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Can an air fryer substitute for a microwave?

Except for heating or cooking liquids, cooking in bulk, and cooking speed, an air fryer can perform almost all of the tasks that a microwave can (compared to a microwave) 

Whether your Air fryer can replace your microwave depends on your cooking habits and frequency. If you enjoy cooking fresh and frozen vegetables, fresh and frozen meat, and crispy food, you should consider purchasing an Air fryer. Choose a microwave over an Air fryer if you need rapid reheating, bulk heating, or liquid heating. 

Permit me to explain air fryers and microwaves, their differences, and benefits, so you can decide which is superior and whether one can be substituted for the other. 

How does an air fryer work? 

The Air fryer’s primary cooking components are a heating coil and a fan. Depending on the design of your model, the heating coil may be located on the front or back. With the assistance of a fan, hot air is circulated as the coil is heated. 

In an air fryer, food is cooked by circulating hot air due to the Maillard Reaction. As a result of a chemical reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids, your food becomes tender and crunchy. 

A food air fryer cooks in the same manner as a conventional oven. However, when the cooking space is minimized, and superheated air is circulated with only a teaspoon of oil on the food, it produces superior results for all types of food while simultaneously reducing calories. Compared to a traditional oven, an air fryer cooks food more quickly. 

How Does a Microwave Work?  

Electromagnetic waves are used by a microwave to cook food. These have shorter wavelengths than red light. An electron tube called a magnetron generates electromagnetic radiation in microwaves. The waves reflect within the oven and strike food particles at the cellular level. 

These waves cause the water molecules within the food to vibrate rapidly by interacting with them. The rising temperature warms the molecules, which in turn heats the food. The container or plate remains cool to the touch as the food is heated from within. Metal and plastic will remain unaffected by the microwave. 

Comparison of an Air Fryer and a Microwave 

So that you have a clear understanding, let us now discuss the differences between the two appliances. 

The Difference in Heating Time  

A microwave can reheat leftovers quicker than an Air fryer. This is because it interacts with the water molecules within the food, rapidly heating it. While a microwave may take a few seconds to a few minutes to heat up, an Air fryer may take up to five minutes. 

Due to its internal heating mechanism, an air fryer cooks and warms food at a slower rate. First, the coil is heated, and then, with the assistance of a fan, hot air is rapidly circulated to the food to heat it evenly and thoroughly. Although an Air fryer is slower than a microwave, it is significantly faster than any conventional oven. 

The Difference in Food Texture  

An air fryer produces food that is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. You can brown pizzas, chicken, and French fries and bake delicious cookies and pastries. An air fryer cooks from the exterior and distributes heat inwards. Microwaves cook food from the interior outward. As it interacts with food molecules, heat is distributed from the interior outward. 

When microwaved for too long, water molecules evaporate. It is ideal for reheating leftovers, preparing beverages, and brewing tea and coffee. When heating a chocolate-filled brownie in an air fryer and a microwave, I noticed that the microwave heats the chocolate inside the brownie exceptionally quickly. At the same time, the exterior may not yet be hot. In contrast, an air fryer cooks the exterior first and then the interior. 

The Difference in Versatile Functions  

A microwave is less versatile than an air fryer. 

The chamber is small, with a rapid circulation of hot air. In addition to air-frying food, it can also cook it to perfection. With practice and the proper accessories, you can bake, roast, reheat, and cook virtually anything in an Air fryer. 

Only boiling water or liquids are exempt. 

Microwaves are excellent for reheating foods, liquids, and soups. Rice and pasta can be prepared in a microwave within minutes. 

The Difference in Health Benefits  

An air fryer naturally cooks food. It circulates heat like an oven, as opposed to using radiation. Although microwave oven manufacturers claim that using microwaves does not alter the nutritional value of food, there is no evidence to support this claim. 

Alternatively, studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealed that microwave cooking increased the presence of neurotoxin and carcinogen acrylamide in food. Here you can learn more about the published study. 

Acrylamide is reduced when food is exposed to high heat in an Air fryer. This is because dry, hot air cooks food rapidly. Studies indicate that an Air fryer reduces the formation of acrylamide by 90%. Read more information here. 

The Difference in Cooking Capacity  

A microwave is a large appliance that can quickly cook in bulk. No matter how much food you stuff, it will typically be ready to eat within 30 minutes. 

An air fryer is a small appliance that cannot be used to prepare copious quantities of food. Due to its small size, bulk food must be prepared in multiple batches. Additionally, an air fryer has a maximum capacity scale that must not be exceeded. 

The limit ensures that adequate space exists between the heat and airflow. 

The Difference in Power Consumption  

A microwave is more energy- and cost-efficient than an air fryer. Long-lasting operation requires only 1200-1600 watts of power, depending on the model. In thirty minutes, a microwave consumes that amount of energy. In standby mode, it can consume up to seven watts of power. A fryer that uses air does not have a standby mode. 

The Difference in Temperature Settings  

A microwave cooks at a higher temperature than an air fryer. A microwave oven provides numerous temperature options. Depending on the model, the maximum temperature setting is entirely up to you. 

