Difference Between Microwave and Air Fryer: The Complete Guide

If you’re trying to decide between an air fryer and a microwave, two time- and labor-saving pieces of kitchen equipment, it’s natural to be confused about which one would serve you best. Below is a detailed explanation of the difference between microwave and air fryer appliances.

What Is an Air Fryer?

cooking in air fryer

An air fryer is a piece of cooking equipment that uses hot air circulation to prepare food. Like a fryer, it utilizes high air temperatures to prepare meals — hence the name. Turbochef is credited with inventing its first air fryer in the early 1970s. The appliance, however, became widely used in the 2010s.

The Fundamentals of How an Air Fryer Works

Hot air is circulated around the food in an air fryer to cook it. The electric heating element is responsible for producing hot air. The food is cooked uniformly on all sides thanks to the circulating hot air. A fan is typically used in air fryers to aid in the recirculation of hot air.

Air fryers are great because they offer quick cooking times like conventional fryers without all the unhealthy oils. As heat circulates in the fryer, it penetrates the food to provide thorough cooking. It’s important not to overload the air fryer, though. Otherwise, hot air cannot adequately flow, and parts of the food may be underdone while others can burn.

What Is a Microwave?

cooking in microwave

It is possible to heat food in a microwave oven by exposing it to electromagnetic radiation. The first microwave oven was created in the 1940s, and since the 1970s, microwaves have evolved into common kitchen equipment.

Microwaves generate heat by making the water molecules in food vibrate. This is called dielectric heating. This means that a microwave oven produces microwave radiation, which is then directed into the food it is cooking. The microwaves go through the outermost three centimeters or more of the food and rapidly heat small pockets of water there.

Conduction allows the heat from these isolated pockets of water to travel through the food. The conventional microwave design includes a rotating turntable in the middle of the appliance. This turntable is programmed to rotate a specific number of times per minute to ensure that the food is cooked evenly.

Though microwaves are generally safe, there are several measures you should follow before using one. For instance, heating some materials in a microwave might result in sparks and even fires. When using a microwave, it’s crucial to cook food thoroughly and uniformly so that no areas become overly hot.

How a Microwave Oven Works

Short-wavelength electromagnetic radiation, or microwaves, can be directed inside devices like microwave ovens to speed up cooking. They produce an electric field of high frequency to cause rotation of the polar molecules of water inside the food. The resultant heat is what does the cooking.

Key Difference Between Microwave and Air Fryers

Microwaves and air fryers are commonplace in modern kitchens, yet these two gadgets operate very differently. If you’re trying to decide which to buy by learning the difference between microwave and air fryer appliances, this comparison should help.

Temperature Control

When compared to microwaves, air fryers allow for more precise temperature regulation. This allows you to fine-tune the cooking conditions to achieve uniform results in the final product.


The texture of food cooked with an air fryer is crispier and more “fried” than food cooked in a microwave, which might be softer and more “steamed.”

Cooking Technique

Microwaves employ electromagnetic radiation to heat food, while air fryers use hot air circulation.


Which cooking technique is healthiest is a matter of some disagreement. Some health experts advocate for air frying as a more nutritious option due to the reduced oil intake. However, it ultimately comes down to what food you are eating.


In general, air fryers cost more than microwaves. Low-end air fryers run about $60 to $100 or more. An average microwave costs about $50, though there are even cheaper options.

Cooking Time

Food cooked in an air fryer will take longer than in a microwave. In contrast to the three to five minutes it takes to reheat a frozen pizza in a microwave, an air fryer will require approximately 15 minutes to reheat a frozen pizza.

The Use of Energy

In comparison to microwaves, the energy requirements of an air fryer are much higher. For comparison, a microwave with 1,000 watts uses roughly 0.1 kWh of electricity per hour, whereas an air fryer with 1,500 watts uses about 1.5 kWh.


Although there is some variation, most air fryers are significantly smaller than microwaves. Microwave capacity and size can vary greatly. Microwaves range in size from as little as 0.5 cubic feet to as much as 2.0 cubic feet for full-sized units. The size of an air fryer is more restricted. Most versions can hold around 3 quarts of food.


When compared to microwaves, air fryers can produce a lot more noise. This is largely due to the fan that circulates the hot air. Needless to say, if you want to make a late-night snack without waking everyone in the house up, a microwave is the right choice.

Simplicity of Operation

In most cases, air fryers don’t require any special skills or techniques to operate. Putting food into the basket, setting the temperature, turning on the timer, and waiting for it to cook is as simple as can be. Still, the use of microwaves is significantly less complicated. Put the meal in a microwave-safe container, select the cooking time, and press start.


There is a greater amount of residue left behind by air fryers compared to microwaves. After each use, you should clean the basket and drawer of your air fryer with soap and water. Wiping down the microwave with a moist towel after use is sufficient.


