what are the differences between air fryers and convection ovens? which one is the best?

The air fryer is an increasingly hot kitchen equipment in the past few years, more and more people began to use the air fryer. Whether you are considering buying an air fryer or you already have one at home, you probably have some questions: what’s the difference between a traditional conventional oven and an air fryer? It looks like they both cook food with hot air. So why do people still want to buy an air fryer?

There is also a meme called “clearly you don’t own an air fryer”, which originated from people who are obsessed with their air fryers and think that everyone should have one.

If you have been asking yourself such questions, you have come to the right place. This article will discuss the 8 differences between air fryers vs convection ovens. Keep reading to learn more. 

First, let’s know some basic information about air fryers and convection ovens.

Then we will discuss their differences.

What Is An Air Fryer?

what is air fryer

An air fryer uses convection heating to circulate hot air around food to cook it. It has an air fryer basket where the food is placed, and a small fan circulates the air. The process is much similar to how a deep fryer works. However, your food will be “fried” using hot air instead of hot oil.

Typically, air fryers do not use oil but make food crispy. This is the reason why they are considered healthier than deep fryers. They are also smaller than convection ovens and can be easily stored in a pantry or on a countertop.

What Is A Convection Oven?

Convection Oven differences

A convection oven or toaster oven is small enough to live on the countertop. It is different from the common traditional toaster in that it uses a fan for cooking. It includes:

  • A rack for a sheet pan
  • Changeable temperatures
  • Enough room to spread out food instead of stacking it in layers
  • A timer

The oven has a fan that causes air to circulate and cook the food. It is known to make food crispier and cooks faster than a conventional oven. The heating components inside the convection oven cook food with a high level of consistency.

Differences Between An Air Fryer And Convection Oven

There is not much difference between an air fryer and a convection oven. This is because they are both similar in their utility and functionality. 

Both convection ovens and air fryers use convection heating technology in cooking recipes. Here are the Top 8 differences between an air fryer and a convection oven.

Size, Appearance, Capability

Capability of air fryer

Size is one of the significant differences between a convection oven and an air fryer. An air fryer is usually smaller than a convection oven and will take up less space in your kitchen. A kitchen air fryer has an average size of 12.25 inches which makes it possible to store it in a pantry or cupboard after use.

On the other hand, a convection oven is larger and similar in shape and size to toaster ovens. A countertop convection oven is usually about 18.5 inches wide. Therefore, a convection oven will occupy more space and will even tend to sit permanently on the counter.

A convection oven can cook more food than an air fryer because it is more spacious and larger. Convection ovens usually hold between 36 to 50 liters of food, while average air fryers can hold between 4 to 6 quarts of food.


An air fryer is usually more expensive compared to a convection oven. This is because it can cook food more evenly and faster. Their price ranges from $50 to $500. On the other hand, you can get a countertop convection oven for as low as $25.


Both the convection oven and air fryer use a fan to circulate air around the cooking area. However, air fryers have one heating element and a fan at the top. Convection ovens have two heating elements; one at the bottom and the other at the top. They also have a fan located on the side or center.

air fryer heating time

The bottom and top heating make the convection oven cook and preheat food fast with better-concentrated heat. However, air fryers cook and reheat food faster than convection ovens because of their compact sizes. 

Fan Size and Speed

Both air fryers and convection ovens use fans to circulate hot air to cook food faster. However, air fryers have larger fans compared to convection ovens. Their fans also operate faster than convection oven fans.

Cook Time

Generally, an air fryer will cook faster than a convection oven. An air fryer will take 10 to 20 minutes to preheat, while a convection oven will take an average of 20 to 30 minutes to preheat, depending on the wattage and model.


air fryer Accessories

A convection oven has fewer accessories than an air fryer. Some of the accessories that you can expect after buying an air fryer include:

  • Pull-out tray
  • Air fryer basket
  • Skewer
  • Rack
  • Spit for rotisserie
  • Baking pan

These accessories help to circulate hot air to speed up the cooking process. 

Basic convection oven accessories include a broiler rack and a baking pan. It may also come with an air frying basket and a removable crumb tray. 

Ease Of Use And Maintenance

Air fryers are a bit more difficult to clean than convection ovens. This is because they have perforated baskets and buckets that make cleaning difficult. The air fryer Cleaning can be even more challenging if you prepare a meal that drips from sauce or soup.

For convection ovens, cleaning is simpler than air fryers because they only have one pan to clean. A convection oven is also quieter than an air fryer. In addition, convection ovens usually come with transparent glasses to see the food you are cooking, unlike air fryers, where you can not see most of their content.

Foods You Can Cook In a Convection Oven

Here is a list of common foods that you can cook in a convection oven:

  • Baked Potatoes
  • Cakes
  • Baked pasta
  • Pizzas
  • Cookies
  • Biscuits
  • Sausages
  • Roasted meat
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Bread
  • Casserole

Foods You Can Cook In An Air Fryer

what can you cook in an air fryer

You can use an air fryer to fry your usual deep-fried foods to give them a fried brown look. Here is a list of common foods you can cook in an air fryer.

