How does the cooking time in an air fryer compare?
There is a new craze about air fryers because they are a convenient and healthier cooking method. However, are air fryers faster than other conventional cooking methods? This is a question that has been asked by many people who are interested in investing in an air fryer. The answer to this question isn’t as black and white as it may seem at first glance. We’re going to compare the air fryer to other frequently used cooking methods. This will help you can make an informed decision on which device will work best for your lifestyle!
What is air frying?
Let’s start by looking at what air frying is. Is air frying still frying? The term air frying may be a little confusing at first, as the name suggests, you’re frying. But air frying is not deep frying. So, how does it work?
The food is placed in a mesh basket and cooked with hot circulating air. The heat is generated from the heating elements and the circulation is powered by a fan. The result is evenly cooked food and with a crispy surface. And, this can be done with very little or no oil at all. This makes it a great cooking alternative however certain types of food are not suitable for the air fryer.
Wet batter: For wet battered food to be cooked with that crunchy texture, it needs to be submerged in oil to be cooked at high temperatures. So, if wet battered food was placed in the air fryer, it would not be cooked at all and will leave a mess. This is because the fan would cause the batter to splatter all around the inside of the air fryer.
Any foods that need to be cooked in water: Food is placed in the air fryer mesh basket to be cooked. This basket cannot hold water therefore food like rice or pasta will not be cooked in the air fryer.
Food that is light in weight: The fan in the air fryer is strong so that it can circulate the hot air. So, any food that is light in weight like leafy greens will fly around in the air fryer. If the food is blown into the fan or touches the heating element, this would be a safety hazard.
Other than the above, most foods are suitable to be cooked in the air fryer. Now let’s look at how quick the air fryer can cook compared to other methods!
Are air fryers faster than ovens?
The short answer is yes, the air fryer does have a faster cooking time than a conventional oven for most food types. Firstly, the air fryer heats up very quickly because it is a smaller appliance. This means that no pre-heating is required which saves this time. Some recipes encourage pre-heating but pre-heating times are around 2 minutes only. This is still a lot shorter than pre-heating an oven.
Secondly, I found that the air fryer has a shorter cooking time when cooking fresh food. For example, when I cook chicken drumsticks in the oven, I would need to have them I the oven for around 45 minutes (at least). With my Consori Max XL air fryer, I can have them done in around 25-30 minutes. That’s a whole 15-20 minutes saving plus pre-heating time! Other meat fillets and steaks can be done around 10-15 minutes as well.
Vegetables are also cooked in a shorter time. Lighter vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, and cauliflower cook in about 15 minutes compared to my oven of around 20 minutes. Heavier vegetables like butternut pumpkin (squash) are cooked in 25 minutes compared to 30 minutes in the oven.
As for frozen foods, the cooking time is around the same as the oven except for the savings on the pre-heating time.
Are air fryers faster than deep fryers?
The two appliances take about the same time from pre-heating to cooking the food right through. If you are just looking at the cooking time itself, the deep fryer is faster as the food is submerged in high-temperature oil so it cooks quickly. For example, when I cook my chicken wings in the deep fryer is takes only 8 minutes compared to 25 minutes in the air fryer. But, to get the oil to the required temperature takes around 10 to 30 minutes in the deep fryer (depending on how much oil you are heating). This will bring the total time to 18 to 38 minutes when using the deep fryer.
Another thing to note is the different methods of preparing the food when using both these appliances. With the deep fryer, a wet batter or crumbed layer for the food may be needed to get that crunchy texture. This will add time to the preparation time.
Lastly, when using the deep fryer, I will need to be actively turning and monitoring the food. Compared to the air fryer where I simply put the food into the basket, press a few buttons, and the cooking is done with minimal involvement.
Are air fryers faster than pan-frying?
Both types of cooking take about the same time. However, air frying is a healthier alternative to pan-frying as there will be no oil needed when cooking. Also, with pan-frying, I might need to add more oil halfway through the cooking process or between batches. With air frying, you don’t have this problem.
Are air fryers faster than microwaves?
Yes and no! If I am just reheating leftovers in the microwave, it will take around 5 minutes. This is faster than using the air fryer at around 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of my dish.
But, if I am microwave cooking food from scratch, it depends on the types of food I am cooking. I find that cooking vegetables in the microwave is quicker. For example, potatoes take 10 minutes to cook in the microwave compared to 20 minutes in my air fryer. Meat on the other hand seems to cook faster in the air fryer. When I cook chicken wings in the microwave it takes me 35-40 minutes compared to 25 minutes in the air fryer. And, the chicken wings are crispy and succulent when I use the air fryer.
When comparing the different cooking times, I found that the air fryer is generally faster than the conventional oven and deep fryers. It’s cooking time is about the same compared to pan-frying. When compared to the microwave, it’s slower for reheating food but quicker for making food from scratch.
The cooking time should be considered with other factors when looking for the right appliance to use or buy. If you want more details on what to look for in an air fryer have a look at our article “How to use an air fryer: All you need to know“.
With only a few buttons to push, no messy oils needed for cooking, minimal supervision required, and less washing up to do after cooking, the air fryer is a convenient and healthful way of cooking food.