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Is it cheaper to run an air fryer or an oven?

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Written by  Kim Staples
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Reviewed by  Donna McConnell
3 min read
Updated: 28 Nov 2023

An air fryer works like a small fan oven. It cooks food quicker, crispier, and with less oil – but is it cheaper to run when compared to your conventional oven? The answer just might be yes. Let’s break it down.

How much does it cost to run an air fryer?

Most air fryers run at 800-2,000W – and the Energy Saving Trust has calculated the cost of cooking with one, using a 600g chicken breast as an example, is about 16p per use.

That’s great value, adding up to £58.40 per year if you use it once a day. Or £116.80 if you’re air frying both your lunch and evening meal.

And because of the variety of food you can cook with an air fryer – plus the other benefits on offer, like quicker meals and less oil use – there’s every chance you really will use it that much.

However, there’s one key downside here: air fryers aren’t very big. Generally, that 16p will stretch to cook enough for one or two meals at a time. But if you’re cooking four meals, for instance, you’re cooking twice as much so you’ll need to double those costs.

How much does it cost to use an oven?

Standard electric ovens run at 2,200-5,000W, which the Energy Saving Trust estimates will cost around 22p per use.

That’s £80.30 per year if you use your oven once a day – a good bit more than an air fryer.

The reason it’s so much more expensive is because there’s a larger space to heat and because they tend to be switched on for longer.

But all that room means that it can actually be more cost-efficient to cook using the oven – because you can cook more meals at once. With a single 22p use, you could easily cook four to six meals, such as big lasagnes, pies, sheet pan meals, or roasts.

So, if you want to cook a lot in one go, an oven may actually be better value than an air fryer.

What about a microwave?

Microwaves are a little lower powered than other types of oven, at 700-1,200W. The Energy Saving Trust estimates it costs around 4p per use (so, £14.60 per year if you use yours once a day).

So it’s remarkably cheap to run. But there are limitations – not all food can be cooked in the microwave. Chips go soggy, pizza goes floppy, and meat may not cook through. An electric oven or air fryer is best in those cases.

But for dishes where crispiness isn’t a concern – like cooking ready meals, re-heating leftover lasagne, or steaming veg – the microwave may well be the better choice in terms of energy costs.

Will an air fryer save you money?

It all depends on how you cook – but it just might.

If you’re only cooking one or two meals at a time, and making food that cooks quickly and nicely in an air fryer, then yes, an air fryer may be more economical and help you save on your energy bills. Think chicken, fish, freezer food, potatoes, pastries, and more.

But if you need to cook for a large household – or like to batch cook or meal prep for later – it may in fact be cheaper to do it all in the oven. Then, you can re-heat your extra batches later in the cheapest-to-run cooking appliance of all, the microwave.

It’s hard to compare like-for-like here, especially when you look at the full spectrum of meals you might want to prepare, and the different models of air fryer and oven you may be comparing. But overall, this is a generally good principle to follow.