For the past four decades, food and energy prices have been increasing at a faster rate in most parts of the world. To cope with this situation, consumers have been seeking cheaper ways of survival, like cheaper cooking methods.
With that in mind, listeners of a popular consumer program known as Sliced Bread recently requested to know if an air fryer was a good value for money. This query led Simon, producer of Sliced Bread, and his team to investigate whether an air fryer can save you money. And so they investigated the air fryer against its closest cousin—the oven.
So, hereunder we shall find the findings from the investigation. But before that, let’s begin with the basics.
How an Air Fryer Works
“It's simply a very strong hot wind,” says Dr Jacob R., Culinary Education Designer, Imperial College London. “You can compare it to drying your hair using a hair dryer,” he adds.
Dr Jacob further describes an air fryer as follows:
● It works like a convection fan oven but is smaller and has a more powerful fan.
● The air currents in an air fryer can be very powerful, just like those in a commercial oven.
● The combination of a stronger fan and a smaller cooking space makes the device more efficient and minimizes the time required for preheating it.
● A chicken thigh will take about 20 minutes to cook in the air fryer and longer in an oven.
● The main drawback with an air fryer compared to the oven is limited capacity. If cooking for about 4 to 6 people, you will need to do it in portions.
Amount of Energy Used by an Air Fryer
In the first test, Simon, producer of the Sliced Bread program, cooked two chicken thighs of the same size; one thigh in the air fryer and the other in the oven. For the second test, he picked two potatoes of the same size and cooked one in the air fryer and the other in the oven.
Simon used a convection fan oven. Also, he switched off all other appliances in the house before starting his tests.
He then used smart meter readings to note the energy the two cooking devices used.
The chicken thigh took 35 minutes to be well cooked in the regular oven and used 1.05 kWh of electricity. And the other thigh took 20 minutes and used 0.43 kWh in the air fryer.
Now that Simon had identified the total energy used by each of the two cooking devices, next was to find out the total costs incurred by each.
In October, the England government set the electricity price per unit at 34p per kWh (kilowatt hours). Therefore, Simon used this tariff to calculate the cost of cooking for both the oven and the air fryer.
So, the cost of cooking the chicken in the regular oven was 35.7p (34 x 1.05 kWh = 35.7p). And the cost of cooking the chicken in the air fryer was 14.6p (34 x 0.43 kWh = 14.6p)
How about the potatoes? Do you remember that Simon had to do two tests, one with chicken thighs and the other with potatoes?
Well, the potato used about 1 hour to cook in the oven and used 1.31 kWh at a total cost of 44.5p. On the other hand, a similar potato took 35 minutes to cook in the air fryer and used 0.55 kWh, costing 18.7p.
So, in summary, you will spend more than double the energy costs cooking in an electric oven than the air fryer — when cooking your food in one batch. Even with slight variations like the age of your appliances or other features, you will still spend more power cooking in the oven than in the air fryer.
How Did the Food Taste?
Concerning the potatoes, Simon said that he loved how the oven cooked the potato's skin—possibly due to the long cooking time. But the interiors of the two potatoes tasted the same.