Air Fryer vs Microwave, which is better, healthier & safer?
This is a trending question these days on sites like Quora and Reddit where people like to know every bit of information that you do not get on blogs and magazines.
In simple words, the main difference between a microwave and an air fryer is that you buy a microwave oven to heat or reheat the food, whereas, you buy an air fryer to change the way fried foods can be cooked.
Some other differences between air fryers and microwaves are:
- You can cook faster in a microwave than an air fryer
- For browning of foods, you will need an air fryer, not a microwave
- Air fryers consume less electricity as compared to microwaves
If you want to diet, but also have a fetish for fried items, get an air fryer now, as you can cook fried items in an air fryer such as tandoori tikka, french fries, chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, etc. with little or no oil.
In this post, we will review in detail the difference between Air Fryer vs Microwave and which is better, healthier & safer?
But before we do that, it is also important to understand what is an Air Fryer, how does it work, pros and cons of Air Fryer and same goes for Microwaves as well.
For those who are more inclined towards OTG and Microwaves, you can also read our post on OTG vs Microwave and Solo vs Grill vs Convection Microwave.
If you already have a Microwave, do check out our post on Best Microwave Oven Stand in India in 2023 and Best Microwave Utensils in India.
Quick Look at Air Fryer vs Microwave
Air Fryer – Healthier Food with up to 80% less Oil, but longer durations
Microwave – Smaller cooking durations, but reduces the water content in your food
Air Fryer vs Microwave – Difference & Comparison
Air Fryer vs Microwave – Which is Better, Healthier & Safer?
After reading everything about Air Fryers and Microwaves, their pros and cons, here is the most important question Air Fryer vs Microwave – Which is better in 2023? To analyse this difference and which is better, we are going to compare these two kitchen tools on a scale of 8 factors and then give them a final score.
The main difference between an Air Fryer and a Microwave is the heating method. Air Fryers use convection heating where coils are heated first and after that, the fan starts spinning which blows the heat produced by the coil all over the food. This process does take a while to cook food, however you get a flavoured meal.
On the other hand, Microwaves employ electromagnetic radiations to heat up the water molecules inside the food. Through heating, water molecules vibrates and creates heat for the food to be cooked. This process is much faster as compared to an Air Fryer, but you will somehow have to compromise on the crispiness.
So, both these technologies have their own flaws and benefits, it depends on how requirements are placed. In terms of heating, we will give both Microwaves and Air Fryers a score of 1 each.
Scoreline: Air Fryer 1 vs Microwave 1
2. Energy Efficiency:
There is not much of a difference between Air Fryer vs Microwave in terms of energy consumption. If you look at the wattage for both of these electrical appliances, you will see an Air Fryer consumes anywhere from 1200 to 1400 watts of electricity. On the other hand, Microwaves have an energy consumption ranging from 1000 to 2500 watts. You should also note that a Microwave uses 2-7 watts of additional power when it is kept in Standby mode. Since Air Fryers don’t consume additional electricity in Standby mode, they hold a slight edge over Microwaves.
Scoreline: Air Fryer 2 vs Microwave 1
When it comes to price, Air Fryers are cheaper and reasonable as compared to Microwaves in India. If you look at the 1400 watts Air Fryer from Inalsa, its price is less than a 20 Litre Solo Microwave from Morphy Richards. Similarly, when you look at the high end models such as Grill and Convection Microwaves, they are generally expensive than Air Fryers.
Scoreline: Air Fryer 3 vs Microwave 1
4. Ease of Cleaning:
Size and weight of an Air Fryer is less than that of a Microwave. The compact size and lightweight properties in addition to a removable basket makes the cleaning process much more easier in an Air Fryer.
Scoreline: Air Fryer 4 vs Microwave 1
5. Cooking Capacity:
Since Air Fryers are compact and small, their cooking capacity is much less than that of a Microwave. Taking the same example between Inalsa Air Fryer and Morphy Richards Microwave, capacity of Inalsa air fryer is 4.2 litres whereas capacity of Morphy Richards Microwave is 20 litres.
