The question being asked in this article is do air fryers and pressure cookers work in the same way? The short answer to that question is no. While they make look similar, they rely on different methods for cooking food.
How does an air fryer work?
An air fryer works by circulating hot air around the food at high speeds.
The food is cooked inside of a cooking chamber or basket. At the top of the basket there is a heating element.
Directly above the heating element there is a fan that creates air circulation through the chamber. The air goes up through the basket and through the food, then back down and out.
The heat moves all around the food so it mimics deep frying in the sense that the food is surrounded by heat at all times, just as if it was submersed in hot oil.
Air fryers also have an exhaust vent to release air during the cooking process. Because the temperature rises during cooking, the air pressure inside rises as well. Venting off air during the cooking process keeps the pressure from building inside of the air fryer.
Air fryers give you the option of adjusting the time and temperature and can cook at temperatures close to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It produces foods similar to what you would get when deep frying.
The air fryer’s claim to fame is that they use drastically less oil than you would normally use to fry foods, up to 80% less. Some fried recipes may require as little as a tablespoon of oil. This produces a much healthier version of deep fried foods.
Air fryers can also cook foods at speeds much faster than conventional frying.
You can see a comparison of two popular air fryers here.
Pros and Cons of air fryers
- They are healthier than deep frying because they use a fraction of the oil.
- They can cook foods much faster than conventional deep frying.
- Save the waste of all the oil you would use for deep frying.
- Save energy because they are smaller and cook faster than a conventional oven.
- Most affordable air fryers are small and are only realistic for cooking for a few people.
- The outside of the air fryer can be extremely hot, increasing the likelihood of burns.
- The food produced doesn’t quite taste the same as with deep fryers.
How does a pressure cooker work?
Pressure cookers work by raising the internal pressure of the pot to speed up cooking times. This is done by using water or broth and sealing it in an air tight pot. As the liquid is heated, it boils and converts to steam. Because the steam can’t escape, the pressure within the pot builds.
The pressure trapped pressure reduces the cooking time because the water reaches its boiling quicker and at a lower temperature. Also the heated steam is forced deeper into the food because of the higher pressure, making it cook faster.
After cooking is done, the pressure is released so that the pot can be safely opened.
Pressure cooking foods reduces cook times to about a third of the time it would take for conventional cooking methods. It can also be used to cook nearly all types of foods.
You can find a review on some of the best pressure cookers on the market here.
Pros and Cons of pressure cooking
- It’s healthier than other cooking methods because less nutrients are lost during the cooking process.
- You can reduce cook times to as little as a third of the normal cooking time.
- You can cook several different types of foods together.
- Pressure cookers use less water than you would normally use for boiling foods.
- Pressure cookers use less energy because they prepare the food quickly.
- Pressure cookers are more expensive than normal cookware.
- Pressure cookers can malfunction due to damaged parts like the sealing gasket.
- You cannot inspect your food while it is cooking without having to restart the whole process.
- Using a damaged pressure cooker, or using it improperly can be extremely dangerous.
What are the main differences between a pressure cooker and an air fryer?
From what you have read so far you have probably already picked out a few of the key differences between air fryers and pressure cookers.
While both use high temperatures in the cooking process, a pressure cookers key method to cooking is high pressure. An air fryer actively reduces the pressure during cooking and relies on hot air circulation to cook foods.
While both use some added liquid to help cook, they use different kinds and amounts. Pressure cookers usually use at least a cup of liquid and only use water or water based broths. Air fryers use oil, and a very small amount.
Air fryers produce crispy foods like French fries or chicken wings. Pressure cookers produces softer foods since they cook with steam. The only way you could produce a crispy food item with a pressure cooker is if you don’t use the pressure setting and instead use a sauté setting.
One major differences between the two is rooted in their cooking methods. Because a pressure cooker relies on maintaining the pressure during the entire cooking process, you cannot open the pressure cooker while it is cooking and then resume cooking.
To open a pressure cooker you have to stop the cooking process and allow for the pressure to be released. To resume cooking you will have to let the pressure build back up again.
With an air fryer you can stop at any point to check your food or add more food. As long as you don’t interrupt the cooking process for an extended amount of time and release most of the heat, the cooking process can resume as normal.
Overall, there are some fundamental differences between pressure cooking and cooking with an air fryer. The most important thing you can get from both of these is that they are healthy alternatives for many conventional cooking methods.
You can find out what types of foods you can cook with pressure cookers compared to what you can cook with an air fryer here.