Inside oven with food cooking in an air fry basket.

Air fryer vs. deep fryer: comparison guide

Previously, the only way to achieve the crispy goodness of your family’s favorite fried foods was to use a deep fryer—but air fryers have emerged as a viable frying option. Whether it’s an appliance on your countertop or a feature in your oven, air fryers are a great way to deliver tasty meals to your family. Read this guide to learn more about the difference between air fryers vs deep fryers and which appliance is right for you.

Zuccinni cooking in an air fry basket. Zuccinni cooking in an air fry basket.

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

The difference between an air fryer and a deep fryer lies primarily with the process of frying food. Whereas deep fryers submerge food in batches of oil to achieve a crispy texture, air fryers use a modest amount of oil, relying instead on an internal heating element and airflow to achieve a delicious effect.

What is deep frying?

Deep frying is a method of submerging food in heated oil to cook. The oil is heated to a boiling temperature of at least 325℉, cooking the food on all sides when it enters the batch of oil. The resulting texture is the golden-brown crust customary of deep fried food.

What is air frying?

Air frying is a cooking process in which food is placed into an air fryer, an appliance containing a heating element (which heats the air) and a fan (which circulates the hot air within the device) to fry the food.

An open oven door with an air fryer basket containing chicken wings slid out. An open oven door with an air fryer basket containing chicken wings slid out.

What do I need for air frying vs. deep frying?

When it comes to air frying, all you need is a countertop air frying appliance, or an oven/range that has an air frying feature. Simply plug your appliance into an outlet, apply a thin layer of oil, set your timer and wait for your food to cook.

For deep frying, you will not only need a deep frying appliance (a Dutch oven or pot might work, as well), but also two cups to two quarts of oil per cooking session. While it is possible to buy oil in bulk, deep fryers require significantly more oil each and every time.

Cooking with an air fryer vs. deep fryer: Which option uses less oil?

Deep frying requires the substantial use of oil—up to two quarts in some cases. Air frying represents a fraction of the oil in deep frying with some recipes calling for only a light spritz of oil or about one tablespoon total—over 100 times less oil than the most involved deep frying.

Does an air fryer save more time vs. a deep fryer?

When it comes to actual cooking time, air fryers can take, on average, 10-15 minutes longer than deep fryers. However, when it comes to the total amount of time spent on a meal, air fryers possess real advantages over deep fryers when it comes to preparation, setup and cleanup time.

This is because deep frying often requires each piece of food to be dipped in wet batter before being submerged. Additionally, you will also have to clean up not only the preparation materials but also the deep frying appliance itself. So although the cooking time is longer, by setting and forgetting your air fryer, you’ve saved yourself some time before and after your meal.

An air fry basket with tater tots sitting on a white countertop. An air fry basket with tater tots sitting on a white countertop.

Does an air fry technique differ from oil fry in terms of taste?

The difference in air fryer vs. deep fryer taste boils down to individual preference. Because deep frying requires more oil, the flavor of oil you use will coat the entire food. This is where air frying can be an asset since using a limited amount of oil can enhance the natural flavors of the food.

When thinking about the taste difference between air frying and deep frying, it is also important to think about how the food is cooked. Some will prefer the thicker crust that comes from deep frying, while others appreciate the lightly crispy outer texture of air fried food.

Air fryer vs. deep fryer: Which option is best for my home?

Deciding between an air fryer vs. a deep fryer for your home comes down to you and your family’s meal preferences. If you are seeking the taste of deep fried foods, a deep fryer might be suitable for you.

However, if you enjoy more time with your family while still cooking a delicious meal, an air fryer may be the best choice. Select Whirlpool® ranges with air fry are an excellent option, as they allow you to easily air fry your family’s favorite meals by including an air fryer basket that’s dishwasher safe.

A stainless steel KitchenAid® gas range with pistachio-colored cabinets on either side. A stainless steel KitchenAid® gas range with pistachio-colored cabinets on either side.

Shop for Whirlpool® ranges with air fry

You can enjoy crispy and delicious low-oil versions of deep fried foods with a Whirlpool® range with air fry. With additional features like SpeedHeat™ Burners and Adjustable Self-Clean Cycle on select models, Whirlpool® ranges are designed to make cooking simple and clean-up a breeze.

Learn more about Whirlpool® ranges

Gold home heartbeat logo over image of a tablet with Whirlpool blog page displayed in the background

home heartbeat

Ready for more tips, home hacks and appliance guides?

Was this article helpful? Pass it on