Scoreline: Air Fryer 4 vs Microwave 2
Air Fryers are popular because of their ability to cook without using any or very limited oil. Moreover, Air Fryers are also capable to reduce the oil and calorie intake by approx. 70% to 80% which a Microwave cannot achieve. At the same time, Microwaves work by reducing the water content in your food which somehow reduces the nutrients as well. So, in simple words Air Fryers are more healthier than Microwaves.
Scoreline: Air Fryer 5 vs Microwave 2
Air Fryers are compact, and you can place them on the countertop when in use. When you are not using an Air Fryer, you can simply put them back in the kitchen shelf, so you can use that space for other kitchen related tasks. But Microwaves are bulkier, and it is not possible to store Microwaves in a kitchen shelf. They need a separate dedicated slot and moving from one place to another can be cumbersome.
Scoreline: Air Fryer 6 vs Microwave 2
8. Cooking Variety:
When it comes to the cooking variety, you have more options and choices with a Microwave as compared to an Air Fryer. For an example, with a Microwave you can cook macaroni and cheese, omelette, baked potatoes, fried rice, Spaghetti, nachos, etc. Plus, there are preset menu options on a Microwave that gives you more flexibility on your cooking choices. However, Air Fryers have certain limitations for example you should not cook over-seasoned food items, wet batters, cheese, broccoli, whole chickens as they can get messy.
Final Scoreline: Air Fryer 6 vs Microwave 3
What is an Air Fryer?
If I were to tell you that you can continue to eat all fried items such as french fries, fried chicken, baked potatoes, fish, etc and not worry at all about the oil consumption, what would you say? Well, this is what an Air Fryer is, keep reading more.
Air Fryer is a modern kitchen gadget that is basically a compact version of a Convection oven. If you do not know what is a Convection oven, you can check our post on Solo vs Grill vs Convection ovens.
These Air Fryers look very similar to the Coffee makers and are tall as well as compact. Inside an Air Fryer, you will find a removable bucket with a handle and there is a removable basket inside the bucket.
There is also a fan that is situated above the heating element and close to the food item. Since dimensions inside the Air Fryer are very small and compact, this allows the fan to generate high amount of heat on a comparatively smaller area, this is also known as “Rapid Air Technology”.
A very important point to note with Air Fryers is cooking is not done like a deep fryer where you need to submerge the food in heated oil. Instead, an Air Fryer very mildly coats the food in oil while the hot air is circulated around it.
This is the reason, food cooked with Air Fryers have 80% to 90% less oil, they are crispier and crunchier and trust me, the food tastes absolutely delicious (we tried making some Samosas and French Fries too).
But with all these benefits, there is a downside as well with Air Fryers. Since an Air Fryer has a smaller size, we noticed that you can only place a fraction of food as compared to Microwaves. In simple words, you will have to cook food in batches with an Air Fryer in case you are serving more than 1-2 people. Moreover, due to the limited space you also have to shake the basket to make sure your food gets fried evenly from all the sides.
Philips was the 1st brand in India to launch Air fryers and since then, they have sold like hotcakes because of their ability to cook crispier and oil free food. Price of an Air Fryer in India starts from 4,000 INR and can go up to 30,000 INR for highend models.
Before we move to the benefits of an Air Fryer, see the below image to see what an Air Fryer offers.
Advantages of Air Fryers
1. Air fryers comes with health benefits as they are able to reduce the percentage of oil in your food, they also reduce the calorie intake by approx. 70% – 80%.
2. As your calorie intake reduces, your chances of getting slimmer increases as well.
3. Air Fryers are comparatively easier to clean.
4. Air Fryers are known to enhance the taste of the food due to their heating mechanism.
5. You can use an Air Fryer for baking as well.
6. Air Fryers don’t take up a lot of space in your kitchen as they are compact in size, you can even pack the Air Fryer in your kitchen cupboard when you are not using it.
Disadvantages of Air Fryers
1. Due to the compact size of an Air Fryer, you have to cook food in batches which can be time consuming especially if you have guests at home.
2. Again because of smaller dimensions, you may have to stack food on top of one another. This requires you to shake the basket to ensure food gets cooked from all sides.
