Difference Between Air Fryer And Microwave

Difference Between Air Fryer And Microwave – Which is Right for You?

Last Updated on June 12, 2023

In today’s fast-paced world, kitchen appliances that can make our lives easier and more convenient are highly valued. Two such appliances that have gained popularity in recent years are microwaves and air fryers.

A microwave uses electromagnetic radiation to heat food from the inside out. It excites the water molecules in food, causing them to generate heat and cook the food.

Conversely, an air fryer cooks food with hot air, similar to a convection oven. It circulates hot air around the food, creating a crispy and browned exterior while keeping the interior moist.

While both appliances can cook food quickly, air fryers generally take longer than microwaves due to the cooking method.

This blog post examines the differences between air fryers and microwaves in order to help you decide which one is best for your culinary needs.

Microwaves and Air Fryers: What Are the Differences?

Microwaves and air fryers are two popular kitchen appliances that serve different purposes. While microwaves use electromagnetic radiation to heat food, air fryers rely on hot air to cook food to a crispy texture.

Understanding the differences between these two appliances is crucial in choosing the right tool for your cooking needs. 

During this discussion, we will examine the benefits, functionality, and cooking methods of microwaves as well as air fryers.

Functionality and Cooking Method

The air fryer has become a popular alternative cooking method in recent years. It uses hot air circulation and convection fan technology to cook food with minimal or no oil while still achieving a crispy exterior.

By circulating hot air around the food, the air fryer replicates the results of deep frying, ensuring that the food is evenly cooked and crispy.

Moreover, the air fryer offers versatility in the kitchen as it can be used for baking, roasting, grilling, and frying various foods.

In contrast, the microwave operates by using electromagnetic waves to heat food. It does this by exciting the water molecules present in the food, resulting in rapid heating.

Functionality and Cooking Method

The microwave’s cooking method relies on water molecules’ absorption of microwave energy. However, it is not suitable for baking, roasting, or frying.

The microwave is most effective for quickly heating or reheating food, making it ideal for simple tasks such as reheating leftovers or preparing uncomplicated meals.

Cooking Results

The air fryer’s known for producing crispy, evenly cooked food like deep-fried dishes. 

It achieves this through its unique cooking method, using hot air to circulate around the food, resulting in a crispy texture and golden brown color.

Moreover, the air fryer retains the food’s moisture, ensuring juicy and tender dishes. It’s perfect for cooking a variety of foods, including meats, vegetables, and even desserts.

Cooking Results

Alternatively, the microwave excels at quickly and evenly heating food. However, the outcome can vary depending on the type of food. 

Sometimes, the microwave may cause uneven heating, resulting in hot and cold spots. 

Additionally, it doesn’t provide a crispy texture or browning effect, which can be a drawback for certain foods.

Cooking Capacity

The air fryer offers a 4-quart ceramic-coated nonstick basket and crisper plate, capable of holding up to 2 pounds of French fries or other ingredients. 

It’s great for cooking meals for small to medium-sized families.

However, the microwave has a larger interior capacity of 1.2 cubic feet. It can fit a 12-inch pizza or larger dishes, making it perfect for cooking meals for larger families or gatherings.

Cooking Capacity

Although the air fryer has limited cooking capacity, it compensates for its ability to cook food evenly and quickly. 

It can cook food with little to no oil using hot air technology, resulting in healthier meals.

Conversely, the microwave may not offer the same level of even cooking as the air fryer, but its larger capacity allows for the preparation of a variety of dishes, making it more versatile in terms of meal options.

Temperature Range

In terms of temperature control, the air fryer provides a wider range of heat settings compared to the microwave, allowing for more precise and versatile cooking options.

The air fryer’s temperature range goes from 105°F to 400°F, while the microwave doesn’t have a specific temperature range.

The air fryer’s adjustable temperature settings are great for all sorts of cooking needs like baking, grilling, frying, and roasting.

On the other hand, the microwave works by heating food with microwaves without allowing temperature control. This makes it better suited for reheating or defrosting rather than cooking.

The air fryer’s precise temperature control gives it an edge over the microwave when it comes to cooking certain foods.

For instance, the air fryer can cook crispy and golden brown dishes like french fries and chicken wings using less oil and in less time compared to a traditional oven.

In contrast, the microwave may achieve a different level of crispness and browning due to its lack of temperature control.

Additional Functions

While the air fryer’s main purpose is frying food using hot air, it also has a dehydration function. 

This function lets you create homemade snacks such as fruit leather or beef jerky. Set the fan speed and temperature low, and you’re ready.

This extra feature is especially handy for people who enjoy making their own nutritious snacks right at home.

