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Oven vs Air Fryer (Differences? Similarities? When to Use One or the Other?)

An electric oven with different accessories.

You may feel like every day; there is a new kitchen appliance coming out. Every one of them seems better than everything else you have. But, you only have so much room in your kitchen. So, sometimes you have to make choices about which new appliance and gadgets you really want. 

Air fryers are a newer appliance that can open up a world of unique possibilities when it comes to cooking. But is it really worth it? You may be wondering why you need an air fryer if you already have an oven. This article will explain everything you need to know about the differences between an oven and an air fryer to help you make the best choice for your kitchen. 

Related To: Oven vs. Stove | Oven vs Grill | What is the Drawer Under the Oven for? | Why is it Called Dutch Oven? | Oven vs Slow Cooker 

What is an Oven?

A modern kitchen with an open oven.

An oven is a large kitchen appliance built into a kitchen’s cabinets or walls. It does not typically standalone and is not something you pick up a move. Instead, it remains stationary in your kitchen. An oven uses still air to cook the food inside of it. Your typical oven has cooking functions like baking, roasting, and broiling. Some ovens have the option of convection cooking, but not all offer it. 

You are able to cook more than one item at a time in an oven. Most ovens have a door on the front that allows you to access the interior portion of the oven. You pull the handle on the front, and the oven door pulls down to open it. A standard oven will be about 24, 27, or 30 inches wide and 27 or 29 inches high. 

What is an Air Fryer?

An air fryer with potato and carrots.

An air fryer is an appliance that sits on your countertop. You can leave it there all the time or put it away when not in use. You can only cook one dish at a time in an air fryer. There is a basket inside the air fryer that holds your food.

It uses convection heat to circulate air around the food to cook it. This convection style of cooking method is similar to deep frying, so your food is crispy; however, there is no oil needed with an air fryer. 

How Are They Different?

There are many differences between an oven and an air fryer.


An air fryer with fried potato.

An oven uses still air to bake, broil, or roast foods. An oven cooks food much slower than an air fryer. However, it can cook large amounts and several different types of food at one time. The interior of an oven is as large as 3.5 cubic feet.

An air fryer is much smaller, with the largest option being 5.8 quarts. Therefore, it can only cook one item or meal at a time. However, it does cook faster, so you can cook more food in less time. 


Most air fryers are made completely from plastic. However, there are some air fryers that are constructed from a type of ceramic. Inside the air fryer, there is a metal basket. 

Ovens are constructed by different manufacturers. Most ovens have an interior that is made from either stainless steel or porcelain-enameled steel. Porcelain enamel is the default and most common for an oven in your home. 


A person taking a cake out of the oven.

An oven is likely to last longer than an air fryer. An air fryer can last anywhere between six months to three years. Of course, the more you use it means, the less time it may last. However, a quality air fryer can last for several years. You can help prolong the life of your air fryer by cleaning it and following the user guide. 

An oven can be expected to last from 13 years to 15 years. A gas oven is going to last about 15 years while an electric one will last about 13. When you clean your oven on a regular basis, you can expect it to last longer. 

Cost Difference

A couple checking oven on a store.

An air fryer is much more affordable than an oven. You can expect an art fryer to cost anywhere between $70 to $200 dollars. You can find a good quality air fryer for about $100. 

An oven is more expensive and has a wider price range. You can expect to pay anywhere between $600 to $4,700. The average cost of an oven is going to be about $1,500. 

Benefits (of Each)

Benefits of an Oven

A happy person looking through an oven.

There are some benefits that an oven provides that you cannot get from an air fryer. You can grill, bake, and broil foods in the same appliance. You do not have to purchase multiple appliances to do multiple jobs. You can cook many foods at once, which is helpful when hosting a dinner party or feeding a hungry family. 

Benefits of an Air Fryer

There are some benefits that you receive from an air fryer that you cannot get from a traditional oven. These benefits include that you are frying food in a healthy way without oil. Your food has a crunch of fried food without the unhealthy aspects. 

It is easy and safe to use an air fryer. There is no oil popping and potentially burning you. Your food cooks much faster in an air fryer than in a traditional oven. Air fryers are easy to clean. Some of the pieces are dishwasher safe, and they come apart for easy cleaning. 

History (of Each)

History of an Air Fryer

The first air fryer was invented in 2005 in the Netherlands. Fred van der Weij is an inventor that was looking for a way to cook crispy French fries. He felt that other methods took too long. It took until 2007 before there was a product that was useable. 

History of an Oven

A painting of an antique oven made from concrete.

The first oven goes back to 29,000 BC in Central Europe. They were rudimentary roasting pits in the ground used to cook animals. The first electrical oven that looks close to what we have today invented around 1882. Prior to this, ovens were cast iron and steel or a wood burning or coal burning option. Wood fired ‘ovens’ were similar to a fireplace in the wall of a house. 


There are some similarities between an oven and an air fryer. They are both appliances that are most often used in a kitchen to cook food. They both need a power source to work. Both an air fryer and an oven hold food in some type of container and heat it, so it cooks. Both of these appliances cook the food while it is completely enclosed.

You do not need to do anything to the food once it is in the appliance. You do not need to mix, stir, or blend the food. You can essentially set it and forget it. Of course, you want to ensure that the food is not burning and follow all instructions for your food, but typically, you do not have to do anything more. 

Final Thoughts: Which is Best?

A person pulling a fried pork out of an air fryer.

There is a debate over which kitchen appliance, the oven or the air fryer, is better. There are definite benefits to each one. You can prepare food in a healthy manner with both appliances. It ultimately depends on your needs. 

If you need to prepare a large amount of food at one time and are not interested in frying the food, then an oven is the better option. However, if you are only interested in preparing a small amount of food, or one type of food at a time, and want it fried, then an air fryer could be the best option.

Personally, I have both. I use them both but for different purposes. Both of these appliances get plenty of use in my house. I primarily use my oven when I want to bake something. I use my air fryer when I want to fry or crisp my food.