Air Fryer vs Food Steamer 1

Air Fryer vs Food Steamer: Which is Better?

With so many kitchen appliances available on the market, it’s easy to get confused about which one to choose for cooking healthy meals.

Two popular options are air fryers and food steamers. While both appliances use different cooking techniques, they make healthier meals.

But which one is better?

In this article, we will compare air fryers and food steamers to help you decide which one is the best fit for your cooking needs.

What is an Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that uses hot air to cook food.

As mentioned previously when comparing air fryers and deep fryers, air fryers work by circulating hot air to create a crispy outer layer.

The hot air is generated by a heating element located above the food basket, which is where the food is placed.

The high-powered fan then circulates the hot air around the food, cooking it from all angles.

Air fryers come in different sizes and designs.

They can be used to cook a majority of foods even frozen foods such as chicken wings, French fries, and mozzarella sticks.

Pros and Cons of Using an Air Fryer

Some of the advantages of using an air fryer include:

  • A healthier cooking method that reduces the amount of oil and fat used in cooking.
  • Faster cooking times compared to traditional oven-baking methods.
  • Crispy and golden exterior without the need for excessive oil.

Some of the disadvantages of using an air fryer include:

  • Limited cooking capacity, which may not be suitable for larger families
  • Some models can be noisy during operation.
  • More expensive than other traditional appliances.

What is a Food Steamer?

Hamilton Beach Digital Electric Food Steamer

A food steamer is a kitchen appliance that cooks food by using steam.

It consists of a water reservoir, a heating element, and one or more compartments for placing the food to be steamed.

It works by boiling water, which creates steam that cooks the food.

The steam cooks the food by surrounding it with heat and moisture, resulting in a moist and tender texture.

Food steamers come in different sizes, and they are commonly used to cook vegetables, fish, eggs, and rice.

Pros and Cons of Using a Food Steamer

Some of the advantages of using a food steamer include:

  • A healthier cooking method that preserves the nutrients and flavor of the food.
  • Versatile cooking method
  • Can be used to cook a variety of foods, including vegetables, seafood, and meats.
  • A large cooking capacity that can accommodate multiple dishes at once.

Some of the disadvantages of using a food steamer include:

  • Longer cooking times compared to other cooking methods.
  • May not result in a crispy exterior.
  • Can be more difficult to clean compared to other kitchen appliances.

Air Fryers vs Food Steamers: The Key Differences

When choosing between air fryers and food steamers, it is important to consider the following factors:

Air Fryer vs Food Steamer

1. Cooking Method

The main difference between air fryers and food steamers is the cooking method used.

Air fryers use hot air circulation to cook food, while food steamers use steam to cook food.

As a result, the texture and flavor of the food differs between the two methods.

Food from air fryers tends to be crispy and from food steamers soft and moist.

2. Health

Both air fryers and food steamers are considered healthier cooking alternatives to traditional deep frying and stovetop cooking methods.

Air fryers require little to no oil, which makes them a healthier option than deep-frying.

On the other hand, food steamers don’t require any oil at all, making them an even healthier option.

Steaming also helps retain the nutrients in the food, which can be lost during other cooking methods.

Food steamers may be considered slightly healthier because they preserve the nutrients and flavor of the food better than air fryers.

3. Capacity

Air fryers have a smaller cooking capacity compared to food steamers.

Food steamers with multiple tiers can accommodate multiple dishes at once, making them ideal for cooking for larger groups.

You can also consider buying large-capacity air fryers. There are dual-basket air fryers such as the Ninja DZ401 Foodi.

You can also find air fryer ovens with decent cooking capacities such as the Ninja SP101 Digital Air Fryer Oven.

4. Versatility

In terms of versatility, air fryers are the winner.

Air fryers can cook a variety of foods in different ways. You can air fry, broil, bake, dehydrate, etc. depending on what model you have.

They can also be used to reheat leftovers or cook frozen foods.

Food steamers are more limited in their use and are primarily used for cooking and steaming.

5. Speed

When it comes to speed, air fryers are faster than food steamers.

Air fryers can cook food in as little as 10 minutes, while food steamers can take up to 30 minutes, depending on the type of food being cooked.

However, food steamers may require less monitoring during the cooking process.

6. Ease of Use

Both appliances have knobs and controls that allow quick use.

However, food steamers are generally considered easier to use. They have fewer controls and require minimal prep work.

Air fryers may have more complex controls and you need to get your temperature and cooking times right to avoid uneven cooking and burning of food.

It may take longer for you to understand the operation of an air fryer compared to a food steamer.

7. Cleaning

Both air fryers and food steamers require regular cleaning and maintenance. They are both easy to clean, but air fryers require a bit more effort.

Air fryers have several components that need to be cleaned, including the basket and the tray.

Cleaning air fryers can also be challenging due to the accumulation of food particles and oil residues that result from cooking.

Also, the blowing hot air inside the fryer can cause debris to be deposited in hard-to-reach areas, such as the fan and heating element, further complicating the cleaning process.

Food steamers, on the other hand, only have a few components and little to no debris that need to be cleaned, making them easier to clean overall.

8. Cost

In general, air fryers are more expensive than food steamers. However, the price can vary depending on the brand and model of the appliance.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are Air Fryers Bad for Your Health?

No, air fryers are not bad for your health. They require little to no oil, which makes them a healthier cooking option.

2. Can You Use an Air Fryer to Steam Food?

No, you cannot use an air fryer to steam food. Air fryers use hot air to cook food, which does not produce steam.

Some air fryer models may come with a steaming basket or accessory, but this is not the same as using a food steamer.

If you want to steam food, a food steamer is the best option.

3. Can Food Steamers Cook Meat?

Yes, food steamers can cook meat, but it may take longer than other cooking methods.

4. Can You Use an Air Fryer to Cook Frozen Foods?

Yes, air fryers are great for cooking frozen foods. You can cook frozen foods straight from the freezer without thawing.

5. Can You Steam Vegetables in An Air Fryer?

No, air fryers are not designed for steaming vegetables. They are best used for cooking foods that need to be crisped.

6. Which Is Better for Cooking Rice: Air Fryer or Food Steamer?

A food steamer is the best option for cooking rice. It cooks rice evenly and helps retain its nutrients.


When it comes to choosing between an air fryer and a food steamer, there are several factors to consider.

Both are great options for healthy cooking, but they differ in terms of versatility, speed, and ease of use.

Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference and what kind of foods you like to cook.

Whether you choose an air fryer or a food steamer, you can feel good about making healthier choices in your cooking.

So, which one will you choose? Try them both out and see which one works best for you.

Also read: Can An Air Fryer Replace a Microwave?


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