If you’re wanting to cook fried food, you’ve probably heard of an air fryer and deep fryer. But what’s the difference?
Well, they can both make delicious crispy fries but in very different ways. Deep fryers are traditionally seen as unhealthy thanks to using lots of oil. Whereas trendy new air fryers use hot air and don’t need as much oil.
So which one is best? First, it’s important to know more about them. Let’s dive in and compare the pros and cons to help you choose the right one for you.
Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer Comparison Chart
|Product||Air Fryer||Deep Fryer|
|Easy to use|
|Types of Food||Anything you can bake||All types of food|
|Energy Consumption||Low to High||High|
|Taste||Extra-crispy oven-baked food||Crunchy and melts-in-mouth food|
but less than an air fryer
|Easy to clean|
What Is an Air Fryer?
An air fryer is a small kitchen appliance that sits on your countertop. It’s meant to replicate the tasty food you get from deep frying, but without plunging food into hot oil. It has a basket to hold food, a heating element, and a fan for circulating the oil and hot air.
Despite its name, an air fryer doesn’t fry food. It works more like a regular convection oven, but on a smaller, trendier scale.
What Is an Deep Fryer?
A deep fryer is a kitchen appliance that’s used for deep frying food fully immersed in oil. It has a heating element that heats the oil to around 375F, and then you lower your food in with a basket or a scoop.
It works by frying food that’s submerged into hot oil. So it’s different from an air fryer or convection oven.
Air Fryer Vs Deep Fryer: In-Depth Comparison
Let’s take a look at the differences between these two kitchen appliances.
Deep fryers have a big capacity. So if you’re cooking in large quantities for a family dinner or hosting a party, you can cook lots at the same time. Some deep fryers will hold more than your regular skillet.
Like this T-fal deep fryer that’s big enough to cook a whole chicken.
Meanwhile, air fryers look big, but their actual basket capacity is smaller. Of course, you can get different models with bigger baskets, but overall they can’t cook as much at once.
This Cosori air fryer is a large model with a 5.8-quart capacity that could also hold a whole chicken.
Ease of Use
Air fryers are simple to use. You add your food and a little oil, then set the time and temperature. And that’s it! The air fryer will do its thing and shut down when it’s finished. So you can just relax and remove your food when it’s ready.
A deep fryer has just a few steps, too. You pour the oil in and let it heat up. When the temperature is right, add your food and start cooking. Most deep fryers are automatic, so there’s no guesswork involved. When the food is ready, lift the basket out and serve.
Types of Food
You can put the same things in an air fryer that you would in a normal oven. Frozen foods like french fries, chicken nuggets, and mozzarella sticks get a deliciously crisp exterior. And you can bake cookies and desserts too.
But you need to avoid anything that could drip, like fresh cheese or wet batters(1). And big things can cook unevenly or dry out and burn in places because one part is closer to the heat source.
Meanwhile, you can put pretty much anything in a deep fryer(2). Even olives and ice cream! And of course, battered foods are best in a deep fryer.
Air fryers use a low wattage of around 700-1800 watts, so they’re energy-efficient.
For example, this Maxi-Matic air fryer is 700w but can still heat up to 390F. And the sealed design won’t heat up your house either. And because you use a little or no oil for cooking with an air fryer, you won’t need to spend as much on oil over time.
Deep fryers use a lot of cooking oil so it gets more expensive. But you can reuse the oil a few times, which does help with the cost.
Even so, deep fryers need a higher wattage to reach high temperatures for their cooking process. They’re usually around 1500w, but can be as much as 1800w.
Cooking Results and Taste
A lot of taste and flavors in cooking come from fat. But because air frying doesn’t use as much oil, it isn’t always as delicious.
Frozen foods seem to have the best taste, but they don’t always cook evenly if the air circulation gets blocked.
Sometimes, air fried food has a crispy exterior but it’s too dry to have that lovely juicy interior. Many users say that air fryer food tastes like “extra-crispy oven-baked food”. Plus, you can’t use wet batters in an air fryer — so no crunchy texture and therefore more flavor to your meal.
On the other hand, deep fried food is fully immersed in oil. So you get crispy foods without uneven cooking. The extra oil adds to the texture and gives the melt-in-the-mouth sensation that people love(3).
Air fryer recipes tend to suggest one tablespoon of oil, which is 50 times less than the three cups you need for traditionally fried foods in a deep fryer. This means fewer calories. And the oil doesn’t all get absorbed during cooking, anyway, so it’s better for healthy eating.
That said, the health benefits might not be as good as you think. High-heat cooking in an air fryer can form compounds like aldehydes and heterocyclic amines. These are chemicals that may be associated with a higher risk of cancer.
Using a deep fryer to cook food can also create compounds like acrylamide, which could be linked to cancer development(4). So they both expose you to health issues.
But deep fryers use a lot more oil, which can cause high cholesterol and weight gain. And high fat intake leads to an increased possibility of certain conditions, such as heart disease.
To deep fry food, you need a lot of scalding hot oil. It could splash out of the container and burn you. Saying that, a deep fryer often has safety features like lids and viewing windows to make it safer. This way, you can keep the appliance closed while frying foods.
But some basic models, like this Presto, don’t have advanced safety elements.
Air fryers still get hot, but they use little or no oil and the drawer stays closed. This reduces the probability of any burning and splattering.
Air fryers are super easy to clean thanks to the parts being removable. And because they don’t use much oil, you won’t have to spend ages scrubbing away. Warm water and soap will clean it up with no problem. Some models are dishwasher safe, saving you the hassle altogether!
On the other hand, a deep fryer gets greasy from all the oil. So you’ll need to use special degreasing products. And the shape of the basket can make it tricky to clean. But it might be dishwasher safe, depending on the model of your deep fryer.
You also need to factor in disposing of the oil. You shouldn’t pour it down the sink and will need to get rid of it safely.
Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer: Which Should You Choose?
Both air fryers and deep fryers have their pros and cons. So which one is right for you?
Well, ask yourself what you want to make with your fryer. An air fryer vs deep fryer is a very different cooking experience.
A deep fryer makes juicy deep fried food, but it’s harder to clean and less healthy. You can make a bigger variety of food in a deep fryer because it can handle wet batters and veggies.
Meanwhile, an air fryer will cook crispy sweet potato fries using less fat, but it can dry food out. You’re more limited on the food you can put in an air fryer, but they reduce cooking time and are a safe yet tasty option.
Now that you know more about air fryers and deep fryers, which one will you choose? Or will you opt for both to have the best of both worlds? Let us know in the comments below!