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Air Fryer vs Multi Cooker

Published by: Maria Kelley • Updated: January 25, 2024 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

Are you searching for the perfect kitchen appliance?

Deciding between an air fryer and a multi cooker can be challenging with countless options. Let’s uncover the core differences, advantages, and drawbacks of these two popular appliances and help you make the right choice for your cooking lifestyle – air fryer vs multi cooker.

Exploring The Core Differences: Air Fryer And Multi Cooker

multi cooker says to the air fryer "you're a one-trick pony. The Air fryer replies; "and you're a jack-of-all-trades but master of none"

Cooking techniques, versatility, and size set air fryers and multi-cookers apart. Air fryers rely on hot air circulation to cook food. At the same time, multi-cookers combine pressure cooking, slow cooking, and steaming, with some models even featuring a digital cooking probe for precise temperature monitoring. In terms of versatility, air fryers mainly focus on frying and baking. In contrast, multi-cookers offer a broader range of cooking possibilities, enabling you to create delicious meals with different cooking methods.

Size-wise, air fryers are typically more compact than multi-cookers. This difference in size may play a role in your decision-making process, especially if you have limited kitchen space or need to consider storage options. Remember, choosing the right appliance for your needs depends on your cooking preferences and lifestyle requirements.

The Essence Of Air Frying: How Does An Air Fryer Work?

Air fryers use convection technology, circulating hot air to cook food rapidly with minimal oil. This cooking method offers a healthier alternative to traditional frying, requiring significantly less oil while achieving crispy, delicious results. Air fryers:

  • Operate using convection technology

  • Cook food rapidly with minimal oil

  • Offer a healthier alternative to traditional frying

  • Require significantly less oil

  • Achieve crispy, delicious results

  • Typically easy to operate

  • Come with fewer settings and user-friendly controls

However, there are some challenges associated with using air fryers. For instance, touchscreens positioned too close together may lead to incorrect selections, and food placed at the back of the machine might not cook evenly. Despite these drawbacks, many air fryer models have helpful features such as multiple presets, clear displays, easy cleaning, and minimal noise during cooking.

Discovering The Versatility Of Multi Cookers

Multi cookers excel in versatility, with many cooking functions like pressure cooking, slow cooking, steaming, sautéing, and, in some models, air frying. For example, the Instant Pot Duo 60 multi-cooker can pressure, slow, steam, sauté, bake, cook rice or grains, and even make yoghurt. With such a wide range of capabilities, multi-cookers allow you to explore diverse recipes and create one-pot meals easily.

The Ninja Foodi 15-in-1 SmartLid Multi Cooker offers the following features:

  • Versatility: It combines steaming with baking or air frying through its “combi-steam” functions, allowing you to prepare various dishes.

  • Convenience: You can cook pressure-cooked meats and crispy chips in one appliance.

  • Endless possibilities: You can explore various recipes and cooking techniques with a multi-cooker in your kitchen arsenal.

air fryer vs multi cooker
Multi Cooker vs Air Fryer

Comparing Cooking Efficiency: Which Appliance Saves You Time?

Considering the cooking speed, air fryers usually outpace multi-cookers. However, multi-cookers offer more cooking options and can be more time-efficient when preparing meals. For instance, the pressure cooking function in a multi-cooker automates the pressure build and release process, making it more convenient and efficient than traditional pressure cookers.

Ultimately, the time-saving advantages of either appliance will depend on your cooking preferences and the types of dishes you prepare most frequently. An air fryer may be better if you want a quick, easy way to fry or bake food. In contrast, a multi-cooker offers a wider range of cooking possibilities for those who enjoy experimenting with different methods.

Health Considerations: Air Fryer vs Multi Cooker

Dual Drawer Air Fryer
Dual Drawer Air Fryer

Health-conscious individuals may lean towards air fryers, as they provide a healthier cooking option due to the reduced oil usage. The hot air circulation in air fryers allows you to air fry food with a texture and taste similar to deep frying without the excess oil and calories.

On the other hand, multi-cookers offer various cooking methods that can help retain nutrients in food, such as pressure cooking and steaming. While some multi-cookers feature an air frying function, they may not always produce the same crispiness as a dedicated air fryer.

Ultimately, both appliances can contribute to healthier meal options, depending on your cooking preferences and dietary goals.

Cost-Effectiveness: Energy Usage and Initial Investment

Considering the cost-effectiveness of air fryers and multi-cookers requires evaluating the initial investment and continual energy usage. The initial cost of these appliances can be similar, with multi-cookers typically priced between £60-£100. However, the energy consumption and frequency of use can impact their overall cost-effectiveness.

Air fryers may consume more energy per use as they typically have higher wattages, but they may be used less frequently than multi-cookers. Conversely, multi-cookers like the Instant Pot may consume less energy per use, but their versatility often leads to more frequent use, potentially resulting in higher overall energy consumption. Ultimately, the cost-effectiveness of either appliance will depend on your specific usage habits and energy tariff.

Capacity And Convenience: Sizing Up Both Appliances

Regarding capacity, air fryers are typically smaller and more compact than multi-cookers. For instance, the Ninja 3.8L Air Fryer and Dehydrator AF100UK have a 3.8L capacity, making it suitable for single or couple servings. This smaller size can benefit those with limited kitchen space or storage options.

On the other hand, Multi cookers typically have larger capacities, ranging from 1.4L for the Lakeland Mini Multi Cooker to 7.5L for the Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 SmartLid multi cooker. These larger capacities make multi-cookers ideal for families or those who regularly cook for larger groups, but they may require more countertop space and storage considerations.

