Are you trying to decide between a traditional pod-style air fryer and a convection toaster oven with an air fryer setting?
What are the key differences? Which appliance is the better option?
In this comparison of air fryers vs. convection toaster ovens, you’ll learn how they differ in cooking functions, capacity, performance, price, and more.
I’ll also show you the results of my tests, where I cooked chicken wings, french fries, and Brussels sprouts in both appliances so that you can see the differences yourself.
Use the links below to navigate the comparison:
- Air Fryer vs. Convection Toaster Oven: Video Summary
- Air Fryer vs. Convection Toaster Oven: Comparison Chart
- Difference 1: Cooking Performance
- Difference 2: Versatility
- Difference 3: Cooking Capacity
- Difference 4: Cooking Time
- Difference 5: Counter Space
- Difference 6: Viewing Window
- Difference 7: Cleaning
- Difference 8: Price
- Bottom Line: Should You Buy an Air Fryer or Convection Toaster Oven?
Air Fryer vs. Convection Toaster Oven: Video Summary
In the video below, watch me break down the differences between air fryers and convection toaster ovens (including my test results).
Air Fryer vs. Convection Toaster Oven: Comparison Chart
The chart below quickly compares air fryers vs. convection toaster ovens.
|Air Fryer||Convection Toaster Oven|
|Cooking Test Results||Cooks faster; produces crispier results; easier to clean||Cooks slower; Rendered fat splatters and makes a mess; food is not as crispy|
|Versatility||Air frying is the primary function, but it can also roast and bake||Varies by model, but many can air fry, bake, broil, sear, grill, toast, or reheat|
|Average Capacity||2-6 quarts||18 quarts|
|Cook Time (Chicken Wings)||25 minutes||35 minutes|
|Cook Time (Frozen Fries)||15 minutes||20 minutes|
|Cook Time (Brussels Sprouts)||13 minutes||20 minutes|
|Average Cooking Temperature||350-400°F||400-450°F|
|Cleaning||Rinse the non-stick basket in the sink||Scrub metal basket, wipe inside walls and door|
|Price||$-$$$ (Amazon)||$$-$$$$ (Amazon)|
|Top Reasons to Buy||Quick cook time; crispiest results||Ability to cook anything; larger capacity|
|Top Reasons to NOT Buy||Limited capacity||Slower to heat; difficult to clean|
Some people claim air fryers produce the crispiest and most even results. Others say convection toaster ovens cook the same, plus you get the benefit of the larger capacity.
To get a fair comparison, I set both appliances to air fryer mode at the same temperature (390°F for the wings and Brussels sprouts and 350°F for the french fries). I prepared all three foods exactly the same and cooked the same portions in both appliances.
There were three goals of these tests. First, to see how long the food took to cook fully. Second, to see which food came out more crispy and delicious. And third, to evaluate the overall cooking experience.
For the first test, I prepared 10 chicken wings (5 for each appliance) with olive oil and a light rub of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.
The chicken wings in the air fryer cooked much faster, and the texture was much crispier. The wings in the air fryer took 25 minutes to fully cook.
The wings in the convection toaster oven took 35 minutes to cook and were still not as crispy.
As you can see, the skin on the air fryer wings is darker and more golden. Both batches of wings were delicious, but the ones cooked in the air fryer were one step up in texture and taste.
For the french fry test, I used frozen waffle fries. After 15 minutes, the fries in the air fryer were completely cooked with a golden and crispy exterior.
The fries in the convection toaster oven took 20 minutes to fully cook.
Like the chicken wing test, both batches of fries were tasty, but the ones cooked in the air fryer were much more crispy.
The fries cooked in the toaster were a bit floppy, but the fries cooked in the air fryer were so crispy they snapped when I tried to bend them.
That said, you can’t mess up fries. Both tasted great, but the air fryer batch was crunchier and more golden.
For the final test, I cooked Brussels sprouts in both appliances. I prepared them with a small amount of olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper.
The batch I cooked in the air fryer was completely done after just 13 minutes.
The batch cooked in the convection toaster oven took close to 20 minutes.
As you can see, the Brussels sprouts cooking in the air fryer came out significantly darker and crisper. The center was cooked through but slightly firm.
The Brussels sprouts cooked in the convection oven were tasty and cooked well but didn’t crisp up as much on the exterior.
Overall, cooking in the air fryer was a much more enjoyable experience. The food cooked faster, and the texture was crispier.
I like how easy and safe the air fryer is to use. The draw handle stays cool, so you don’t need to wear an oven mitt to check progress, and all of the drippings stay contained within the drawer.
