Most often, the only areas where an air fryer falls short of a microwave are bulk cooking, heating liquids, and cooking speed. So, if your microwave broke and you need a replacement, you may consider alternatives. Your usage and cooking habits will determine whether an air fryer can completely replace your microwave and take up your precious counter space.
You should choose an air fryer if you enjoy cooking fresh and frozen vegetables, fresh and frozen meat, and love crispness. Choose a microwave over an air fryer if quick reheating, bulk heating, and liquid heating are your top priorities. Although, like most things, there is more to it than reheating foods in a microwave oven and saying an air fryer can’t do that.
In our guide, we’ll look at the differences and see if you can replace the microwave with an air fryer. By the end, no matter which convenient appliance you choose, it will match your cooking needs and offer you the chance to match your cooking styles. (Learn How Long Does Bottled Water Last)
How Does an Airfryer Work?
A heating coil and a fan are the two primary components of an air fryer kitchen appliance that helps cook food. Depending on the design of your model, the heating coil might be placed at the top or the back. With the aid of a fan, hot air is circulated as the coil heats the air inside.
In an air fryer, your food is cooked by hot air circulating inside the appliance because of the “Maillard Reaction.” As a result, your food is tender and crisp because of a chemical reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids.
Comparing an air fryer to a conventional oven, both cook food similarly. However, when the cooking air is reduced, and only a teaspoon of oil is circulated to the food, it produces superior results for many foods while reducing fewer calories.
Cooking time is also quicker compared to an air fryer than a conventional oven. One thing to note is, by using an air fryer for French fries rather than a deep fryer, you’ll consume fewer calories, and the fries don’t have exposure to harmful compounds as they are cooked in dry heat.
How Does a Microwave Work?
Food is cooked in a microwave using electromagnetic waves. These have shorter wavelengths than red light. An electron tube called a magnetron, which is used in microwaves, generates electromagnetic radiation. The waves hit the food at the cellular level after being reflected inside the oven.
The water molecules inside food vibrate quickly because of the waves’ interaction with the molecules. In addition, the molecules warm up because of the temperature turn, which heats the food. (Learn How To Store Grapes After Washing)
Is An Air Fryer a Microwave Alternative? Key Differences
Here you can see the differences between the two, and you may answer the nagging question. “Can I use an air fryer as a microwave oven?”
1. Heating Time
A microwave can reheat leftovers much faster than an Airfryer can. This is because it interacts with the water molecules in the food, quickly heating it. An Airfryer is slower and can take up to 5 minutes to fully preheat, whereas a microwave doesn’t require any preheating.
Because of the internal heating system, an air fryer takes longer to cook and heat food. So first, the coil heats up, then, with the aid of a fan, circulating hot air around the food, thoroughly and evenly heating it to cook foods. However, a regular oven is much slower than an air fryer, which is slower than a microwave.
2. Food Texture
You can cook food in an air fryer until it is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Besides making delectable cookies and pastries, you can brown pizzas, fry food such as fried chicken, French fries, and more An air fryer works to cook foods from the outside in and distributes heat internally.
Food is cooked entirely inside a microwave. The heat is dispersed inside out as the microwave cooks the food molecules. The water molecules become dry if microwaved for an excessively long time. However, it works well for making tea and coffee and reheating leftovers and liquids.
You can quickly microwave popcorn and melt butter in seconds. However, microwave usage can’t compare with air fryer work for frying and baking.
3. Appliance Functions
Compared to a microwave oven, an air fryer is more adaptable. The chamber is small, and hot air circulates quickly through it. It can perfectly cook food besides being able to air fry. You can say it is a toaster oven on steroids.
With practice and the right equipment, you can bake, roast, reheat, and cook just about anything inside an air fryer. Only boiling liquids or water is an exception. Meals, soups, and liquids can all be heated in the heating. For example, a microwave oven can cook rice and pasta within minutes, although it cannot make fried foods.
4. Health Benefits
Food is naturally cooked in an air fryer. It simply circulates heat like a regular convection oven rather than emitting radiation. The makers of microwaves assert that using them does not change the nutritional value of food, but they do not provide any supporting data for this content.
NIH (National Institute for Health) revealed that microwave cooking increased acrylamide in food, a neurotoxin and cancer-causing substance. When food is exposed to high heat while air frying, its acrylamide content decreases.
