Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer – What’s the Difference?

The Air fryer is giving me excellent results so far. I use it to cook almost all my food. It has been a blessing due to excellent speed and less clean-up afterward.  

I am also thinking of buying a deep fryer for adding variety to my kitchen. Being a foodie, I always love to try out different ways of cooking.

I decided to find out the difference between an air fryer and a deep fryer before splurging. Let us get down to it. 

What Is the Difference Between an Air Fryer and a Deep Fryer? 

An air fryer uses rapid heating technology to cook. A heating element inside produces heat, and the fan on top helps to blow air evenly from all sides.

This cooks the food rapidly and gives it a crispy crust. Standard models have a basket on top of the drawer

A deep fryer consists of an electric heating element inside that heats the oil to your required temperature and maintains the temperature until the food is done.  

It has a compartment that is filled up with oil. A mesh wire basket holds your food and is submerged halfway inside the compartment. 

The oil removes the moisture from the outside giving a crispy texture to your food while the inside remains juicy. 

Allow me to do an in-depth comparison between an air fryer and a deep fryer. This will make it easier to choose according to your need and preference. 

Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer – Detailed Comparison 

Here are some of the noteworthy differences: 

Shape and Size

An air fryer comes in many design formats depending on the model. It is usually available in either round, rectangular or square shape.

Different brands have given it a different shape while some have combined it with the instant pot and oven.

Most air fryers have a basket resting on the drawer while some have a rotational basket inside. 

A deep fryer is fueled by either gas or electricity. The one that needs to be placed on the stovetop is usually round in shape.

They are mostly made of stainless steel.  An electric deep fryer has a heating element inside and is usually vertical or rectangular in shape.

These heat up oil when electricity is passed through the heating element.  

Versatility 

An air fryer and a deep fryer both ace in the field of frying. However, an air fryer can also bake, roast, and grill. You can use it for almost all of your everyday cooking. 

A deep fryer does not have such features. It will only fry your veggies and meat.

When it comes to temperature options, an air fryer is more versatile as it offers a wide range of temperature options for you to cook.

A deep fryer has limited temperature options. 

Taste

When it comes to taste, nothing can beat a deep fryer.

An air fry will give you slightly drier results. This is because of a high-speed fan that circulates hot air.  

Only the top layer of your meat gets crisp in a deep fryer. The inner part remains moist and juicy.

Safety 

An air fryer fares better when it comes to safety. The outer body does not get heated up. The handle also remains cool to touch.

There is no direct or open contact with the high-speed fan or heating element. You can even pause and flip halfway without getting burnt.

The only caution is that food will be hot to touch but you won’t burn your fingers. 

A deep fryer has a lot of risks due to the open and direct contact with the hot oil submerged basket.

You need to practice placing and removing the wire mesh basket. The oil can spill and cause burns otherwise.

Newer models have safety features like the presence of a lid, automatic shut down when oil is overheated, etc. some high-end models have better filters that prevent food debris from clogging the drain pipes. 

Clean up 

Most of the air fryers have a non-stick coating on the basket and drawer that makes cleaning up very easy.

They are also dishwasher safe. All you need to do is soak it for a few minutes in warm soapy water and use a mild scrub to wash the gunk away. 

A deep fryer has multiple parts that need to be cleaned.

You need to clean the metallic mesh basket, empty out the oil and clean the inner surface. You also have to take out the heating element and soak it in water for a while.

Brush the gunk away gently. The lid also needs to be cleaned once it has cooled down. 

Let us now look at the pros and cons of both the appliances 

Characteristic Air fryer Deep fryer 
Type Of DesignRound air fryer, square air fryer, rectangle air fryer.Stovetop deep fryers are round while electric deep fryers can be vertical or rectangular
Type of heatRapid air technology And heating elementElectric or gas-operated 
Temperature Wide range of temperature options (up to 400° F) A narrow range of temperature options (350,375 and 390° F)
  Time Does not take up a lot of time. Time duration depends on the type of foodIt takes time to heat the oil. Once the temperature is reached, it fries quickly.
Power Roughly about 1500WAccording to the model- can range from 700Watts to 2000W
Price Costly depending on the type of model- basic or high end Cheaper than an air fryer (also depends on the model)
Space Most versions take up very little countertop space. Takes more space than an air fryer
 Cooking OptionsIt can be used to bake, fry, grill, and roast.You can only deep-fry with a deep-fryer 
Aesthetics Looks beautiful on the countertop – mostly in black or steel gray. Can also be colored depending on the brandLooks like a metallic toaster box on the countertop. Mostly in silver or steel gray.
Food appearance Can be light golden or dark golden depending on time durationDark golden brown
Taste   Crispy, retains the batter flavor Crunchy outer layer. More juicy and moist inside compared to air fryer
HealthLess oil, fewer calorie intakeUses a good amount of oil, more calories.

