Air Fry vs Bake Setting: Which Should You Choose? 


Last Updated: April 18th, 2023

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In terms of versatility, an air fryer is unbeatable! It’s one of my favorite kitchen appliances, not only because I can save time, but I can also save money and space. It’s a great replacement for multiple kitchen appliances. 

Most air fryers come with presets. This means that they automatically select the right time and temperature, depending on what you will cook. Among others, two of the most common presets are air fry and bake. And if you’re clueless about what they mean, don’t worry. We’ll talk about the air fry vs bake setting, so you’ll know which one is a better option. 

To make the most of an air fryer, learn how to navigate its different presets. This will make cooking easier by ensuring the best results. However, you can’t do so when you’re unfamiliar with the programs. So, read on and find out how air fry and bake settings differ. 

Air Fry vs Bake Setting_featured

Air Fry vs Bake Setting: What’s The Difference? 

Truth be told, there’s only one main difference between the two settings – the preset. And by that, what I mean is that they are programmed to have different times and temperatures, so the air fryer delivers optimal functionality, depending on what it is you’re cooking. 

The specific settings can vary from model to model. In most cases, however, the air fry setting has a higher temperature, reducing cooking time. On the other hand, the bake setting has a lower temperature, which increases the time. 

Meanwhile, the name of the program itself can already make the difference obvious – the outcome. When you air fry, you try to mimic the result of frying food in oil. It can result in what is known as the Maillard reaction. It releases volatile compounds responsible for the flavor and aroma of air-fried foods. 

On the other hand, the bake setting has a slower time and lower temperature, which is what causes swelling or expansion. Some people may also increase the temperature towards the end of baking, which can add a browning effect on the top of the food.

Air Fry vs Bake Setting table

When to Use Air Fry Setting? 

The best time to use an air fry setting is when you want to recreate the effects of frying, even not necessarily deep frying. For instance, if you want to cook chicken nuggets, fries, egg rolls, or chicken wings, the air fry setting can be your best best. 

With air fry, you can get a crispy exterior and juicy interior. The best thing is that you can do so with no or minimal oil. But if you have to use oil in an air fryer, it’s best to choose one that comes with a neutral flavor. This way, the natural taste of the food you are cooking will still stand out. 

In addition, you should choose the air fry setting if you want to cook something fast. As mentioned earlier, it cooks at a higher temperature, so it will be faster compared to baking. This is the ideal program for people who don’t have the luxury of time. 

When to Use Bake Setting? 

As the name implies, you should use the bake setting if you want to bake food in an air fryer. It can be a great alternative to using the oven, especially if you have complicated operation and clean-up. Not to mention, it also works best if you only have to bake in small batches. 

In addition, using the bake setting is recommended for specific results. You should choose it if you want a caramelized or crispy texture on the top. On the other hand, if you want it to be softer, then you should turn to your oven instead. 

Cupcakes, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, and quick bread are some of the best examples of what you can bake in an air fryer. Aside from bread and pastries, you can also bake entrees in an air fryer. 

For instance, some might prefer air fry when cooking fish, but you can also try it using the bake setting. It will be juicy and soft. Meanwhile, if you choose the air fry setting, it will end up with a unique crunch. 

Tips for Using Air Fry and Bake Settings 

One of the most important is to check for doneness periodically. This can depend on whatever you’re cooking, and whether you chose the air fry or bake setting. Most people will check the color and texture to evaluate doneness. 

If you’re air frying, you might want to consider flipping food halfway. This can ensure more even cooking. Although, if you know how an air fryer works, then you’re familiar with how convection heat circulates evenly. 

Meanwhile, with baking, flipping may not be ideal. For instance, there can be cream cheese or anything else on the top, which will mess with the appearance of whatever you’re baking if you flip them. 

The use of different seasonings and toppings can be a good idea to make air-fried foods and baked treats more mouthwatering. However, when baking, you might want to avoid cheese on top as it can melt and create a mess, which will make the clean-up a headache. To prevent such, consider using parchment paper as a lining on the cooking surface. 

Pre-heating is optional. If you’re baking cookies, pre-heating isn’t necessary. Meanwhile, if you want some flaking, browning, or rising, then it will be best if you pre-heat the air fryer. The same thing is true when air frying. Doing so can make it easier to achieve a slightly crisp or darker surface. 

A common problem when baking in an air fryer is that the top may end up brown or burnt. This is because of the hot air circulation. One way to prevent this is to put aluminum foil or parchment paper on top of whatever you’re baking after reaching the desired color. 


In this air fry vs bake setting comparison, I talked about the differences between these two cooking presets. As noted, they vary in terms of time and temperature settings. Consequently, you can expect the outcomes to be different as well. The air fry setting cooks at a higher temperature and faster compared to the bake setting. 

So, which one is better? Unfortunately, this is one question with no straightforward answer. It depends on what you are cooking and the outcome you like.

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Thomas S.

Hey there! I've been cooking for myself and loved ones since the age of 18. In our busy world I've always looked for ways to be more time efficient when it comes to preparing food but also creating tasty and healthy dishes. That's when I came accross air fryers a few years ago and eversince I am trying to spread the word of the benefits of these wonderful machines.