3. With less oil and high temperature, your cooked food can get dry quickly.
4. The number of dishes you can cook with an Air Fryer is low in comparison to a Microwave.
5. Be aware of the longer cooking durations with an Air fryer.
6. Air Fryers are known to produce some sound which is around 60-65 decibels (almost similar to a conversation or background music).
Best Air Fryers in India
Philips HD9218 Air Fryer is the Best Air Fryer in India in 2023. This Air Fryer has a wattage of 1425 watts, temperature control up to 200 degrees and can grill, bake and even roast your favourite dishes with its famous Rapid Air Technology. I have also explained a bit about Air Fryers and this model from Philips on Quora, you can check it out. In addition to this, Inalsa, Prestige, Glen etc are other best brands for Air Fryers in India.
Who Should Buy an Air Fryer?
Just like me if you are a foodie too, but still wary of the calorie intake you should get an Air Fryer for yourself. There is a reason Air Fryers are called as Mini Convection Ovens, and they are better at cooking much crispier food with 70% to 80% less oil. Since this tool is lightweight and compact, you can easily keep it in the kitchen shelf and make space for other chores.
What is a Microwave?
We have written a few posts about Microwaves already such as OTG vs Microwave and Solo vs Grill vs Convection Microwave. So, I will try and be crisp about Microwaves in this post.
In totality, there are 3 major types of Microwaves such as Solo, Grill and Convection. You can say each of these models were introduced to cover the flaws in the previous models. In terms of price, Solo Microwave is the cheapest and Convection is the most expensive whereas Grill Microwave lies in between Solo and Convection microwaves.
If we talk about what these Microwave models can do, here is what you should keep in mind:
Solo Microwave – Reheating, Cooking and Defrosting
Grill Microwave – Reheating, Cooking and Defrosting + Grill
Convection Microwave – Reheating, Cooking and Defrosting + Grill + Baking
Microwaves work on the concept of electromagnetic waves. The radiations from Microwaves penetrate the water molecules in your food. Once the water molecules start to vibrate, the food gets heated up. So, heating initially takes place inside of the food.
Now when you think about it, Microwaves and their radiations are reducing the water content in your food which can somehow lead to loss of flavours in the food. Since the heat is transferred very quickly in a Microwave, your food gets cooked faster in comparison to Air Fryers.
Depending on the type of Microwave model you have bought, you can reheat, defrost, bake, grill or cook with preset menu options. Microwaves are a popular and a preferred choice for those who are looking for a larger cooking capacity within a less amount of time.
Price of a Microwave in India starts from 4,000 INR and can go up to 25,000 INR depending on the type of microwave you are interested in. I recommend going with Solo Microwaves if reheating and defrosting are your only requirements, a branded IFB Solo Microwave will cost you around 4,000 INR in India.
Advantages of Microwaves
1. Microwaves are known to be very versatile in their use from reheating to baking and grilling.
2. You can heat and cook the food 6X times faster with a Microwave as compared to conventional cooking.
3. Modern Microwaves are known to be energy efficient, but they do consume minor electricity even at Standby mode.
4. With preset menu options, operating a Microwave is fairly easy.
5. You can cook yourself a delicious Microwave chocolate mug cake within 2 minutes.
6. Preheating is not required as heating starts from the moment you press the “Start” button in a Microwave.
7. Microwaves have inbuilt Auto-Cook and Temperature control features which gives you added flexibility.
Disadvantages of Microwaves
1. Microwaves tend to reduce the water content in your food making it more dry.
2. Microwaves don’t work very well on the foods that have low moisture.
3. Microwaves cannot penetrate thick food items.
4. Since water content gets reduced, be ready for loss of flavours as well with Microwaves.
5. Even though you can bake with Convection microwaves, the taste and flavour will not match when you bake with an OTG.
6. Convection microwaves are expensive.
7. Microwaves are bulky and heavyweight, movement from one place to another can be hectic.
8. You cannot use metal utensils in a Microwave.
Best Microwaves in India
LG 32L Convection Microwave Oven (MC3286BRUM) is the Best Microwave Oven in India in 2023. With a capacity of 32 litres, this Convection microwave from LG is suitable for large families, you can use it for grilling, reheating, defrosting and cooking. Moreover, there are around 211 Indian Auto-Cook menu options in this Microwave from LG in addition to 1 year warranty.
