Air Fryer vs. Microwave: What Is the Difference?

In the modern kitchen, you will notice several types of electrical equipment, most of which are useful in food preparation. The common ones include the air fryer and the microwave. The two are popular due to their simplicity when it comes to preparing food.

If you want to get a cooking utility, you may get into a confusion in the air fryer vs. microwave choices as you try to see which the best is. While others may get both of them, it is not an option if you are on a budget.

The good thing is that we are here to help you make a sound choice by going deeper into the air fryer vs. microwave comparison.

Difference between an Air Fryer and Microwave

The first difference you notice between the air fryer and microwave is their build. The air fryer mostly has a cylindrical body while the latter has a cuboid appearance. However, the shapes may differ depending on the manufacturer and capacity.

The main difference between these two cooking implements is how they work. Let us have a look at how each of them works to see their significant variation.

The Microwave

The microwaves work by channeling heat energy to the food molecules. They manage this feat courtesy of electromagnetic waves. This form of electromagnetic radiation heats the water molecules in your food, cooking it in the long run.

The microwave has a magnetron which produces the electromagnetic waves, with the metal interior reflecting them. The waves then travel via radiation to your food, causing water molecules to vibrate and produce heat. This heat is responsible for preparing your meals. The process is usually fast, and in a matter of minutes, depending on what you are cooking, your meal will be ready.

The Air Fryer

The air fryer cooks food through convection, where it blows hot air to food in the cooking basket. It is an ideal way of cooking for many, especially those aiming for a healthy living lifestyle as it does not use oil in cooking. The air fryer generates heat from a heating element close to the food.

One thing that you should note about the air fryer is that it does not fry food. Instead, it achieves the browning effect on food through the Maillard reaction, where it brings a crispy texture to your meals.

Learn More: Can I Make Popcorn in an Air Fryer?

In short, you can note that the main difference between the microwave and the air fryer is the manner of cooking. The former uses radiation, while the latter uses convection to cook.

Which Is the Best between Air Fryer and Microwave

One area you can find yourself in a dilemma is picking the best from the two cookers. Both are good in various areas, mostly in saving you time in food preparation. Let us look at some of the areas to look to know which the best is.

1. Cooking Time

Cooking time is one of the vital characteristics to look at when getting a cooking utility for your household. Both have speedy cooking times, and food preparation takes less than ten minutes for either of them.

The microwave is fast compared to the air fryer, taking ana average of 5-6 minutes to prepare tenders and simple snacks such as burgers. On the other hand, the air fryer does not trail far off and can take 7-10 minutes for your food to be ready.

2. Food Quality

The microwave will do a decent job getting your food ready in record times and is most suitable for heating leftovers or cooking simple foods such as instant noodles. The air fryer takes the top spot when it comes to food quality where it is healthy, due to its air frying process.

The air frying process does not require oil, something that makes this cooker a darling for many healthy living enthusiasts. Air fried food also has an enhanced taste and crispiness. With an air fryer, you are sure of healthy and tasty food; hence, it is slightly better than a microwave when you look at food quality.

3. Capacity

The microwave has a larger capacity compared to the air fryer. A standard microwave for a family of four has a capacity of 21-30 liters, while for the air fryer it might be around 2.4- .5 liters. That is a significant difference.

The arguing point may be that you do not fill either of the cookers to the brim when using them. However, you can notice the microwave’s efficiency when preparing large meals such as chicken, pizza, bread, and many more.

The air fryer can also cook large servings, but you have to partition the food, which may take a long time. On the bright side, low capacity means the air fryer has a smaller frame and will not take much space when not in use.

4. Electricity Consumption

On the air fryer vs. microwave duel, another area to look at is energy consumption, considering that they are electrical gadgets. The standard air fryer has an energy rating of 1200 to 1500 watts, which is not that high.

Microwaves have a similar rating, though they have an additional consumption of 7-10 watts when on standby. The microwave seems to come short in the energy consumption attribute. However, there are economy models that you may come across that use less power, though they may come short when it comes to functionality.

5. Maintenance

Maintenance is a significant part of owning electrical utilities, especially the cookers. Maintenance looks at repairs, cleaning, and storage. The microwave is easy to clean due to its open design. You can reach messy places inside its chamber and get rid of spills and other dirt.

The air fryer can be quite hard to clean as its design is a bit tricky. If there are spills, it may be hard to get to them, and at times you may need to unscrew some parts, especially if it has a closed design.

Both are easy to handle in repairs, where you mainly focus on preventive measures to shelter you from the high costs of bringing in a technician. You can use a power guard on the socket to prevent electric surges, causing a short circuit.

Learn More: Toaster Oven Vs Air Fryer: What is the Difference

Storage depends on the model you have, but as earlier mentioned, the air fryer’s small build makes it economical on space.

6. Foods You Can Prepare With the Cookers

You should also look at the meals you can prepare with either of the cookers. The microwave is very versatile and cooks plenty of foods. The modern microwaves come with different settings, which you can notice from their dedicated buttons.

On the other hand, an air fryer can prepare plenty of meals, though there are exceptions. It is not advisable to use it with foods with wet batter as they can create a mess. The same applies to cheese, as it can also be messy, and getting rid of the resulting dirt is a difficult task.

The air fryer is also not suitable for preparing rare to medium steak, though it does an excellent job if you want the meat well done – with an edge of crispiness. Fresh greens, such as leafy vegetables, can fly over the air fryer chamber, resulting in uneven cooking.

7. The Health Issue

You have to look at the health aspect when getting any utility for your kitchen. The air fryer’s oil-less cooking nature gives it an edge over the microwave when looking at health. The microwave stands its ground as it is easy to clean; hence, it does not promote pathogens’ growth.

You should keep the equipment clean at all times and ensure that you cook food thoroughly, particularly meat dishes. The food you want to prepare should be fresh.

Advantages of the Microwave

  • Easy to use and clean.
  • It has a large capacity making it suitable for preparing large meals.
  • Fast cooking time.
  • Modern microwaves have dedicated modes for preparing various foods such as frozen pizza or seafood.
  • Energy-efficient.


  • It is not ideal for cooking thick foods, especially those with a coating.
  • The microwave can dry your food, evident when cooking vegetables.
  • It can affect your meals’ flavor.

Advantages of The Air Fryer

  • Easy to use.
  • It does not use oil in cooking your meals, making it a healthy food preparation method.
  • It enhances flavor and brings a crispy texture.
  • They are economical in space.

Disadvantages of Air Fryer

  • Not suitable for leafy vegetables and foods with wet batter as it can be messy.
  • It has a small capacity.


The air fryer and the microwave are some of the most popular cooking equipment you will find in many modern kitchens. Aside from being easy to use, they prepare your meals within a short time.

The air fryer vs. microwave duel goes on, with many wanting to know their difference and which of the two is the best.

This piece looks at some of the critical points in the duel starting from their difference, where we understand that the air fryer uses convectional currents, while the microwave operates via electromagnetic radiation to have meals ready.

Pick the best option of the two depending on your needs and have a revolutionary experience in your kitchen.

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