Because of this microwave cooking is best for wet food items and not best for less moisture items. To address this problem convection microwave oven are introduced. In convection microwave oven there is an additional heating element to heat the food from outside and fan to circulate the hot air. In this way you can get crisp and roasted food easily.

Air fryers work on the Rapid air technology principle and meant for frying. You can imagine it as compact version of convection part of convection microwave oven. In Rapid air technology hot air is circulated over the food with very high speed. The heating elements or coil is placed very close to the food for effective heating. Because of very high speed of air circulation moisture is removed from the food very fast, making the food is more crispier and brown.

The technology differences impact food quality and many other aspects. We are listing the differences in the tabular form for easier understanding.

Normal Microwave Oven vs Air fryer

Normal microwave oven means solo microwave oven or grill microwave oven. In these microwave ovens food can be reheated, defrost, cook wet curries and grill kebabs. But you can absolutely cannot bake, fry, roast. Because to fry the food items like French fries you need external heating elements and fan to circulate hot air – convection. Whereas Air fryer is exclusively for frying. So it is like comparing mangoes and oranges.

If you already have solo microwave oven or grill microwave oven then you can buy air fryer exclusively for frying. If you don’t have a normal microwave oven then you have two choices either you can buy only convection microwave or buy both convection microwave and air fryer. If you are looking for appliance to cook curries, defrost, grill, bake then go for convection microwave oven. If the total intention is healthier frying option then go for air fryers. We address the detailed differences between convection microwave oven and airfryer in the next section.

Most people love fried foods. That is an undisputed fact. But realistically speaking, health concerns are still something on everyone’s mind. Many people are looking for healthier ways of cooking their favorite fried food. Air fryers and microwaves are both great at making fried stuff with less oil. So, I assume you have fallen into a dilemma about which one to get.

The primary difference between an air fryer and a microwave is the heating process. Microwave ovens cook the food evenly while the air fryer blows hot air to spread the heat over the food.

People have always had a comparison game between Air Fryer vs. Microwave. These two appliances are from two different eras of technology. They give almost the same result through different means. I will discuss all the points that set them apart so you can decide which one to choose.

Air Fryer Vs. Microwave: Fundamental Differences

The air fryer is a relatively new kitchen appliance. It is an altered version of the convection oven, standardized for home use. Philips introduced the term air fryer back in 2010 at a state convention. On the other hand, the microwave has been around for a long time since the post-WW2 era. Let’s talk about the fundamental differences between the two:

Cooking Process

Let’s start with the air fryer. Ironically, the air fryer does not “fry” the food as you would expect. The texture and final result are very different from a deep-fried dish. The air fryer has an internal coil that heats up like a coil stove.

There is a fan in there to spread the heat of the coil to the cooking chamber. That chamber holds all the goodies you put in, and the hot air cooks the food evenly.

A microwave oven works by heating the food through a continuous emission of microwave radiation. The magnetron inside the main chamber takes the electricity and turns it into a 2.45 GHz radio wave.

The food sits on a spinning platform, and the magnetron blasts the waves on it. That ensures even heat distribution on the dish. The interior walls of a microwave oven reflect the excess waves on the food.

Cooking Speed

Air fryers and microwaves come at a tie in terms of cooking speed. The air fryer cooks faster than an oven by up to 20% but in smaller volumes. On the other hand, ovens can cook a bit slower but in larger volumes.

However, slow cooking has its perks too. A longer cooking time means the food gets packed with more flavor. But reheating stuff in a microwave often reduces flavor, while the air fryer always tries to save as much flavor as possible.

They are both good at what they are supposed to do. Microwaves can cook faster in comparison if you are cooking a large amount of stuff.

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Cooking Versatility

I will give the overall medal for versatility to the microwave oven. There are plenty of dishes that you cannot cook on an air fryer due to the heating process. The air fryer is much better than the microwave when it comes to frying small things. But it does not do so well when certain ingredients get thrown into the mix.

