Can an Air Fryer replace a Microwave?- Which one is better?

If you are in a dilemma about ‘can an air fryer replace a microwave’, then hop onto this journey where we discuss if an air fryer can replace a microwave.

So, the microwave is a pretty important device, especially in busy homes where you meal prep and try to save as much time as possible.

In such cases, reheating can be a savior, and you need a good microwave for it.

But can an air fryer replace a microwave?

In my opinion, an air fryer cannot replace a microwave. Both work slightly differently. But if you are willing to adjust with an air fryer, most functions are almost comparable to a microwave.

You should decide based on the appliance’s features and how it aligns with your lifestyle to get the most out of the money spent.

Still, confused if you should get an air fryer or a microwave?

Well, I have to go into further detail on how these appliances work so you get a better idea of the better option for your kitchen.

Can I use an Air Fryer as a microwave?

No. The cooking method is different for both. Hence understanding how each of them work is crucial to determine if you can use an air fryer as a microwave.

How does the air fryer work?

In simple terms, the air fryer works on hot air circulation. An air fryer has a coil on top of the cooking chamber that heats up and a fan behind the coil that circulates hot air.

Can an Air Fryer replace a Microwave?

This is why an air fryer can fry anything because the hot air creates a higher temperature on the food’s surface than the internal cooking temperature.

This is why with the use of little to no oil, it mimics the results of a deep fryer.

How does a microwave work?

As the name suggests, a Microwave uses microwaves produced by an electron tube inside the microwave to cook food.

The food absorbs these microwaves, and the water particles in the food to vibrate, transferring heat on a molecular level and rapidly heating food.

This vibration creates friction between molecules producing heat.

This is one of the reasons a microwave works way quicker in comparison to a conventional oven.

A microwave cooks the food from the inside out, and hence most of the time, when you reheat something in a microwave, you might not get it as crispy as expected.

Air fryer vs Microwave

Let’s take reheating a pizza slice as an example. Reheating it in a microwave without help(using the water trick) will give you a hot yet soggy pizza slice.

I can never eat that. However, if you reheat pizza in a convection oven or an air fryer, you get a crispy exterior and a nice, soft, chewy pizza interior.

This is because a convection oven and air fryer cook foods outside to inside.

Is an Air fryer the same as a convection oven?

So can an air fryer replace a convection oven?

It is time to let the cat out of the bag…

Yes, an air fryer is the same as a convection oven. Actually, the air fryer is just a smaller version of a conventional oven.

Does that mean there are no differences between an air fryer and a convection oven?


There are some differences depending on the usage; however, the way they work and cook food is the same.

Air fryers are smaller in size, and they cook faster in comparison to an oven that takes longer cooking times.

A convection oven’s only advantage over an air fryer is that you can cook larger quantities inside a convection oven.

However, some large-capacity air fryers can argue for that.

Quick Differences between an air fryer and a microwave

Having a small side note on a convection oven and its role is important, but we have much larger differences to discuss.

So what are the real differences between an air fryer and a microwave?

Most of the differences are subtly discussed before, but to give readers a better picture, I decided to put them all in one place so you can scroll through the major differences.

1. Cooking techniques

Air fryers utilize hot air circulation to achieve crispy textures, making them suitable for frying, baking, roasting, and grilling.

Microwaves use microwave radiation to quickly heat food, making them efficient for reheating, defrosting, and simple cooking tasks but without the ability to achieve crispy textures.

2. Cooking times

Air fryers generally require longer cooking times than microwaves due to the cooking method.

Air fryers use hot air circulation to cook food, resulting in crispiness, which takes longer.

Microwaves, on the other hand, offer faster cooking and reheating times due to the use of microwave radiation.

3. Power consumption

Microwaves typically consume less power compared to air fryers because they cook faster.

Microwaves generally operate at power levels ranging from 1200 watts and above , while air fryers typically use around 1200 to 1500 watts.

However, specific power consumption can vary depending on the models and settings used. I think it is more or less the same power consumption.

Can you replace Microwave with an air fryer

4. Portability

Air fryers are generally more portable than microwaves due to their smaller size and lighter weight.

Air fryers can be easily moved and stored, making them convenient for small kitchens or for taking to different locations. Microwaves, on the other hand, are larger and less portable.

5. Versatility

Air fryers offer more versatility compared to microwaves. Air fryers can fry, roast, bake, grill, and reheat food, providing various cooking options.

