Air Fryer Versus Deep Fryer. Here’s What You Need To Know.

Air Fryer Versus Deep Fryer

Over the years, I’ve discovered a universal method of making food irresistible…fry it. It may be unhealthy and messy, but boy does it work! Air fryers promise to eliminate the mess and the cholesterol.  In this article, I’ll look at the differences between an air fryer versus deep fryer and which of the two you should invest in.

Cooking from scratch every night and constantly updating my catalog of recipes means that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. This naturally encourages me to always be on the lookout for appliances or gadgets that will make my life easier. 

To help save you time and disappointment, I’ll uncover exactly what you need to know about an air fryer and a deep fryer and a side-by-side comparison of two recommended products. 

Egg Rolls

At a Glance

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In today’s health conscience world, an air fryer makes a lot more sense for most homes. Although there’s no real substitute for the deep-fried crunch of a chicken wing, potato wedges, or batch of onion rings, a good air fryer can serve up a healthy alternative without the guilt. Plus, they’re great for so much more than just frying. My favorite is the Instant Pot Vortex 6-Quart Air Fryer.

Comparison

Read on to look at how these appliances work and the main differences between them.

How Do Deep Fryers Work? 

Deep fryers cook food in stages. They begin by heating oil to a high temperature before you add food. This oil then vaporizes moisture in the food while cooking it. Once the water evaporates and bubbles disappear, the food is cooked.

How Do Air Fryers Work? 

These appliances consist of a heating mechanism and a fan. Once you place the food inside the air fryer, hot air circulates down and around the food in a rapid motion, creating crispy food—similar to a deep fryer—without any oil (or additional calories). It’s essentially a small convection oven.

What Are The Key Differences? 

The main difference between these two units is that deep frying requires enough oil to submerge food whereas air frying only requires a small amount of oil or none at all. This use of oil creates a thicker and crispier crust, making deep fryers ideal for guilty pleasures.

Moreover, since air fryers use little to no oil, the food tends to come out dryer, making this appliance a healthier alternative. 

Best of all, you can cook a variety of foods with an air fryer using a range of cooking methods, such as grilling or baking. You can even use it as a food dehydrator. Whereas, a deep fryer is solely used for frying foods, making it more constraining. 

Deep Fryer
Deep Fryer

Which One Is Better For… 

Taste 

Most of us prefer food with a crispy texture that’s full of moisture on the inside; that’s exactly what a deep fryer delivers. While air fryers can deliver a crispy coating that’s similar to that of a deep fryer, nothing can compare to the texture and taste of deep-fried foods.

Health 

Since no oil is better than any oil, air-fried foods are generally a healthier option. While some oils are healthier than others, the food that you fry in a deep fryer is typically higher in cholesterol and calories, making it less healthy overall.

Cleaning and Maintenance 

I dislike spending a lot of time cleaning up after cooking—especially if I’ve made a dish from scratch. At mealtimes, I always clean up as I go along, but you can’t clean an appliance until the food is cooked.

Fortunately, an air fryer is much easier to maintain because you don’t have to scrub to wipe away heaps of oil. 

On the other hand, a deep fryer requires a lot of oil, and you need to wait for this to cool down and dispose of it correctly before attempting to clean the interior. (To protect your drains, let the oil completely cool down—which can take a few hours—and scrape the oil into the trash). And let’s not forget the splatter of oil surrounding the fryer!

Cost 

Other than the cost of the oil, I wouldn’t say there’s a huge difference when it comes to price. Both air fryers and deep fryers range in price from around $50 to several hundred dollars depending on features. 

Versatility 

If you want an appliance to cook a host of dishes, then an air fryer is the best option. These units can fry, broil, roast, bake, dehydrate, and reheat food. Unfortunately, deep fryers can only do one thing: deep fry. 

Cooking Time 

Deep fryers reach high temperatures, so they cook food quickly and efficiently in around five minutes. Air fryers, on the other hand, take around 20 minutes to cook food thoroughly. This is quicker than using an oven— and it uses less energy, which I love—but you can’t deny the efficiency and speed of a deep fryer. 

Air Fryer Versus Deep Fryer: The Bottom Line 

I’m passionate about eating a healthy diet, but that also consists of a balance of foods—including some fried treats thrown into the mix. In which case, before beginning this research article, it was difficult to know which of the two I’d lean toward.

But it’s apparent to me that air frying is much more versatile than deep frying, which is an important characteristic to me when cooking. I don’t just want to use a gadget once or twice and then hide it at the back of the cupboard until next year.

I love that you can cook virtually anything in an air fryer. It’s an appliance to always keep on display because you know that you’ll use it again and again. 

