Air Fryer vs. Microwave

Comparing air fryers and microwaves involves looking at two vastly different cooking methods, each with its own set of advantages and best use cases. While air fryers have gained popularity for their ability to “fry” foods with minimal oil, microwaves are a long-standing kitchen staple known for their convenience and speed. Here’s a detailed look at how these two appliances compare:

Air Fryer

Primary Function

  • An air fryer cooks food by circulating hot air around it, using a minimal amount of oil to achieve a crispy texture. It functions similarly to a convection oven, baking, roasting, and grilling foods besides just frying.


  • Healthier Cooking: Significantly reduces the amount of oil needed for frying, offering a healthier alternative to traditional deep-frying.
  • Texture: Provides a crispy exterior and tender interior, similar to deep-fried or oven-baked foods.
  • Versatility: Capable of cooking a wide variety of foods beyond just frying, including baking and roasting.


  • Cooking Time: Generally takes longer to cook food than a microwave.
  • Capacity: Often limited by basket size, making it less ideal for cooking large meals at once.


Primary Function

  • A microwave cooks food using electromagnetic radiation to heat water molecules within the food, making it quick and efficient for reheating leftovers and cooking certain foods.


  • Speed: Quickly reheats and cooks food, making it ideal for those with limited time.
  • Convenience: Simple to use with minimal supervision required during cooking.
  • Energy Efficiency: Typically uses less energy than an oven or air fryer for reheating small to medium portions of food.


  • Texture: Can make some foods soggy or rubbery, especially breaded or crispy items.
  • Uneven Cooking: Sometimes heats food unevenly, requiring stirring or rotating during cooking.
  • Health Concerns: Cannot brown or crisp foods, and some research suggests microwaving in plastic containers can release harmful chemicals.

Overlap and Differences

While both appliances offer convenience, their cooking methods and results are quite different. Air fryers are praised for their ability to produce a crispy texture similar to frying, suitable for a wide range of dishes from vegetables to meats. Microwaves excel in speed and efficiency, perfect for reheating food and cooking simple dishes quickly.


Choosing between an air fryer and a microwave depends on your cooking needs. If you prioritize quick reheating and convenience, a microwave is indispensable. For those looking to achieve crispy, fried textures or cook a broader range of dishes in a healthier way, an air fryer is the better choice. Many find having both appliances provides the greatest flexibility in the kitchen.

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Bubbly Chef author