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Air Fryer vs Slow Cooker: Which Is Better For Your Kitchen?

Published by: Maria Kelley • Updated: January 26, 2024 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

Are you contemplating the “air fryer vs slow cooker” debate to elevate your culinary adventures? Both appliances have unique advantages and limitations, but which is the perfect fit for your kitchen? In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into air fryers and slow cookers, comparing their functions, energy efficiency, versatility, and more to help you make an informed decision in the air fryer vs slow cooker conundrum.

Join us on this culinary journey as we explore the ins and outs of these popular kitchen gadgets, empowering you to make the best choice for your cooking preferences and lifestyle in the air fryer vs slow cooker showdown.

Key Takeaways

  • Air fryers offer fast cooking times, energy efficiency, and versatility, while slow cookers provide convenience with long-simmering.
  • Comparing energy efficiency requires considering the size of meals and time for cooking. Air fryers are more expensive but have low maintenance. Slow cookers require more effort to clean but simpler controls.
  • All-in-one alternatives combine air frying & slow cooking capabilities in one appliance for added convenience & capacity to cook multiple dishes simultaneously.

Understanding Air Fryers

air fryer with roast chicken on board and fried treats all around

An air fryer is a countertop appliance that uses rapid air circulation technology to cook food quickly and without oil, providing a healthier alternative to traditional frying.

Picture enjoying crispy, golden-brown french fries or succulent fried chicken without the guilt of consuming excessive amounts of oil. Air fryers can make that dream a reality!

Advantages Of Air Fryers

A key benefit of air fryers is their quick cooking time. Using hot air circulation technology, air fryers can achieve shorter cooking times than traditional methods, allowing you to enjoy your favourite meals in a fraction of the time.

Also, air fryers offer superior energy efficiency, which makes them a green choice for your kitchen. Cooking smaller portions in an air fryer requires less energy than a conventional oven, saving you money on your energy bills. Plus, air fryers are versatile enough to handle a variety of dishes, such as:

  • Baking
  • Frying
  • Grilling
  • Roast chicken

Limitations Of Air Fryers

Even though air fryers have many positives, they also present some challenges. One of the most notable drawbacks is their restricted capacity. Air fryers come in various sizes, but even the largest ones have a limited capacity compared to a traditional oven, making them ideal for smaller households or individual meals. Overfilling the air fryer basket can result in uneven cooking, impacting the quality of your meal.

Another drawback of air fryers is their steep initial price compared to other appliances. Although air fryers can save you money on energy bills in the long run, the upfront investment might be a deterrent for some. However, the convenience, speed, and health benefits of air frying may justify the higher cost for many users.

Understanding Slow Cookers

slow cooker with a bean stew on boards surrounded by colourful vegetables on a chopping board

Contrarily, slow cookers use low heat and extended cooking periods to produce tender, flavorful dishes, typically requiring little preparation. Known for their ability to transform cheaper cuts of meat into mouth-watering, melt-in-your-mouth meals, slow cookers have become a staple in many kitchens worldwide.

Advantages Of Slow Cookers

Slow cookers are recognized for their efficient energy use and straightforward operation. Cooking at a low temperature for an extended period of time allows for the transformation of tough cuts of meat into tender, succulent dishes without constant supervision. This means you can set your slow cooker in the morning and come home to a delicious, ready-to-eat meal in the evening.

In addition to their energy efficiency, slow cookers excel at creating healthy, flavorful meals with minimal effort, making them perfect for batch cooking. The slow cooking process allows for the ingredients’ natural flavours to meld together, creating rich, complex dishes that will impress your family and friends when cooking meals.

Limitations Of Slow Cookers

While slow cookers offer many benefits, they also have certain limitations. One of the most obvious drawbacks is the longer cooking times required. Slow cookers are not ideal for those seeking a quick meal, as cooking times can range from 2-4 hours to 8-12 hours, depending on the recipe.

Moreover, slow cookers might not provide the same flexibility in cooking methods as air fryers. Slow cookers are best suited for dishes that require a substantial amount of liquid, such as soups, stews, and casseroles, limiting their range of culinary applications.

Energy Efficiency Comparison

In comparing energy efficiency between air fryers and slow cookers, consider the meals you plan to prepare and your household size. Air fryers are more energy-efficient when preparing smaller amounts of food, while slow cookers are more economical for larger meals and longer cooking times.

electricity poles in a field with the setting sun behind

The average air fryer wattage is 1.5kW. If the fryer is used for 60 minutes, it would cost 51p to run it. However, most air fryer recipes require only 25 minutes of use, which could reduce the cost of a meal to as low as 21p. On the other hand, an eight-hour slow-cooked chilli con carne meal would cost around 34p.

Ultimately, understanding how much energy each appliance consumes depends on the specific recipes and usage patterns, which can directly impact energy costs.

