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Differences Between an Air Fryer and a Toaster Oven

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Air fryers and toaster ovens are very convenient appliances and perform similar functions. However, there are a few differences and some similarities between the two machines.

There is some debate as to which one between the two produces better food, and in most cases, people support the one they own.

If you are thinking about buying one or the other and you are not sure which appliance suits your home best, then you came to the right review. This guide will provide insights into the differences that will help you in making up your mind.

Hot Air Circulation

One difference in these two machines is how they circulate heated air within their chambers. A toaster oven has a fan that cooks the food directly. Food in an air fryer is cooked as hot air circulates.

An air fryer is smaller than a toaster oven and, therefore, compact, making it more efficient in distributing hot air within itself during a cooking session.

Toaster ovens, on the other hand, do not always come with a fan to help in circulating hot air. And when they do, the fan is generally located at the back. This fan can easily be seen from the outside.

An air fryer also comes with a basket at the bottom that distributes hot air around the underside of your food, therefore, improving how it cooks while a toaster oven does not come with this accesory. This is different from a deep fryer in that the food is not submerged in hot oil.


Air fryers are usually smaller in size compared to toaster ovens. They are therefore not suitable for extensive courses. But they can cook different types of foods faster one after another.

Toaster ovens are a little bigger, and they can cook more food inside them. You can cook chicken and lamb chops with it, something that you can’t do with an air fryer.

Air fryers are also more compact, meaning you can squeeze them into tighter spaces if you have a tiny kitchen.

A key point to note is that both of them can be unplugged and kept in storage when they are not being used.

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I have a Cosori Air Fryer Max XL and am very happy with it. It is simple to operate and the baskets are easy to clean. If I had to choose between a toaster oven and an air fryer, I would buy the air fryer. It is a lot easier to clean and less expensive. A book with 100 recipes is included with this air fryer. 

Here is a convection toaster oven with 13 cooking functions including air fryer.


It is essential to mention that air fryers heat up faster, and they reach higher temperatures compared to toaster ovens. They can do so because they are more compact and have better heat distribution systems. This feature makes them suitable for desserts and exquisite dishes.

Toaster ovens sometimes come with automated temperature adjustment features. They re-adjust the level of heat inside, which is a great feature to encourage experimentation with various recipes. 

Cooking Methodologies

Some foods are better suited to air fryers than toaster ovens. Such examples include breaded foods, baked chicken, and chicken nuggets. Air fryers tend to be more gentle on food during baking.

This doesn’t mean that toaster ovens don’t cook them just as well. Sometimes, they can produce better-tasting delicacies. All this depends on the skill of the chef and the type of food being prepared.

Air fryers also allow you to reduce extra fats in your diet because the foods cooked in them do not require any oil at all. The well-distributed heat will bake and cook your food perfectly, making it an excellent choice for those cutting on fat intake.

Toaster ovens can cook a wider variety of foods than air fryers. However, they will require some moisture or a little bit of oil to cook its food.  

french fries on plate with garnish

Cooking Duration

Air fryers cook food faster than toaster ovens. They reach higher temperatures more quickly, thus shortening your cooking time. This feature ensures the ingredients are well preserved, and the nutrients don’t get destroyed by a slow-cooking process.


When it comes to the cost and requirements to maintain the two appliances, they are both on par with one another. Each device is easy to clean, but an air fryer will be easier if you don’t involve oil in your cooking.

The pan found inside an air fryer usually is nonstick and thus simple to clean. The surrounding materials are also easy to clean. The differences in time you will spend cleaning each is negligible, although an air fryer could take less time due to its smaller size. However, the larger space of a toaster oven may make it easier to reach every corner inside it during cleaning.

An important point to note is that in recent times, manufacturers are building ovens that can self-clean, making them very enticing options to consider.

Extra Tip

If you have other questions about reliability, then here are a few additional answers. Reliability doesn’t depend on whether you choose an air fryer or a toaster oven. It is influenced by other factors such as material, quality, and model. 

Therefore, when making a purchase, pay closer attention to a device individually. Always buy appliances that come with a warranty as they act as a form of security in case of underperformance or an unexpected breakdown of the device.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to which appliance tops the other, the answer depends on what foods you want to prepare, how many people in your household, space, and price.

If you continuously find yourself eating frozen foods, then an air fryer would be an excellent choice for you. 

If you want a device that doesn’t feel cramped when you are preparing chicken or turkey, then a toaster oven will serve you better. Cramming too much food in an air fryer causes it to burn quickly.

If you live alone and only want to purchase one appliance, make a list of the foods you want to prepare and see which appliance can be used to prepare them. We have both an air fryer and a toaster oven, and if I had to pick one to keep it would be the air fryer. This quick read discusses reasons to buy a toaster oven if you live alone. The same arguments can be made for purchasing an air fryer.

An air fryer takes up less counter/table space than a toaster oven. A convection toaster oven is more expensive than a high-quality air fryer such as the Cosori Air Fryer Max XL.

Although each device has their strengths and their weaknesses, all in all, they perform well in cooking foods. However, air fryers are better at producing crispy foods.

If you decide to go with a toaster oven then you'll want to determine whether you want a convection toaster oven or a non-convection toaster oven.

Like a lot of kitchen appliance purchases, consider other factors such as make, durability, your budget, and the space you have in the kitchen.

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