Alternatively, the microwave comes with pre-programmed sensor menus designed to heat popular foods like pizza, potatoes, and veggies optimally. 

Forget about guesswork when using this function. It automatically adjusts the power and cooking time based on the food you’re heating.

Moreover, the microwave also offers defrosting functions based on time and weight. This convenient feature is perfect for those who frequently cook frozen foods. 

Air FryerMicrowave
Dehydration FunctionPre-programmed Sensor Menus
Versatile Cooking OptionsDefrosting Functions
Frying with Hot AirOptimal Heating of Popular Foods

Cooking Time and Speed

While the microwave’s reputation lies in its quick cooking times, enabling fast food heating and reheating, the air frying process demands time to achieve the desired crispy texture.

This is because the air fryer deploys hot air circulation for cooking, necessitating a longer cooking duration compared to a microwave.

Regarding cooking time and speed, the microwave unequivocally emerges as the victor.

Cooking Time and Speed

It’s perfect for individuals seeking swift food heating or reheating, rendering it a convenient choice for busy individuals.

On the contrary, the air fryer necessitates more cooking time, yet it provides a healthier alternative, enabling people to relish the crispiness of fried food without excessive oil.

Versatility and Cooking Options

The versatility of cooking options provided by these appliances can greatly impact the quality and variety of meals that can be prepared, ultimately affecting the level of satisfaction and enjoyment experienced by the consumer. 

When comparing air fryers and microwaves, it is clear that air fryers offer a wider range of cooking methods and options. 

Below are some of the key differences in terms of versatility and cooking options:

1. Air fryers provide the ability to bake, roast, grill, and fry, making them suitable for a wide variety of recipes and cooking styles.

In contrast, microwaves are smaller and more compact, are primarily designed for heating and reheating food, and are limited in terms of cooking methods and options.

2. Air fryers use hot air to circulate around the food, which results in a crispy exterior and moist interior. This allows for the preparation of crispy fried foods without the need for excessive oil.

As opposed to microwaves, they do not provide this type of cooking method and are unable to produce a crispy exterior.

3. Air fryers often come with additional accessories such as baking pans, grilling racks, and skewers, which further increase their versatility. Microwaves, however, only sometimes come with these accessories.

4. Air fryers also allow for the cooking of larger items such as whole chickens and roasts, which may not be possible in a microwave. Microwaves are generally better suited for smaller portions of food.

Control and Display

The air fryer offers a user-friendly display panel that lets you effortlessly set cooking time, temperature, and additional functions.

The controls are intuitive and simple, making it easy for you to choose the desired setting without any confusion.

Plus, the air fryer’s display panel is easy to read, clearly indicating the cooking progress.

On the flip side, the microwave also has a large digital display and an easy-to-read control panel.

It includes a clock, kitchen timer, and one-touch start for multiple food presets. The control panel is straightforward, and the buttons are clearly labeled, making it easy for you to operate the device.

However, the microwave’s controls can be overwhelming for some users due to the numerous preset options available.

Air FryerMicrowave
User-friendly display panelLarge digital display
Easy to set cooking time, temperature, and additional functionsOne-touch start for multiple food presets
Intuitive and straightforward controlsNumerous preset options
Easy to read display panelSimple control panel with clearly labeled buttons

Health Considerations

The air fryer uses hot air to cook food, significantly reducing the amount of oil needed. 

This means healthier meals with fewer calories and fats, making it perfect for health-conscious individuals who still want to enjoy their favorite fried foods.

Moreover, the air fryer’s fast and even cooking ensures that the food retains its nutrients, promoting overall health.

Meanwhile, the microwave requires no additional fat for cooking, making it an excellent choice for those aiming to reduce calorie intake. 

Microwaves also boast quick cooking times, preserving the nutritional value of the food. However, certain studies suggest that overcooking food in the microwave can result in nutrient loss.

Nevertheless, the microwave remains a popular appliance due to its convenience and efficiency in quick food preparation.

Power and Voltage

While the microwave operates at a power wattage of 1100W and a rated voltage of 120V – 60Hz, the air fryer’s specific power and voltage information are not provided. 

However, it is essential to note that air fryers typically require more power than a microwave due to their unique cooking mechanism that requires intense heat to cook food quickly.

To better understand the power and voltage specifications of these appliances, let us compare them in a table format. 

The table below highlights the power and voltage specifications of an air fryer and a microwave:

AppliancePower WattageRated Voltage
Air Fryer800 – 2,000W120-220 volts
Microwave1100W120V – 60Hz

It is crucial to ensure that these appliances’ power and voltage requirements align with the electrical outlets in your home. 

