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Kevin Curry

Deep Fryer vs Air Fryer: Which Is Best?

air fryer vs deep fryer

Imagine the captivating scent of crispy, golden fries filling the air, tempting your taste buds with each tantalizing whiff. 

*sniff* ahhhhhhhhhhhhh…

But wait! 

What if we told you that you could enjoy that heavenly experience without guilt? 

Prepare for a culinary clash like no other as we explore the showdown between deep fryers and air fryers. Brace yourself for the truth behind that irresistible crunch and the healthier wonders these kitchen gadgets can deliver. It’s time to delve into the world of guilt-free frying. So get ready, fry enthusiasts, because we’re about to fry it up… the healthy way!

How do air fryers work?

In recent years, air fryers have taken the culinary world by storm, promising a healthier way to enjoy our favorite fried dishes. But what exactly is an air fryer, and how does it work its magic?

An air fryer uses hot air circulation to cook food to crispy perfection. Unlike deep fryers that submerge food in hot oil, air frying circulates hot air around the food using a fan, creating a crispy texture without needing all the extra oil. This makes it a healthier alternative to deep fryers.

When you place your food in the basket or tray, powerful heating elements rapidly heat up the air inside. The heated air is then circulated at high speed using a fan to create a mini convection oven effect. This circulating hot air ensures even cooking and browning on all sides, resulting in a crispy exterior and a tender, juicy interior.

One of the most significant advantages of air fryers is their ability to drastically reduce the amount of oil needed for cooking food. Traditional deep frying can leave your favorite dishes swimming in oil, adding unnecessary calories and unhealthy fats. With air fryers, you can achieve similar results with just a fraction of the oil! In fact, some recipes require little to no oil at all, making it a fantastic option for those aiming to maintain a healthy lifestyle without sacrificing flavor.

Additionally, air fryers offer versatility beyond just frying. These handy appliances can also bake, roast, grill, and even reheat leftovers. From crispy chicken wings and perfectly roasted vegetables to delectable desserts, the possibilities are endless. Air fryers often come with adjustable temperature settings and preset cooking modes, making it easy to experiment with various recipes and achieve consistent results.

It’s important to note that while air fryers are awesome in their own right, they may not perfectly create the exact texture and taste of deep-fried dishes. While the results are undeniably delicious, some folks might argue that they just don’t compete with the original deep-fried version. But if you can get past that, the air fryer offers a healthier and more guilt-free version of some of America’s favorite dishes.

How do deep fryers work?

While air fryers have certainly made a name for themselves in the realm of guilt-free cooking, let’s not forget the classic contender: the deep fryer. Deep frying has been a beloved cooking method for decades, known for its ability to create irresistibly crispy and indulgent treats. So what sets them apart from their air-frying counterparts?

Deep fryers, also known as deep fat fryers, use hot oil to cook food quickly and create a crispy outer layer. Food goes into a removable fryer’s basket and then the basket goes into hot oil. 

One of the undeniable advantages of deep fryers is their ability to produce that classic deep-fried texture and flavor. From crispy French fries and golden onion rings to perfectly fried chicken, deep fryers excel at creating that indulgent crunch that satisfies our taste buds. The high heat of the oil also promotes quick cooking, locking in moisture and making sure that the inside remains tender and juicy.

Often, fried foods are covered in wet batters made of things like eggs, milk, flour, or breadcrumbs, but battered foods aren’t the only foods fried. For example, french fries don’t need any help to taste delicious.

It’s important to consider the downsides of deep frying. First and foremost, deep-fried foods tend to absorb a significant amount of oil during the cooking process, resulting in higher fat content. This can contribute to excess calories and may not align with your dietary preferences or health goals. Also, using lots of oil can be expensive and requires proper disposal methods to avoid environmental impact.

Maintenance can also be a factor to consider with deep fryers. Cleaning up after deep frying can be tricky since you’ll need to handle and dispose of the used oil properly. Regular maintenance, such as filtering and changing the oil, is important to make sure the fryer lasts a long time.

Deep Fry vs Air Fryer: Main Differences

air fryers vs deep fryer


If you’re in the market for a new kitchen gadget to satisfy your fried food cravings, you might be torn between an air fryer and a deep fryer. Let’s take a closer look at the key differences between these two appliances to help you make a decision.

Air FryerDeep Fryer
Cooking MethodUses hot air to cook food, creating a crispy exterior without excessive oil.Cooks food by submerging it in hot oil, resulting in a rich and indulgent flavor.
Oil UsageRequires little to no oil for frying. Minimal oil usage makes it a healthier option.Relies heavily on oil for frying, resulting in a higher calorie and fat content.
Cooking VersatilityOffers versatility beyond frying. You can roast, bake, and even dehydrate a variety of foods.Specializes in deep frying and lacks the ability to perform other cooking methods.
Health ConsiderationsPromotes healthier eating by reducing the consumption of unhealthy fats.Deep-fried foods should be enjoyed in moderation due to their higher calorie and fat content.
CostGenerally more expensive upfront, but can save money in the long run by reducing oil usage.Typically more affordable initially, but ongoing costs include purchasing oil for frying.
CleaningUsually easier to clean due to its non-stick surfaces and dishwasher-safe components.Requires more effort to clean due to oil residue and may involve filtering and changing the oil.
Difficulty of UseGenerally user-friendly with straightforward controls and preset cooking options.May require more caution due to dealing with hot oil and monitoring cooking temperatures.
TasteProduces a similar crispy texture to deep frying but with a lighter, less greasy taste.Offers the classic deep-fried flavor and texture loved by many.
Cooking TimesCan have longer cooking times compared to deep fryers if you consider the cooking time alone. But deep fryers generally take longer to heat up.Cooking times may be slightly shorter since the hot oil can cook in 3-5 minutes what an air fryer would take 10-15 minutes to cook. 