One good example is cheese. You cannot put anything with a lot of cheese into the air fryer. The hot air spreads to the cheese first before anything else. They will melt the cheese, and you will end up with a bowl full of a soggy mess by the time the cooking finishes. The microwave spreads evenly and prevents this sort of thing from happening.

That does not mean air fryers are bad, mind you. Most modern air fryers can cook a whole host of things, including seafood and tofu. You can cook almost any meat in it, too, as long as you chop them down to a manageable size.

Cooking Volume

I suppose you already know the answer to this one. The Microwave oven beats the air fryer any day when it comes to cooking volume. They have more cooking space than air fryers, and the inherent nature of microwave radiation allows them to perform well regardless of volume.

Microwaves penetrate the food all the way, no matter the volume. It may take a while longer to cook, but you can rest assured that it will cook thoroughly. Air Fryer cannot compete with an oven in this category because of the smaller cooking surface.

The heated air circulates over the food, so it takes longer to penetrate the food. In addition, you cannot fill the cooking pot to the brim while cooking on an air fryer. You need to keep a decent amount of space to let the air circulate.

But air fryers can fry more french fries and wedges than an oven. It does it faster, too, since there is more surface area on the fries. It is faster at cooking small things compared to a clunky microwave.

Energy Consumption

An air fryer consumes marginally less energy than a microwave. However, it ends up winning in the energy efficiency competition with a better track record. Air fryer recipes are generally shorter than oven recipes. So, people need less cooking time on an air fryer, leading to less energy consumption.

The oven eats up energy in proportion to the heat level. It also eats up some electricity while on standby mode. In addition, there are plenty of recipes for an oven that takes longer than an hour.

Advantages of Microwave Ovens

Microwaves are one of the most common household appliances in the world because of their versatility. There are many perks of a microwave that helps it stand against the air fryer.

Here is the list of advantages of using a Microwave oven:

Can Cook Larger Volumes

The biggest advantage of using a microwave over an air fryer is the cooking volume. Microwaves can cook significantly larger portions compared to the latter. You can also bake things in an oven, which the air fryer is not suited for.

The oven is also energy efficient when it comes to making a lot of food compared to an air fryer. The air fryer has less energy consumption per hour, but it needs to work multiple times; if you need to cook too much food.

Cooking in multiple batches will increase the ultimate electricity consumption. Microwaves, on the other hand, can get things done in one go. That saves both overall electricity and time.

Higher Cooking Precision

A Microwave can allow you to cook with more precision compared to an air fryer. The radio waves spread evenly through the whole chamber, so everything gets the same treatment.

The air fryer’s heat comes from a single angle, and you will need to stir things around from time to time. Most air fryer dishes need to be flipped a few times to ensure even cooking. That is not the case for a microwave. It works with high precision and efficiency.

Better for Baking

An air fryer is good for most dishes, but baking is not its forte. An oven is always better for handling the dough. So, you might want to reconsider buying an air fryer if you are looking for an all-purpose appliance.

Microwave ovens are also better for cooking with cheese. It does not make a runny mess like what an air fryer does. The main problem is the uneven heat of the air fryer. The one-sided heat will ruin most bread if you are not careful.

Disadvantage Of Microwave Ovens

One of the biggest issues with microwaves is their inability to guarantee flavor. Most microwaved dishes have less taste compared to their conventional version. It has something to do with how the radio waves work.

Evenly spreading heat is not always a good thing. It ruins the flavor of the dish and makes it bland. Reheating with a microwave will ruin your dish 9 out of 10 times. Microwaved leftovers have a rubbery feel that I despise to the core. The air fryer does not have this problem, so you may want to get that if you tend to have a lot of leftovers.

Advantages Of Air Fryers

Air fryers have clear advantages in some situations, and you can easily make daily meals on them. The advantages of air fryers are as follows:

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Reduce Oil Usage

Most people choose to buy an air fryer for this single function, so it makes sense to place it at the top of this list. Air fryers consume infinitely less oil than conventional cooking.

