Can An Air Fryer Replace A Microwave? They have 8 Differences

Air fryers and microwaves are helpful kitchen appliances in your home. Their merits and unique functions make up for the other’s limitations. The food you want to heat and the desired outcome will determine which one to use.

You can stick with an air fryer if you want to brown your bread and bake the top. However, the microwave can get the job done if you’re going to reheat a slice of pizza quickly.

But, can an air fryer replace a microwave? (I’m assuming that you don’t know the air fryer microwave combo)

Yes! You can replace your microwave with an air fryer since an air fryer can do almost all the things a microwave can do, except the cooking speed, bulk cooking, cooking liquids, or heating. Your cooking habits and appliance use will also determine whether an air fryer can replace your microwave.

Let’s dive deep into more information about air fryers and microwaves, when to use them and when not. You will know the main 8 differences between the air fryer and microwave so that the answer will be more clear when you think about replacing them with each other.

And if you wanna an appliance integrated with both of their functions, the air fryer microwave combo will be your final choice, we will talk about that later!

Keep reading!

What is an Air Fryer and When to Use It?

microwave cook potatocakes

An air fryer cooks food with hot air circulation. It makes it much easier to cook your favorite meals and requires minor cleanup. You don’t need to douse your food in grease to get it crispy.

You can also use an air fryer when you want to cook some of the following:

  • Cooking crispy tofu: an air fryer can make your tofu a perfectly crisp exterior and cook to crunchy perfection.
  • Cooking your tortilla chips: You can make your tortilla chips without any effort using your air fryer.
  • Roasting a whole chicken: An air fryer can quickly roast an entire chicken fast and without any effort on your side.
  • Making donuts without deep-frying: Getting super fluffy donuts is easy with an air fryer.
  • Toasting nuts: Turn on your air fryer to toast nuts quickly, and you won’t have to wait long for the whole process.

You can also use an air fryer when you want to roast eggplant, make a blooming onion, toast bread, make hard-boiled eggs, make ‘deep-fried’ Oreos, and much more.

What is a Microwave Oven and When to Use It?

A microwave is a miniature oven that can heat or cook food quickly. It uses electromagnetic radiation to heat or cook food fast instead of a regular oven’s gas or electric heater. A microwave oven is a convenient kitchen appliance that can do a lot of cooking for you.

You can use a microwave oven when you need to cook some of the following:

  • Proof yeast: You can use your microwave oven to proof yeast within 15 minutes instead of one hour.
  • De-crystalize honey: A perfect way to de-crystalize honey is a microwave oven, which takes a minute for the whole process.
  • Roast garlic: If you love roasting garlic for your dishes, you can use about 6 minutes to do it in a microwave.
  • Heating beauty products: A microwave oven can help heat some beauty products safely and quickly.
  • Making citrus fruits juicier: You can squeeze out a lot of juice within 20 seconds using a microwave oven.
  • Cooking: You can use a microwave oven to steam, boil, blanch, roast, grill, or bake food items.

When to Use an Air Fryer as a Microwave Oven and When Not?

air fryer cook potato cakes

Air fryers and microwaves are not the same technologies, and you might be unable to use a microwave oven to reheat certain food items you usually do with an air fryer. However, when can you use an air fryer instead of a microwave oven, and when not?

Let’s find out!

When to Use an Air Fryer as a Microwave

When you want to make your food crispier, you can use an air fryer in place of your microwave. Unlike a microwave, an air fryer can brown and crisp your food apart from warming them through. You can also turn to your air fryer when you want to make delicious steaks, wings, pizza, rotisserie foods, etc. Your air fryer can do a similar type of cooking as the larger oven in a stove and are a cut above a microwave.

One of the primary purposes of using a microwave in place of an air fryer is when you want to reheat your food. You must follow instructions to get this right. Therefore, ensure to defrost your food before reheating. Then, start reheating the food when you turn on your microwave, add a splash of water to maintain moisture, and let it warm for five minutes.

Press the Start button after placing your food item in the microwave basket, we recommend not putting many things in the basket at once.

When Not to Use an Air Fryer as a Microwave

You wouldn’t replace an air fryer with a microwave regarding bulk grilling and baking needs. A microwave will do so much baking and grilling for you without much effort. You need to learn how to adjust your recipes for maximum results.

