Open oven with food cooking inside of an air fry basket

Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer: What’s the Difference?

Fried foods are crispy and flavorful, and with the right tools, you can make them in your own kitchen. When shopping for a frying appliance, it is important to understand the differences between air fryers and deep fryers. Read through this guide to learn more about air frying vs. deep frying to help determine which option is right for you.

Chicken strips cooking in an air fryer basket Chicken strips cooking in an air fryer basket

What is air frying?

The air frying method cooks food by heating air and rapidly circulating it through and around food using a fan within the appliance cooking chamber. The hot air crisps and browns food using little to no additional oil.

What is deep frying?

Deep frying is a cooking method that submerges food in hot oil or fat to cook at high temperatures, creating browned and crispy results. The oil in deep fryers is kept at a high temperature to help cook the surface of food quickly.

Brussel sprouts cooking in an air frying oven Brussel sprouts cooking in an air frying oven

What is the difference between an air fryer and a deep fryer?

The main difference between an air fryer and a deep fryer is the amount of oil used for cooking. Deep fryers heat oil or fat to high temperatures to cook while air fryers cook food with rapidly circulated hot air and little to no oil.

Do I need a separate appliance to air fry or deep fry?

Air frying can be done either using a countertop air fryer or an oven with air fry capabilities. A convection oven may also yield similar results, but there may also be some differences.

If you want to deep fry foods, you will typically need a pot or an appliance specifically designed for this cooking method. Use a large, deep pot and a strainer skimmer (used for lowering food into oil and removing excess oil while cooking) to deep fry at home, or if you have the space in your kitchen, opt for a countertop deep fryer.


An air fryer cannot do everything a deep fryer does. Unlike deep fryers, air fryers don’t tend to create a thick crust. Liquid batters and moist foods may seep through the air fryer basket and may not achieve the desired level of crispiness you’re seeking.

You can still consider substituting your deep fryer with an air fryer for a healthier alternative; just modify your recipes accordingly.

Finger pressing the Air Fry button on a stainless steel oven Finger pressing the Air Fry button on a stainless steel oven


Consider the following comparisons between air frying and deep frying to better understand which method will work best for you.

Which saves the most time?

The cook times of both deep and air fryers differ depending on what you’re cooking. A deep fryer needs time to heat up before cooking—it varies depending on the temperature and appliance, but it can take up to 30 minutes to reach 375 degrees. Once a deep fryer has reached the proper temperature, the hot oil can cook food as quickly as 3-5 minutes. Air fryers typically take between 10-20 minutes to preheat and cook your meal. Cook times vary depending on the food being prepared, so be sure to consult the recipe as well as the packaging of the food you’re cooking.

Though a deep fryer generally cooks food faster than an air fryer, it also requires more preparation and attention during the cooking process. In many deep fryer recipes, food needs to be dipped in a wet batter, so you have to consider the time it takes to prepare the batter and dredge each item. Typically, with air frying you can simply place your food in the appliance, select the temperature and setting, and let the air fryer do the rest. Deep fryers need to be monitored throughout the cooking process to help avoid hot oil splashes and burnt results.

Which choice is better health-wise?

Air frying can be a healthier alternative to deep-fried foods as it uses a fraction of the oil that is used when deep frying. Air fryers use a combination of hot air and only about one to two tablespoons of oil to promote caramelization, whereas deep fryers often require at least four to six cups of oil.

Person filling an air fry basket with chicken strips and fries Person filling an air fry basket with chicken strips and fries

Which tastes better?

Whether you prefer the taste of deep or air-fried foods depends on your individual taste. Deep fryers tend to produce a traditional fried taste and work well with food that has thick or wet batters, as wet batter may drip through an air fryer basket before it sets. Food with a dry exterior often works well in an air fryer, resulting in crispy, caramelized food using a fraction of the oil.


Both deep fryers and air fryers reign in versatility: veggies, fish, baked goods and even frozen favorites like fries and nuggets can be crisped to near perfection.

Air frying also delivers a crispy, golden exterior with a juicy interior, avoiding the greasy heaviness of deep frying—such as air-fried chicken with a lighter, more satisfying crunch or air-fried fries that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.


Determining which option is best depends on your tastes and cooking needs. While deep fryers offer traditional flavor, air fryers and ovens with air fry features can provide more variety. Air fryers can be a healthier choice, using less oil and producing lighter meals compared to deep frying. Beyond health benefits, they offer versatility, culminating in a crispy, caramelized finish.

You can air fry a wide variety of foods, from homemade french fries to salmon or steak filets. Air fryers are a good substitute when you want to cook without a stove or oven. Maytag® ovens with air fry capabilities offer flexibility so you can air fry, roast, broil and bake your family’s favorite meals.

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Shop for Maytag® Ranges with Air Fry

You can dig into crispy, healthy alternatives to your favorite fried foods with the help of a Maytag® range with air fry. With additional features like Fan Convection Cooking and High Temp Self-Clean, these ranges are designed to make cooking and clean-up easy.


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