This quality stands out prominently while making fries and other such fast food. A little dab of oil will allow you to achieve an almost identical result to a deep fryer.

But what about the flavor? An experienced chef knows that fat is the equivalent of flavor. So oil-free food must taste worse, right? The answer is no. A little bit of oil gives plenty of flavor to the fries because none of it gets wasted.

An air fryer also cooks more evenly compared to a pan. It takes less oil than pan-frying, and gives better results than a deep-fried dish.


Air fryers have quite a few qualities that make life easier. For one, you can whip something up for an evening snack without touching a pan. Making fast food is the easiest thing in the world if you have an air fryer on hand.

You also don’t have to deal with oil splashes while using an air fryer. The cooking area is a self-contained space, so you don’t have to touch any oil if you want. It makes things safer for people who lack cooking experience. An air fryer works faster than a conventional oven without sacrificing too much flavor.

There are a ton of Air Fryer dishes on the internet these days. Many chefs around the world keep making new recipes that anyone can make with an air fryer, and you can make them in minutes.  Air fryers are exceptionally superior for reheating leftovers too.

Easy Maintenance

Air fryers are cleaner than a traditional skillet or pan. There’s no splashing oil, no food stains or any grease you need to clean. The cooking chamber is removable, and it is the only thing you need to clean after cooking.

Air fryer parts are also dishwasher-safe for the most part. So you can avoid cleaning anything by hand if you so wish. Most Air fryers have separate compartments for separate dishes. You can make different things in one go, and avoid the hassle of messing around with too much cutlery.

Disadvantages Of Air Fryers

Air fryers are not even close to becoming the perfect cooking machine. They sure have some disadvantages which will make you not replace your microwave. Let’s take a look at them.

Limited Cooking Volume

This is the only flaw of an air fryer that sticks out like a sore thumb. Microwave ovens come in various sizes, and many have enough space to cook for a whole family in one go.

Air fryers are small, and there is not enough space in the cooking chamber for too much food. You may need to finish cooking in batches If you plan on cooking a regular meal for an entire family. The overall cooking time will go up faster compared to an oven that can get everything done in one batch.

Limited usage

Cooking is the only thing air fryers are good at. But microwaves can do a lot more than that. For example, you can heat up food without altering the taste with microwaves. Something that is not possible with air fryers.

Air Fryer Vs. Microwave: Which is Healthier?

Now let’s talk about the health benefits of air fryers vs. microwaves. I know most people are comparing the two because of this point alone. Which is ultimately healthier?

Air Fryers

You can fry things without putting them over a pan. That allows you to avoid a lot of added cholesterol. Air fryers shine best when it comes to frying, and it is one of the few places where microwaves cannot beat it.

But hey, cooking oil is not particularly bad for your health unless you have heart issues. Life is too short to eat fried sticks that don’t have the richness it’s supposed to have. You can apply a little bit of oil to make the air-fried food taste better. It will be far less oily than a pan-fried, or deep-fried dish.


Microwaved food retains the same nutritional value as traditional cooking. Regular cooking removes some of the vitamin C, some antioxidants, and some fatty acids, it is the same with a microwave.

But it can get a little tricky when you work with meat. Meat needs to reach a specific internal temperature before they are safe for consumption. So, you will need to get an oven thermometer for that.

However, you do need to use a pan to sear them before using the oven. That means you are still putting in more oil compared to an air fryer. The oven does not require you to add more oil, but you will need to put them over a pan for the sake of flavor. So, you are eventually using more oil in the case of microwaves.

Which Is Ultimately Better?

So far, we have discussed all the pros and cons of the two appliances, now is the time to decide which one fits you best. I suggest going for the microwave. If you are looking for versatility and need to cook for the family. If you don’t make too much food and don’t particularly have a baking hobby; then get the air fryer.

Fryers are a conditional powerhouse in the kitchen. They can make healthy fast food in small quantities without sacrificing flavor. On the other hand, microwaves are a well-rounded kitchen essential.  You will eventually find more use for a microwave than an air fryer because of its versatility.

