Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Finance expert says air fryers may not be the money savers you think they are

Before you turn on those air fryers, experts say it might be cheaper to cook with another kitchen appliance

We all fell for it during the start of the pandemic. Air fryers became the coolest thing, with everyone home all of the time and no place open to get food anyway. We could not get enough of the kitchen appliance, trying every recipe under the sun.

Seeing what else we could cook in there became all you could see on any social media feed you checked. Now that the dust has settled on the initial craze, experts say that air fryers may not be the top appliance we thought.

A person in the kitchen prepping dinner.
NA

Why we should unplug the fryer

  • We aren’t reading the directions.
  • We aren’t doing the math.

It looks like the experts want us to know that maybe we put our faith in air fryers a little too quickly. According to Martin Lewis, a finance expert in the UK, we’ve been neglecting other appliances that save energy and money over the fryer in certain circumstances.

On his podcast, Lewis stated, “General equation is, find the wattage of an item, then work out how many kilowatts or what fraction of a kilowatt it’s using, then multiply that by 34p per hour of use.” While microwaves and slow cookers are generally the most energy-effective, according to Hometree, a home services company, it all depends on what you want to eat. As Lewis noted, if you’re cooking something small, like a single potato, a microwave or air fryer is the most efficient appliance. But if you’re cooking a large meal for six guests, you’re going to expend a lot more energy.

For the American equivalent, CNET crunched the numbers

  • The cost of using a microwave is about $0.20 an hour.
  • The cost of using an air fryer is about $0.25 an hour.

Cooking vegetables in the microwave takes minutes. Cooking vegetables in the oven takes the time to preheat the oven, plus the time to cook, which is considerably longer. The air fryer would be faster than the oven, but the microwave beats the fryer this round.

Cooking a small roast in the air fryer takes less time than in the oven, but cooking it in the microwave would take way longer and use more energy. The air fryer wins this round.

You have to give it a think before you cook your food, but there are times when the oven, slow cooker, or microwave will be the better option. Look at the instructions on the package before you turn anything on. Do the cooking math. You get used to it and develop better judgment as you go.

A person using an air fryer to cook dinner.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The initial upside

  • We ate healthier.
  • We saved money.
  • It cut down on energy use.

Air fryers aren’t straight bad guys, though. Once things started opening up again in 2020 and into 2021, making meals at home still proved to be the cost-effective thing to do. We were also eating better since we weren’t frying everything in oil on the stove, and we saved energy from not spending all that time preheating the oven.

But we got a little too excited about the air fryer, and solely used it, forgetting about other items in the kitchen that had been keeping us fed well before the pandemic. Those other appliances have their moments to shine, and we need to remember that.

Editors' Recommendations

Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
This is the best wood for grilling and smoking, according to an expert
Curious about what wood to use for the best tasting food from your grill? Here's what a pro says
Steak on the grill

When it comes to grilling and smoking foods, it's hard to beat old-fashioned firewood for both a heat source and flavor. But did you know that different types of wood will actually bring different flavors to your cooking? Today we will look at the best wood for grilling and the differences between some of the most popular woods to cook with.
The warm glow and crackle of a true wood fire is borderline irresistible, but the stuff in your woodpile may not be the best choice for cooking with. We will explore some favorite wood types you can use to grill and smoke a steak that can be used in almost any smoker or charcoal grill.

What kind of wood is best for grilling?

Read more
You’ve probably never grilled these foods … but you should
Looking for things to grill? If you've never grilled a banana, you're missing out big time
Person grilling

Now that the weather is warmer, it's officially grilling season. And while that, of course, means ribs and burgers, your grill skills and creativity shouldn't stop there. When it comes to things to grill, the sky is the limit. As far as we're concerned; when the temperature rises above 75, there isn't a single meal that should be prepared inside the house. And yes, that includes a few grill ideas you've probably never thought to place on those grill grates.

So, without further ado, these are some of our favorite grilling ideas and a few not-so-traditional grilled ingredients to consider for your next cookout.
Salad

Read more
11 best air fryer recipes for everyone to try – from appetizers to desserts
You won't eat fat fried foods again once you get on the air fryer bandwagon
Cooking potatoes and carrot sticks with spices in an air fryer

Food deep-fried in oil is undeniably some of the most delicious around. But overeating fried food comes with some health risks. Fortunately, if you can't steer clear of crispy fried goodness, air fryers are a great compromise to get the same great taste of traditionally fried foods with a fraction of the oil, thereby helping you keep your waistline and your cholesterol in check.

With developments in air fryer technology over the past 15 years or so, you'll have a hard time telling which foods are air-fried and which are the real thing. A great thing about air fryers is they have precise controls and different cooking functions that account for the different types of food you may be cooking. So, from French fries to fried chicken to Brussels sprouts, you can fry up every aspect of your meal if you so choose.

Read more