An air fryer offers healthier cooking options, versatility, and easier cleaning, while a deep fryer provides the classic indulgent taste and simplicity of deep frying. 

Air Fryers vs Deep Fryers: Which one is better?

The air fryer is convenient, preheats quickly, and is easy to clean. It is also easier to use compared to a deep fryer. And the air fryer’s versatility and ability to reduce fat and calories with less oil make it a clear winner!

BUT… if you’re looking for that traditional crunch and flavor, the deep fryer can’t be beaten. Deep fryers are also slightly more affordable upfront, but you will need to consider the ongoing cost of oil as part of the price.

Both appliances deliver delicious and crispy results, but considering all the factors, the air fryer is the way to go. I’ve personally used an air fryer for years and absolutely love it! And I have tons of great recipes that help you maximize the flavor and nutrition with an air fryer. Adding an air fryer to your collection of kitchen appliances will be a decision you won’t regret!

How Much Does an Air Fryer Cost?

Most air fryers will run you somewhere between $70 and $200, so watch out for deals. Holiday sales can get you some decent savings. Price varies depending on how many bells and whistles you’re after, the size, and the brand. For 1-2 people, you can go for the smaller air fryers. But if you’re trying to cook a large meal, you’ll have to have a large air fryer or even several air fryers to get the job done.

How Much Does a Deep Fryer Cost?

Deep fryers cost around $30-$500. Home deep fryers are fairly inexpensive. The higher price points are the industrial-sized fryers. When price-checking deep fryers, don’t forget to factor in the cost of oil. Food needs to be totally covered by the oil when cooking, so larger deep fryers can require a few gallons of oil. 

Which Air Fryer Should I Get?

You’re getting an air fryer, right? It’s definitely the way to go! To help you pick the best air fryer for you, here is a comparison of the major brands. 

Philips:

Pros:

  • A renowned brand with a long-standing reputation for quality.
  • Offers a wide range of models with different capacities and features.
  • Excellent cooking performance, producing crispy and evenly cooked food.
  • User-friendly controls and presets for easy operation.
  • Durable build and long lifespan.

Cons:

  • Generally higher price range compared to other brands.
  • Some models may have limited cooking capacity.
  • Accessories and replacement parts can be expensive.

Ninja:

Pros:

  • Known for its versatile and multi-functional air fryer models.
  • Often include additional cooking functions such as grilling and dehydrating.
  • Good cooking performance with adjustable temperature settings.
  • Generally more affordable than some other high-end brands.
  • Sleek design and easy-to-use controls.

Cons:

  • The cooking capacity may be smaller in certain models.
  • Can be noisy during operation.
  • Some users have reported issues with the durability of certain components.

Instant Pot:

Pros:

  • A well-known brand for its popular multi-cookers.
  • Air fryer models offer the convenience of multiple cooking functions.
  • Large cooking capacities are available in some models.
  • Energy-efficient operation.
  • Often come with a variety of preset cooking programs.

Cons:

  • May have a learning curve for users new to the brand.
  • Some users have reported issues with the accuracy of temperature controls.
  • Bulkier design compared to standalone air fryers.
  • The higher price range for models with more advanced features.

Cosori:

Pros:

  • Offers a range of air fryers with various capacities and features.
  • Good cooking performance with even heat distribution.
  • Affordable pricing for the features provided.
  • Intuitive controls and user-friendly interface.
  • Decent build quality and durability.

Cons:

  • Some users have experienced difficulties with customer support.
  • The non-stick coating may wear off over time.
  • Limited availability of replacement parts.

Cuisinart:

Pros:

  • A well-established brand for kitchen appliances.
  • Durable construction and quality materials.
  • User-friendly controls and intuitive interface.
  • Good cooking performance and even heat distribution.
  • Offers different sizes and models to choose from.

Cons:

  • Higher price range compared to some other brands.
  • Limited presets and advanced features in certain models.
  • Some users have reported issues with the accuracy of temperature controls.

It’s important to note that the pros and cons mentioned above are general observations and may vary depending on the specific model within each brand. When considering a purchase, you should thoroughly research and compare models from different brands, read customer reviews, and consider your own cooking needs and preferences. 

What Foods Can You Cook in an Air Fryer?

