Air fryer vs pressure cooker, that is the question.
Every couple of years, a new kitchen appliance hits the market and takes the cooking world by storm. And, trust me, I know better than anyone that it’s easy to get caught in the hype and spend a fortune on cooking equipment. Just ask my husband.
That’s why it’s important to take a deep breath before you head to Amazon and hit buy. It gives you time to evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly - but, mostly, whether you truly need that new kitchen appliance.
Today, I’m diving deep into two hyped up kitchen tools to help you decide whether or not you should add them to your collection. The battle: air fryer vs pressure cooker. So, let’s do this.
- What’s the difference between an air fryer and a pressure cooker?
- How does an air fryer work?
- Benefits of an air fryer
- Things to consider before buying an air fryer
- Is air fried food healthier?
- Shop my favourite air fryers
- Air fryer recipes
- How does a pressure cooker work?
- Benefits of a pressure cooker
- Things to consider before buying a pressure cooker
- Are pressure cookers safe?
- Can you air fry in a pressure cooker?
- Shop my favourite pressure cookers
- Pressure cooker recipes
- Pressure cooker vs air fryer?
- Similar articles
What’s the difference between an air fryer and a pressure cooker?
The primary difference between the air fryer and pressure cooker is how each appliance cooks your food. The air fryer circulates hot air to make healthy fried food without the use of unhealthy oils. The pressure cooker traps steam in a sealed chamber to shorten cooking times and create juicy, tender meals.
So, if you can only buy one, which one should you get?
Here’s the truth. The air fryer and pressure cooker are not substitutes for one another. In fact, they’re useful for creating very different kinds of meals.
But, if you only have the budget for one, your best bet is to focus on how each appliance fits in your lifestyle.
I’ll help you evaluate all of this in detail, but if you want the speedy version, here’s a chart that compares the pros and cons of both appliances.
How does an air fryer work?
The air fryer is similar to a convection oven. It has a powerful fan that circulates hot air to cook food quickly and evenly, resulting in that much desired crispiness that we love in fried food.
The main difference from a convection oven is its size (obviously a lot smaller). But, also the fact that its heating elements are all located at the top.
Air fryers are best used for anything that you would deep fry, fry in a pan, cook in the oven or grill. You can use it to roast almost any vegetable, bake potatoes, crisp up bacon, or create crispy brussel sprouts, salmon fillets, chicken wings, and much more.
Benefits of an air fryer
The air fryer is the right choice for you if you like healthy, tasty meals, but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen creating them. You do have to like baked, roasted and deep fried foods to appreciate it. So, if that’s not to your tastebuds, this probably isn’t the right appliance for you.
But, like, who doesn’t like deep fried foods…
Here’s why I love my air fryer:
- Air fryer meals are ridiculously tasty. They replicate the texture, appearance and taste of your favourite deep fried foods. I’m talking about crispy, browned surfaces.
- It’s easy to create healthy dinners with an air fryer. Very little cooking oil - if any - is needed to create food that tastes very similar to your favourite deep fried dishes. Because of this, most recipes contain up to 80% less fat than their deep fried counterparts.
- Air fryers are great for weeknight dinners. They preheat very quickly and most recipes have short cooking times due to the concentrated heat source and power of the fan. Most of my recipes are done in roughly 20 minutes from start to finish.
- Clean up is simple and quick with air fryers. Most baskets and racks are dishwasher safe. But, I hand wash mine and it’s done in 2 minutes because there’s only two small components to clean.
- Air fryers can be used to create a variety of dishes. They work well for anything that you normally bake, roast, grill, toast, fry or dehydrate. They’re also useful for reheating leftovers.
- The air fryer is smaller in size than a conventional oven, so it’s a great appliance for those in spaces without ovens - like dorm rooms or campers - who still want to cook delicious, healthy meals.
- The air fryer is a great companion to a conventional oven. It allows you to make baked or roasted side dishes while your oven is occupied by the main course.
- Basic air fryers are affordable compared to other appliances. Base models start at $50 and increase in price from there. The more expensive models primarily come with more cooking space. This may be more of a concern if you’re cooking for a family. Some of the more expensive models also come with additional features like pre-programmed function modes, automatic shut-off feature, and additional accessories (grill rack, pan, skewers, etc.)
Things to consider before buying an air fryer
- Know how many people you’ll be cooking for. If you decide to spring for an air fryer, be sure to purchase one that suits your cooking needs. The cheapest models are small and compact (1-2 liters). These are generally suitable if you’re cooking for 1 or 2 people. Go for a 3-4 liter air fryer if you’re cooking for 2-3 people and a 6+ liter air fryer if you’re cooking for 4-6. Essentially, get one that can hold the amount of food that you’ll be cooking in it.
- Be sure you have room to store it. While air fryers are smaller than convection ovens, they do still take up cupboard and counter space - which is a hot commodity in every kitchen. I personally think it’s worth making room for an air fryer, but it’d be a miss not to mention this consideration.
- Understand that there are different kinds of air fryers. When picking the right air fryer, know that there are a variety of styles, with the two primary being basket-style and toaster-oven style. I prefer the basket style as I find it cooks more evenly.
Is air fried food healthier?
Air frying is much healthier than deep frying. Many recipes contain up to 80% less fat - that’s all thanks to the decreased need for unhealthy cooking oils. The best part is that this reduction in fat doesn’t affect the taste. Air fryer meals are as good as deep fryer meals.