Versatility And Cooking Options

In terms of versatility and cooking options, air fryers take the lead. They can handle a variety of cooking methods, including roasting, broiling, and dehydrating. This makes air fryers attractive for those who enjoy experimenting with different dishes and cooking techniques.

However, slow cookers have a narrower range of culinary uses. While they excel at creating tender, flavorful dishes through slow simmering, they are primarily suited for dishes that require a significant amount of liquid, such as soups, stews, and casseroles. If your cooking preferences lean more towards these dishes, a slow cooker may be your better choice.

Size, Capacity, And Price Range

Air fryers and slow cookers are available in various sizes and capacities, catering to household requirements. Air fryers range from 1.0-Quarts to 16-Quarts, with capacities serving anywhere from 1 to 10+ individuals. On the other hand, slow cookers are available in sizes ranging from 1.5-Quarts to 8.5-Quarts, making them suitable for serving anywhere from 1 to 8 individuals.

mum, dad, 2 kids and grandma sitting around the kitchen table

Price-wise, air fryers are generally more expensive than slow cookers, with costs ranging from $40 to $300 USD. Slow cookers, on the other hand, are generally more affordable, with prices ranging from $20 to $200 USD.

When choosing between the two appliances, consider your budget and your household size to make the best decision for your needs.

Maintenance And Ease Of Use

Typically, air fryers are simpler to clean and upkeep than slow cookers. The air fryer’s pan, tray, and basket can be washed with hot water or placed in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. This makes air fryers convenient for those who prefer minimal cleanup after cooking.

Although slow cookers could demand more cleaning effort, they provide easier controls and operation. With a slow cooker, you add your ingredients, set the cooking time and temperature, and let the appliance do the work. However, cleaning a slow cooker may involve more scrubbing and soaking due to the longer cooking times and the potential for food to stick to the pot.

Choosing The Right Appliance For Your Needs

In deciding between an air fryer and a slow cooker, consider your cooking style, energy efficiency needs, and simplicity of use. If you enjoy experimenting with different cooking methods and want a versatile appliance that can handle a variety of dishes, an air fryer might be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you prefer tender, flavorful dishes with minimal preparation and don’t mind the longer cooking times, a slow cooker could be the ideal addition to your kitchen.

salmon steaks and chopsticks on a white plate

Choosing between an air fryer and a slow cooker ultimately boils down to your individual cooking preferences and needs. Both appliances have their advantages and limitations, so take the time to evaluate which one aligns best with your lifestyle and culinary aspirations.

All-In-One Alternatives

If you’re still undecided between an air fryer and a slow cooker, contemplate all-in-one alternatives such as the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot Duo. These versatile appliances combine the convenience of an air fryer with the capabilities of a slow cooker, providing a one-stop solution for all your cooking needs.

Although all-in-one alternatives might be pricier than buying separate air fryers and slow cookers, they provide the benefits of convenience, versatility, and the capacity to cook multiple dishes at once. For those seeking the best of both worlds, an all-in-one appliance might perfectly fit your kitchen.


In conclusion, air fryers and slow cookers offer unique advantages and limitations that cater to different cooking preferences and needs. Air fryers excel in speed, versatility, and energy efficiency for smaller portions, while slow cookers create tender, flavorful dishes with minimal effort and lower energy consumption for larger meals.

When choosing between these two popular kitchen appliances, consider your cooking preferences, energy efficiency requirements, and ease of use to determine the best fit for your lifestyle. And, if you’re seeking the convenience of an air fryer and a slow cooker in one package, all-in-one alternatives like the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot Duo might be the perfect solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use An Air Fryer As A Slow Cooker?

Yes, you can use an air fryer as a slow cooker to achieve delicious results. This electric air fryer allows you to either air fry or slow cook with confidence for different flavor and texture options.

Is An Air Fryer Cheaper To Run Than A Slow Cooker?

On the whole, cooking with an air fryer is cheaper than a slow cooker, according to research by consumer expert magazine Which?

Is It Cheaper To Use The Slow Cooker Or The Oven?

The slow cooker is typically more cost-effective than an oven as they use far less energy and are well suited to cheaper cuts of meat and vegetables. An average-sized slow cooker uses just 1,3 kWh per meal cooked and are rated at as little as 200 watts – less than a tenth of some electric ovens. However, it’s important to factor in the size of the slow cooker, the meal you’re cooking, and cooking time for optimal energy efficiency.

What Are The Primary Differences Between Air Fryer And Slow Cooker?

Air fryers rely on rapid air circulation technology to cook food quickly and with less oil, while slow cookers use low temperatures and extended cooking times to yield flavorful meals.

Are Air Fryers More Energy-Efficient Than Slow Cookers?

Air fryers are more energy-efficient than slow cookers when preparing smaller amounts of food, while slow cookers are more cost-effective for larger meals and longer cooking times.

Maria Kelley