  • Potato chips
  • French fries
  • Dumplings
  • Vegetables like zucchini, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli
  • Fish sticks
  • Mozzarella stick
  • Homemade chicken tenders
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Chicken wings

Can I Use My Convection Oven as An Air Fryer?

Yes, you can. Convection ovens usually have an “air fry” feature. If your oven or microwave has an air fry mode, you can use it. However, you will need to stock up on some extra supplies that you will not need if you decide to go for an all-out air fryer.

You will require a perforated crisper tray or pan. Also, add more oil to the food before cooking it, unlike an air fryer. 

Disadvantages Of a Convection Oven

There are several differences between a convection oven and an air fryer, and some of them put convection ovens at a disadvantage. Here are some of the disadvantages of a convection oven:

  • They feature loud fans
  • The fan can sometimes move around tin foil or parchment paper, interfering with your cooking.
  • Food may get burned.

Things To Consider When Buying an Air Fryer or Convection Oven

Ease of Use

Some air fryers or convection ovens have digital controls, while others have mechanical dials. 

Units with digital controls are usually more intuitive to use. Besides, you can easily select a pre-cook setting or get the right temperature without guessing which temperature is right for a specific recipe. 

Convection oven models with manual dials are more affordable than digital controls.

Size and Capacity

size and Capacity of air fryer

You can determine the type of air fryer you need depending on the food you are cooking. If you are cooking alone, a compact air fryer will be suitable. However, you will require a larger model if you cook larger meals for up to four people.

In addition, you should get an air fryer that will not take up a lot of space on your counter, especially if you have a small cooking area or kitchen.

Extra Features

Generally, air fryers will have fewer features and are cheaper than air fryers with more features. The same applies to convection ovens. Increased features mean that your device will be more versatile and easy to use. 

Best Air Fryers To Buy

The are several types of air fryers that you can buy and add to your kitchen appliances. Whether you are cooking chicken wings or any other recipe, here are some of the best air fryers you can buy.

COSORI Air Fryer Oven Combo

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The Cosori air fryer has a large box, which is suitable for most family sizes. You can control it easily even for a beginner, just select from buttons or a setting by simply pressing the touch panel.

There are hundreds of recipes to try, but seldom people can remember them! So the Cosori air fryer provides chef-created recipes that include size, cook time, and temperature, everyone can cook with confidence. With its NTC sensor, food will be cooked under accurate temperatures and even heating.

The COSORI Air Fryer Oven Combo has a removable cooking area that will allow you to lift a cooking basket out of the base. It will leave any liquids or fats in the bottom of the drawer as you tip out those fresh chicken wings or fries. After enjoying your food, it can be cleaned up easier than other types of air fryers


The internal basket (the one with the holes/vents) needs to be replaced after 2 years because the non-stick surface will lose a lot after many times of cleaning. When we prepare very big raw meat, the temperature control system may become not be accurate when the temperature is above 400 degrees.

Instant Vortex 2QT 4-in-1 Air Fryer Oven Combo

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The Instant Vortex has a four-in-one functionality: air frying, reheating, roasting, and broiling. It has customizable cooking programs for easy roast veggies, chicken wings, and cinnamon buns. No matter what you want to eat, you can enjoy them fast because this machine has no preheating time. Besides, it is easy to clean and has a compact design that will fit any kitchen, you may get in trouble placing it when you got a bigger air fryer.

This air fryer also has proven safety features. They include auto-off and overheat protection. One good thing about them is that they come at friendly prices. It has thousands of positive reviews from users. 


The same as its name, 2 quarts isn’t suited for a big family which is more than 4 people, you may consider a bigger one, but it’s an ideal type for a couple!

Ninja DZ201 Foodi 8 Quart 6-in-1 DualZone 2-Basket Air Fryer

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The Ninja DZ201 has six versatile cooking programs: air fry, dehydrate, reheat, bake, reheat and roast. Obviously, It has 2 independent baskets in which you can cook different food at the same time. The large capacity of 8 quarts can fit in a whole chicken(yeah, I’ll eat them all!). By using a wide temperature system: 105°F to 450°F, you can remove moisture from food quickly and make them crisper. After eating, It has dishwasher-safe crisper plates and baskets that are easy to clean.


It may take significantly longer to cook when both sides are in use. Yes, you want efficiency, and you need to spend more time.


If you are thinking of investing in a new kitchen appliance, you can consider an air fryer or a convection oven based on your family size and habit. Knowing the difference between air fryers and convection ovens can help you to make the decision, or you can buy both of them!

Hope this article can help you to enjoy more delicious food, just leave a comment here about what are you thinking now! Or you can share it on social media to communicate with your friends, maybe they have different opinions.

Thanks for your reading!

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