Cooking is an art, and if you wish to improve, you must practice. (Or, at the very least, use lots of butter.) If you’ve been looking for a way to get better at your craft, you might be interested in either the Air Fryer or the Crock Pot (slow cooker) as a cooking appliance. While they both make delicious food, they do it in very different ways. Today we find out which suits your needs the best!! Crock pot VS air fryer! Air fryer VS Slow cooker!! Let’s GO!!
Before we start, please note that if you want to go see any of the products shown in this article over at Amazon, just click on the image- simple 🙂
What is an Air Fryer?
There has been a lot of hype regarding the air fryer, and we’ve already seen some of them in action on a few of our favorite cooking shows, so it’s time to find out if they live up to the hype! The air fryer is a countertop appliance that is designed to mimic the same results as the deep fryer, but uses rapid air circulation instead. It is a great option to have in your kitchen because, although some people think it’s only good for french fries, it actually has the capability of cooking a wide variety of foods, and it is incredibly easy to clean.
The traditional style of air fryer is known as the bucket or basket style air fryer, which looks very similar to the electronic deep fat fryers they are trying to replace. These typically have a heating element at the top of the unit, which is accompanied by a powerful fan to push the resulting hot air around the cooking compartment. This is what cooks or air fries the food.
More recently, we have seen the air fryer oven burst onto the seen too. As the name suggests, it will give you the cooking style of an air fryer in the form factor of a traditional counter top oven.
A great example of the typical air fryer is the Cosori one below (currently highly rated and the number one selling air fryer over at Amazon at the time of writing).
What is a Crock Pot?
The Crock Pot, or slow cooker, is a kitchen gadget that cooks food very slowly at a low temperature with the aid of heat from a surrounding source, such as a stove. The heat is trapped inside the Crock Pot, which creates a slow cooking process to simmer and tenderize the food and preserve more vitamins and minerals than conventionally cooked foods. In this way, the Crock Pot makes a great choice for busy people who have limited time to cook.
For the purposes of this article we are talking about the modern electronic version of the Crock Pot, as this is the closest to what we are comparing it today…the air fryer!
I will always remember buying a slow cooker when I was at university the first time. It may sound a bit geeky to talk about a slow cooker like this, but I totally loved it. I would put my uncooked ingredients in it before leaving for class, coming back five or six hours later to a perfectly slow cooked meal. I ate a lot of curries and stews, let me tell you!
A good example of a crock pot is below, again at the time of writing, this is the top selling one over at Amazon.
What Food Comes Out of an Air Fryer?
An air fryer sounds like a quirky, gimmicky kitchen appliance, but it actually works wonders for your health and your taste buds. The air fryer is like a conventional fryer, but instead of cooking in hot oil, it cooks food by rapidly circulating super-heated air around it. This means that air fried chicken wings have just 60 calories per serving, and air fried fish sticks have just 75 calories per serving. And, thanks to the air fryer, you can have Swedish meatballs without picking up a fork, because air fried Swedish meatballs have just 21 calories per serving.
What I love about air fryers is their versatility. As well as giving you a substitute for deep fried food, you can also use it like a convention oven and make roast chicken and pizza! Some air fryers even have a dehydrate function, so they really can give you a one appliance does all solution for your kitchen.
As someone that has used an air fryer for many years now, I also come across a surprising trait of these appliances. They are actually really good at reheating food that you want to come out crispy. For example, reheated pizza has never tasted better to me since I used my trusty air fryer.
What Food Comes Out of a Crock pot?
Once upon a time, someone discovered that if you put food into a Crockpot and turned it on, it would slowly cook while you were away. You’d be amazed at the things people came up with to cook in a Crockpot: casseroles, vegetables, and even breads. For some more wacky ideas some people have used crock pots to make yogurt, cheesecake, bread, and even to brew beer! However, most people use it to cook the former 🙂
Main Similarities between the Crock pot and Air Fryer
The amount of countertop space an air fryer and a crock pot take up are similar. They are also both easy to unplug and store in a cupboard when not in use (unless you have one of those massive new air fryer ovens!!).