Microwaves are primarily used for reheating, defrosting, and simple cooking tasks, with limited capabilities for achieving crispy textures or performing various cooking techniques.

6. Cooking Capacity

Microwaves typically have a larger cooking capacity compared to air fryers.

Microwaves can accommodate larger dishes, bowls, or plates, making them suitable for cooking or reheating larger quantities of food.

Air fryers, on the other hand, have a more limited capacity, often designed for single or smaller servings.

7. Temperature settings

Microwaves offer precise temperature control settings, allowing users to set specific temperatures for cooking.

Air fryers, on the other hand, typically have preset temperature options instead of precise control, offering convenient temperature ranges for different cooking needs.

Air fryers generally have a more limited temperature range, usually up to around 400°F.

8. Maintenance

Air fryers are generally easier to clean and maintain compared to microwaves.

Air fryers often have removable and dishwasher-safe components, making cleanup simpler.

Microwaves require cleaning of the interior, turntable, and accessories, which can be more time-consuming and require manual scrubbing for grease and spills.

9. Texture

Air fryers excel at achieving crispy textures due to their hot air circulation, resulting in a crisp exterior.

Microwaves, however, do not produce the same level of crispiness and browning, focusing more on quickly heating or reheating food without achieving a crispy texture.

Can I reheat food in an air fryer?

Yes, you can use an air fryer to reheat food. Air fryers work really well for reheating leftovers because they can quickly and evenly heat the food, resulting in a crispy texture without drying it out.

Reheating food in microwave

It’s a convenient option for reheating items like fries, chicken nuggets, and pizza, or even reheating cooked meats or vegetables.

Make sure to set the right temperature and timer to reheat anything to perfection.

Can you put Microwave meals in an air fryer?

Yes, you can. Just make sure the container that you put the meals in are oven safe before placing them inside an air fryer.

Not all microwave-safe containers are air fryer safe; ensure the container is ‘Oven safe.’

Is air fryer just meant for frying?

Air fryers are not limited to just frying; they can be used for a range of cooking methods.

In addition to frying, air fryers can roast vegetables, bake desserts like cookies or cakes, grill meats and seafood, and even reheat leftovers.

They achieve these cooking techniques by circulating hot air around the food, creating a crispy texture without the need for excessive oil.

What you can not cook in the air fryer

There are some dishes that you just cannot cook inside an air fryer. Some of them are-

1. Liquid-based dishes like soups and stews.

2. Foods coated with wet batters, like tempura or wet dough.

3. Delicate items like leafy greens or small herbs.

4. Large whole meats or whole poultry.

5. Foods in closed containers or airtight covers.

6. Dishes that require stirring or mixing during cooking.

7. Foods that need a high moisture level, like steamed dumplings.

8. Dishes with excessive oil or marinade that may cause excessive smoking.

9. Dishes with a very long cooking time, like slow-cooked braises.

10. Foods that require precise temperature control, such as delicate desserts or tempering chocolate.

Can an air fryer replace a microwave?

Choosing between an air fryer and a microwave depends on your specific needs and cooking preferences.
An air fryer is ideal if you value crispy textures, versatility in cooking methods (such as frying, baking, and roasting), and the ability to cook with less oil.

It is a great option for those who enjoy various crispy and evenly cooked dishes.

A microwave, on the other hand, is more suitable if you prioritize quick heating, reheating, and defrosting.

It is convenient for fast and simple cooking tasks, such as warming up leftovers or quickly cooking pre-packaged meals.

I barely use my microwave after getting the air fryer. However, there are some dishes(very few) that reheat so much better and faster in a microwave.

FAQs on Air fryers

Can you use coffee filters inside an air fryer?

No, it is not advisable to use coffee filters inside the air fryer. Coffee filters are flammable and can be a fire hazard when used inside an air fryer, and hence I do not recommend using them.

Can you use a paper towel inside the air fryer?

No, it is unsafe to use paper towel inside the air fryer because it is flammable, just like the coffee filter. Better alternatives to it would be parchment paper or aluminum foil.

How much oil to use inside the air fryer?

You barely need more than two pumps of oil inside an air fryer to cook anything you want to!

Do you need to preheat an air fryer?

It is optional. Preheating an air fryer reduces cooking time and helps with even cooking, but I prefer cooking without it and do not find it a groundbreaking technique.

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