In comparison to microwaves, air fryers have more extensive uses. Microwaves are only suitable for reheating already cooked food or defrosting frozen food prior to cooking. However, air fryers can both cook and reheat meals.

Microwave Vs. Air Fryer: How to Use Each of Them?

Though they are relatively new, the use of air fryers has seen significant growth in popularity over the past several years. While they share some similarities with conventional ovens, their ability to rapidly and uniformly distribute heat and circulate air through the cooking chamber ensures that the food comes out both crisp and succulent. 

Using them to fry chicken and French fries is common, but you can also bake and roast with them.

Using the Air Fryer Appropriately

using air fryer

  • You have to preheat the air fryer before any cooking can begin.
  • The next step is to place the food for cooking in the basket. It’s important to avoid overcrowding the basket, which might lead to uneven cooking of the food inside.
  • Follow the directions for using your air fryer to ensure the food comes out perfectly.
  • Cooking times on most air fryers are preset, but you might need to change them to suit your meal.
  • At the end of cooking time, take the basket out and wait for it to cool.

Food cooked in an air fryer requires little oil, making it a healthy alternative to traditional frying methods. As a bonus, they produce fewer harmful fats throughout the cooking process. Because various sizes of air fryers are on the market, you will likely find one suitable for your cooking preferences.

Correct Microwave Oven Use

difference between microwave and air fryer

Using a microwave for the first time can be intimidating. Some pointers to get you going are as follows.

  • Read the handbook. This guide teaches the ins and outs of the microwave’s controls and features. See the instructions of your specific model to get the most out of your microwave.
  • Use a microwave-safe dish to hold the meal. Some fragile or delicate dishes may melt or break in the intense heat.
  • Make sure the dish is covered. This will ensure that the food cooks evenly and without splatters. Use a microwavable-safe lid or wax paper sealed with a rubber band.
  • Turn on the timer.  Cooking time varies according to the microwave’s wattage and cooked item. Begin with a shorter period and build up from there if necessary.
  • Be mindful of the food you are serving. You must closely check food cooking in the microwave to prevent it from becoming overdone.

Knowing how to use a microwave opens a whole new world of cooking possibilities. The microwave is convenient and speedy to reheat everything from popcorn to leftovers. Read the instruction manual and use the product safely to avoid injury. 

Difference Between Microwave and Air Fryer: Pros and Cons

Consider a few factors before settling on one appliance, whether it’s an air fryer or a microwave. Both appliances have pros and cons that you should weigh carefully before making a final selection. This article compares and shows the difference between microwave and air fryer appliances to help you decide which suits your needs.

Benefits of Using an Air Fryer

The benefits of using an air fryer are numerous. Notable advantages include:

Improved Nutrition

Since very little oil is required, air frying is a healthier alternative to traditional frying. So, indulge in those fried meals you’ve been craving without feeling guilty about the bad fats and calories they likely contain.

Easy Cleanup

One of the most appealing aspects of cooking using an air fryer is the simplicity of the method. The cooked food’s crispness and the lack of grease or other residue make cleanup a breeze.

Extra Options

You can prepare many different things in an air fryer. All your favorite fried foods, from chicken to fries, may be prepared in an air fryer. The advantages of air fryers are only a few reasons they should be a staple in every home. The air fryer is the way to go if you’re searching for a healthier cooking method or a simpler cleanup.

Disadvantages of Using an Air Fryer

There are certain downsides to utilizing an air fryer. They include:

  • The meal may need to be cooked uniformly, necessitating more regular checking and stirring.
  • Another drawback is that the air fryers can be noisy, making them less than ideal if you want a quiet kitchen environment while you cook.
  • They can also be more costly than some other home appliances.

Benefits of Microwave Ovens

  • Fast and simple to employ, it gets the job done quickly. You can save a lot of time compared to traditional cooking methods.
  • The nutrient content of food is increased when heated in a microwave oven compared to conventional cooking methods.
  • As a result of its adaptability, you can use it to prepare a wide range of dishes.
  • It conserves energy and heats food more quickly than conventional techniques.
  • Cleanup is a breeze, and there isn’t much mess left over.
  • The danger of food poisoning from microwaving food is quite low.

A microwave oven offers several benefits that make it a viable cooking option. A microwave oven is the best choice if you want to cook food quickly and easily.

Drawbacks of Microwaves

  • One drawback to microwave cooking is the increased risk of food illness.
  • Food can lose moisture and nutritional value when cooked in a microwave oven.
  • An additional risk associated with microwaves is the potential to produce electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
  • As the last point, microwaves can also trigger interference in electronic devices.


Consider your wants and tastes before settling on an air fryer or a microwave. These kitchen aids are excellent options if you need a fast and simple way to cook food.

Now that you know the difference between microwave and air fryer appliances, you can select the right piece of kitchen equipment for you!