can an air fryer replace a microwave

Can an air fryer replace a microwave? Are you wondering if this is possible?

There is a wide range of new-age kitchen tools and devices that allow you to cook delicious meals in no time.

An air fryer is one such handy device. It can work wonders in terms of frying with just a fraction of the oil that regular tools need. 

Well, microwaves and air fryers do not deliver the same cooking results.

To understand why we must first understand the differences between the way the two devices are built and the principles by which they heat food. 

Air Fryer Vs Microwave

Aside from the notable difference in aesthetics, air fryers and microwaves also don’t heat food in the same way.

In this section, we’ll go over all the major differences between the two. 

Heating Method

Air Fryer:

heating element

Air fryers heat foods by producing convection currents of hot air that circulate evenly throughout the interior.

You only have to coat the food with a small amount of oil before placing it in an air fryer. 

The convection currents blast hot air onto each and every area of the food, bringing the oil to a boil. 

This process entirely fries, roasts, or bakes the food. Hence the name air fryer.

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Microwave:

Microwaves, on the other hand, heat food by producing electromagnetic radiation within the microwave range.

The microwaves emitted are absorbed by the water particles in the food, making them vibrate faster.

The vibrating molecules generate heat that cooks the food around it

For a full-length demonstration of how microwaves work.

As you can see, both devices employ distinct cooking techniques by using different technologies. 

Components

components

Air Fryer: 

Air fryers have a coil placed either below or above the food that heats the air around it.

This hot air is pushed with the help of a fan, creating convection currents that heat up and circulate air.

The coil used to warm the air is placed close to the food, thus eliminating moisture and resulting in crispy, evenly fried food.

Microwave:

Microwaves contain a component called a magnetron. Inside the magnetron is a filament that releases streams of electrons when heated.

Magnetrons require high voltages to generate these waves.

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That’s why you either need to plug them into a special high-voltage socket or attach a transformer.

Duration Of Cooks

cooking duration

Air Fryer:

Air fryers take a while to reach the optimal cooking temperature after being turned on, so the cooks take longer.

It takes up to 20 minutes to fully cook fries at 400 Fahrenheit.

However, when it’s done, the food gets cooked perfectly, giving you crispy and flavorful food.

Microwave:

Microwaves, on the other hand, heat food up much faster.

This is because they don’t heat food by changing the temperature but rather through electricity and magnetism that moves at high speeds.

This generally cooks food in under 5 minutes, and if you’re just reheating leftovers, it’s an even shorter wait.

The cooking time can vary slightly with different models.

Power Consumption

power consumption

Air Fryer:

Since air fryers require a long time to reach the desired cooking temperature, the heating doesn’t run for very long.

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This makes air fryers fairly efficient in terms of energy savings.

The average air fryer uses somewhere between 1400 watts and 1700 watts per cook.

Although it’s important to note that because time and temperatures are adjustable, the energy savings vary. 

Microwave:

Microwaves are far more efficient. The average modern microwave uses 1200 watts for half an hour’s worth of cooking.

And on standby mode, they consume an almost negligible amount of energy.

Please note that these power stats are for the average device. Higher-end devices are likely to offer you much more in terms of power savings. 

Pros And Cons Of Air Fryers

Pros

  • Help reduce calorie intake from fried foods by requiring less oil.
  • Convection heating cooks food evenly, making it crispy, and enriching the flavor. 
  • Small and easy to clean. Many of the components are also dishwasher safe.
  • Can heat a variety of foods and in many ways, from simply reheating to fully cooking. Just adjust the time and temperature. 
  • Baking and broiling are not possible with microwaves.
  • Safer way to fry food compared to pans or deep fryers. Because it uses less oil, the chances of you getting hit by bubbling oil are slim to non-existent. 
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Cons

  • Takes longer to cook your food. They also take longer than microwaves to heat liquids.
  • Usually smaller than microwaves. The smaller cooking space limits what you can do. 
  • Consumes more energy than microwaves by taking longer to cook for each use.

Pros and Cons of Microwaves

Pros

  • Much faster than air fryers. A decent model can reheat food in under 2 minutes.
  • More spacious interior that increases the capacity of how much microwaves can cook.
  • Heats liquids efficiently and safely as long as you’re following the guidelines.
  • More energy-efficient and can save you money on power bills in the long term.
  • Easy to use with simple configurations to help you cook more precisely.

Cons

  • Since microwaves work by heating water molecules, they can dry up your food.
  • Microwaves have a hard time penetrating through thick foods like steaks or anything with a dense but dry exterior.
  • Microwaves are notorious for sometimes ruining the flavor of food. 
  • Cannot deep-fry food. Microwaves will heat the oil but it needs to pass the boiling point to cook food, which microwave’s electromagnetic radiation cannot deliver. 
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Air Fryer vs Microwave — Which to Use?

which one to use

From what we can discern about both the devices’ dimensions and designs, as well as the difference in their techniques, it’s clear they are to be used for separate purposes.

There are things an air fryer can do that a microwave cannot, and there are things a microwave can do that an air fryer cannot, or mostly just cannot do as quickly. 

But this also means that your kitchen will probably benefit greatly from having both devices.

Can an Air Fryer Replace a Microwave?

air fryer and microwave

No, and a microwave cannot replace an air fryer either. There are several foods that a microwave cannot heat or cook at the same proficiency as an air fryer. 

On the other hand, microwaves provide the convenience of speed and ease of use to reheat foods that typically would take an air fryer much longer.

When to Use an Air Fryer?

There are certain foods that a microwave cannot prepare nearly as well as an air fryer.

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Examples include:

  • Meats such as beef, chicken, fish, and bacon.
  • Chips, French fries, and other fried items.
  • Baking cookies, pastries, or bread.

If you try to cook these in a microwave, the outcome will likely be a ruined dish. 

When to Use a Microwave?

Microwaves, as we discussed earlier, are not ideal for baking, frying, or cooking foods in oil.

Their sole function is speed-heating by going after water molecules.

This makes microwaves more ideal and efficient than air fryers for the following purposes:

  • Warming up a glass of water, milk, and other liquids.
  • Melting or softening butter in a container. Containers and trays get way too hot when used in air fryers.
  • Reheating food that has already been cooked.
  • Making popcorn.

Conclusion

So, can an air fryer replace a microwave?

Air fryers and microwaves are both useful appliances to have in your home.

They cannot replace each other, but their unique functions and merits make up for the other’s limitations.   

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As for which one to use? That comes down to your desired outcome as well as the type of food you’re heating.

If you want to reheat a slice of pizza quickly, microwave it. But if you want to brown the bread and bake the top, stick it in the air fryer.