The critical factor is balancing your cooking time in a microwave. Since most microwaves have inbuilt grills, you will find it easy to use them for your grilling and baking needs.

Also, trying to reheat your beverage in an air fryer is not ideal because your cup will get hot, and it will take longer to reheat the fluid. Similarly, cooking raw chicken in an air fryer will make it tough on the outside and raw on the inside, except if you use a two-stage method or it is a thin cutlet.

Let’s take things further by discussing some of their differences.

Air Fryer vs Microwave, the 8 differences

air fryer potatocakes

We all know that air fryers and microwaves heat food differently, apart from the notable differences in aesthetics. Here are some differences between the two:

1. Power Consumption

An air fryer is more power-saving and efficient than a microwave. Depending on the model, it requires about 1200 to 1600 watts of power for a prolonged time. It only takes thirty minutes for a microwave to consume that power. Also, the standby mode within the microwave setting can take around seven watts. In addition, an air fryer does not have a standby mode. Therefore, an air fryer requires less energy than a microwave, even though it needs more cooking time.

2. Cooking Duration

The air fryer’s cooking duration takes longer, and reaching the optimal cooking temperature takes a while after being turned on. You can expect your appliance to take around 20 minutes to cook fries at 400 Fahrenheit.

However, the microwave’s cooking duration is much faster. It is because microwaves don’t change the temperature to heat food but use electricity and magnetism to move at high speeds. Microwaves can cook food within 5 minutes and even less time to reheat leftovers.

3. Components

There is a component called a magnetron inside microwaves, and inside it is a filament that releases electron streams when heated. Generating these waves by magnetrons requires high voltages. Thus, it is necessary to attach them to a transformer or plug your microwaves into a high-voltage socket.

Air fryers heat the air around your food through a coil put above or below the food. A fan pushes the hot air to create convection currents that circulate and heat air.

4. Heating Method

Microwaves produce electromagnetic radiation inside the microwave range to heat food. The microwaves emitted vibrate faster as the water particles absorb them. The heat comes from the vibrating molecules to cook the food around it.

Air fryers produce convection currents of hot air to heat foods and circulate evenly throughout the interior. It is good to coat your food with oil before putting it in the appliance. The convection currents will bring the oil to a boil by blasting hot air onto every area of the food.

5. Capacity

An air fryer cannot cook bulk food since it is a small kitchen appliance. If you want to cook bulk food, you will have to cook multiple times in batches due to its small size. Also, you cannot exceed the maximum limit scale of an air fryer. There will be an apt space between the airflow and the heat with the limit.

A microwave can cook food in bulk since it is a large kitchen appliance. You can expect your food items to be ready in the next 30 minutes regardless of how much food you stuff in them.

6. Healthier Options

air fryer cook chicken wings

Air fryers use a natural way to cook food by circulating heat like an oven instead of radiation. While cooking with microwaves does not alter the nutritional content of the food, there is no concrete evidence to back up this claim. However, studies show an increased presence of acrylamide in food prepared with microwaves. Acrylamide is a cancer-causing and neurotoxic substance.

Using an air fryer will expose the food to high heat, which will decrease the acrylamide content in the food to about 90 percent.

7. Cooking Versatility

Microwaves are not as versatile as air fryers. While the chamber is minimal, it circulates hot air fast, perfectly cooking food and air frying food items. An air fryer can cook, reheat, roast, or bake with a bit of practice using the right accessories, except boiling liquids or water. Microwaves can heat liquids, soups, and meals. It can also cook pasta and rice within minutes. Ultimately, air fryers are more versatile than microwaves.

8. Maintenance

Microwaves are large and are not easy to clean compared to air fryers. It is essential to ensure the cleaning agents are free from harmful chemicals since they are incredibly explosive. However, it is super easy to clean air fryers since they are compact and small and come with dishwasher-safe detachable parts. You can clean the device using warm soapy water to clean and wipe it dry before further use.

Air Fryer Microwave Combo

air fryer and microwave cook chicken wings

The air fryer microwave combo is a modern air frying and microwaving combination technology. This appliance is a broiler and convection oven for easy browning and toasting. The built-in features like turbo defrosting make meal preparation an absolute breeze and sensor cooking to check cooking progress.

