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Microwaves and air fryers have taken the ease of healthy yet tasty cooking to a different level altogether. So much so, that we can’t imagine a contemporary kitchen without these appliances. While they both differ in many ways, some people tend to confuse them.
So, this post is dedicated to helping you understand the basic difference in features, the way of working, their advantages and disadvantages. If you are confused about whether you should get an air fryer or microwave to make healthy food, this will clear the air.
To start with, let’s begin by telling you that the biggest selling point of an air fryer is that you can enjoy crispy chicken and French fries without requiring to deep fry food in oil. Some market experts believe that the rising popularity of air fryers have led to a decline in demand for microwaves.
However, it’s worth understanding that both these appliances are different and they cannot be used interchangeably for each other. While an air fryer lets you make crispy chicken and potato chips using a fraction of the oil, microwave use electromagnetic radiation to reheat food.
Let’s dive deeper into the difference between the two to learn more in detail. Our team has done an in-depth analysis of both the appliances to give you a clearer understanding of their technological differences, functions, and uses. Read on to find out more.
Temperature plays an important role in both air fryers and microwave ovens, but the technique differs widely. In micro ovens, the hot air are evenly distributed by adjusting the temperature automatically, making it possible to cook a variety of dishes.
The benefit of using a micro oven is that you get to cook large batches of food and enjoy diverse culinary experiences without worrying about the food ending up undercooked or overcooked. It ensures an adequate delivery of heat to the middle as well as sides, ensuring thorough cooking.
When it comes to air fryers, they mostly implement culinary innovation that enables you to cook food without deep frying in oil. The baskets in the appliance are set-up in a way to achieve the peak performance level in frying food.
#2. Heating Method
The second vital difference between a microwave and an air fryer is the heating method. The former uses microwaves for heating while the latter uses convection heating methodology. However, there’s much more than what appears on the surface.
In microwave ovens, the vibration of water molecules result in the generation of heat and this results in frying the food items. The air fryer, on the other hand, is designed in a way that it uses an integrated heating coil to blow hot air that cooks food within the baskets.
While both the techniques vary, they also have unique benefits and downsides of their own. A microwave cooks food faster compared to an air fryer that takes quite some time. Even though the cooking time is greater in the latter option, the food comes out crispy and incredibly flavorful than food cooked in the microwave that often lacks flavors.
#3. Energy Consumption
If you consider any modern microwave oven, you can see that it consumes at least 1200 watts for half an hour of use per day. Additionally, it may also take 2 to 7 watts of power even if you keep it on a standby mode.
When you compare it with an air fryer, it’s a different appliance altogether. An air fryer takes a lot of time to achieve the required cooking temperature. As full-power heating runs for less time, the appliance uses about 1200-1500 watts and it’s appreciated widely for being energy efficient.
#4. Technology Used
When talking about the technical difference between a microwave and air fryer, the most important factor is radiation. In an air fryer, the system uses radiation energy to heat the food inside the baskets so there’s no risk of electromagnetic radiation.
Some people consider an air fryer to be a better option than a microwave because the latter uses electromagnetic radiation while cooking food. Thus, air fryers are a better and safer option to cook your food.
#5. Cooking Capacity
When buying any appliance, a lot depends upon the size and capacity of the appliance. If there are bulky kitchen appliances that limit your movement, there cannot be a bigger nightmare. The microwave ovens are usually bulky so they cannot be placed on a small countertop.
Due to the above reason, many people prefer an air fryer that is compact in size and can be easily placed on the countertop. As these appliances are small in size, they can be easily stored away when not in use.
#6. Hygiene Matters
It’s worth noting that these kitchen appliances make both cooked and fried food healthy and hygienic. In both systems, hot air circulation helps in speeding up the cooking process. Both these systems use internal fans to generate and regulate the flow of hot air.
Microwave Ovens – How Do They Work, Benefits, And Downsides
These appliances do not include any heating element that produces heat to cook food. They do not produce any direct form of heat. Instead, they comprise a device called magnetron that generates small radio waves that are called microwaves.
The appliances comprise metal material that prevents the microwaves from escaping from the unit, thus it protects the users from any direct exposure to radiation. It includes a metal compartment, which is also a vital component of the cooking procedure.
As the microwaves are unable to escape, they circulate within the metal compartment. When these waves come in contact with the water molecules present within the food, they vibrate so violently that they generate heat.
The oven also comprises of a heating element that radiates the heat produced as the temperature soars high. As the heat is radiated through the oven, this results in food cooking from the outside. Some people may assume that microwaves cook food from the inside, but actually, it does from the outside, which explains why the edges of a cake may get burned while the inner remains cool.
Due to this methodology, you will often experience that foods with higher water content get heated quickly in the microwave. It may also result in the food drying out fast. Some examples of microwave ovens are GE Appliances JEM3072DHWW and Emerson 1100W Microwave Oven.
Benefits of Using Microwaves
It cannot be denied that a microwave offers more uses than an air fryer. Besides cooking your food, you may also use the appliance to warm up coffee or soup. As a versatile kitchen appliance, it may also be used to melt butter and thaw meat. Some of the benefits of using microwave are as following:
It offers versatile use when compared to an air fryer. Uses include cooking food, thawing frozen meats, melting butter, warming food, and so on.