Ease Of Cleaning And Maintenance

multi-cooker lying on its side with the bowl removed

Both air fryers and multi-cookers are relatively easy to clean and maintain, given their removable parts suitable for hand washing or dishwashing. For example, the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer 8-in-1 Air Fryer features a non-stick design and removable parts, making it easy to clean after use.

However, some multi-cookers, like the Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 SmartLid 7.5L, may have hinged lids that can be more challenging to clean thoroughly, especially after cooking strongly fragrant dishes. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance to ensure your chosen appliance’s longevity and optimal performance.

Storage Solutions: Countertop Space Requirements

The compact design of air fryers generally makes them easier to store when not in use. However, it’s essential to ensure adequate space around the appliance, as most air fryers require at least a 5-inch gap on all sides for proper air circulation.

Multi cookers can vary in size depending on the cooking capacity, with larger models requiring more countertop space. When selecting a multi-cooker, consider your available storage and countertop space to ensure it will fit comfortably in your kitchen without causing overcrowding or inconvenience.

Culinary Creativity: Cooking Modes And Possibilities

French toast made in an air fryer

Air fryers and multi-cookers offer a variety of cooking modes and possibilities, fostering kitchen creativity and diverse meal preparation. Some common cooking modes found in air fryers include:

  • Bake
  • Roast
  • Grill
  • Fry

The two most commonly used modes are fry and bake.

Multi cookers offer a wide range of cooking options, including:

  • Pressure cooking
  • Slow cooking with a slow cooker
  • Sauteing
  • Steaming with a cooking pot
  • Baking
  • Frying
  • Roasting
  • Stewing
  • Grilling
  • Deep frying

With the ability to replace multiple kitchen appliances, multi-cookers make experimenting with new recipes and techniques easy, resulting in delicious and varied meals.

Accessorizing Your Cooking Experience

Add accessories to your air fryer or multi-cooker to amplify your culinary experience. Popular air fryer accessories include:

For multi-cookers, essential accessories include:

These accessories not only expand the scope of dishes you can prepare but also provide added convenience in cooking various types of food. With the right accessories, your air fryer or multi-cooker can become an even more versatile and indispensable kitchen appliance.

Making The Decision: Tailored To Your Cooking Lifestyle

2 plastic containers of food on a kitchen counter

The choice between an air fryer and a multi cooker ultimately hinges on your personal cooking preferences, lifestyle, and appliance versatility needs. An air fryer may be the better choice if you prefer a compact appliance that allows you to fry or bake food quickly with minimal oil. Meanwhile, a multi-cooker offers a wider range of cooking options for those who enjoy experimenting with different methods and preparing diverse meals.

Consider factors such as:

  • Cooking style
  • Available space
  • Energy efficiency
  • Health considerations
  • Versatility

When making your decision. By weighing the pros and cons of each appliance, you can select the one that best fits your needs and enhances your culinary experience.

Bridging The Gap: Hybrid Models With Dual Functions

Consider hybrid models combining air fryer and multi-cooker functions for the best of both worlds. Popular hybrid models include:

  • Instant Pot Duo Crisp
  • Ninja Speedi
  • Tefal Air Fryer
  • Tower Air Fryer
  • Cosori Air Fryer

These appliances feature detachable dual-zone air fryer lids, allowing you to switch between air frying and multi-cooking easily.

While hybrid models offer a comprehensive cooking solution, there may be drawbacks, such as bulkiness, limited cooking capacity, and a learning curve for cooking times. However, these hybrid models provide a convenient and efficient option for those who want the versatility of both an air fryer and a multi-cooker.

Navigating Brands And Models

Researching and comparing various brands and models is key to making a well-informed decision between air fryers and multi-cookers. Highly rated air fryer brands include:

  • Ninja
  • Instant
  • Cosori
  • Tefal
  • Tower
  • Haier

To find the best air fryer within your budget, compare prices on websites such as PriceSpy, PriceRunner, and Idealo.

To gain insight into the best air fryer and multi cooker brands and models, read reviews and buying guides from reputable sources such as Good Housekeeping, BBC Good Food, and Which?. You can confidently choose the perfect appliance to suit your cooking needs by thoroughly researching and comparing your options.


In conclusion, air fryers and multi-cookers offer unique advantages and capabilities to suit different cooking preferences and lifestyles. Air fryers provide a quick, healthier frying option, while multi-cookers offer a range of cooking methods for diverse meal options. By considering factors such as cooking style, space, health, and versatility, you can make an informed decision and choose the perfect kitchen appliance to elevate your culinary experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is Better, A Multi-cooker Or An Air Fryer?

The air fryer is a great choice for those wanting to cook smaller batches of healthier food, as it was specifically designed for crisping foods. In comparison, multi-cookers are best for multiple cooking techniques.

What Is The Difference Between An Air Fryer And A Multifunction Oven?

Air fryers are more compact than multi-function ovens and can be used in smaller kitchens, whereas the latter offer more functions and take up more space.

Can A Multicooker Air Fry?

The Russell Hobbs Satisfry Air & Grill Multi-Cooker can air fry, roast, bake, slow cook, sear, grill and keep meals warm. However, it may not have all of the dedicated features of a dedicated air fryer.

Which Appliance Cooks Faster, Air Fryers Or Multi-Cookers?

Air fryers cook faster than multi-cookers, making them ideal for those who prefer quicker cooking times.

Are Air Fryers Healthier Than Multi-Cookers?

Air fryers are a healthier option than multi-cookers as they use less oil and retain more nutrients in food.

Maria Kelley