It is also essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on properly using and maintaining these appliances to avoid any electrical hazards.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Cleaning the air fryer is easier compared to the microwave as it features dishwasher-safe parts. 

The polyurethane construction also ensures durability and longevity. The dishwasher-safe parts of the air fryer can be easily removed and cleaned by hand or in a dishwasher.

Moreover, the air fryer’s interior can be cleaned with a damp cloth or sponge, making removing any grease or food residue easy.

In contrast, the microwave does not provide specific information regarding dishwasher-safe parts. Cleaning usually involves wiping down the interior and exterior surfaces.

A damp cloth or sponge can be used to wipe down the interior of the microwave, especially if there is any food residue or stains. The exterior can be cleaned with a mild detergent or all-purpose cleaner.

It is important to note that care should be taken when cleaning the microwave, especially around the buttons and control panel. 

Any water or liquid should not be allowed to enter the microwave’s vents or openings, as this can damage the appliance.


Generally, microwaves are more affordable compared to air fryers. This is due to the fact that air fryers are a relatively new addition to the kitchen appliance market and come with advanced features that increase their price.

To emphasize the difference in cost between air fryers and microwaves, the following table can be used:

AppliancePrice RangeAverage Cost
Air Fryer$30 – $300$150
Microwave$50 – $500$200

As seen in the table, the average cost of an air fryer is $150, while that of a microwave is $200. 

However, it is important to note that the cost can vary depending on the appliance’s brand, features, and capacity. 

Can You Use an Air Fryer as a Microwave?

Using an air fryer as a microwave is viable for tasks like melting butter or chocolate and defrosting food. 

In fact, it’s common practice for some people who’ve used air fryers for years.

This is because air fryers use convection heating, circulating hot air around the food for faster and more even cooking compared to a microwave.

Additionally, air fryers excel at producing crispy and crunchy textures, something microwaves can’t achieve.

However, it’s important to note that air fryers and microwaves have different purposes. While an air fryer can replace a microwave for certain tasks, it can’t fully replace it.

Microwaves are designed for quick and efficient food preparation, ideal for reheating leftovers, cooking vegetables, and even making popcorn.

Conversely, air fryers are intended for cooking food with a crispy texture, like fried chicken or french fries.

Therefore, it’s recommended to have both appliances in the kitchen to meet all your cooking needs.

Can I Reheat Food in an Air Fryer?

Reheating food in an air fryer involves preheating the appliance to a temperature of 350-400F for 4 to 5 minutes. 

This is important to ensure that the food is heated evenly and crisps up nicely.

After preheating the air fryer, the food is placed in the basket without overcrowding. 

It is important to ensure that the food is not overcrowded as this will prevent it from crisping up properly.

Once the food is in the basket, it is air fried for 3 to 5 minutes or until it is crispy and heated through.

It is important to keep a close watch on the food while it is air frying to prevent it from burning.

Using an air fryer to reheat food has become increasingly popular due to its ability to crisp up food quickly and evenly. 

Some benefits of reheating food in an air fryer include:

• Air frying preserves the texture of the food, making it crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.

• Air frying does not require any oil, making it a healthier option than deep frying.

• Air frying is also quicker than an oven and does not require preheating, making it more energy-efficient.

Can I Put Glass in the Air Fryer?

Glass used in air fryers should be tempered and oven-safe to withstand the extreme temperatures they reach during cooking.

Borosilicate glass, like Pyrex, is a popular option for air fryer cooking because it is made in a 1000 degree F oven, making it super durable. 

Borosilicate glass is a type of glass that contains boron trioxide, which gives it a high thermal shock resistance. 

This means that it can withstand sudden changes in temperature without cracking or breaking, making it a great choice for air fryer cooking.

Additionally, it is known for its resistance to chemicals and scratches, making it a durable and long-lasting option for cookware. 

When using glass in an air fryer, it is important to handle it carefully and avoid sudden drops or impacts that could cause it to break.

Unveiling the Final Verdict on the Difference Between Air Fryer And Microwave

The choice between an air fryer and a microwave ultimately depends on your cooking preferences and needs. 

Microwaves are ideal for rapid heating, while air fryers provide a healthier and more versatile cooking experience. 

Consider the limitations and capabilities of each appliance, and choose the one that aligns best with your culinary aspirations.

So, the next time you step into your kitchen, think about the type of cooking you’ll be doing and select the appliance that will elevate your culinary endeavors. 

Whether you’re reheating leftovers or preparing a gourmet feast, choosing the right tool can make all the difference in creating a delicious and satisfying meal.

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