Air Fryer vs Toaster Oven

Air Fryer vs Toaster Oven: Making the Right Choice for Your Kitchen

Air Fryer vs Toaster Oven – Which to choose? When it comes to considering a purchase between air fryers and toaster ovens, two popular countertop kitchen appliances that function as compact ovens, it’s important to understand their distinctions. Although they come in various sizes and price ranges, ranging from basic models with time and temperature settings to more advanced options equipped with cooking presets and keep-warm functions, air fryers and toaster ovens possess distinct features that render each better suited for specific culinary tasks.

Air Fryer Vs Toaster Oven: Key Differentiators

Air Fryer:

  • Functions like a miniature convection oven
  • Utilizes circulated hot air for cooking
  • Ideal for achieving crispness and browning with minimal oil usage

Toaster Oven:

  • Functions as a compact countertop oven
  • Operates by concentrating radiant heat for cooking
  • Effective for preparing items requiring a flat cooking surface

Interchangeability and Choosing the Right Appliance

Can these appliances be used interchangeably, and how do you decide which one to invest in? To address these queries and assist in your decision-making, read on for a comprehensive comparison of their performance across common kitchen duties.

Philips Premium Airfryer XXL HD9650

Air Fryer vs Toaster Oven
Philips Premium Airfryer XXL HD9650

Best Uses for Air Fryer: Frozen fries, meat, fish, whole chicken, chicken drumsticks

For those considering an air fryer purchase, the Philips Premium Airfryer XXL stands out as an excellent choice. It outperformed its competitors across all our Lab tests. If space is limited and meals are intended for one or two individuals, smaller models are available.

This air fryer offers multiple cooking functions beyond air frying, including baking, grilling, roasting, toasting, dehydrating, and reheating. Moreover, it comes with presets tailored to popular air-fried recipes like frozen fries, meat, fish, whole chicken, and chicken drumsticks. User-friendly features add to its appeal.

In testing, the Philips model excelled across various scenarios, from rotisserie chicken to french fries and cornbread. With a spacious drawer-style cooking basket capable of accommodating 7 quarts, it can hold a 4-pound whole chicken or two bags of frozen fries.

This model produced the crispiest french fries in our tests and cooked a perfect roast chicken with a delightful combination of crispy skin and juicy meat in just 45 minutes.

KitchenAid Digital Countertop Toaster Oven

Air Fryer vs Toaster Oven

Best Uses for Toaster Oven: Toast, bagels, pizza, cookies

The KitchenAid model earned the top spot in our Lab testing for toaster ovens. Its rapid and even heating toasted six slices of bread to nearly identical shades in just three and a half minutes. It proved equally adept at baking cookies and broiling cheese. Despite its moderate price range, the KitchenAid’s performance matched or exceeded that of other toaster ovens we’ve used.


The appliance features a bright LCD screen and nine pre-programmed settings, including options for cookies, pizza, and toasted bagels, in addition to the standard toast, bake, and broil functions. Cleaning is hassle-free, thanks to the removable baking pan, rack, and drip tray, all of which are dishwasher-safe. For budget-conscious buyers, the Black & Decker 4-Slice Convection Oven is a recommended alternative.


The Differences

Though both air fryers and toaster ovens can produce crispy outcomes, their primary distinction lies in cooking method. Cookbook author, culinary TV personality, and food blogger Jason Goldstein explained that an air fryer employs circulated hot air to achieve crispness, whereas a toaster oven relies on oven-like heat without air circulation. The rapidly circulating hot air in an air fryer contributes to quicker cooking times and crisper textures, while the concentrated radiant heat of a toaster oven might result in uneven heating.


Design stands as another noticeable difference between these appliances. Olivia Roszkowski, chef-instructor of health-supportive culinary arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, noted that most air fryers come with basket drawers, simplifying the process of shaking items during cooking to ensure all sides achieve optimal crispiness.

