Air Fryer Vs Slow Cooker: What’s the Difference?

Both the air fryer and the slow cooker are excellent kitchen appliances that sit on the counter and prepare tasty and fulfilling meals for families.

Despite being almost 70 years older than the air fryer, the slow cooker remains popular among those who prefer a less complicated cooking method.

Although both appliances aim to provide quick meals for busy individuals, they differ significantly in their cooking methods and the variety of food they can accommodate.

It is crucial to examine air fryers and slow cookers thoroughly if you plan on buying either one since they have distinct functions.

Before delving further into the comparison between Air Fryer and Slow Cooker, it’s important to understand the basic dissimilarity between these two appliances.

Curious about the contrast between a slow cooker and an air fryer? Essentially, an air fryer utilizes hot air to produce a crispy texture akin to deep frying, but without oil, while a slow cooker operates at lower temperatures and takes up to 8-10 hours for a full cooking cycle, resulting in tender and juicy meat.

If determining which one is most suitable for your kitchen is important to you, continue reading to learn about the functionality, advantages, and distinctions between these appliances.

What Is an Air Fryer & How Does It Work?

Similar to a conventional oven, an air fryer uses convection cooking principles.

The air fryer is a convenient and space-saving alternative to a traditional oven, functioning as a compact convection oven that can be placed on the counter. It’s an ideal option for individuals who prefer oven-cooked meals but desire faster cooking times.

Although the air fryer moniker implies that your food is fried, this appliance utilizes air to replicate the taste and process of fried food while nearly eliminating the requirement for cooking oil.

Although recipes may still require oil, the air fryer uses significantly less oil compared to traditional frying methods.

What Is Convection Cooking?

The convection cooking technique is based on the motion of heated molecules. It relies on conduction heat transfer and forced molecule movement to prepare your meal.

Essentially, the circulating movement of warm food molecules near the heat source being replaced by cooler ones causes even distribution of heat throughout your food.

How Does This Apply to Air Fryers?

Your air fryer, regardless of the make, will use this technique to prepare your food evenly on all sides. The air fryer utilizes a small heating element and a fan to accomplish the task.

With an air fryer, the cooking chamber is filled with hot air blown by a fan in a circular motion, while the basket containing the food has perforations that enable the lower part of the food to be exposed to the circulating hot air.

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As a result of its unique design, the air rapidly rebounds off every part of the food, ensuring complete cooking within minutes and resulting in a crispy and golden exterior that is highly desirable.

What Is A Slow Cooker & How Does It Work?

While an air fryer relies on convection cooking and hot air to cook food quickly, a slow cooker uses moist heat to cook food slowly over an extended period of time.

Basically, you can put your prepared food into the pot of the slow cooker and then insert it into the heating unit or base of the appliance in the morning.

Place the glass lid on top and select either the low or high temperature setting on the slow cooker, then allow it to cook undisturbed until the food is fully cooked, which can take anywhere from 2-4 hours or up to 8-12 hours depending on the desired cooking temperature and recipe requirements.

Occasional stirring may be necessary, but for those who intend to use the slow cooker while away from home during the day, it is advisable to opt for a recipe that does not demand any attention.

What Type of Method Does a Slow Cooker Use?

While an air fryer relies on convection cooking, a slow cooker operates by simmering your food. The heat is emitted from the base of the heating vessel and transferred upwards across the sides of the pot.

As a result, the food is heated internally and enveloped on three sides, while the glass lid’s underside is warmed by steam.

What Are the Key Benefits of the Slow Cooker and the Air Fryer?

Air Fryer Benefits

  • Thanks to Air Fryer and Slow Cooker, you can now prepare a nutritious meal consisting of chicken, veggies, and a side dish in under an hour, significantly cutting down on cooking times.
  • The air fryer can imitate your preferred fried dishes (with minimal or no oil) and has the capability to grill, bake, roast, toast, fry, dehydrate, and reheat specific varieties of food.
  • For those with limited kitchen counter-space, such as those living in smaller apartments, dorm rooms, or campers, the air fryer is a suitable option.
  • Air fryers are portable.
  • The air fryer can potentially assist in weight loss as it produces a crispy texture similar to deep-frying with minimal oil, resulting in reduced fat content and lower calorie density of the food.
  • The energy efficiency of this appliance is quite high.
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Slow Cooker Benefits

