Air Fryer vs. Broiler: Key Differences and Uses

When deciding between using an air fryer and a broiler, it’s essential to understand how each method cooks food and the results you can expect. Both can achieve a delicious, crispy exterior on foods, but they operate differently and have their own set of advantages.

Air Fryer

How It Works

  • An air fryer circulates hot air around the food using a high-powered fan, cooking the food quickly and evenly. It mimics the results of deep-frying with a fraction of the oil, offering a healthier alternative.


  • Healthier Cooking: Requires significantly less oil than deep-frying, reducing calorie and fat intake.
  • Versatility: Can be used for a wide range of foods, from vegetables and meats to baked goods.
  • Convenience: Features easy cleanup and is generally compact, making it suitable for kitchens of all sizes.


  • Capacity: Most air fryers have a relatively small cooking chamber, limiting the amount of food that can be cooked at one time.
  • Learning Curve: Finding the optimal cooking times and temperatures may require some experimentation.


How It Works

  • A broiler cooks food with high heat from above. In many ovens, the broiler element is located at the top, exposing food directly to intense heat, similar to grilling but indoors.


  • High Heat Cooking: Ideal for quickly cooking thin cuts of meat, fish, or vegetables, giving them a charred, crispy exterior.
  • No Preheat Time: Typically, broilers require little to no preheat time, making them convenient for quick cooking.
  • Large Capacity: Since broiling is done in an oven, you can cook larger quantities of food at once compared to an air fryer.


  • Monitoring: Food under a broiler needs to be closely monitored to prevent burning due to the high heat.
  • Heat Distribution: Some broilers may have uneven heat distribution, leading to inconsistent cooking results.

Key Differences

  • Cooking Method: Air fryers use circulated hot air to cook food, while broilers use direct radiant heat from above.
  • Oil Usage: Air fryers require minimal oil, making them a healthier option. Broiling doesn’t necessarily require oil, but it doesn’t offer the same fried-like results.
  • Versatility: Air fryers offer more versatility for different cooking methods (e.g., frying, baking, roasting), whereas broilers are more specialized, best for browning and crisping the surface of foods.
  • Capacity and Convenience: Broilers can handle larger quantities of food, but air fryers offer a more set-and-forget approach with easier cleanup.


Choosing between an air fryer and a broiler depends on your cooking needs, the types of food you prepare most often, and your health preferences. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to frying that’s versatile and convenient for smaller meals or sides, an air fryer is a great choice. However, for quick, high-heat cooking that gives foods a charred, grilled-like finish, using the broiler in your oven might be the way to go. Both methods have their place in a well-rounded kitchen arsenal.

Sharing is caring!

Bubbly Chef author