If you’re wondering what foods shine in an air fryer, here are some of the best options:

  1. Crispy Vegetables: 
air fryer vs deep fryer calories


Air fryers excel at creating perfectly crisp vegetables with a tender inside. Whether broccoli, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, or sweet potato fries, the hot circulating air in the fryer helps create a yummy crunch without the extra oil.

  1. Chicken Tenders: 
air fryers vs deep fryers


Air fryers are perfect for making that coveted crispy coating on chicken tenders or nuggets. Whether you’re using pre-packaged options or making your own, air frying gives you juicy chicken with a satisfying crunch.

  1. Fish Fillets: 
deep fry vs air fryer


Air-frying fish fillets give a crispy outer layer while keeping the moisture and tenderness of the fish inside. From salmon to tilapia and everything in between, you can enjoy perfectly cooked fish.

  1. Homemade French Fries: 
air fryer french fries vs deep fried


If you’re craving French fries but want to cut down on oil, the air fryer is your best friend. With just a fraction of the oil used in deep frying, air-fried French fries turn out golden and crispy on the outside while retaining a fluffy interior.

  1. Stuffed Mushrooms: 
air fry vs deep fryer


Air fryers are excellent for making stuffed mushrooms, offering a delicious and healthier alternative to the traditional deep-fried version. The hot air circulates around the mushrooms, creating a crispy outer layer and keeping the flavorful stuffing inside.

  1. Onion Rings: 
air fryer vs deep fried


You can have crispy and flavorful onion rings from an air fryer with significantly less oil compared to traditional frying methods. This gives you a lighter, guilt-free version of this beloved snack.

  1. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: 
air fryer chicken wings vs deep fried


Believe it or not, air fryers can create a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich. The air circulating around the sandwich helps achieve a crispy, toasted exterior with gooey, melted cheese inside.

  1. Falafel: 
air fryer cook time vs deep fryer


Air fryers are an excellent way to achieve a crispy and delicious falafel without deep frying. These Middle Eastern chickpea fritters turn out perfectly cooked and golden brown in an air fryer, offering a healthier option.

  1. Chicken Wings: 
air fryer calories vs deep fryer


Air fryers can deliver crispy chicken wings with a fraction of the oil traditionally used for deep frying. Whether you prefer them coated in a sauce or seasoned with spices, air-fried wings are a flavorful and guilt-free indulgence.

  1. Apple Chips: 
air fryer vs deep fry time


For a healthy and satisfying snack, thinly sliced apples can be air-fried to create crispy chips. Sprinkle them with cinnamon for an extra burst of flavor.

The versatility of air fryers gives you so many options to explore and experiment with various recipes and ingredients. These are just a few ideas to get you started, but the possibilities are endless!

Final Thoughts on Air Fryer vs Deep Fried

The debate between air fryers and deep fryers boils down to finding the perfect balance between health, convenience, and taste. Both cooking methods have their merits, and the right choice ultimately depends on your personal preferences and dietary goals.

If you prioritize health and want to indulge in crispy, flavorful foods without guilt, an air fryer is an excellent investment. Its ability to deliver satisfying results while using less oil means you can enjoy a healthier version of your favorite fried dishes.

But if you’re a fan of that unmistakable deep-fried taste and don’t mind occasional indulgences, a deep fryer might be more suitable for you. Just remember to practice moderation and be mindful of the higher fat content and calorie density of deep-fried foods.

Whether you opt for the convenience and health benefits of an air fryer or the indulgent charm of a deep fryer, happy frying and bon appétit!

Try These Recipes to Get Started With Your Air Fryer

deep fryer vs air fryer


Air Fryer Sweet Potato Pie Wontons Recipe

Air Fryer Banana Recipe

Must Try Healthy Air Fryer Recipes

3 Easy Air Fried Chicken Recipes

Soul Food Remix: Air Fryer Fish Nuggets & Collard Green Medley

Tex Mex Air Fryer Cauliflower Munchies

Healthy Air Fryer Tostones

Air Fried Almond Milk Nog Bread Balls

Air-Fried Coconut Shrimp With Spicy Pineapple Sauce

Make Ahead Air-Fryer Breakfast Egg Rolls

20 Minute Air-Fried Low Carb Beignet Balls

Air Fried Peanut Butter Chicken

Air Fried Jerk Inspired Chicken

Air Fried Omelette Loaded Potato

Air-Fried English Muffin Margherita Pizzas

Air Fried Burrito Egg Rolls

Instant Pot Air-Fried Strawberry Pop-Tarts

Air-fried Cajun Potato Salad

Keto Air-Fried Garlic Parmesan Wings With Yogurt Ranch

Check out more recipes for your air fryer here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hey, I'm Kevin

My name is Kevin. My life changed when I realized that healthy living is a lifelong journey, mainly won by having a well-balanced diet and maintaining an active lifestyle.

By experimenting in the kitchen and sharing my meals on Tumblr, I learned healthy eating is not boring! By making a few adjustments to my favorite foods, I could design a diet that could help me achieve my wellness goals while satisfying my desire for BANGIN food! 😅 Now I try to help people around the world realize that same level of freedom in eating regardless of budget. Welcome, let's #DemocratizeWellness together!

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