    Slow cooker cooking usually requires only one step for preparation, where you can put all the ingredients in the pot and increase the temperature. However, if you are cooking specific meats, it is recommended to marinate or braise them beforehand. It is important to note that if you plan on using kidney beans in your meal, the slow cooker may not reach a high enough temperature to eliminate toxins from them, so pre-cooking is necessary.
  • Slow cookers are ideal for preparing hearty winter dishes during colder months and are also suitable for summertime use as they do not generate heat in the kitchen.
  • When it comes to flavor versatility, a slow cooker is the way to go as long as you properly prepare and follow the recipe for any dish you are cooking.
  • Upon arriving home, you can consume your meal right away.
  • Portability is a feature of slow cookers.
  • Slow cookers are excellent at making meat tender.

A Direct Comparison of Features On the Air Fryer and the Slow Cooker

Size & Capacity

Air fryers come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 1.0-Quarts to 16-Quarts, with the ability to serve anywhere from one person to more than ten people.

Typically, a capacity of 1.0-3 Quarts is suitable for serving 1-2 individuals, while 3.0-5 Quarts can cater to 3-5 people, and a range of 5-6 Quarts can adequately provide food for five individuals. Any size exceeding this is appropriate for feeding a sizable household or hosting outdoor events.

On the contrary, slow cookers have a capacity that varies from 1.5-Quarts to 8.5-Quarts, which can cater to the needs of one person up to a large family of five individuals; however, with an 8.5-quart capacity, you can serve approximately 6-8 people based on your dish.

Price Range

Air Fryers can cost between $40-300 (USD), with smaller models being less expensive, while slow cookers range from $20 to $200 (USD) depending on whether they are manual or not.

Maintenance

Maintaining an air fryer is effortless as it only requires wiping the exterior with a damp cloth and cleaning the pan, tray, and basket by either washing them with hot water or placing them in the dishwasher.

It is important to clean the interior of the air fryer by wiping it down and removing any food that may be stuck in the heating element, and ensuring that all components are completely dry before returning them to the appliance.

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While slow cookers can be challenging to clean due to the possibility of food burning or sticking to the cooking vessel, using plastic liners can reduce the amount of cleaning required.

To maintain cleanliness, remove the cooking vessel from the heating base and cleanse it with hot water and soap. Employ a damp cloth to wipe both the exterior and interior of the heating base, then let all parts dry before using again.

Ease of Use

Although it is possible to just switch on the air fryer, add your food to the basket, and leave it be, it is advisable to preheat the appliance and refrain from overcrowding the basket.

To avoid sticking, it may be necessary to use a small amount of oil or an egg wash. When cooking meats like fish, laying down foil can help prevent breaking and sticking, but it’s important to always cook with the skin side up.

On the contrary, slow cookers only need you to prepare your food in advance (chop veggies, sear meat), and then simmer it in a liquid or broth.

It is important to avoid filling the slow cooker excessively and select the appropriate temperature setting (either low or high). Additionally, if your slow cooker has a warm feature, it should be utilized when your meal has finished cooking but is not yet ready to be served.

So, Should I Buy an Air Fryer or a Slow Cooker?

When choosing between an Air Fryer and a Slow Cooker, there are two crucial factors that you must take into account.

  • If you have a window of 30-60 minutes to prepare meals for yourself or your family, an air fryer would be suitable, but if you need a meal ready immediately at the end of the day, a slow cooker would be more appropriate provided you can prepare and set it in the morning.
  • If your preference is for dishes like spaghetti, chicken noodle soup, chicken and broccoli, beef stews, pot roasts, chili, and meatballs, then a slow cooker would be an excellent choice; however, if you enjoy making french fries, wings, fried chicken, doughnuts, baked potatoes, pizza, burgers or onion rings more often than not, then an air fryer would be the better option.

If you enjoy baking, frying, and grilling, an air fryer offers more versatility than a slow cooker. While a slow cooker excels at simmering food for extended periods to achieve tenderness, it is limited in its capabilities.

Check out our reviews for Air Fryers and Accesories!

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