Depending on the model, an air fryer can reach up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (about 200 degrees Celsius). However, it cooks thoroughly and uniformly due to the rapid circulation of hot air. 

Difference in Maintenance  

Due to their size, microwaves are more challenging to clean compared to an Air fryer. As they are highly combustible, you must ensure that the cleaning agents do not contain hazardous chemicals. 

Microwave interior nooks and crannies require a deep reach. A compact and small air fryer with dishwasher-safe detachable parts. Cleaning an Air fryer is incredibly simple. Use a dishwasher or warm soapy water to clean it. 

The internal fan and coil are exceptionally durable and can last for years. After cleaning, you must wipe and dry both appliances before using them again. Let us move on to the benefits and drawbacks of microwaves and Air fryer. 

Advantages of Using a Microwave  

  • The most significant benefit of microwaves is their speed. Everything is cooked within 30 to 40 minutes at most. They are the pioneers of fast-food preparation and supersede all cooking techniques. 
  • As a result of their speed, microwaves are very energy efficient. Despite requiring a great deal of energy, their rate reduces the total energy consumption. In a microwave, there is no waiting or preheating time. Everything is instantaneous 
  • In terms of power and time settings, microwaves are precise. According to the chosen settings, the temperature is optimal. You can adjust the timing to the exact second. The absence of undercooked or overcooked food preparations results from authentic cooking. 
  • Microwaves are extremely simple to operate. The control panel’s settings are not difficult to comprehend. Temperature or power settings and a timer setting are available. Some microwaves include buttons for preprogrammed functions. The controls can be activated and deactivated at any time. 

Advantages of Using an Air fryer  

  • The Air fryer can air fry and cook all vegetables and meat. There is no need to marinate raw beef overnight. Five minutes of marinating are adequate for cooking in an Air fryer. 
  • A food air fryer lowers cholesterol by reducing the oil in your food. Brush your food with olive oil. 
  • Air fryers reduce acrylamide production by up to 90 percent and are the healthiest and safest cooking method. There is no fire or radiation exposure. Only hot air is used to circulate the food. 
  • Eliminating oil reduces total caloric intake without diminishing the nutritional value of food. Using an air fryer, healthily lose weight. 
  • Air fryer components can be easily disassembled and cleaned in the dishwasher. 
  • If you enjoy fried foods, you can fry safely with hot air in an Air fryer without the risk of hot oil burns. The outcomes are virtually identical. 
  • An Air fryer can brown and crisp frozen vegetables and bake muffins. 
  • An Air fryer can also be used with the proper accessories to grill and roast food. 
  • The control panel of an air fryer features functional program buttons that can be used to cook vegetables, meat, fish, frozen foods, etc. The Air fryer shuts off automatically once the cooking cycle is complete, ensuring that your food is never undercooked or overcooked. 
  • You can manipulate the power and timer controls to achieve the desired food texture. Utilize an Air fryer to prepare a variety of foods. 

Disadvantages of Using a Microwave  

  • The microwave cannot deep fry and crisp food. However, the oil will not boil. 
  • Microwave cooking causes food to contain more acrylamide. Acrylamide is a neurotoxin and carcinogen produced when food is cooked at elevated temperatures. 
  • The waves interact with food’s water molecules to heat it. This technique dries out food faster than any other cooking method. 
  • Microwaves can only penetrate two inches deep. The interior of dense foods is heated by heat transfer from the exterior. 
  • Microwaves are effective at destroying food’s original flavor and taste—microwave cooking results in the blandness of certain foods. 

Disadvantages of Using an Air fryer  

  • Space in air fryers is limited. They cannot be used for mass cooking. Due to their small size, cooking whole birds or substantial portions of meat is impossible. Additionally, baking a cake is difficult due to size restrictions. 
  • It takes time for an air fryer to heat up and cook food. Compared to microwaves, the cooking time is a bit longer. Air-frying requires more time than conventional deep-frying on stovetops. 
  • Once the food reaches the middle of the basket, you must shake it or flip it to distribute it evenly. Crips from both sides of the spectrum. This may frustrate some people. 
  • Although it is possible to heat liquids in an oven-safe, heat-resistant container, the fluid will never boil. Never successfully reheat beverages, tea, and coffee in an Air fryer 


Whether or not an Air fryer can replace a microwave depends on the user’s eating habits, health concerns, and available time. An air fryer is a significantly healthier way to cook food. It reduces food’s acrylamide content, controls cholesterol, and reduces calorie count without altering the food’s nutritional value. 

The only drawback is that it cannot cook in bulk, cooks more slowly than microwaves, and cannot boil liquids. Consequently, you cannot prepare rice, pasta, tea, or coffee in an Air fryer. 

The microwave, on the other hand, provides quick results, heats food in a matter of seconds, and can prepare tea, coffee, rice, and pasta. If you have some patience and are willing to wait, an Air fryer can replace your microwave. 

Use a stovetop, rice cooker, and a coffeemaker to prepare rice and beverages. Frequently, microwaved drinks have a stale flavor. Choose a large Air fryer if you often prepare substantial portions. There are numerous new models on the market. Purchase Air fryer accessories to roast, grill, and bake food to your heart’s content! 

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