Air fryer vs oven – which is really cheaper to run?

We pit air fryer vs oven to find out which is cheaper to use in your kitchen. Are air fryers worth the hype?

Air fryer and putting food in the oven
(Image credit: Getty)

Hikes in energy costs have ignited an interest in air fryers, but are they worth the hype? With households looking to keep energy costs low we decided to put air fryers vs ovens. 

Top-rated air fryers are as rare as hen's teeth, selling out as people jump on the cheap and healthy cooking bandwagon. 

And with high energy costs, it’s no shock that households are being convinced of the long-term value of an air fryer

But, if you take into account upfront purchase costs and the amount of food you want to cook plus other factors, the air fryer might not be the cheapest choice for all households. 

We put the air fryer vs the oven to the test and find out which is cheaper. 

Air fryer vs oven

How much does it cost to run an air fryer?

Waffle fries in the air fryer

(Image credit: Getty)

The cost of running an air fryer depends on a few factors, like how powerful it is, its capacity and how long you cook in it. 

Uswitch (opens in new tab) told The Money Edit it costs 13p to use the air fryer for 15 minutes, based on the current energy unit price of 0.34p kWh. 

Air fryers range from 800 watts to 2,000 watts, and the more powerful the pricier it is to run. 

According to calculations done by our sister site, Goodto.com (opens in new tab), here’s how much it would cost to run air fryers with different wattages. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Air fryerCost per useCost per monthCost per year
800 Watts13.6p£4.13£49.56
1400 Watts23.8p£7.24£86.88
2000 Watts34p£10.34£124.08

The cost of an air fryer can vary from as low as £50 to anything around £300. The brand you go for and how powerful it is plays a big part in the price.

For example, a 3L air fryer (1000 watts) retails at £50 from Argos (opens in new tab), and in the Black Friday sale, it is reduced even further, to just £30. 

If you were to opt for a branded air fryer like Ninja, it’s considerably more expensive. For example, a 3.8L air fryer (1550 watts) from Ninja (opens in new tab)costs £129.99. 

Your household dynamic will make a difference. Take into account how many people you live with and cook for as well as the size of your portions. 

Although air fryers cook at a lower cost, it’s a small compartment to put food in and might require you to cook in two to three rounds, costing you double or even triple. 

Most air fryers suggest they cater for three to four people, but it is quite general and depends on what you’re cooking. Only you know how the portion sizes work in your home. 

If you want to spend more on a bigger-sized compartment or even get a dual air fryer that comes with two compartments you could benefit. These are pricier – a dual Ninja air fryer (opens in new tab) costs £249.99 – and it also costs more to run as it requires double the energy. 

How much does it cost to run an oven?

Opening the oven door with food inside the oven

(Image credit: Getty)

Out of most kitchen appliances including the microwave, oven and air fryer, the oven is known to be the most expensive to use. 

On average, conventional ovens use between 2,000 to 5,000 watts of energy according to Direct Energy (opens in new tab)

But this depends on the temperature you have the oven on, as the higher the temperature, the more energy it requires to heat up the oven. 

Calculations done by our sister site Ideal Home (opens in new tab) found it costs 21p an hour to run an average 0.63kWh oven. 

Cooking things like frozen potato waffles or chicken dippers only take between 20 to 30 minutes in the oven. But if you were to cook something that takes around 90 minutes, that would cost you just over 30p. 

The great thing about ovens is they can take in a lot of food. With most ovens having two to three shelves, you can put a tray of lasagne on one and the garlic bread on another so it cooks at the same time. So it's worth looking at what works for your household – the quantity you’re cooking and portion sizes. A meal that you could fit in the oven all at once, with a 30-minute cooking time, might require more work in the air fryer which is smaller. 

But do be wary, heat is lost easily with an oven, so you should take that into account too. 

Uswitch (opens in new tab) says every time you open the oven door you lose up to 25 degrees of heat, so the oven uses more energy to get back to its desired temperature. 

There’s also the pre-heat time to take into account, so it’s wise to know how long this takes and put your food in as soon as you can, to save energy. 

The verdict

Generally, an air fryer is cheaper to use than an oven, but this is not always the case. 

An oven costs 21p to use on average and an 800W air fryer costs 13.6p to use. 

But if you own an air fryer that is much more powerful, you could use nearly the same energy as an oven. For example, the 2,000W air fryer costs 34p per use, that’s 13p more than an oven. 

And the main factor is the amount of food you’re cooking. If you know one compartment in an air fryer won’t suffice for your family in size, you might be better off using the oven where you can cook the food in one go, rather than in two to three different intervals. 

Consumer group Which? put air-fryers to the test and found it was the cheapest appliance for cooking chips and the quickest at 23 minutes. Only costing 10p to cook two portions of chips.

Surprisingly, the air fryer offered excellent results for baking a cake at the lowest cost - only 8p and with delicious results. It also baked in almost half the time of the oven, at 33 minutes against 56 minutes. The oven cost three times more than the air fryer at 24p.

But due to the size limitations of the air fryer, Which?’s experts did have to make a smaller cake, so if you're planning a multi-tiered masterpiece it would be more efficient to stick to the trusty oven.

Emily Seymour, Which? Energy Editor, advises the cost of savings of air fryers will be "soon be lost if you have to cook more than one batch though, so it’s still better to use your oven if you’re cooking large quantities.

But kitchen appliances like an air-fryer or microwave can help you cut the cost of preparing "quick, small meals," she adds.

With air fryers, don’t forget the initial outlay - how much it costs to purchase it. Perhaps waiting for the sales like Black Friday or boxing day could give you a saving, but do be careful of air fryer scams. Fraudsters are set to steal over £10 million by Christmas through fake air fryer scams, Natwest (opens in new tab) predicts. 

So, do be careful when shopping in sales and always try to buy from somewhere reputable or from a retailer you know of. 

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Vaishali Varu
Staff Writer

Vaishali graduated in journalism from Leeds University. She has gained experience writing local stories around Leeds and Leicester, which includes writing for a university publication and Leicester Mercury. 

She has also done some marketing and copywriting for businesses.

When she is not writing about personal finance, Vaishali likes to travel and she's a foodie.