With the convection toaster, you need an oven mitt to slide the basket out and flip the food, and rendered fat from chicken wings splatters on the drip tray and gets all over the interior.
Cooking settings vary by brand, but convection toaster ovens are generally more versatile than air fryers.
With most convection toaster ovens, you can air fry, bake, roast, broil, sear, reheat, and toast. You can cook pizza, bake cookies and muffins, and roast a whole chicken.
Within the space limitations, you can cook anything in a convection toaster oven that you could cook in a regular-sized oven.
Plus, when you need extra room to cook during the holidays or are hosting a party, it can double as a second oven.
Air fryers have one primary function: air frying.
They’re ideal for french fries, chicken wings, and vegetables like Brussels sprouts but are not all-purpose appliances.
Large roasts will cook unevenly, lightweight foods like leafy greens will blow around, and toast will overcook on one side unless you flip it. Cheese and herbs burn easily, and bacon can make a mess since the fan inside the air fryer blows so fast.
That said, you can cook dozens of foods in an air fryer, including chicken thighs, salmon filets, steaks, potatoes, and squash. You can also use an air fryer to bake small desserts, like cinnamon rolls or muffins.
Another major difference between air fryers and convection toaster ovens is their cooking capacity. In most cases, convection toaster ovens are significantly larger than air fryers.
On average, an air fryer’s capacity is between 2 and 6 quarts. The pod shape limits what you can cook in them. For example, smaller-capacity air fryers don’t have room for long foods like asparagus or long sausages like kielbasa, bratwurst, or footlong hot dogs.
The Ninja Air Fryer Max XL pictured below has a 5.5-quart capacity, and the basket has a diameter of 8 inches.
There are larger pod-style air fryers, some with up to 10 quarts of capacity, like this Ninja Foodi model. However, the options for larger air fryers are limited.
Convection toaster ovens range from 5 to 30 quarts, but the average size is 18 quarts. When shopping, you’ll notice capacity is measured in cubic feet. For reference, 0.5 cubic feet is just under 15 quarts.
The Power XL convection toaster oven pictured below has a 16-quart capacity. The air fryer basket it comes with is 11 by 10 inches.
The extra space with a convection toaster oven allows you to cook larger foods and more food at once. You can spread the food out to get better airflow, which promotes more even cooking.
With air fryers, it’s easy to overcrowd the basket, which is okay for frozen french fries and chicken nuggets, but you need space if you want crispy chicken thighs and Brussels sprouts.
If you stack or overcrowd those foods, they’ll end up steaming and won’t crisp up. Also, the food on top will cook or brown faster than the food on the bottom.
It’s possible to cook large meals with an air fryer, but it will take longer because you’ll have to cook in batches. And depending on the dish, you might have to clean the air fryer between batches to avoid burnt oil, sauces, or spices.
Difference 4: Cooking Time
In most cases, foods cook faster in an air fryer than in a convection toaster because the drawer has an air-tight seal and the cooking chamber is smaller. Also, the heating element is closer to the food, and the fan blows faster.
Most air fryers don’t need to preheat; if they do, it’s only for a few minutes. The manual for the Ninja Air Fryer says to only preheat it for 3 minutes.
My testing shows that food cooks approximately 30% faster in an air fryer than in a convection toaster oven.
The following table compares the cooking time of air fryers versus full-sized convection ovens.
Note: Convection toaster ovens take about the same time to cook as full-sized convection ovens (maybe a few minutes faster).
|Food||Air Fryer Cook Time||Convection Oven Cook Time|
|Ore-Ida Golden Crinkle Fries||400°F for 12 minutes (shake halfway)||425°F for 25-29 minutes|
|Tyson Chicken Nuggets||360°F for 7-8 minutes||400°F for 11-13 minutes|
|Gorton’s Fish Sticks||400°F for 7-9 minutes||450°F for 15-17 minutes|
|Tyson Anytizers Hot Wings||400°F for 14 minutes||450°F for 18-20 minutes|
|Totino’s Pizza Rolls||390°F for 8 minutes (shake halfway)||350°F for 8 minutes|
Difference 5: Counter Space
Counter space is another factor to consider before deciding whether to buy an air fryer or convection toaster oven.
Although you can store both appliances in a pantry, closet, or cabinet when you’re not using them, keeping them out on the counter is much more convenient.
Since air fryers are taller than they are wide, they have a smaller footprint and take up less counter space.
