Welcome back to another Air Fryer Bro article. The Bro has been busy lately, covering all kinds of topics about our favorite new toy! The air fryer! I have noticed a lot of interest lately in the oven style air fryer, and a lot of people are debating which one is best for them. That’s why I decided to make this article and hopefully clear up a few things! What’s the difference between a basket style air fryer versus an oven style air fryer? Do they both have the exact same air fry feature? Can I make the same air fryer recipes in them? Let’s discuss!
To give a short answer first, we could generally say that an oven style air fryer has an ‘oven style’ form factor that is more suited to cooking larger quantities of food and would better suit dehydrating food. A basket or bucket style is generally better for someone with a smaller kitchen, who wants to be able to easily carry their air fryer around or store it in a cupboard. As they are more compact, some people believe they are also more intense and output crispier food as a result.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into the finer details!!
What is a basket style air fryer?
These were the first style of air fryers on the market, and what I would think of first when someone mentions an air fryer. They are often called basket or bucket style air fryers.
As air fryers were first designed to replace deep fat oil fryers (apparently a lot of Europeans wanted a healthier way to eat their frites!), this is why the first air fryers had this style. They copied the look and feel of the home deep fat fryers at the time.
With this style, you will have a basket that you either lift up and out of the main body of the air fryer’s cooking compartment, or you slide it out the front. Again this basket mimicked the way that a traditional deep fat oil fryer would work.
The heating element on a basket style air fryer is always at the top of the unit.
What is an air fryer oven?
The air fryer oven has been the hot product in the air fryer world recently! Ever since they came out, they have gathered a lot of momentum and interest.
Click the image below to be taken to view this typical air fryer over on Amazon.
You are simply taking the air fryer method of cooking and putting it into a more oven like package (a bit like a mini conventional oven on steroids :)). As you can see from the picture, the air fryer oven looks like a toaster oven or small tabletop oven that we have seen for many years. The difference is, you have a powerful air fryer style cooking process inside. Not too dissimilar to a regular oven, but coupled to a powerful fan that will push the hot air around the oven and around the food.
Very often, the oven style air fryers will have more than one heating element, one at the top and one at the bottom. Especially if they are larger capacity air fryers.
And, before you ask, NO- this is not just a glorified countertop convection oven!! I get that a lot!!
Air fryer oven vs Air fryer basket. PRO’s and CON’s
We will now attempt to compare the two different styles of air fryer appliance, and let you know what the major advantages and disadvantages and the key differences of each are. We know both can air fry, but what else is there to consider?
Method of Cooking
Although the method of cooking is the same between the oven and basket style of air fryers, the way this is delivered can be slightly different.
The air fryer oven is bigger so takes more power to get the same air fry crispy texture as a traditional basket or bucket countertop air fryer. I have heard complaints that some air fryer ovens don’t have the same level of crisp, so make sure to do your research and get one with enough juice for optimal air frying.
Also, most oven style air fryers have a rotisserie option, where you can easily cook a whole chicken. Cooking a whole chicken in a basket style air fryer is possible, but much more tricky. I have seen many people in the air fryer community having problems when trying this in a basket air fryer! If you want to cook this kind of chicken often (and with less hassle!), the oven style would be for you.
A basket style air fryer can only have the heating element at the top of the unit. This means that when stacking food in there, the food closest to the heating element would have a tendency to cook faster.
If you have an oven style air fryer with a heating element both at the top and bottom of the cooking compartment, you won’t have to worry about this issue of uneven cooking due to the foods proximity to the heat source or lack of airflow. They don’t always have this feature, so if it is important to you do your research and make sure the oven you buy has it. Generally, the larger ones usually have two heating elements. This would give you more consistent air frying results, even if you do overstack your food a little!
One of the biggest and most obvious differences between the oven and basket style air fryer is the size and compactness of them.
The basket style air fryer is a compact machine, the size of an oil fat fryer from the past. Even if you have a small kitchen (like me) it is easy to find a way to use a basket style air fryer. In our household, we can even store our basket style air fryer in the cupboard when we want to save counter space.
On the other hand, an oven style is often somewhat bigger and wider, more like a traditional tabletop oven. This makes it harder to move around and store in your kitchen.
How much does the typical oven air fryer weigh compared to the basket style? This may be a consideration for many, especially when thinking about portability.
Even if we take a relatively small air fryer oven, the 6 Quart Power Air Fryer Oven Elite, you will see it weighs around 21.5 pounds (just under 10 kilograms).
Then if we look at the Tidylife 6.3 quart bucket style air fryer, even though the size is officially slightly bigger, it only weighs 14.9 pounds (just under 7 kilograms).
So, you can clearly see that if weight is a priority for you, the basket style air fryer would suit you better. Let’s say that, like me, you want to store your air fryer in a cupboard or might need to move it around somewhat, the basket styles lighter and usually more compact nature would suit that situation down to the ground.
Basket vs Racks – What’s the difference?
Another major difference between these two types of air fryers is the basket versus rack situation. The oven style air fryer (as the name suggests) has at least two racks for you to cook food on. Whereas the basket air fryer has the traditional “fry basket” taken from its oil fat fryer blood line!
What does this mean in practical terms? Firstly, the rack system allows you to easily stack more food inside your air fryer without the worry that you will change the airflow around your food. Whereas, in the basket style air fryer, you must be very careful not to stack up too much food and end up with uneven cooking.
Racks would make baking a much simpler process, too. You can easily space out your items on the racks, where you would probably need to batch cook with a regular air fryer. And can you imagine cooking toast in a basket style air fryer? 🙂
Regular air fryer users often end up tossing or shaking their french fries halfway through their cook time. This is the same for any food that can easily clump together and overlap. This is not required when spaced out on the oven’s racks.