5. Cooking Capacity
A microwave is a sizable appliance that makes cooking in bulk simple. Regardless of how much food you put in, it can typically be ready in around 30 minutes. An air fryer is a smaller appliance and can’t cook large quantities of food as the air needs to circulate.
6. Power Consumption
An air fryer uses less power and is more effective than a microwave. For a long time, it only requires 1200–1600 watts of power, depending on the model. A microwave uses that energy up in 30 minutes and has a standby mode that uses up to 7 watts. A standby mode is not available on an air fryer.
7. Temperature Settings
An air fryer cooks food at low heat compared to a microwave. You have a lot of temperature options with a microwave. Depending on your model, the temperature setting can be as high as you like.
Depending on the model, an air fryer can reach temperatures of up to 400 degrees F (roughly 200 degrees C). It cooks thoroughly and uniformly thanks to quick hot air circulation, and does come with several heat settings depending on the model.
8. Care & Maintenance
Because of their size, microwaves are more difficult to clean than Air fryers. You need to ensure the cleaning agents are devoid of dangerous chemicals because they are highly combustible.
- You must dig down far to find nooks and crannies inside a microwave.
- An air fryer is small and portable and has removable, dishwasher-safe parts.
- An Airfryer is incredibly simple to clean. Use a dishwasher if possible, or wash it in warm, soapy water.
- The fan and coil inside are extremely durable and long-lasting.
- After cleaning, both appliances need to be wiped down and dried before further use.
- Microwaves are fast, and cook most things in a maximum of 40 minutes. They rule quick food preparation and replace all cooking methods.
- Microwaves are energy-efficient because of their speed. Their speed reduces energy consumption despite their high-power consumption. A microwave has no wait or preheating time.
- Microwave power and time settings are accurate as are your heat settings where cooking accurately leads to well-done meals without under or overdone food.
- Easy-to-use as the control panel settings are simple. Some microwaves have presets and you can stop these or just open the door.
- A microwave heats food, yet it can’t crisp like if you deep fry food as oil heats yet it doesn’t boil.
- Microwave cooking increases acrylamide content in food. High heat produces neurotoxin and carcinogen acrylamide.
- Waves heat food by interacting with water molecules thus drying food is easier to do by accident.
- Microwaves penetrate 2 inches. The inner side of dense foods gets heated by heat transfer from the outside.
- Microwaves destroy flavor and taste, to where some microwave- dishes are bland.
Air Fryer Advantages
- You can air fry and cook vegetables and meat in your Airfryer.
- Air fryers lower cholesterol by reducing food oil.
- Air fryers reduce acrylamide production by 90% and are the healthiest cooking option.
- No fire or radiation exposure.
- Airfryer parts are dishwasher-safe and easily disassembled.
Air Fryer Disadvantages
- Air fryers are relatively small, and size constraints make cake-baking difficult.
- An air fryer takes time to heat up and cook food compared to microwaves. In addition, air-frying takes longer than stovetop deep-frying.
- To evenly cook food, shake the basket or flip it. Crips from both sides. This frustrates some.
- Although you can heat liquids in a heat-resistant, oven-safe container, the liquid won’t boil. Airfryers can’t reheat liquids, tea, or coffee.
Can You Use An Air Fryer Like A Microwave?
Many people use a microwave to reheat leftovers or pre-made food. While an air fryer heats food, it takes longer.
Also, as the fryer cooks outside, the food needs to be reheated thoroughly.
- If you want crispy, reheated food, use an air fryer.
- If you only want to heat only a microwave is better.
Some people reheat TV dinners using their microwave as it is convenient, yet you can’t do the same in an air fryer.
If you can transfer your food from the plastic tray to something that is air fryer-safe, you can reheat it.
A microwave oven can also easily warm food such as milky coffee or boiling water, yet sadly, air fryers can’t reheat liquids with their limited heating element.
What types of food does each produce?
You can’t cook food after that in a microwave; microwaves have become a very convenient tool for many kitchens, especially for quickly reheating food. Yet this method heats food but doesn’t give it a crispy texture like most fried food.
Air fryers work by using hot air to for cooking food crispier and are ideal for cooking fried foods like French fries and chicken wings rather than heating your regular full-sized convection oven.
Air fryers cook food at a lower temperature than microwave ovens. But the hot air circulation with even coverage allows for thoroughly cooking more delicate foods. (Read What Does Gin Taste Like)
Experiment with temperatures and cooking times in microwave ovens, a type of food for a certain amount of time, and then try to replicate that to see how long it takes to reheat food using an air fryer basket.