Cooking is one of the most fulfilling activities, more like art, with the food being the artwork. In art, many things define your artistry, such as the implements you use. The same applies to cooking with the equipment you have determining your food preparation style and presentation.
Presently, we are in an age defined by technology, and the kitchen has plenty of advanced equipment to help prepare your meals. Some of the cookers you can have in your kitchen include the toaster oven and air fryer.
The two might seem confusing to many; hence, the discussion, toaster oven vs. air fryer. The argument seeks to differentiate between the two and see which is the most efficient in the kitchen.
Difference Between Air Fryer and Toaster Oven
The first difference you will notice between the air fryer and the toaster oven is their build. The toaster oven has a more compact shape, almost cylindrical. The toaster oven, on the other hand, mostly comes in a cuboid frame. While both are small, the toaster oven is bigger than the other cooker.
You will also notice that the air fryer has a removable bucket-like component that you put the food you want to cook. The toaster oven looks like a microwave, and many people may confuse the two.
The main variation of the two kitchen utilities is how they work.
How the Air Fryer Works
The air fryer works through convectional cooking, where circulating hot air cooks your meals. In this equipment’s cooking chamber is a heating element that produces heat. Then there is a fan responsible for circulating the warm air currents. Depending on the model you have, the temperatures can go over 440-degrees Fahrenheit.
When using the air fryer, you put your food into the air fryer basket, insert it into the cooking chamber, and then set your temperature and timer. An impressive thing about the air fryer is that it does not require oil to cook.
Learn More: Air Fryer vs. Microwave: What Is the Difference?
It is for this reason that it is popular in many households as it promotes healthy eating. Exposure of food to the circulating hot air currents gives them a nice browning and improves their taste.
How the Toaster Oven Works
The toaster oven looks like a cross between an oven and a toaster, with some cooking pundits referring to it as a small-scale oven. It has heating elements, and their position depends on the model you have, though the standard has the upper and lower elements.
This cooking appliance will cook food through conduction coming from the baking pan. It has a door that you open and access racks where you put your food.
After putting your food in the racks during meal preparation, you shut it and set the timer and cooking mode. When your food is ready, the oven will go off, and for new models, the door may automatically open.
There is also the convectional toaster oven, which in simple terms, is a supercharged toaster oven. It has fans that help circulate the hot air, resulting in an even cook. It is very efficient in cooking, and you can find it in commercial settings.
Back to the difference between these two cooking appliances, there is one thing to note: the heating element. While it may seem to be a similarity as both of them use an element, it is also a huge point of their contrast.
The toaster oven uses strip elements, which may be at the top and bottom, depending on the model. The air fryer uses a coil design, which many agree is more efficient in heat production.
Toaster Oven Vs. Air Fryer: Which Is the Best
A significant part of the toaster oven vs. air fryer debate tries to explore which of the two cookers is the best. The term best is relative when it comes to cooking as there are several factors to consider, and some of them are as highlighted below.
1. Mode of Cooking
When it comes to cooking mode, the air fryer comes on top due to its multiple functionalities, which makes it a flexible kitchen appliance. The toaster oven has functions such as toasting, grilling, roasting, and baking.
The air fryer can perform some of the mentioned tasks in addition to dehydrating, air frying, and defrosting. It also brings an excellent browning to your food and improves their taste, noticeable in meals such as chicken or potatoes.
The toaster oven brings its best in preparing pastries and breads, especially toasts. When using it for toasting, you can choose the side you want toasted, either both sides, top or bottom, depending on your preference.
The standard air fryer is smaller than the toaster oven, making it easy to store as it is economical on space. The slightly larger frame of the toaster oven gives it an advantage when it comes to the preparation of large meals.
3. Foods to Cook
Courtesy of its slightly larger size, the toaster oven is very versatile when looking at the foods it can prepare. Meat dishes, pizza, bread, fries, and many more can go into this appliance.
The air fryer can also cook various foods, though there are some that you should not put into this cooker. Some of the foods that should not go into this cooker include battered foods, as they will make it’s inside messy, or if the batter is dry and crispy, it may fly to the heating element.
The fryer is also not suitable for oily foods.
Maintenance is a significant part of owning a cooking utility, as it ensures they serve you for long. For both of these electrical appliances, you should check the connections and keep them away from water.
Cleaning is essential to have them in a state suitable for meal preparation. The toaster oven is easy to clean as it has an open design, where you can easily access the interior and remove food debris and accumulated grime.
Learn More: 13 Disadvantages of Air Fryer
The air fryer can be hard to clean due to its design. However, you can keep it clean by checking the foods you put in its basket. A parchment paper put under the food can prevent the basket from getting messy. A perforated aluminum foil can work similarly to parchment paper.
5. Cooking Speed
If you want a fast cooking rate, then the air fryer is the ideal choice courtesy of its powerful fans that evenly circulates heat to your food. It cooks twice as fast as the toaster oven, whose rate is similar to the standard ovens.
However, there are situations where the toaster will cook fast, such as when toasting bread or preparing thinly sliced meals such as jerky.
6. Energy Consumption
Your electrical utility choice should heavily rely on their energy consumption to see if you can handle them on your finances. A low-consumption cooker is an ideal choice as it won’t push your electrical bills to the ceiling.
The oven seems to be a low consumer with a 1400 watts rating. The fryer consumes more, with a rating of 1600 watts. You can look for models with a lower consumption for your convenience.
The air fryers are safer to use compared to the ovens as they feature generous insulation. The toaster oven has naked metal parts that may get hot when it is running. Should you touch these parts, you can get burnt, especially the grill rack.
Many toaster oven manuals have a part dedicated to safety, advising you on the precautions to take when using it.
When you compare the standard toaster’s price to the fryer, you realize the former is more affordable. On most online platforms and even in retail stores, you will find that the toaster oven goes for roughly $26 to $42. The air fryer, on the other hand, retails for $42 to $70.
The price depends on the features they have and the brand.
Pros and Cons of The Air Fryer and The Toaster Oven
- Easy to use.
- Economical on space due to its compact body.
- It performs several cooking functions such as baking, roasting, dehydration, and defrosting.
- Cooks a variety of meals.
- It cooks healthy meals courtesy of its oil-less cooking nature.
- Fast cooking speeds.
- Quite hard to clean.
- Not suitable for larger meal servings.
- Easy to use.
- It has a small build; hence, economical on space.
- The oven supports grilling, baking, toasting, and many more cooking functions.
- It can accommodate slightly larger meal servings.
- It has some bare metal surfaces, which can cause burns if not handled correctly.
The air fryer and the toaster oven are some of the most popular cookers you can find in many modern kitchens. The air fryer vs. toaster oven debate is an intense one, as each of the appliances brings their best in different attributes.
Above is a look at both of them, paying attention to both their strengths and weaknesses to help you make a concrete decision on the best.