The heating technology is extremely efficient at heating food quickly by creating vibrations in water molecules. Food is never undercooked or overcooked
Microwaves are also energy efficient, as they do not consume as much power as some other kitchen appliances. You do not have to preheat which saves a lot of energy.
Microwaves are good at evenly and thoroughly cooking the food, even though sometimes the edges may be cooked faster than the middle point.
Speed is the biggest benefit of using microwaves as the cooking times are extremely short compared to the other heating methods.
Compared to a conventional oven or an air fryer, a microwave can cook the same amount of chicken much faster. You can set the time and adjust the temperature to get exact results every time.
Downsides of Using Microwaves
While there are more benefits of microwaves than you can count on your fingers, there are also several drawbacks that may vary depending on the type of food, you are making. Here are some of the common downsides of using a microwave oven.
Using a microwave oven may result in drying out the food, resulting in loss of taste and flavor. For example, if you are trying to reheat a frozen sandwich or a pizza, microwaves cannot penetrate through it as magnetron forms microwaves that can only reach an inch inside the food.
As a result, you may have noticed that thicker or dense foods often get hot on the outside but the interior or middle section remains cold. For dry food, you can use a damp paper towel to add some moisture and prevent it from drying out completely.
Fortunately, the food that you put inside the microwave is not always so thick or dry to cause any problems. Some people may simply not prefer the distinct taste or flavor of the food that is cooked in a microwave compared to the other kitchen appliances.
Air Fryers – How Do They Work, Benefits, And Downsides
Air Fryers uses the convection heating method to cook food. In this appliance, the heating element first produces heat that is distributed throughout the food with the help of a fan. Its functionality is to some extent similar to a convection oven.
When you have a regular deep fryer, the food is often heated by submerging it inside the hot oil. Unlike it, the air fryer coats the food lightly with oil as hot air circulates around it, giving your perfectly crispy food. Some examples of air fryers are TaoTronics Air Fryer and COMFEE’ electric air fryer.
Some of the main components of an air fryer include the fan and heating coil. You will find the heating coil placed above the food basket, and it may typically reach a maximum temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit. There are one or more vents within the unit to allow the hot air to escape.
Some of the basic features include settings such as temperature adjustment and a timer that can be easily controlled with a button or knob. This comes in handy when you wish the appliance to start cooking at a specific time. A few models come with a digital display but this depends on the model.
With this air fryer, you may cook a variety of foods such as fried chicken, potato fries, more using less oil. It can also be used to prepare bacon, steak, sausage, and also heat vegetables, and make poach eggs. The amount of oil used will depend upon the type of food you cook in an air fryer.
Benefits of air fryer
While the air fryers have proved time and again that they are an extremely useful appliance, some people still feel skeptical about their use. We cannot deny that the quality of any product may vary depending on the model and brand. Despite that, there are a few benefits and downsides that are common.
This is a great option to let health-conscious people enjoy fried food using less fat. So, even those who are watching weight can enjoy their cravings without taking a lot of fat.
The air fryers are easy to clean appliances, hence they do not require a lot of maintenance, unlike a microwave oven.
When using an air fryer, you do not stand the risk of getting burned by contact with hot oil, hence this is a safer option.
With an air fryer, you get the benefit of being versatile with your food options as it can easily fry different types of foods.
If you enjoy eating fried foods but are watching your weight too then you will definitely enjoy the advantage offered by the air fryers using less fat.
In an air fryer, the appliance uses about 80% less oil as the food is not completely immersed in the oil. It’s a smart way to cut back on your calories without impacting the taste and flavor of food.
Many users also appreciate the fact that you can use an air fryer to also make a variety of desserts and dishes other than regular food. You can also cook frozen vegetables and foods.
Downsides of using air fryers
The air fryers are no doubt amazing appliances but they also come with certain limitations that are worth considering. Here are some of the limitations:
Unlike a microwave oven, the air fryers offer limited cooking space so it may not be an ideal option when you need to prepare food for a large family or lots of guests.
When compared to a regular fryer, the air fryer takes longer to prepare your food as the contents are cooked using hot air circulating within.
As air fryers are compactly designed appliances, they compromise with the cooking space within. This limits the type of meals that you can make.
Taking into account the small size of the appliance, it may be challenging to prepare foods that require you to cook in batches.
The microwaves typically cook food much faster than any other method of cooking. The air fryers, on the other hand, take much longer than regular frying methods. For example, you can prepare a batch of French fries in standard method in just 5-10 minutes but an air fryer takes about 20 minutes.
After considering all of the above, we feel that it boils down to a person’s individual taste and preferences. It also depends a lot on a person’s style of cooking and preparing food. Those who have a large family and indulge in cooking and heating food several times will be better off with a microwave oven.
People who are health conscious and want to consume less fat but not comprise on the taste, crispiness, or flavor of fried food should opt for an air fryer. These compact appliances not only save space but are easier to carry and store too.