This kitchen machine allows you to make the necessary amount of food, provides adjustable power settings or plenty of convenience with preset functions, and functions as a standalone counterpart.

Now, let’s quickly look at the best air fryer microwave combo.

Best Air Fryer Microwave Combo


  • Easy-to-use touch control panel and knobs allow convenient usage
  • Stainless-steel interior for easy cleaning
  • Features microwave with multi-functions that makes it versatile to use


  • It can be noisy

Toshiba ML2-EC10SA(BS) Microwave Oven is what you need if you want an air fryer microwave combo for all your cooking needs. It has 1000 watts, 1 cubic foot capacity, 20.5 x 20 x 12.8 inches, and metal material. The 8-in-1 multifunctional microwave can air fry, broil, and do various cooking.

I have saved more than 50 percent of standby power with its Eco Mode. If you’re an environment enthusiast like me, you will agree that it is suitable for Mother Nature to save energy consumption.

You will know you have got your money’s worth when you get this microwave. It has a great size with not so much noise. The cooking is convenient with the cooking controls. It has to soften or melt buttons with an anti-smudge front.

This machine has all I need with its cooking technology that blends powerful convection cooking with a microwave, making it hassle-free to roast chickens. I prepare everything with it, from baking to dehydrating recipes. Ultimately, the stylish, brushed metallic finish fits right in my kitchen.

Ultimately, the stylish, brushed metallic finish fits right in my kitchen.


Can I Use an Air Fryer to Reheat Food?

Yes, you can use an air fryer to reheat your food. It is a simple and quick process of placing your food in the basket and cooking until it is hot. Air fryers are suitable for reheating most foods except stews and soup. Therefore, this process will not compromise your food’s texture or flavor qualities. Foods will not also go soggy but crispy in an air fryer. The device works by the heat penetrating the outside of the food.

Can an Air Fryer Replace a Toaster Oven?

You can use an air fryer instead of a toaster since one of the main features of an air fryer is toasting. While these appliances are not the same, a toaster oven uses radiant heat to cook while an air fryer cooks meals with hot air. Though the air fryer can replace the toaster oven, it will be impossible to do everything a toaster oven can do.

What Appliance Can an Air Fryer Replace?

air fryer  microwave cook chicken wings differences

Toaster ovens, wall ovens, and range ovens with convection can replace an air fryer. These appliances come with air-fry settings as the countertop air fryers have similar convection with one or more fans to circulate hot air. Since they have air-fry functions, you can make chicken wings and frozen fries in them. With just a few teaspoons of oil, the wall and range ovens can produce crispy, golden French fries in record time.

What can Replace a Microwave?

Dutch ovens, crock-pot, and toaster ovens are some of the better and healthier microwave replacements. You can also consider ovens or stovetops. These appliances are not time-consuming and less strenuous for reheating your food, especially during hot summers. They emanate less heat and get the job done so you can leave the kitchen faster. These machines are better than a microwave for reheating large dishes and casseroles. They don’t draw energy and power like a microwave.

Can You Put Microwave Meals in Air Fryer?

You can put microwave meals in an air fryer. You can air fry any food that you cook in your microwave oven. When cooking these meals, you need to follow the instructions in the manual and tweak your air fryer settings just a bit. Air fryers cook faster than microwaves. You will need to adjust the time suggested on the package to suit the air fryer. The best part is to use the same temperature as you would in a microwave.

Does an Air Fryer Work Like a Microwave?

No, an air fryer works differently. An air fryer work using a fan and heating coil. The fan circulates the hot air as the coil gets heated. Food cooks inside the air fryer through hot air circulation. A microwave cook food using electromagnetic waves, which are not long as red light. The magnetron inside the electron tube of the microwave produces electromagnetic radiation. The wave reflection happens inside the oven, hitting your food particles at a cellular range.


So far, the question remains; can an air fryer replace a microwave? Well, it depends on factors like free time, health concerns, and food habits. A much healthier option for cooking is an air fryer. However, it can’t compete with a microwave regarding bulk cooking. You can check out our air fryer microwave combo to get the best of both worlds.

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