Is it cheaper to cook with an air fryer? Experts explain how to work it out

Experts explain how to work out of the cost of an air fryer and if it is cheaper to cook with this handy appliance or not

A white air fryer in a white kitchen besides some fresh fries
(Image credit: Alamy)

As prices continue to rise across the board we are all looking for ways to cut costs even when using the bare essentials. One of the main questions on everyone's lips as of late is 'is it cheaper to cook with an air fryer?' as we try to stay away from using our ovens as much as possible. 

Luckily, the best air fryers can be a great alternative to a traditional oven when trying to save money at home. From reduced cooking times to lower power usage per hour, these wonderful machines have become a firm favorite in many households around the world. 

Here, experts explain how to work out the cost of an air fryer and the cost of your oven so that you can decide if it is cheaper to cook with an air fryer in your household. 

Is it cheaper to cook with an air fryer?

Air fryer in a white tiled kitchen

(Image credit: Alamy)

Understanding how much it costs to run an air fryer is one of the important things to know about air fryers before purchasing one, especially if you are looking for ways to cut energy bills.

It's possible to estimate how much energy each appliance uses by multiplying its power rating in kW by the number of minutes/hours it’s left on,' explains Mark Ronald, lead engineer at Hometree (opens in new tab). 'Wattage information should be on the label or in any manual that comes with your appliance.'

To work out the cost of any electrical appliance you can use the same formula: 

cost = power (kW) x cost of one Kw in cents x length of time

'Air fryers are much more energy-efficient than most convection ovens because they cook food much faster, though they do use electricity, which is typically more expensive than gas,' Mark says. 'Recent research has shown that cooking in an air fryer costs about half the price of cooking in an oven. An air fryer is similar to an oven in the sense that it bakes and roasts. The main difference is that the heating elements are only located on the top and are accompanied by a large, powerful fan. 

'The average air fryer wattage is 1kW, meaning that using an air fryer for around ten minutes would use up to around 0.16kWh of energy. This will cost around 5 cents on average.'

Making sure that you know how to clean an air fryer correctly, including hacks such as using vinegar to shift baked-on grease on an air fryer, will help your machine to run more efficiently saving you more money over time. 

Working out the cost of your oven

A white kitchen with blue cabinets and open shelving

(Image credit: Cat Dal)

'The same applies to ovens and hobs: gas is cheaper than electricity, but electricity is more efficient,' continues Mark. 'In either case, if you’re reheating food, the Energy Saving Trust recommends using a microwave, particularly if it has a good energy rating.

'Using your oven every day can be a real drain on power, and therefore finances. But if you do have to use an oven, there are ways to maximize your energy efficiency. For example, refrain from storing baking trays inside the oven when cooking, as they block the airflow. Also, cleaning your oven regularly helps maintain more effective heat distribution.

'The average wattage of an oven is around 3kW, meaning it uses around 1kwh if run for around 20 minutes, which is about 34 cents.'

How air fryers work

A back air fryer turned on to 180 degrees in a kitchen

(Image credit: Alamy)

Even if you know how to use an air fryer, understanding how the machine works will help you understand how it saves you money as well as how to get the best results. 

'An air fryer is similar to a mini oven that can take on almost anything you’d put in a conventional oven or deep-fat fryer,' explains Lara Brittain of electrical retailer Currys (opens in new tab). 'Air fryers have come a long way over the years and they’re not just for chips: you can bake, roast, and even dehydrate ingredients too, depending on the model. The electrical gadget circulates superheated air around your food. If you’re cooking chips, for example, you only need about one tablespoon of oil for two pounds of sliced potatoes.

'The machine helps the oil coat them thinly so there’s not too much oil to saturate your spuds. Circulating hot air cooks and crisps your chips to perfection. No more submerging your chips into deep vats of fattening oil. The hot air system cocoons your food in heat, cooking it evenly. The stirring paddle keeps things moving, so there’s no need to shake or stir. It’s hands-free cooking at its finest, leaving you to do more important things.

'In comparison to deep-fat frying, air frying can be a healthier alternative – using convection cooking rather than oil means there will be less fat in the final food that ends ups on your plate.'

The up-front costs of an air fryer

An air fryer basket with freshly cooked chicken

(Image credit: Alamy)

As with buying any new gadget, some upfront costs come with an air fryer. The upfront cost of an air fryer will depend on the make and model you choose, with some costing as little as under $100 and larger, more advanced models costing up to $300.

Despite the higher cost of larger models, consider purchasing a model that works best for how you plan to use it. For example for a smaller household, consider a smaller machine such as the Ninja Max XL Air Fryer we reviewed, or rather than buying a smaller, cheaper model for a larger household consider a model like our reviewed Ninja Foodi DZ401 6-in-1 air fryer to prevent having to run multiple cycles to cook a meal or have to upgrade later down the line – avoiding one of the most common air fryer mistakes.

What's more, a newer air fryer is likely to be more efficient to run than an older model, as is the case with a majority of electrical appliances. 

What is the cheapest way to cook?

Microwaves, air fryers, and slow cookers all tend to be cheaper than using an oven to cook food. These devices use less electricity per hour than a large oven however they are not necessarily suitable for every type of food. Balancing using your oven with using more energy-efficient devices will help to keep your energy bills down. 

What is the advantage of an air fryer?

Besides being cheaper to use, the main benefit of air fryers is the ability to make food healthier by reducing the amount of oil and fat you have to use when cooking with air fryers have been shown to cut calories by 70% to 80%.

Chiana Dickson
Junior Writer

Chiana is a junior writer for Homes & Gardens having joined Future plc as a new graduate in 2022 after achieving a 1st class degree in Literature at university. She first became interested in design as a child after spending her summers helping her parents redecorate her childhood home. As a long-time reader of Future’s homes titles, Chiana is constantly finding new inspiration at work as she focuses on emerging trends, how-to’s, and news pieces.