Air Fryer Vs Grill: What’s The Difference [Which Is Good?]

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The irresistible air fryer and the timeless grill are prominent among cooking appliances.

So choosing between them is not as cut and dry.

It requires looking at their cooking methods, exploring differences, and uncovering the benefits they offer for your kitchen.

The main difference between an air fryer and a grill is that the former cooks with hot, swirling air, and the latter uses direct heat to cook food. Grill-cooked food results in a smoky flavor and char grill marks.

Air Fryer Vs Grill: What's The Difference [Which Is Good?]

Let's highlight their glaring differences before we get deep into the debate about both cooking appliances.

ParametersAir fryerGrill
Cooking quantityCooks less foodCooks more food and saves you from batch-cooking
Even cookingCooks more evenlySometimes, it cooks unevenly and gives charred or undercooked food
VersatilityOffers more cooking options and functionsLimited cooking functions and options
Use of oilAir-fried food is healthier as using oil is not mandatoryNecessitates using oil, therefore, offers comparatively less healthy food
Food TasteFood tastes great food but without any unique flavorGives food a distinctive smoky and charred flavor
Food textureCrispy exterior and succulent exteriorCharred and caramelized exterior and moist and soft interior
Unique featuresAuto-shutoff, intelligent heating system, automatic stirringBasic cooking functions
Ease of cleaningMuch easier to clean due to a removable basketDifficult to clean
Heat outputDoes not exude much heat, so, great for summer useMakes the surroundings hot

| ALSO READ: Air Fryer Vs Deep Fryer Detailed Comparison

Cooking Capacity Comparison

An air fryer is a slim countertop appliance designed for indoor use. It has limited cooking space; therefore, you cannot cook large amounts of food in it.

On the other hand, a grill is generally bigger than an air fryer, aimed for outdoor use. Its large space allows you to cook more food and feed a large group in one go.

Verdict: A grill helps you cook more food than an air fryer.

Differences In the Cooking Process

An electric indoor grill cooks food with the heat produced by a heating element that is located under the grill grates.

The heat cooks the food from below; therefore, you need to preheat your grill before putting ingredients on it.

In contrast, air fryers use the convection cooking method. A heating element above the cooking chamber produces heat, and a fan circulates the heat around the food.

Verdict: Both have different cooking methods, so choosing one is tricky. As far as the evenness of the heat distribution, an air fryer is a clear winner.

Which Is More Versatile

An air fryer allows you to bake a cake or cookies, roast a whole chicken, and air fry crispy French fries, buffalo wings, and much more.

In contrast, grills have limited functions; they can grill, roast, and smoke veggies, meat, and fruits.

While grills excel at imparting charred and smoky flavors and grilled textures to food, their versatility is nothing compared to an air fryer.

Verdict: If you want a versatile cooking appliance, the best air fryer for your home is the one.

Healthiness Of The Food

Air fryers have been swaying people's hearts and minds by cooking food without oil.

Even when cooking requires oil, it requires only a few tablespoons to achieve the desired crispiness.

On the other hand, a grill uses more oil to achieve the charred and caramelized flavor associated with grilled food.

The oil helps prevent the food from sticking to the grill grates, enhances flavor, and adds moisture to the food.

Verdict: Since a grill uses more oil than an air fryer.

Which One Gives You A Crispy Exterior?

Air fryers are famous for imparting a crispy texture to foods like French fries and wings by removing excess moisture from the surface.

In contrast, a grill makes your food crispy by creating charred and crunchy edges, unlike deep-fried texture.

However, this type of crisp is not similar to a deep-fried texture.

Verdict: Air fryers make the exterior of the food crispier.

Taste Comparison Of Air Fryer and Grill

Grilled food has a unique smoky, caramelized, and charred flavor.

Air-fried food is undoubtedly delicious, but the taste is not as unique as what you get from a grill.

Even with the best air fryer grill combo, you can only achieve a similar taste but not the deep char grill marks of an outdoor gas or electric grill.

Verdict: Regarding uniqueness, grilled food has a distinct taste compared to air-fried food.

Note: Some people prefer the taste of air-fried food, and others are more inclined to enjoy food cooked on an outdoor grill. So, your preference matters a lot when it comes to taste.

Cooking Time Comparison

Cooking on a smokeless grill takes longer than an air fryer.

The heat from below the grill grates takes longer to reach the food.

Additionally, you have to preheat the grill to prevent the food from sticking, which adds more minutes to the total cooking time.

In contrast, preheating the air fryer is not necessary. Plus, the hot air cooks food quickly.

Verdict: A grill takes longer to cook than an air fryer. But the difference is not huge.

Ease Of Cleaning

Cleaning the drip tray of a grill can be a major challenge because of its size.

The expansive grilling grate can keep residue from previous cookouts, making its cleanup more extensive.

Compared to a grill, cleaning an air fryer is much easier thanks to its comparably small size.

Instead of a drip tray, there is a drawer that houses the air fryer basket and can easily be cleaned under warm water.

Verdict: Cleaning an air fryer is much easier. 

How Is Air-Fried Food Different From Grilled Food?

A few comparisons of the food cooked in an air fryer vs grill are:

Air Fried Vs. Grilled Chicken

The chicken cooked in an air fryer has a crispy exterior and a flavorful and succulent inside.

Compared to air-fried chicken, grilled chicken has char marks and a smoky flavor but lacks a crispy, deep-fried texture.

Air Fried Vs Grilled Steak

An air fryer cooks steak with minimal fuss. The hot air imparts a crispy texture while keeping the inside of the meat moist and juicy.

However, you don’t get the smoky flavor and rich and savory signature taste of a grilled steak.


Which air fryer has a grill?

A variety of air fryers come with a grilling function. Companies that make the best air fryer with grills include Ninja, PowerXL, Tefal, Nuwave, Chefman and Cosori. Their air fryer grills are versatile, have a high-quality build, and come with a heavy grill plate that lasts long and leaves deep and beautiful char marks on the food.

Can an air fryer replace a grill?

Drawing from our experience, no air fryer cannot replace a grill. It is because there is a stark difference between air-fried and grilled food. Air frying makes food crispy, while grilling makes the food juicy and imparts a smoky flavor. If you want a win-win situation, buy an air fryer with a grilling function. But a grill is a must to get the original grilled food flavor.

Can you grill meat in airfryer?

Yes, you can grill meat in an air fryer with a grilling function. However, unlike a full outdoor grill, an air fryer grill cooks a limited amount of food, requiring batch cooking.

Wrapping Up!

Comparing an air fryer and a grill was a hard nut to crack. Both are excellent appliances; however, they differ significantly based on various factors mentioned above.

Whether you want to buy an air fryer or a grill, consider your taste preference, personal needs, and space in the house. For an outdoor grill, you definitely need a dedicated place, as it can not be pushed into a kitchen cabinet. An air fryer offers convenience in that way; it can be placed on the kitchen counter or kept in a cabinet when not in use.

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