Air fryers incorporate robust fans for efficient internal air circulation, with some even boasting nonstick interior linings for easy cleanup. Conversely, while you can observe the cooking progress through the glass door of a toaster oven, air fryers typically lack visibility unless equipped with a glass window on the basket.


The Tasks

Reheating Leftovers

Winner: Air fryer

The air fryer’s adeptness at circulating hot air not only reheats leftovers but also restores their crispiness. “In just a few minutes, an air fryer can transform limp leftovers into revitalized, crispy delights,” Roszkowski explained.

Bid farewell to soggy egg rolls and falafel, and welcome back piping hot, crunchy remnants that retain their original deliciousness. While a toaster oven can also reheat leftovers, achieving a uniformly crispy texture might necessitate some flipping and tossing.


Making French Fries

Winner: Air fryer

The prevalence of a dedicated fries setting in numerous air fryers is no coincidence. Whether frozen, fresh, or holdovers from a drive-through jaunt, the air fryer excels at bestowing warmth and crispiness upon fries. Just like with leftovers, using a toaster oven for fries may involve some flipping to evade sogginess on the underside.


Making Toasting

Winner: Toaster oven

Air Fryer vs Toaster Oven
toasted bread

As its name implies, the toaster oven is tailor-made for toasting. Goldstein added that it also adeptly browns bagels and melts open-faced sandwiches. Since the cooking process is visible within the toaster oven, you can extract your victuals as soon as they attain your preferred level of toastiness.


Baking Cookies

Winner: Toaster oven

“Toaster ovens are the go-to when it comes to preparing items that necessitate an even, flat arrangement on parchment paper, such as cookie dough or puff pastry,” Roszkowski noted. If you’re fond of freshly baked cookies (and who isn’t?), the toaster oven offers the convenience of baking just one or two whenever your sweet tooth beckons. With quicker heating and lower energy consumption, toaster ovens excel at these minor culinary tasks.

Air Fryer vs Toaster Oven
KitchenAid Digital Countertop Toaster Oven

Making Chicken Wings

Winner: It’s a tie!

Both air fryers and toaster ovens can conjure up chicken wings with a delectable juxtaposition of crispy exterior and succulent interior, all sans the ordeal of deep frying. While an air fryer might expedite the cooking process, a toaster oven affords you the luxury of meticulous supervision.

Also read:

13 Best Ninja Air Fryers and Toaster Ovens for Your Kitchen

Air Fryer Chicken Wings With Cornstarch, Flour or Baking Powder

Best Small Air Fryer Toaster Ovens

The Cuisinart Air Fryer

Should you buy an air fryer or toaster oven?

It hinges on your priorities! For swiftness coupled with the allure of crispy fare minus the hassle of deep frying, an air fryer is the way to go. On the other hand, if you seek a compact oven that warms victuals without turning your abode into an oven itself, a toaster oven makes a prudent investment. And if you’re a kitchen gadget aficionado with room to spare, the possibility of owning both might beckon.

Certain scenarios permit the interchangeable use of these appliances. Ultimately, your choice will be dictated by your culinary pursuits, be it preparation or reheating. If you’re new to the air fryer realm, err on the side of caution and monitor your food’s progress sooner than you would with a conventional oven.

“Air fryers tend to expedite cooking by about a third of the time,” Roszkowski advised. “Should your dish brown too swiftly, a 25-degree Fahrenheit reduction in temperature during the final minutes can be beneficial.”

Size considerations loom large, encompassing countertop availability and the number of diners you cater to. “Opt for a larger size if feasible,” Goldstein advised.

Roszkowski recommends a minimum 6-quart air fryer to avert overcrowding and facilitate reasonable batch sizes. In space-challenged kitchens, a toaster oven that incorporates an air fryer function could be optimal. “Ultimately, an air fryer emulates the prowess of a potent convection oven, making a fan-equipped toaster oven a fitting choice for replicating the air fryer’s crisping finesse.”

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