Which is the best option when considering an air fryer vs. toaster oven? We explore the options for you, from tasty potatoes to soft, spongy brownies. Want to know more about energy consumption too? We’ve got it all covered.
Air fryers and toaster ovens are both economical kitchen appliances and often provide similar results. Thus it may be difficult to choose between them. Both often share a function called convection baking, using a fan to circulate air throughout the appliance. An air fryer will also rotate the food, allowing for even results.
Air fryers are generally smaller than toaster ovens, so this may be a factor if you have limited counter space. They are not deep-fat fryers and you can cook without oil. Toaster ovens are basically miniature ovens, and are not traditional toasters. Both appliances can be easier to use than traditional ovens, and both use less energy, due to their size.
The toaster oven, with the clue in its name, is great for heating bread, so if that’s your main concern then the toaster oven is your best choice, but both appliances are remarkably versatile.
Cleaning both appliances is also easier than a traditional oven, as both are small, and with the air fryer, there is also no oily residue.
Air Fryer vs. Toaster Oven: Pros and Cons
Whilst both appliances will deliver delicious food, there are advantages and disadvantages which can be weighed up against each other, so you can find the ideal appliance for your needs. So let’s consider the options:
Air Fryer Pros
- It’s a very healthy way to cook food: You don’t need to use any oil.
- Minimal counter space: Air fryers are generally super compact and lightweight, so when not in use can be easily stored away if required. But this also means they have limited capacity. Note that some modern designs have got increased capacity, so if you want an air fryer that cooks more, you can look out for these models.
- Energy Saving: Many air fryers are pod-shaped with an electric coil heating element. This design maximizes fast and efficient cooking.
- No need to pre-heat: A toaster oven needs 5-10 minutes to reach cooking heat. An air fryer heats up almost immediately.
- Ease of use: Simple to follow instructions, accessible and mostly fool-proof.
- Speed: Most items can be cooked quickly and efficiently, with even results, due to the small fans within. The appliance heats up very quickly, so is ideal when wanting to cook food such as crispy fries.
- Versatility: Many people think that, due to its name, an air fryer only cooks fried food. This is not true. Many have built-in features, for example, baking settings. You can use it to cook a large variety of food, from sweet potato fries to popcorn tofu.
Air Fryer Cons
- Limited Capacity: As mentioned above, the size may be a bonus for small kitchens, but you will lose out on cooking space. If you need to cook in batches, this then reduces the energy footprint of the device, along with taking more of your time.
- Noisy: You may find that an air fryer is louder than a toaster oven, but often can be overlooked due to fairly short cooking times.
- Visibility: Air fryers have a sealed design, meaning you cannot check on the food whilst cooking. Hence you may burn your food (or it may dry out).
- Range of foods: Air fryers are not ideal for baking.
Toaster Oven Pros
- Increased Food Capacity: With more space in a toaster oven, you can cook more. If you have a family, or like cooking for guests then this may be the better option.
- Controls: There are more options with a toaster oven regarding setting time and temperature.
- Range of Cooking Methods: There are more options with a toaster oven. For example, many models allow for defrosting, if this is something you’d like as a function.
Toaster Oven Cons
- Size: Toaster ovens are generally bigger than air fryers, so take into account the size of your kitchen.
- Cooking Time: Food often takes longer in a toaster oven, as the airflow is not as efficiently circulated. You may find your meal takes longer to cook than you may expect, but with the time function it is easy to add another few minutes on. This, of course, also adds to energy consumption, but you want your food to be thoroughly cooked.
- Heat: The appliance can get hot, so be sure you don’t place items on top of it. Especially with children around you must be careful so they don’t get burned when it is cooking, and allow ample time for it to cool.
- Frying: You can get fryer baskets for some toaster ovens but they are not as effective as using an air fryer for crispiness.
Energy Efficiency of Air Fryers vs. Toaster Ovens
Both devices are energy efficient, but the air fryer has the edge when thinking about saving energy. With the rising costs of electricity, this may be a deciding factor. You may spend a little more on an air fryer, but this will be made up by usage, in comparison to a toaster oven.
Modern air fryers consume more overall power than most toaster ovens — around 1600W, compared to the toaster oven’s average 1400W. However, due to this, the air fryer cooks food a lot quicker, so the time the device is in use is less, makes it more energy-efficient, and the most environmentally friendly choice.
Lifespan may also be a factor when you are choosing between an air fryer vs. a toaster oven. Different models and frequency of use may affect this, but generally, a good air fryer should last in the region of 3 years, whereas you may get up to 5 years of use with a toaster oven.
What Do You Want From Your Food?
Both appliances have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to food choice. So it is worth considering what you are likely to cook the most.
The toaster oven is ideal for all breads, from baking a loaf to toasting bagels. Pizza is also better cooked in a toaster oven, due to the layout. Defrosting and cooking frozen food may also make the toaster oven a better choice (some air fryers do also have this function).
Fried food is usually always going to taste better from an air fryer. It will give you crisper, and more even results. Anything from fried potatoes to zucchini fritters will have the perfect texture. An air fryer is also often the healthier choice.
You can make desserts with both appliances. Look for air fryer recipes that allow for smaller items, such as muffins and cookies.
So, air fryer vs. toaster oven? The choice is yours.
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