Air Fryers and Convection Ovens: Understanding the Differences

Air Fryers and Convection Ovens: Understanding the Differences

Updated on - . 5 min read

Air fryers have become a staple in modern kitchens, revolutionizing how we think about home-cooked meals. These appliances offer a healthier alternative to traditional deep frying while delivering the same crispy results. The air fryer basket is one key component that makes air fryers so effective.

But did you know that your convection oven might also serve as an air fryer?

In this micro-post, we'll delve into the basics of air fryers, baskets, and the relationship between air fryers and convection ovens. We'll answer commonly asked questions to help you get the most out of your cooking appliances.

Table of Contents

How do air fryers work?

Air fryers use a heating element and a fan to circulate hot air around the food. This rapid air circulation cooks the food evenly and gives it a crispy texture, mimicking the effects of deep-frying without needing oil.

Is there any difference between an air fryer and a convection oven?

The difference between an air fryer and a convection oven is that air fryers are smaller, heat up more quickly, and are optimized for mimicking deep frying. Convection ovens are larger and more versatile but may not provide the same level of crispiness.

While both appliances use the principle of circulating hot air to cook food, they are designed for different culinary tasks and offer unique features. Air fryers are generally more compact and quicker to heat up. They are specifically optimized for simulating deep frying. Convection ovens, on the other hand, are larger and more versatile, capable of baking, roasting, and broiling in addition to air frying.

Can my convection oven work as an air fryer?

Yes, some convection ovens come with an "air fry" setting that is specifically designed to produce results as crispy as those from a dedicated air fryer. However, if your convection oven doesn't have this feature, you can still use it for air frying with some adjustments.

Convection ovens without an "air fry" setting can still be used for air frying, but there are some caveats. While these ovens use hot air circulation similar to air fryers, they are generally not as effective at producing the same level of crispiness.

You may need to experiment with cooking times and temperatures, and a light spray of oil can help achieve a better texture. Following specific tips for using a convection oven as an air fryer, like preheating and using an oven-safe rack, can also improve your results.

Converting and Adapting Between Air Fryer and Convection Oven Settings

Switching between an air fryer and a convection oven—or using an air fryer basket in a convection oven—requires some adjustments to ensure your food cooks properly. Here's what you need to know:

Convection Oven to Air Fryer Conversions

Convection ovens and air fryers operate on similar principles of circulating hot air around the food, but they are not identical in their settings. Here are some general guidelines for converting recipes:

  • Temperature: Convection ovens usually require a temperature that is 25°F to 30°F lower than recommended for an air fryer.
  • Cooking Time: You may need to extend the cooking time by a few minutes when using a convection oven. Always check for doneness before ending the cooking cycle.
  • Air Circulation: Convection ovens may not circulate air as efficiently as air fryers. You may need to rotate or flip your food halfway through the cooking process to compensate.
  • Preheating: Unlike most air fryers, convection ovens often require preheating. Make sure to account for this additional time.

Using Air Fryer Baskets in Convection Ovens

Air fryer baskets can indeed be used in convection ovens, but there are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Safety: Ensure your user manual states your air fryer basket can be used in an oven.
  • Size and Fit: Ensure the basket fits well inside the oven and allows for optimal air circulation. A poorly fitting basket can result in uneven cooking.
  • Material: Make sure the basket material suits the higher temperatures that convection ovens can reach. Stainless steel is usually a safe bet.
  • Settings: You'll likely need to adjust the oven's temperature and time settings to mimic those of an air fryer. Refer to the conversion guidelines above.
  • Placement: Position the basket in the oven to allow for the best air circulation—usually in the center of the oven, not touching any of the sides.

Tips for Using a Convection Oven as an Air Fryer

Using a convection oven as an air fryer is entirely possible, and with a few tips, you can get results that are remarkably close to those achieved with a dedicated air fryer.

First and Foremost, Use the "Air Fry" Option If You Have It

If your convection oven comes with an "air fry" setting, make sure to use it. This setting is specifically calibrated to mimic the cooking style of an air fryer, giving you the closest possible results.

Preheat the Oven

Just like with an air fryer, preheating is crucial when using a convection oven for frying. Make sure to preheat your oven to the desired temperature before placing your food inside.

Use an Oven-Safe Rack

Place an oven-safe rack on top of your baking sheet. This allows the hot air to circulate around the food, mimicking the air frying process.

Don't Overcrowd

Avoid overcrowding the food on the rack. This ensures that hot air can circulate freely, resulting in more even cooking and crispiness.

Use a Light Oil Spray

While one of the benefits of air frying is reduced oil usage, a light spray of oil can help achieve that desirable crispy texture. Use an oil mister for best results.

Turn or Shake Midway

For even cooking and crispiness, make sure to turn or shake your food halfway through the cooking process.

Monitor Cooking Time

Convection ovens are powerful and can cook food quickly. Keep an eye on your food to prevent overcooking.

Test for Doneness

Always test your food for doneness before taking it out of the oven. Use a food thermometer for meats to ensure they have reached a safe internal temperature.

Experiment and Adjust

Convection ovens vary, so you may need to experiment with cooking times and temperatures. Start with shorter cooking times and adjust as needed.

By following these tips for air frying with your convection oven, you can enjoy the benefits without needing a separate appliance. While the results may not be identical to a dedicated air fryer, they can be impressively close.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an air fryer considered a convection oven?

An air fryer is not exactly the same as a convection oven, although they both use hot air circulation for cooking.

While both an air fryer and a convection oven use a fan to circulate hot air, they are not identical appliances. Air fryers are generally smaller, heat up more quickly, and are optimized for quick frying tasks. They are specifically designed to achieve the crispy texture of deep-fried foods without requiring much oil.

Convection ovens, on the other hand, are larger and more versatile. They can bake, roast, and broil in addition to air frying. However, they are not specifically optimized for frying and may not achieve the same level of crispiness as an air fryer.

So, while they share some similarities, they are designed for different culinary needs and are not interchangeable.

Do I need an air fryer if I have a convection oven?

Depending on your specific cooking needs, you will need an air fryer if you have a convection oven. If you frequently prepare foods that benefit from the crispiness an air fryer provides, then having both appliances can be beneficial.

When you already have a convection oven, the need for an air fryer boils down to your specific cooking needs. If you frequently crave fried foods and are particular about texture and crispiness, an air fryer would be a beneficial addition. If you're looking for a more general-purpose appliance, a convection oven should meet most of your cooking needs.

Further Reading

  • If you're new to the world of air frying and are looking for some delicious and easy recipes to get started, be sure to check out the article '55 Easy Air-Fryer Recipes for Beginners' by TasteofHome.