Microwave Oven vs. Air Fryer: Which One Is Better For Modern Cooking Needs?




Microwave Oven vs. Air Fryer

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Microwaves and air fryers have become kitchen staples. Nobody’s got the time to spend hours in the kitchen, and these appliances have truly been a blessing. The advanced technologies used in microwaves and air fryers get your food ready two times faster than traditional cooking. 

But when it comes to choosing between one of the appliances, people often ask, what’s the difference between microwave oven vs. air fryer cooking? Which appliance is better? 

Let me take you through a detailed guide on the difference between the two devices that’ll help you decide which device will be better for you. Let’s get started.

How Do Microwave Ovens Work? 

Microwave ovens get your food ready six times faster than typical cooking. But how do these devices do that? Simple – by using radiation. 

Microwave ovens have a heat-generating device called magnetrons. These devices generate radiation and use tiny radio powers to cook food. Microwaves channel these radio waves or heat directly into the food, which cooks the food faster. 

The food inside the microwave spins continuously so that every side of the food gets hit by these heat waves and gets evenly cooked. 

How Do Air Fryers Work? 

The air fryer works by combining a heating element and a powerful fan to circulate the hot air and cook food. The process is quite similar to a convection oven. When you put your food in the perforated basket, the convection heat cooks the food. 

The food remains crispy on the outside, giving it a deep frying effect while remaining moist and juicy on the inside. The air fryer harnesses the air from the fast-moving fan and heat to cook food thoroughly, making it perfectly crispy yet tender. 

An air fryer comes with a perforated basket, ceramic plates, or wire racks, with holes allowing the hot air to circulate from everywhere. 

Microwave Oven vs. Air Fryer: A Quick Comparison

ParametersMicrowave OvenAir Fryer
Cooking TemperatureUp to 212° FUp to 400° F
Cooking TimeTakes less timeTakes more time
Power ConsumptionLess energy efficientMore energy efficiency
Cooking TechniqueCooks food through radiation. The heat-generating device called magnetron emits heat waves to cook food.Uses a convection method to cook food. There is a heating mechanism, and an internal fan circulates the hot air.
VersatilityMore versatileLess versatile
DesignRectangular shapeCylindrical shape
MaintenanceDifficult to cleanEasier to clean

Microwave Oven vs. Air Fryer: Which Cooking Appliance Is Better For You? 

Microwave ovens and air fryers are two very different cooking appliances. Mentioned below are some of the main differences between the two- 

Cooking Technique 

The cooking technique is the most significant difference between these two appliances. The magnetron generates electromagnetic radiation or heat waves inside the microwave and pierces it through food to cook it. 

The air fryer, on the other hand, has a heating coil. When the heating coil heats up, the fan starts blowing the hot air and circulates it inside the cooking basket to cook food. 

The air fryer can cook food with less greasing while giving the same deep frying effect to your food.

Therefore, people are now using air fryers for healthier meals without compromising on taste.

Microwave-cooked food is often considered not very healthy solely because it’s cooking with radiative power. Besides, microwaves sometimes leave cold or uncooked parts in food. 

Aria Air Fryers 9.4
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Cooking Time 

Microwaves are way faster than air fryers. The advanced technology used in microwaves allows them to get anything ready in just a few minutes. For example, the minimum cooking time in microwaves is usually 2 to 3 minutes. 

But air fryers take time to get your food ready. Air fryers need 15 to 20 minutes to cook your food which is longer than an oven.

Cooking Versatility 

Microwave ovens are best for cooking liquid-based foods like soups, eggs, mac & cheese, etc. Microwaves are usually better for warming up food than for cooking raw foods. 

Air fryers are much more efficient in cooking different kinds of food. They can cook anything like chicken wings, baked potatoes, steaks, nuggets, nachos, and many more with less oil. Air fryers cook food with utmost perfection. 

Cooking Temperature 

Microwave ovens cook food at a maximum of 212° F. This is the maximum temperature a microwave oven can reach. Whereas an air fryer can reach up to 400° F, and you can adjust the temperature as per the requirement of the dish. 

Size & Capacity 

Microwave ovens are bigger than air fryers. On average, microwave ovens have a maximum of 45 liters capacity allowing you to cook bigger batches of food. The maximum capacity of air fryers is approximately 7.5 liters. 

Air fryers are usually best for cooking small food portions. You can’t roast a whole chicken in air fryers.

Therefore, if you have a bigger family, you may not benefit a lot from the air fryer. But for occasional uses, it’s still better than microwave ovens.


Keeping kitchen appliances clean is a must to ensure they run smoothly.

Cleaning the air fryer is easy because you only need to clean the frying basket. The fan and the heating element have a guaranteed lifespan to work efficiently for years. 

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The microwave is more difficult to clean. Due to the combustibility, you can’t use any harsh chemicals to clean the microwave. Besides, the turntable is the only removable part in the microwave oven; hence cleaning the nook and corners of the oven gets a bit tricky. 

You must clean any food particles sticking on the microwave walls; if they remain there, it may damage the oven mechanisms in the long run. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Which Food Can’t Be Cooked Well In The Microwave? 

Making hard-boiled eggs, frozen meat, leafy greens, seafood, etc., is difficult in microwave ovens. You won’t get satisfactory results. 

Do Air Fryers Have A Digital Control Panel Like Microwave Ovens? 

No, air fryers don’t have a digital control panel, but there are dedicated buttons to select temperature and time. 

Air Fryer Or Oven Which One Should You Buy? 

An air fryer is best for cooking healthy food while keeping the taste intact, but a microwave oven isn’t always best for cooking raw food.

Therefore, the choice depends on your requirements. If you need a cooking appliance just for reheating and simple cooking, a microwave will suit you. But if you want to make healthy food with less oil, an air fryer would be the best choice.  

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