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In the end, it all depends on what you think you need. Are you looking to make the best wedges in your life and still want to keep them healthy? Then an air fryer is a better option. Are you looking to make a lot of different foods and want to experiment with cooking? Then get a microwave.

Heck, get both if you can afford it. They are better than each other in their respective fields. So, you will get more value by using them at the right time.

Can an air fryer replace a microwave?

There are many people who are looking for a replacement to their microwave, because the microwave is now too old. Although an air fryer cannot replace a microwave, but it can be used in conjunction with a microwave to render more benefits.

If you want to purchase an air fryer, then we want you to know that they are not as useful as microwaves. Neither of them can use each other’s functionality. If you want more versatility and alternate cooking methods, then get a combination of an air fryer and a microwave.

Which is better convection microwave or air fryer?

The convection microwave is a new innovation among microwaves. It is specifically designed to cook faster and better than regular microwaves, while trying to maintain their health benefits.

But you will be surprised to hear that air fryers have the same technology installed. That makes them much more advanced than microwave convection ovens. The inside of an air fryer contains a fan that circulates air inside the cooking chamber which will distribute heat evenly to cook your food better.

So, if you want an upgraded version of the regular microwave, then you should get an air fryer instead of a microwave convection oven.

Why you Should Get an Air Fryer Instead of a Convection Microwave?

Convection microwaves have the same cooking power as air fryers. They both cook food by circulating hot air inside the cooking chamber using fans. However, the difference between them is in their internal fan systems; hence, their cooking processes are different.

An air fryer uses a set of metal elements placed within a dishwasher-safe square steel housing. The metal elements work as heat conductors for pushing hot air through it which will distribute heat evenly to cook your food faster than regular microwaves.

What are the disadvantages of an air fryer?

Using an air fryer is not as easy as using a microwave both in terms of using and cleaning. It requires much more attention than using a microwave oven.

You will need to be careful when cleaning the cooking bowl because it is removable. You should use warm soapy water for cleaning the cooking bowl to prevent corrosion from forming inside it.

It also needs to be cleaned after each use because it also tends to accumulate food particles, oil and grease over time; which may cause your food not to brown well if you don’t clean out the cooking bowl properly.

Is microwave with air fryer good?

With the introduction of super-fast cooking, you can now see that a microwave with an air fryer combo is great for making fast food. The combination of both appliances is a fantastic one because you can switch from cooking to another in no time.

This makes your life easier when it comes to preparing meals, especially foods that need to be cooked quickly and don’t require much attention or ingredients. For instance, tater tots and french fries are excellent snacks that can be prepared easily in just a couple of minutes.

While an air fryer is used for deep-frying your food, the microwave will give you separate containers where you can put the desired amount of oil before adding the food.

Why are microwaves bad?

In comparison with an air fryer, a microwave is not a very popular appliance in comparison to the latter. Microwaves are not suitable for cooking food that involves any type of stirring; such as stir-fry or braising.

Stirring food in a microwave can result in harmful reactions and chemical changes within your food; which will ultimately lead to altered characteristics, taste and nutrition. That is why microwaving your foods should be avoided.

Do I really need a microwave?

A microwave is the first appliance that comes to mind when you think about food preparation. It is a staple in most kitchens worldwide that has become an essential part of our lives.

The microwave is considered by many as one of the most interesting inventions of the past century. It made waves in the world of cooking, since its invention in 1947, and has become a very popular appliance among young and old alike for many years now.

With its popularity and ease of use, you will definitely find good reasons to get one for your kitchen. If you are currently using a microwave, then it’s time to change it with a more efficient air fryer.

I hope this has solved your dilemma on the topic of – air fryer vs. microwave. They are both outstanding appliances with unique characteristics. It doesn’t make sense to pit them against each other, as they both excel in certain areas.

You know their characteristics by now, so choose what you need based on that. Thanks for reading and I hope I was able to help come to a decision on which you should get.

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