Both an air fryer and a crock pot produce relatively healthy meals. In fact, I would say that with all the uproar about overly browned foods being cancerous, the crock pot probably has the slight edge here.
Whether it be oil-less ‘fried’ foods or stews and casseroles bursting with nutrition, both of these appliances compare well health wise!
Main Differences between the Crock pot and Air Fryer
The fact that the average air fryer wattage is around 1500 watts and the average crock pot wattage is 300-400 should tell you a lot. Even though an air fryer is often used in short spurts of 10-20 minutes (with the occasional 60 minute chicken roasting session), it still uses more energy than the uber efficient crock pot. That thing is all about ticking over for hours at incredibly low power draw rates.
Different Cooking Styles
The most obvious difference here is the totally different cooking styles on offer! The crock pot is all about slow cooking stews and casseroles for hours, whereas the air fryer is all about short bursts of air frying. One is designed to cook mostly hearty and wholesome slow cooked meals whereas the other for an alternative to unhealthy deep fried snacks.
A crock pot is pretty much a ‘one trick pony’, only being able to cook with that slow cooked style. Whereas an air fryer can cook in multiple ways, often including air frying (obviously), roasting, broiling and even dehydrating!
A typical electronic crock pot will set you back around $50. Yes, you can buy an air fryer for $50 but this is more at the bottom end of the market (think cheap Chinese generic brand air fryers mostly). If you want a half decent air fryer, you will probably have to spend around $100 at least.
An electronic crock pot is literally a pot with a dial on it (to choose cooking time or cooking strength). A lot of air fryers these days have touch sensitive control panels and more bells and whistles in general. To me, this means that a crock pot would probably last longer as there is much less ‘gadgetry’ to go wrong!
Crock Pot VS Air Fryer: Which One Will You Choose?
In the end, these two kitchen appliances give a totally different experience. The crock pot is all about one step quick preparation, whereas the air fryer provides the convenience of faster cooking times and an air fried crisp.
You can’t really cook slow cooked food in an air fryer or vice versa, so you will have to decide which cooking style is best for your household.
As someone that has a small kitchen, I will tell you why I personally prefer an air fryer over a crock pot. A crock pot only really has one use in my kitchen, to slow cook and tenderize meat. An air fryer on the other hand is able to provide the same cooking styles as three kitchen appliances (deep fryer, oven and microwave). It makes much more sense for me to take up my limited kitchen worktop space with an air fryer than a crock pot.
If you like both the crock pot and the air fryer and can’t decide which one to go for, you are in luck. These days there are hybrid kitchen appliances available that can incorporate both the cooking styles of a crock pot and an air fryer (among others).
The main choices for this would be a Ninja Foodi or an Instant Pot with an Air Fryer lid. They would offer the convenience of an air fryer with the slow cooking ability of a crock pot. This is why these hybrid appliances have been super hot right now!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use my air fryer as a slow cooker?
No, you cannot use an air fryer as a slow cooker as they are totally different types of cooking appliances. The slow cooker or crock pot is used to slow cook meals such as casseroles and stews. An air fryer, on the other hand, is used for air frying (instead of deep fat frying), roasting, baking and broiling. The closest you could get with an air fryer is by using an air fryer oven and cooking a stew or casserole in a casserole dish placed on one of the provided metal racks.
Is an air fryer better than a crockpot?
It’s hard to say whether an air fryer is better than a crockpot or slow cooker, as they are totally different appliances. One is for slow cooking stews and casseroles while the other is for frying, baking, broiling and roasting food. I personally choose an air fryer over a crockpot as it has more cooking styles within the same form factor.
Are air fryers healthier to cook with than a slow cooker or crockpot?
Both an air fryer and a slow cooker/ crockpot make relatively healthy meals, although the slow cooker has the slight edge as its slow cooked meals aren’t associated with browning and potentially burning food, which some believe to be a cancer causing agent.