With a small kitchen space and an eye for organization and tidiness, the size of products is important to me. Deep fryers are much bulkier, requiring more room and some coverage to keep dust out of the baskets. Fortunately, air fryers are easier to store and usually take up the width of a microwave. 

What Is the Best Air Fryer?

Let’s take a look at the main features and functions of one of my favorites, the Instant Pot Vortex 6-Quart Air Fryer.

Chicken Nuggets In Air Fryer
Air Fryer

Cleaning

The Instant Pot Vortex consists of dishwasher-safe components, making it simple to clean after use. However, the removable basket and tray might be too large for many dishwashers, so I’d just stick to handwashing it anyway.

However, I do appreciate that the basket and tray are non-stick. This helps to minimize mess and burnt-on food in the first place. Plus, the non-stick surface means that you won’t have to use oil, enabling you to make healthier dishes. 

Functions

The best characteristic of air fryers is their versatility. This Instant Pot model includes air fry, broil, roast, dehydrate, bake, and reheat modes. So you can prepare food for any meal of the day without switching between the oven and microwave. I love the amount of versatility this one product offers because I simply don’t have room for this and a microwave in my kitchen.

Best of all, this appliance requires very little time to preheat, saving energy overall and minimizing waiting time. It also offers a temperature range of 95–400°F, so you can make virtually anything in it. Plus, it can save on energy costs by not heating your full-size oven for smaller meals.

Capacity

You can pile five liters of food inside of this baby. That’s enough for making a large batch of crispy spring rolls, for example. While this is plenty for one or two people, it might present a challenge if you’re cooking for a large group of people.

Design

Simplicity is key when I’m cooking and short on time. That’s why I appreciate the one-touch programmable buttons. Plus, the LCD screen displays the temperature and remaining cooking time, so you can read the data at a glance. It even reminds you when it’s time to flip the food for even cooking.

In doing my research, a common complaint during initial use was a plastic taste detected in the food. Running the Vortex with some vinegar and lemon juice seemed to eliminate the problem

Overall, I’ve found an air fryer is a really wonderful addition to my kitchen. 

Related: How To Choose The Best Oil To Cook With For Every Dish

Which Is The Best Deep Fryer? 

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Let’s look at similar characteristics of the T-Fal Deep Fryer With Basket (FR8000) for a fair comparison. 

Cleaning

I love that the components easily come apart and are dishwasher-safe. Compared to the air fryer above, these sections will easily fit into a dishwasher, saving you time when cleaning up. 

There aren’t any non-stick sections, but given that you use oil when deep frying, that wouldn’t be necessary anyway. However, there are lots of removable components, which can be time-consuming to separate after cooking. 

Functions

The T-Fal only offers one function: deep fry. That’s not surprising given the nature of these products, and it shouldn’t be a bad reflection of this brand’s product. 

The only other additional function it offers is an adjustable thermostat, which is pretty standard.

Capacity

This model offers a 3.5-liter oil capacity and a 2.65-pound (approximately one liter) fresh food capacity. It’s on the smaller side, but this capacity is enough for two people. Anything bigger would be too bulky for most kitchen countertops.  

Design

I appreciate the thought that’s gone into designing this deep fryer for safe, convenient use. For example, it has a stay-cool handle to protect your hands when you’re shaking and mixing food.

It also has an oil filtration system that automatically drains and filters any remaining oil into a large plastic container. This feature is ideal for minimizing mess and aiding with the cleanup after use. It also allows for reusing the oil in the future.

Air Fryer Versus Deep Fryer

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Overall, I award the Instant Pot Vortex 6-Quart Air Fryer as the winner of these two appliances. It offers more functions for versatile cooking, has an easy-to-read display, a larger capacity, and cooking technology to deliver a crispy finish.

Conclusion

If you want to eat healthier, favor an air fryer over a deep fryer. You can still enjoy crispy french fries and chicken wings without all the fat content. It may not be as tasty as truly deep-fried foods, but it’ll get you 80% of the way there without contributing to any cardiovascular disease. That sounds like a pretty good tradeoff!
Overall, the Instant Pot Vortex 6-Quart Air Fryer was a pleasure to use and offers a great combination of features, capacity, and price. Check it out here.

Amy Poole

Amy Poole

Amy Poole is a kitchen and home freelance writer and editor with over four years of experience sharing her passion and knowledge of cooking with audiences around the world. Since switching to a plant-based diet in December 2020, she's constantly on the lookout for nutritious recipes and spends a lot of her spare time in the kitchen rustling up new dishes. Her staple cupboard food: hummus, pesto, and lots of nutritional yeast.

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