You’re probably already aware that air fryers are all the rage; but can you air-fry in your conventional oven? And more than that – Why are they even so popular right now? There are a few reasons: They cook food quickly and easily, they’re simple to clean, and they impart a fried taste without all of the oil and grease that health-conscious people try to avoid.1
If you haven’t yet made the leap to becoming an air-frying aficionado, you might wonder whether a convection oven is the same thing. Can you air-fry in a convection oven? What’s the difference between these two appliances, anyway? And which is right for you? We’re going to tackle these questions below.
What Is a Convection Oven?
Unlike a regular oven that heats with an electric element or a gas burner, a convection oven heats food by circulating heated air.2 They do still use electricity or gas, but they don’t depend on the heated element to cook the food. The benefit that convection ovens have over traditional ovens is that they cook more quickly and more evenly. This means that you can cook different dishes in different areas of the convection oven, and they’ll all be exposed to the same heat; in a regular oven, the foods closer to the top and bottom cook more quickly (this is why you need to cover some dishes when they’re partially cooked, as they’ll get too brown if you leave them uncovered near the heating element).
The result of cooking food in a convection oven is that you can use a lower temperature, the food will cook more quickly, and the browning or crispiness will be more even than if you used a traditional oven. These are many of the same features of an air fryer, so you might wonder what the difference is!
What Is an Air Fryer?
Image courtesy of Pixabay
While a convection oven is a fairly large appliance, an air fryer is small enough to sit on your counter and reside on a shelf in your pantry. It generally uses a basket that you pull out. This holds your food and keeps it in place for cooking. The cooking that takes place is similar to what happens in a convection oven. The hot air circulates, and you enjoy the benefits of lower cooking temperatures, quick-cooking, and even heating for deliciously crisp food. Some people say that air-fried food has roughly the same texture as oil-fried food, and you get that without the mess, smell, or high caloric load of using oil for frying. In addition, air fryers are generally affordable; you will find a reasonably-priced air fryer for far less money than it would cost to have a new convection oven installed.
Can You Air-Fry in a Convection Oven?
The answer to this depends on what type of convection oven you have. Some have an “air fryer” setting. In this case, you should be able to get roughly the same results from air-frying in a convection oven as you would air-frying in an air fryer. Others don’t have this setting, though, so you’d need to experiment with the different settings to see what works best.
Some suggest using a dark or nonstick pan and using the convection oven’s “roast” setting for the closest results to air frying.3 Of course, this is speaking solely about the results of the food. You will not have the same ease of cleaning or convenient countertop access with a convection oven regardless of the setting you use or the pans you choose!
Which Appliance Is Better?
Image courtesy of Pixabay
The appliance you choose to air-fry foods solely comes down to your preferences. If you’re wondering about the price, an air fryer is going to be the less expensive option most of the time. If you are looking for more versatility, a convection oven might be the winner. Do you want a smaller appliance? Then you’ll want to go with the air fryer, which comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. On the other hand, if you are looking to have your traditional oven replaced, then you might choose to do so with a convection oven. The convection will also be a better choice if you are planning on cooking a Thanksgiving dinner or if you want to use it regularly with its different settings. You aren’t, after all, going to roast a whole ham or a three-course meal in your air fryer.
If you already have one of these appliances, then it might not make sense to invest the money or the space in the other. On the other hand, if you enjoy having a variety of kitchen gadgets and lots of options, then maybe you’ll make the room in your budget and in your kitchen for both!
Home Life Daily uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Polhuis, C.M.M., Vaandrager, L., Soedamah-Muthu, S.S. et al. Salutogenic model of health to identify turning points and coping styles for eating practices in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Int J Equity Health 19, 80 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-020-01194-4
- WHAT IS A CONVECTION OVEN? Maytag.com. Accessed 27 Sept 2021.
- Hope, Paul. How to Air Fry Without an Air Fryer. Consumer Reports. Published 9 Jan 2019. Accessed 27 Sept 2021.