Who Should Buy a Microwave?
If you are looking for the speed more than the taste, you can go for a Microwave without a doubt. Lookout for the size and capacity depending on the number of members in your family while buying a Microwave. Even if you are a bachelor or working couple, this investment will not go in vain as long as you know your cooking requirement.
The Final Verdict – Air Fryer vs Microwave, Which is Better, Healthier & Safer?
By now, we have reviewed the pros/cons of both these kitchen appliances and what you can or cannot do with these tools. Both Air Fryers and Microwaves have their own specialisations, and they can outperform each other on a given day. If I were to tell you Air Fryer is better than a Microwave or vice-versa, it will just be my opinion as what if you are only looking to reheat or defrost the food. So, which is better amongst Air Fryer vs Microwave depends on what you are trying to achieve. What we can conclude from this detailed comparison post on Air Fryer vs Microwave is:
If you are looking to eat healthy, but don’t mind spending some extra time in cooking, you should go for an Air Fryer.
On the other hand, if cooking capacity and duration is of importance to you, you must go with a Microwave.
FAQs – Air Fryer vs Microwave
Q. What is the difference between Air fryer vs Microwave time?
A. In terms of the time it takes to cook the food, microwaves are faster and way better than the air fryers. However, air fryers have the capability to brown the dishes from the outside, thus providing a more flavourful and crispy dish. Microwaves on the other hand, cannot do this since they only heat up the food from the inside. For an example, if you are going to cook chicken wings, it will take around 20 minutes with the help of an air fryer as compared to 5 minutes with a microwave. Microwaves do cook the food faster, however, air fryers will give you a more tasteful dish on a given day.
Q. What is the difference between Air fryer vs Microwave power consumption?
A. Air fryers are certainly more energy efficient than microwaves on any given day. However, this also depends on the wattage of the air fryer, since a 1000 watts air fryer will take more time to cook the food as compared to a 1500 watts air fryer. Also, considering the fact, that an air fryer comes with a less capacity as compared to a microwave oven, it can cook the food faster and therefore, will consume less electricity.
Q. Can an air fryer replace a microwave?
A. Not actually, because one needs to understand that a microwave is not just a kitchen appliance to reheat the food, but it can do a lot more such as grilling, baking, etc, of course, this depends whether you have a solo, grill or convection microwave oven. One should also note that microwaves are much faster than air fryers, and they can heat up the liquids more efficiently as compared to an air fryer.
Q. Which one is healthier, Air fryer vs Microwave?
A. Air fryers are more healthier than microwaves on any given day, since you can cook in an air fryer with literally no oil. In order to cook using a microwave, you are certainly going to need a lot of oil, which is why, air fryers are more healthier than microwaves. As a matter of fact, the only reason people prefer to buy air fryers is because they are more healthier than microwaves, and can cook fried items with no oil. By cooking in an air fryer, you can cut the calories by 70% to 80% with a lot less fat.
Q. Which one emits more radiation, Air fryer vs Microwave?
A. Unlike microwaves which work on the principle of electromagnetic radiations, air fryers have a different working mechanism. Air fryers do not emit radiations, and they work more like a convection oven by circulating hot air around the food, which is why, you will find dishes cooked in the air fryer free of oil.
Q. What are the biggest benefits of using an air fryer vs a microwave?
A. There are plenty of reasons, why air fryers are more preferred over the microwaves. To start with, air fryers allow you to cook the food with no oil, which is not something a microwave can do. Air fryers as compared to microwaves, can give you more crispier foods, especially the browning of the dishes such as chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, french fries, etc.
Q. What is the difference between cooking using convection mode in a regular microwave and cooking in an air fryer?
A. There are dishes that only taste good, when they are crispy. A perfect example would be tandoori chicken or french fries. Who would want to eat a soggy tandoori chicken? This is the difference, you might get if you are using air fryer and a microwave oven to cook the same dish.
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