Air flow is king with air fryers, so the oven style air fryer makes it much easier to maintain that, even if you want to fill it up with food.
Of course, there are tactics you can employ with the basket air fryer to help with this problem, but most people would rather not have the problem in the first place.
If you are forced into having a basket style air fryer (for whatever reason), and want to fill up the capacity to the limits, you should remember to cook your food in shorter bursts, making sure to shake the food you are cooking. This technique works great for things such as french fries and chicken nuggets, but not so great for meat and other items you can’t easily shake!
The other option for basket air fryer owners, is to invest in an extra set of racks to allow you to place two levels of racks inside your air fryer. Even doing this, you still won’t have as much space as a dedicated oven style air fryer, which is designed with racks in mind.
The other thing to remember, is that if you want to use your air fryer as a dehydrator, the racks in the oven style would suit this much better than a basket style.
Another thing you might think about such a countertop appliance is the ease of cleaning. Usually, there is a metal bucket that comes out of the cooking compartment of the basket style air fryers. This makes it really easy to clean up if you make a mess in there. It is easy to take out and soak in hot water, for example.
However, there is usually no removable insert covering the whole of an oven style air fryer. You usually have to wipe out the inside of the oven style air fryer in the same way you would a regular oven. Some manufacturers offset this by having a removable tray at the bottom to catch most of the mess. This will help, but for me the basket style is still easier to clean.
Often, the oven style air fryers are bigger and therefore can seem more expensive than a basket style air fryer. Let’s see if this is actually true.
Let’s try to compare the cost of two air fryers that are similar in size and brand.
The Power Air Fryer Elite Oven I mentioned above, retails for just under $200 at the time of writing.
Whereas, the Power Air Fryer XL (which is a basket style) retails for maybe $10-20 dollar less. The size of that one is also slightly smaller (6Qt vs 5.3Qt on the XL).
I have compared the elite and the deluxe models here in the Power Air Fryer range, so I feel it is a decent comparison!
Generally speaking, when looking at similar size and brand, the difference in cost should be very small. I think the reason why people think that the oven style is more expensive, is because they usually try to go for larger sizes. You can get air fryer ovens that are over 10 quarts, something I haven’t really seen in the basket style.
Another key question when thinking about the difference between an oven and a basket style air fryer, is that of power consumption. As I said before, most people buy an oven style simply so they can get something larger and cook more. Of course, in this situation, the power consumption and cost of running will go up.
However, when comparing two air fryers of similar size, is there a big difference in the wattage they use? I am no electrical engineer, but I would assume that the higher the wattage, the more energy is being used (please correct me if I am wrong).
We will go back to the two air fryers used in the last section, as we know they are of similar size and the same brand. Interestingly, the traditional style XL has a wattage use of 1700W, whereas the Elite has a wattage of 1500W (interesting because the cheaper non elite version goes up to 1700W).
This went totally against what I expected, but of course, this could vary wildly from brand to brand, and between the different sizes. But it seems that size isn’t always an indication of power usage.
Another thing to bear in mind is the air fryers insulation, their ability to keep the hot air in. A lot of people enjoy using air fryer ovens over traditional ovens because they tend to keep the hot air trapped mostly inside the unit. This means it is less likely to heat up the room the air fryer is being used in, as well as being more energy efficient.
When comparing basket styles to oven styles, it is hard. There can be quite a lot of difference between insulation, especially when looking at the oven style sir fryers. Generally, most basket style air fryers do have good insulation. However, I would do some research before you buy an oven style. I have seen some with great insulation, but others with insulation so bad it looks like a toaster oven!!
Which one should you choose?
Well, when everything is said and done, which style of air fryer should you choose?
This is a question only you can answer, depending on your specific situation. For example, my household only has two people in it and we have an incredibly small kitchen. That’s why we pretty much have to go for a basket style.
What I would say though, is that I would generally recommend going for a larger oven style if you do have the space and portability is not a problem. You could cook so much more in there and not have to worry about air flow.
The only caveat to this is rotisserie chicken! If you love it, then your only option is the air fryer oven 🙂
Popular basket style air fryers
This is not a complete buying guide, I will simply tell you about the current “hot ” product among the basket air fryers. Put simply, it is the Shark Ninja Foodi air fryer. It is special because it integrates the air fryer cooking method, alongside that of a pressure cooker and a steamer. This is exactly why it is blowing up in the air fryer market right now, being at the top of the best selling lists! Click the image below, to go take a look at it on Amazon.
Popular oven style air fryers
It is a bit harder to choose one “hot” oven style air fryer, as they are all pretty similar. It’s more a case of doing research and finding one with the features you like. Although not as sexy or hyped up as the Ninja Foodi above, the Chefman oven air fryer seems like a great option to me. Early indications are that it is a well insulated and good quality unit. Again, click the image to go check the details on Amazon.
The end is near!!
Well, there we have it, folks. If you are in the market for an air fryer, I would sit down and jot down what is important for you. Rank the factors discussed in this article from 1 to 10 based on importance to you. This will help you decide which type of air fryer is best for you.
As a general tip for both styles of air fryer, I would say go do your research on the quality of the air fryer you buy. For example, the Power Air Fryer brand became really popular because of infomercial and TV shopping. However, I have heard many horror stories about the quality. Be sure to research enough, so that you don’t end up with something that only lasts a year!
As always, if you have your own experiences with both basket and oven style air fryers, we would love to hear all about it in the comments section below.