Shop my favourite air fryers
- Best for families: Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven
- Price: near the $300 mark depending on the retailer
- Benefits: beautiful design, large capacity that works well for cooking for four people or more
- Most versatile: Ninja AF161 Max XL Air Fryer
- Price: near the $150 mark depending on the retailer
- Benefits: sturdy, compact and good for cooking for two to four people, also allows you to roast, bake, and dehydrate
- Best for small kitchens: Dash Compact Air Fryer
- Price: near the $50 mark depending on the retailer
- Benefits: very compact and good for cooking for one person
Air fryer recipes
How does a pressure cooker work?
A pressure cooker looks a lot like a regular pot, except it has a lid that locks on to create a sealed chamber. It works by raising the temperature of boiling water, which ultimately speeds up the time it takes to steam, braise or boil food.
But, how exactly does it raise the boiling point of boiling water?
Here’s my take at explaining it….
To use a pressure cooker, you must put a minimum of 2 cups of liquid in the pressure cooker with your food. As the contents are heated, this liquid turns into steam that can’t escape. Ultimately, this causes an increase in atmospheric pressure, at which point the boiling point of water is increases to 250 degrees F. This means food can cook at a much higher temperature than it ever could outside the pot - and ultimately that your meal cooks more quickly.
Pressure cookers can be used for anything that you steam, boil or cook on a stovetop. It’s great for soups, stews, grains, and oatmeal.
Benefits of a pressure cooker
The pressure cooker is the right choice for you if you like healthy, tasty meals, but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen creating them. You do have to like boiled, braised and steamed foods to appreciate it. So, if that’s not to your taste buds, this probably isn’t the right appliance for you.
But, who doesn’t like a hearty soup or warming pulled pork sandwich.
Here’s why I love my pressure cooker:
- Pressure cookers are great for weeknight dinners. A pressure cooker finishes food roughly 30 percent faster than its traditional counterparts like steaming, boiling, and braising. That’s more time you get back in your evening.
- It’s easy to create healthy meals with a pressure cooker. Meals made in the pressure cooker retain more minerals and vitamins than boiled foods because there is less water for these nutrients to leak and dissolve into.
- Pressure cookers can be used to create a variety of dishes. Pressure cooking is a moist-heat cooking method, so foods that you traditionally boil, braise or simmer work best. Good options include: soups, stews, stocks, dry beans, whole grains, fibrous vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots, and meats you would normally braise like pork shoulder.
- Pressure cooker meals are delicious and comforting. From the list above, you can see that the pressure cooker is great for cozy, warm winter meals. I definitely get the most use out of mine in the fall and winter.
- Clean up is simple and quick with the pressure cooker. It’s as simple as washing the stock pot and seal. There aren’t any other dishes involved in using the pressure cooker. Most models even allow you to saute aromatics right in the stock pot instead of dirtying a frying pan.
- Basic pressure cookers are affordable. Base models start at $100 and increase in price from there. The more expensive models primarily come with more cooking space. This may be more of a concern if you’re cooking for a family. Some of the more expensive models also come with additional features like pre-programmed function modes.
Things to consider before buying a pressure cooker
- Be ready for a learning curve: The pressure cooker will take some getting used to as it is more than just a stock pot with a lid. It will take time to understand how much liquid to use in a recipe (since there’s no evaporation). You’ll need to follow good recipes to ensure you’re getting high quality meals since opening the lid and checking in on your meal isn’t an option. The good news - there are lots of resources on the internet to help you understand and make the most of your pressure cooker.
- Be sure you have room to store it. Pressure cookers can take up a lot of cupboard and counter space - which is a hot commodity in every kitchen. I personally think it’s worth making room for a pressure cooker, but it’d be a mistake not to mention this consideration.
Are pressure cookers safe?
In the 1950s, pressure cookers commonly exploded because of improper sealing and this scared many people off. Today's pressure cookers are fail-safe. They have overpressure plugs, an expanding rubber gasket, and other safety precautions in place to ensure there is no risk involved in using this appliance.
Can you air fry in a pressure cooker?
No, you can’t air fry in a pressure cooker. The difference between pressure cooker and air fryer is the way they cook your food.
The air fryer circulates dry heat to create a crispy outer layer on foods you would normally fry, bake or roast. The pressure cooker uses liquid to raise the temperature of boiling water, which ultimately speeds up the time it takes to steam, braise or boil food.
That said, Instant Pot has created an air fryer lid that can transform your pressure cooker into an air fryer. It’s not as effective as a stand-alone air fryer, but it does deliver. They also sell this combo as one package, which I've linked in the section below.
If you can’t decide between these two appliances and only have the budget and space for one, this might be the right option for you.
Shop my favourite pressure cookers
- Most versatile: Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart
- Price: near the $150 mark depending on the retailer
- Benefits: the 6-quart size is ideal for families, has six other functions (yogurt maker, rice cooker and steamer to name a few)
- Best for small spaces: Instant Pot Duo 3-Quart
- Price: near the $100 mark depending on the retailer
- Benefits: the 3-quart size is ideal for cooking for one or two, the price point is more affordable, and it will fit nicely in small kitchens
- Best Pressure Cooker Air Fryer Combo: Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer Combo
- Price: near the $300 mark depending on the retailer
- Benefits: In addition to features that the Instant Pot Duo comes with, this appliance dehydrates, broils and air fries.
Pressure cooker recipes
Pressure cooker vs air fryer?
Air pressure vs pressure cooker. I get it, you're looking for an answer. That's why you've read all the way to the bottom.
But, the truth is, it depends how you intend to use the appliance. For some, the pressure cooker is better than the air fryer. For others, the air fryer is better than the pressure cooker. My hope is that this article has helped you evaluate which is better for your budget and lifestyle.
Let me know in the comments below which appliance you prefer. Your opinion could help anyone who lands on this article decide what is best for them.