 Safety 
Very safe. The outer body remains cool with cool handles.Chances of fire, burns, and oil spills due to hot oil.
Ease of operation Very easy. Just place good and enter settings. May need to flip halfwayHave to wait till the oil heats to the right temperature. Requires skill and effort to deep fry
Lifespan Most branded air fryers are made from good quality parts that work for a long time. The non-stick layer of cheap quality may peel off with time.Deep fryer parts may melt, burn or corrode if not used properly as they repeatedly come in direct contact with hot oil. 
Clean up A breeze to clean the basket and compartment as very little oil is usedDifficult to clean, the batter creates a mess. The oil may spill on the countertop.
Portable It can be easily carried anywhere.  be you can use it indoors or outdoors Not so portable. It Needs oil to be carried along and a portable surface to ensure no oil spills

Pros of an Air Fryer 

  • It uses less to no oil and decreases the calorie content 
  • Food gets cooked in no time
  • You can bake, grill, roast, and toast veggies and meat, cakes, bread, and cookies 
  • An air fryer is a one-time investment and does not need any added accessories
  • Economical and cost-effective in the long run. A gourmet food spread can be prepared within minutes 
  • Air fryers are portable. You can use them at home, offices, or college dorms
  • They are quite convenient for people who have less time. The rapid heat technology cooks the food quickly and evenly 
  •  An air fryer is super easy to clean and maintain

Cons of an Air Fryer

  • Some models can be quite bulky 
  • They are not so healthy when it comes to cooking food at high temperatures for a long duration. 
  • They cannot boil liquids and so are unable to make tea, coffee, rice, and soups
  • High-end models can be pretty expensive

Pros of a Deep Fryer 

  • They are available in two types – gas and electric deep fryers 
  • Bulk frying can be done in one go in most models.
  • Food fried is tasty compared to air fryers. Moisture is removed only from the outer layer of food. The inner layer remains juicy.
  • As the food is dipped in hot oil, it gets cooked evenly giving you consistent results.

Cons of a Deep Fryer 

  • Frying in a deep fryer needs skill and practice
  •  It is unhealthy in terms of the calorie intake of oils.
  •  The food particles can choke up the filter and cause clogging 
  •  It takes time to heat up and reach frying temperature 
  • A deep fryer has a safety risk like a hot oil spill causing burns. 
  • Reusing hot oil for other food is unhealthy and can cause cancer

Can Air Fryer Replace Deep fryer? 

Yes, you can replace your deep fryer with an air fryer. An air fryer gives you similar results just like a deep fryer.

When it comes to versatility, it goes a step ahead and gives you more cooking options like baking, grilling, roasting, etc.

An air fryer will also give you a wide power/temperature option to choose from. 

When it comes to health, an air fryer cuts down on your oil intake and reduces your calories. It is also easy to operate and clean up.

However, the basic model of the air fryer has less space. If you wish to replace and cook in large quantities, I would suggest purchasing a large size model that can air fry in bulk in one go.

Do Restaurants Use Air Fryers or Deep Fryers? 

The restaurants use deep fryers and not air fryers.

The reason is simple. It needs to prepare food in bulk which is impossible in an air fryer. 

Another reason is that people are used to the taste and quality of deep-fried food.

Although an air fryer can mimic the same results, the taste of hot oil cannot be replicated.

Is Air Fried Food Healthier Than Deep Fried Food?

Yes, fried food in the air fryer is healthier compared to food fried in the deep fryer.

The reason is the presence of a large quantity of the oil that gets soaked up inside your food.

Excessive oil intake is associated with coronary heart disease. We also tend to reheat and reuse oil in a deep fryer. Repeatedly heating cooking oil is a risk factor for many cancers.

An air fryer, on the other hand, uses very little oil and helps to control your calorie count. However, you need to be careful and not cook food at high temperatures for a long duration.

This can increase the acrylamide content in your air-fried food.

Does Air Fryer Food Taste Different from Deep Fryer Food?

There’s definitely a difference in taste and texture between food that’s been air-fried and deep-fried, but it really depends on the dish.

Some people prefer the taste of food that’s been deep-fried (as it also gets the taste of the oil), while others prefer the taste of food that’s been air-fried.

Texture-wise, food that’s been deep-fried is usually more crispy because it’s been submerged in hot oil, whereas food that’s been air-fried is usually lighter and less oily because it doesn’t come into contact with any hot oil.

Air-fried food also tends to get a bit dry as compared with deep-fried food.

Summing Up 

As you can see, both an air fryer and a deep fryer have their unique benefits. Both of them come with their set of cons. 

A deep fryer will give you a great taste and a beautifully done crisp exterior with a juicy interior.

It can fry a lot of food in one go and is much healthier compared to fried food you purchase. This is because you will be in control of the type of oil and will not reuse your oil. 

An air fryer will give you well done crispy results in minutes. It can be also used to bake, grill, roast, and toast your food.

An air fryer is safe, portable, and very easy to clean. It will cut down on your calorie intake due to very little oil.

In the end, both of them will get the job done and give you tasty food. Choose wisely, according to your preference and need. All the best! 

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