'I compared the cooking cost of an oven vs an air fryer - and one was way cheaper'

A smart meter revealed just how cheap it is to cook with an air fryer
A smart meter revealed just how cheap it is to cook with an air fryer -Credit:Kate Mcauliffe

Many households across Northern Ireland have purchased air fryers in a bid to reduce household costs.

Air fryers have gained a lot of popularity across the UK due to their ability to cook fried-like foods with a lot less oil. The appliance reduces the need for excessive fats by using hot air circulation to cook food. This mean that meals prepared in one can contain less saturated fat and fewer calories.

Alongside their health benefits, they are also advertised as being more energy efficient than using an oven and as people across Northern Ireland struggle with the cost of living crisis, air fryers pledge to cook food faster which requires less energy usage and lower energy bills.

Read more: Northern Ireland energy bills: How the costs compare as firms announce decrease

In an effort to slash her bills in the kitchen, reporter Katie McAuliffe from the Manchester Evening News tested out an air fryer and an oven to see which was cheapest.

Her experiment only uses one meal, so you may find other dishes with varying cooking times give different results. It also depends on how much you're paying for your energy, and how big or efficient your air fryer or oven is. Katie writes...

In the midst of the current soaring energy prices, and in the mind frame that I should be trying to cut spending wherever I can, I have become increasingly curious about exploring alternative options to my every day energy use in the hope that I can find cheaper ways to live.

I discussed the topic with a friend of mine, Ellie, and she revealed that according to her smart meter - which sends daily graphs to her phone informing her of how much energy she is using, and how much she is spending throughout the day - she believes the most expensive time of an average day to be meal times. So, I decided to embark on a mission to discover the most cost effective way to cook food between an air fryer and an oven.

To do this effectively, I enlisted the help of Ellie so that I could use her nifty smart meter to review the cost of the spike in energy at the exact time that I cooked with each of the appliances. Her energy supplier is Bulb, which is one of the UK's leading suppliers of green energy.

A flashback to GSCE science reminded me that I had to control my variables in order for this to be a fair and accurate test. I cooked the same meal, vegan cauliflower wings, at the same time of 12.30pm over the span of two days. To ensure that the readings would convey only the energy used to cook our food, I made sure that no additional energy was being used in the time surrounding our cooking.

I cooked the same meal in both an air fryer and an oven
I cooked the same meal in both an air fryer and an oven -Credit:Kate Mcauliffe

After arriving at Ellie's for day one, we prepared the cauliflower and set up her impressive Ninja dual air fryer. The original recipe called for 30 minutes in the oven, so we decided to cut that time in half and set the air fryer to 200 degrees for 15 minutes. The process was very quick, after placing the wings in the appliance all we had to do was press 'go', and that was that. In hindsight, we could even have run the air fryer for less time as the cauliflower wings were slightly over done, but all in all it was a success and the wings were delicious.

The smart meter graph later revealed that cost of running the air fryer to cook the cauliflower at 200 degrees for 15 minutes had been just 20p. Given that the cost could have easily been further reduced by cooking for less time or at a lower heat to avoid slightly singeing the food, we both agreed that the air fryer was a quick and cost effective way to cook.

The next day we repeated the same routine, only this time we cooked using the oven. We set it to 200 degrees, the same temperature we used with the air fryer, and placed it on the fan oven setting. It took 11 minutes to heat up the oven, and then we cooked the cauliflower wings on a baking tray for a further 30 minutes.

The graph revealed that the cost of using the oven for 41 minutes at 200C was a staggering 42p, over double the price it cost to use the air fryer.



Time: 15 minutes.

Taste: Delicious, but slightly dry and a bit singed.

Cost: 20p.


Time: 41 minutes.

Taste: Perfectly cooked and more succulent than the ones cooked in the air fryer.

Cost: 42p.


Katie's conclusion was that the air fryer was the clear winner in the categories of both cost and time.

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