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While your air fryer might be churning out crispy golden goodness, it turns out this countertop wonder isn’t quite the revolutionary new gadget it’s cracked up to be. So, is it just a load of hot air? Let’s see.


You may already know this, but for the others who have been clinging onto this appliance like it’s the end of days (yours truly included), here’s your reminder that air frying isn’t exactly a brand-new technique. According to Kevin Keenan, a University of Guelph engineering professor specializing in food tech, your air fryer is basically a mini convection oven with a design tweak for faster, more intensified cooking. It uses baking or roasting principles to elevate the crisp factor.


The key difference? Airflow. We’re talking about 5X faster circulation in an air fryer, which cooks food quicker and mimics frying by crisping up the exterior with hot air—no vat of oil needed.


Here’s what Keener had to say, as quoted by both Quartz and Gizmodo:



I would say that an air fryer is a miniature version of a convection oven, where one has specialized the design of the air movement. There’s roughly five times faster air movement through an air fryer compared to a convection oven.


The air fryer’s relatively small cooking chamber and the inclusion of a high-speed fan are crucial for optimizing air movement. The compact space ensures that hot air is circulated efficiently around the food, while the fan speeds up the air flow significantly compared to a conventional convection oven. This rapid circulation of air increases the heat transfer to the food's surface, mimicking the crisping effect of deep frying.


In other words, if you already have a convection oven sitting in your kitchen, you probably don’t need to go out and buy an air fryer. The technology—with hot coils and a fan working together to whip up circulating air—has been in use at homes since the 1960s. The air fryer just takes things a step further by optimizing airflow for maximum crispness. 




Image: Leung Cho Pan | Dreamstime.com

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