To help you plan, the following table shows the dimensions of several popular models of air fryers and convection toaster ovens, as well as how much space you need:
|Air Fryer / Convection Toaster||Dimensions||Counter Space Needed (Square Inches)|
|COSORI 5.8-Quart (Air Fryer)||11.8″D x 14.3″W x 12.7″H||169|
|Ninja 4-Quart (Air Fryer)||8.5″D x 12.1″W x 11″H||103|
|CHEFMAN 8-Quart (Air Fryer)||12.75″D x 13.5″W x 10″H||172|
|T-fal 5.9-Quart (Air Fryer)||10.94″D x 13.31″W x 13.11″H||146|
|BLACK+DECKER (Convection Toaster)||11.6″D x 16.9″W x 9.07″H||196|
|COSORI 26-Quart (Convection Toaster)||16.3″D x 16.9″W x 15.5″H||275|
|Breville 30-Quart (Convection Toaster)||17.5″D x 21.5″W x 12.7″H||376|
Most pod-style air fryers have a removable drawer or basket. Since there is no glass window, you have to pull out the basket to monitor progress and ensure nothing is burning. When you do this, the temperature instantly drops, and you stop the cooking process.
Most convection toaster ovens have a glass door that lets you see the food while cooking. So, there is no interruption or heat loss unless you need to flip the food.
In my experience, air fryers are much easier to clean than convection toaster ovens. Most air fryers have a non-stick coating on the interior. Since food doesn’t stick, all you have to do is pull the basket out and gently scrub it in the sink with soap and water.
With convection toaster ovens, you have to clean the air fryer basket, the drip pan, and any splatter on the interior walls and door. If your model has a heating element on the bottom, crumbs and oils can spill onto it, burn, and make it tough to clean.
The air fryer baskets that come with convection toaster ovens are usually metal with no coating, so foods stick, and it’s more challenging to clean.
Difference 8: Price
Convection ovens are usually more expensive than standard air fryers. However, the cooking functions, larger capacity, and ability to replace multiple appliances make the cost easy to justify.
The exact price for an air fryer or convection toaster depends on the brand, model, and features. The more options and the larger the model, the more you’ll pay.
The chart below shows the current prices of popular air fryers and convection toaster ovens. Click or tap the price to learn more about each appliance.
|Instant Pot Vortex Mini Air Fryer||Amazon|
|COSORI Air Fryer Pro||Amazon|
|Ninja Foodi DualZone XL Air Fryer||Amazon|
|Ninja Max XL Air Fryer||Amazon|
|Oster ConvectionToaster Oven||Amazon|
|Cuisinart Deluxe Convection Toaster Oven||Amazon|
|Cuisinart Air Fryer + Convection Toaster Oven||Amazon|
|Breville Smart Oven Pro Convection Toaster Oven||Amazon|
Bottom Line: Should You Buy an Air Fryer or Convection Toaster Oven?
Now that you know the key differences between air fryers and convection toaster ovens, which is right for you?
Before I offer my recommendation, let’s quickly recap:
- A convection toaster oven has multiple cooking functions. It can grill, air fry, bake, broil, sear, toast, or reheat food. An air fryer has one primary function: air frying.
- Convection toaster ovens are much larger than pod-shaped air fryers.
- You can cook larger meals with a convection toaster oven, and there’s more room to space out the food to ensure even cooking.
- Air fryers cook food faster and at a lower temperature because of the air-tight seal, smaller cooking space, forced air, and limited space between the food and heating element.
- Air fryers take up less space. You can store them away or leave them on your counter.
- When using an air fryer, you’ll need to open it to view the cooking progress, which causes a drop in temperature. Convection toaster ovens have a glass window to view the food without interrupting the cooking process.
- While both are easy to clean, cleaning a convection toaster oven takes longer.
- Air fryers use more power (watts) than convection toaster ovens.
- Convection ovens are often more expensive because they offer more features and cooking options.
So should you buy an air fryer or a convection toaster oven? Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but here’s the bottom line.
Air fryers are great at cooking certain foods really fast with excellent texture and crispiness. The main downside is the lack of capacity.
Convection toasters take longer to cook and more effort to clean, but it’s like having a mini oven on your counter. You can cook almost anything in it, and it fits more food.
The right appliance for you depends on your situation. If your main goal is to air fry, go with an air fryer. But if you’re looking for an all-in-one mini oven to air fry, bake, toast, and cook larger meals, go with a convection toaster oven.
If you’re ready to buy, below are links to my favorite air fryers and convection toaster ovens.
- Ninja Air Fryer Max XL (Amazon, NinjaKitchen.com)
- Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 10-Quart Air Fryer (Amazon, NinjaKitchen.com)
- Instant Vortex Air Fryer (Amazon)
- Power XL convection toaster oven (Amazon)
- Breville Smart Convection Toaster Oven (Amazon)
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