Here’s the Difference Between Air Frying and Baking

If you have a convection oven, do you really need an air fryer? As it turns out, there are a few differences between air frying and baking.

air fryerROLAND ANCLA LEGASPI/Shutterstock

Not too long ago, our sister site Taste of Home demystified the air fryer craze and spilled the beans about whether they thought the appliances were worth the investment. (Hint: The answer is yes, and we found the best air fryers on the market.) The question keeps coming up, though: What’s the difference between air frying and baking? We see it on Reddit forums and Facebook feeds, so we decided to break it down.

What’s an air fryer?

An air fryer is a compact, countertop appliance that uses convection heating to circulate air around your food. The food is held inside a basket and a fan rapidly moves air around the food, surrounding it in a similar way how a deep fryer submerges food in hot oil. In the end, it works pretty well to “fry” foods without using anything but air. Use this simple trick to make perfectly golden air fryer food every time.

How is air frying different from baking in an oven?

Conventional ovens work by producing heat from an element (either gas or electric). The heat is slowly dispersed through the oven over time. In the case of convection ovens, that time is sped up by the use of a fan—similar to the one in an air fryer.

On the other hand, air fryers use rapid air technology to create heat instead of an element. That helps them heat up much more quickly than an oven (not to mention that they’re much, much smaller). That small size helps them circulate the heat more evenly, crisping up your food without hot spots.

Which method is healthier?

Here’s the real question: Is the air fryer healthier than baking food in the oven? With the air fryer, you don’t need to use any oil at all. That’s because the unit heats up so it’s hot enough to crisp your food without any added oil. We can’t say that we’ve ever been able to achieve that in an oven (even a convection oven). Just make sure you know the surprising things you can (and can’t) cook in an air fryer.

The takeaway

If you have the money to invest in a new appliance and the space to store it, then go for it! You don’t even have to make fried foods in the thing, either. Taste of Home‘s 18 favorite recipes you can make in an air fryer collection includes cookies and other sweet treats!

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef and a food writer. After graduating from Cascade Culinary school, Lindsay became the Executive Chef at Jackson's Corner in Bend, OR, from 2013 to 2016. Her genuine passion for food and sustainable food practices led her to find the farmer in herself. She lives in Durango, CO, where she enjoys the trials and errors of small plot farming. Lindsay is currently working on a cookbook that teaches home cooks how to craft beautiful meals without a recipe, tentatively titled "The Art of Bricolage: Cultivating Confidence and Creativity in the Kitchen."