Air fryers are great kitchen appliances that make delicious, crispy food without oil. Air fryers mimic deep fryers by covering food with hot air instead of fat, making it a healthier alternative to deep frying.
There are two types of air fryers: classic style (either single-basket or dual-basket) and oven style. Traditional air fryers usually have a basket while oven-style air fryers come with a tray.
Which option is better? The answer depends on a few factors that we'll look at.
- What Is an Air Fryer?
- Classic Air Fryers With Baskets
- Oven Style Air Fryers With Trays
- Which Style of Air Fryer Is Right for You?
- General Considerations When Cleaning Air Fryers
- How To Clean an Air Fryer Basket
- How to Clean Air Fryer Racks
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Bottomline on Air Fryer Basket vs Tray
What Is an Air Fryer?
Both basket-style air fryers and oven-style air fryers are mini convection ovens. They are a healthier alternative to deep fryers because they use air instead of oil for cooking food. They are smaller than traditional ovens, and the temperature rises faster, which makes them cook food faster.
Air fryers cook much faster than traditional ovens because they are smaller. As a result, they are energy efficient and don't heat up the kitchen as much, making them ideal for summer. Air fryers are versatile, and there are many air fryer recipes to choose from.
Classic Air Fryers With Baskets
A traditional air fryer is compact with a round shape, and there is a handle that connects to the cooking basket. When the food is loaded into the basket, slide it back into the cooking chamber, and it will crisp up in minutes.
The other type of air fryer is the oven style, that has a tray or wire rack instead of a basket. Both types produce the same results but have different cooking chambers. We'll discuss the air fryer tray below. For now, let's look at the pros and cons of an air fryer basket.
The Advantages of Using Air Fryer Baskets
- They are compact. Traditional air fryers are compact and only take up a little counter space.
- They are convenient. Any style of air fryer makes delicious food within minutes. They are great for midweek meals for busy families. They preheat in under 5 minutes, and most meals are cooked in an hour or less.
- They can hasten cooking time. Traditional air fryers with baskets can cook food quickly because of their small cooking chamber and the rapid increase in temperature.
The Disadvantages of Using Air Fryer Baskets
- You can only cook in small batches. The small cooking compartment is only capable of cooking for 1-2 people, although larger models are available.
- The outside heats up. Most classic air fryers have a plastic exterior that gets hot to the touch when the interior heats up. You should wear oven mitts when handling the air fryer basket or touching the outside.
Oven Style Air Fryers With Trays
Oven-style air fryers cook food using convection, just like a traditional air fryer, but instead of using a basket, the oven-style air fryer uses racks or trays. These air fryers are rectangular in shape and resemble a toaster oven. This is the style I use most because I can use it for several different cooking methods, which is a benefit, in my opinion. When I air fry with it, I get the same results as when I use a traditional model.
Air frying works because of air circulation. If the heating element or fans are blocked, the food won't cook properly, and you can potentially damage your air fryer. An air fryer basket has holes in it to allow the air to flow, and an oven-style air fryer uses metal racks to accomplish the same purpose.
The Advantages of Using Air Fryer Trays
- You’ll get to enjoy multiple cooking options: Most oven-style air fryers with trays have other cooking options besides air frying. I use the Nuwave 12-1 because it allows me 11 other cooking methods besides air frying without having to use multiple appliances.
- You can use multiple racks: Oven-style air fryers come with multiple racks, which means they can simultaneously cook more food or different foods.
- The racks are adjustable: Oven-style air fryers not only have multiple racks, but they are also adjustable as well. This gives the user multiple options when air frying, which is one of the best qualities of this style of air fryer.
- You’ll be able to cook larger quantities: Since oven-style air fryers are larger than basket-style air fryers, you can cook larger batches of food in them. And because they have multiple racks, you can cook a variety of food at the same time.
The Disadvantages of Using Air Fryer Trays
- Requires more counter space: Oven-style air fryers are bigger than their traditional counterpart, and take up more counter space. The upside is that most models replace multiple cooking appliances.
- Slower cooking time: Because the cooking chamber is larger than a traditional air fryer, the cooking time is longer.
- Less affordable: Oven-style air fryers are more expensive than basket-style air fryers. But again, most models do a lot more than air fry, so that offsets the cost.
Which Style of Air Fryer Is Right for You?
Picking out an air fryer is a personal preference and is based on your needs. It also depends on how much space you have in your kitchen. If you regularly cook for 1-2 people, a traditional air fryer is right for you. If you regularly cook large meals, you should consider going with an oven-style air fryer.
Both styles are great options and produce the same results, so it boils down to your style of cooking. I have both models, but I use the oven style more often because I can adjust the racks for more or less heat, and I love the glass door. The glass door makes checking on the food easier, and I don't have to disrupt the food by opening the door to see how far along the food is.
The countertop space that the air fryer will need to occupy should also be considered. Are you going to leave the air fryer on the countertop permanently, or are you going to store it in a cupboard in between uses? It's a good idea to measure the spaces before you purchase an air fryer.
General Considerations When Cleaning Air Fryers
Cleaning an air fryer, whether a traditional model or an oven style, is straightforward. Remove the racks or baskets and place them in soapy water to soak before you clean the cooking chamber. Don’t forget to keep in mind the following tips as well.
- Unplug your air fryer: You should unplug the air fryer before cleaning it to avoid electrical shock.
- Don’t forget to clean the chamber: After the air fryer is cool and unplugged, wipe out the interior with a wash towel or sponge and soapy water. You may need a small brush to clean the smaller crevices around the heating element.
- Dry your air fryer: When the air fryer is clean, wipe it out with a dry towel. Next, let it air dry with the chamber open. Make sure it is completely dry before you plug it back in to avoid electrical shock or shortening out the air fryer. After it's dry, place the basket inside the chamber.
How To Clean an Air Fryer Basket
Cleaning an air fryer basket is straightforward. Most baskets are non-stick, which makes cleaning them even easier, and most are dishwasher safe. After it cools completely, wash it with soap and water or use the dishwasher to clean it.
The cooking chamber and the tray or basket should be cleaned after every use. The detailed parts, like the fans and the heating element, should be cleaned every two to four weeks, depending on how often you use the air fryer.
Quick Tip: Place the hot basket in a sink full of soapy water and let it soak while you eat. The soapy water on the hot surface will lift grease or stuck food bits off the basket easier than scrubbing the basket.
How to Clean Air Fryer Racks
Cleaning air fryer racks is as easy as cleaning an air fryer basket. You can wash them by hand or place them in the dishwasher. The easiest way to clean them is to place them in warm soapy water while they are still hot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Baskets are cylindrically shaped, and trays are rectangular, so a tray won't fit in a basket.
The trays in an oven-style air fryer crisp foods just like a basket in an air fryer. The cooking method is still convection, just in a different style.
Since air-fried food doesn't use oil, it is a healthy alternative to deep frying. It produces the same crispy results, however, because the air fryer envelops the food with hot air, similar to how a deep fryer envelops the food with oil. Air fryers are popular with athletes because they can enjoy their favorite foods with fewer calories.
The Bottomline on Air Fryer Basket vs Tray
When choosing between a basket-style air fryer and an oven-style air fryer, you need to consider what you're going to use it for, how many people you're cooking for, and how much space you have.
Air fryer baskets don't hold as much food as an oven-style air fryer, but they give you the option to shake the food as it cooks, whereas an oven tray or wire rack requires you to flip the food during cooking.
Air fryers are great kitchen appliance that takes up little space and is a convenient way to make delicious food in a short amount of time. They are ideal for small living spaces like dorm rooms and campers.