Can an Air Fryer Replace a Microwave?

Paradise Appliance
June 3, 2024
Microwave Repair

An air fryer cannot replace a microwave entirely since they use different methods of heating that achieve different results. However, if you’re in a position where you need to choose whether to have an air fryer or a microwave, an air fryer might be the best option for you depending on your preferences.

This article will run through the pros and cons of these appliances, explaining where the similarities and differences lie so you can make an informed decision about which is best for you.

Pros and cons

Let’s get straight into it by looking at the pros and cons of microwaves and air fryers.

Pros of microwaves

  • They’re excellent for reheating leftovers
  • They’re ideal for ready-made meals, soups, and stews
  • You can heat food very quickly
  • You can defrost food fast
  • They’re energy efficient and compact
  • They’re easy to use and clean

Cons of microwaves

  • Some foods can have an unpleasant, soggy texture
  • Foods can’t be baked, roasted, fried
  • Fried foods or foods with crusts (like pizza) can’t achieve a crispy texture
  • Foods sometimes heat unevenly, leaving hot and cold spots

Pros of air fryers

  • You can create healthier meals by achieving a crisp texture with less oil
  • You can bake, roast, fry, and grill, making them versatile 
  • You don’t need to preheat them like regular ovens
  • You can cook food faster than with conventional ovens
  • They’re energy efficient and compact
  • They’re easy to clean and use

Cons of air fryers

  • Sometimes food can burn or dry out if you’re not careful
  • Foods don’t heat as fast as they do in a microwave
  • They’re too small for preparing large meals for families and groups

Why choose a microwave?

If you like to cook one-pot meals, such as stews, soups, and curry, a microwave allows you to prepare a big batch and then reheat portions as needed. If you also see yourself regularly steaming vegetables, eating ready-made meals, or defrosting items, then a microwave would be the preferred choice.

Finally, many parents with young children find that microwaves come in very handy for heating baby food and sterilizing items, which can’t be done with air fryers.

Why choose an air fryer?

If you’re a big fan of crispy or baked oven-quality food, then an air fryer is an excellent choice for you. You can prepare delicious sweet potato fries, golden chicken wings, and roasted vegetables with little to no oil—a feat a microwave could never achieve. 

If you live alone or with one other person, you’ll likely be able to prepare entire meals using just the air fryer. However, if you mostly cook large meals for groups, you’ll probably find that the air dryer takes too long since you’ll have to cook in batches.

What’s the difference between a microwave and an air fryer?

To heat food, a microwave uses electromagnetic radiation. Specifically, they use a type of electromagnetic radiation called microwaves, which is where the appliance gets its name. Air fryers on the other hand use a heating element and a fan to heat food. 

Microwaves heat food by causing the water, fat, and sugar molecules to vibrate rapidly and create a lot of friction, which generates heat. This method of heating tends to retain more moisture, which is why foods can come out soggy.

Air fryers cook, however, by circulating hot air around the food, similar to a convection oven. This creates a dry, hot environment, which results in a crispy exterior on food, similar to frying, but with little or no oil. 

What similarities do microwaves and air fryers share?

While there are some clear differences between microwaves and air fryers, you’ll also find some similarities. The most obvious one is that they’re both small and compact, meaning they can comfortably sit on a kitchen countertop. They’re both also easy to use and clean. And they’re both energy efficient.

When it comes to preparing food, both can actually reheat leftovers, even though microwaves are more renowned for this and are a bit faster. It’s just that each will achieve a different texture. And certain foods work better in a microwave over an air fryer and vice versa. 

Some things that people often use microwaves for, such as melting butter or chocolate and defrosting items, can also be done in an air fryer if you select a lower heat setting.

What foods are best to reheat in an air fryer?

An air fryer does an excellent job of reheating certain foods, making it a good alternative to a microwave depending on your preferences. Air fryers are great at reheating and crisping up the following foods:

  • Baked goods – Bread, donuts, pastries, pies, and other baked goods reheat nicely.
  • French fries – They come out nice and crispy, like fresh. 
  • Chicken wings – Crisps the skin nicely without drying the interior.
  • Pizza – Crisps up the crust nicely and melts the cheese.
  • Meats – Steak, burgers, breaded fish, and other meats retain a nice texture without drying out.
  • Vegetables – They come out with a nice, roasted texture.
  • Spring rolls – They regain that crispy exterior everyone loves on spring rolls. 

If these are the kinds of food you love, an air fryer might be a good microwave replacement. Just keep in mind that it will take an air fryer a little longer to reheat food, and it doesn’t do as good a job at reheating the following:

  • Soups and stews
  • Pasta dishes
  • Rice dishes
  • Leafy greens and delicate vegetables

The bottom line: Which is better?

The truth is, it really depends. For some people, an air fryer will be much more beneficial than a microwave, and for others, the opposite will be true. In an ideal world, we’d recommend having both as they each have their strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re a lover of crispy, roasted, oven-cooked or fried-like foods, then an air fryer is likely a suitable microwave replacement. Another sign is if you already have a microwave that mostly just sits there unused because it doesn’t offer what you’re after, you may opt for an air fryer.

On the other hand, if you prefer moist dishes like soups, stews, curry, rice dishes, and pasta, or already regularly use your microwave, then you may as well stick with this appliance.


Leave a Reply