Air Fryer vs Broiler: Comparing Kitchen Appliances and Cooking Presets


Last Updated: February 10th, 2023

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In this air fryer vs broiler comparison, I will talk about the differences between the two kitchen appliances and cooking presets. They might seem to be doing the same thing, but if you dig deeper, you will learn that they work distinctly.

Before air fryers rose to fame, there were broilers. Also called turbo broilers, they are often made of glass and transparent, so you can easily monitor the cooking process. Some might argue that it works just like an air fryer, but does it?

Is an air fryer better than a broiler? Or is it the other way around? How do they work? Read on and I will be more than happy to answer your questions!

air fryer vs broiler

Comparing Air Fryer vs Broiler

Here is a table that summarizes the points I will discuss in this post.

How It WorksHas a heating element and fan that circulates hot air around the air fryerComes with a halogen bulb on the top that connects to a fan to cook food by circulating hot air
SizeUsually large and bulkyCan be compact but also available in large models
Energy ConsumptionMore energy-efficientCan consume a lot of electricity
Cooking TemperatureLowerHigher
Cooking ProgramsVersatileLimited
PriceMore expensiveCheaper

A Quick Comparison of Air Fryer vs Turbo Broiler

Now, let’s dig in and talk about the key differences and similarities between the two. By the time you finish reading, I hope that you can easily decide which one is more suitable for your needs.

1.    How They Work

When comparing the two, the most important factor is how they work. Sure, they can cook a wide array of food, but that does not mean they are the same.

First, let’s talk about how air fryers work. It works like a convection oven. Two of its most crucial components are the heating element and the fan. Once the heating element generates a high temperature, the fan works to circulate hot air in the fryer. This is what cooks or fries the food, resulting in a crispy exterior. It is similar to the result you can expect from deep frying. 

By relying on convection, air fryers achieve a distinct crunch while the interior remains moist and juicy. It has wire racks or perforated baskets, which allow hot air to circulate in all directions. This means that hot air can reach even the bottom of the food.

Now, let’s talk about broilers. Like an air fryer, it uses hot air for cooking food. It has a halogen bulb or light source at the top. It connects to a fan, which is responsible for circulating hot air inside. The appliance is also called a halogen oven, but note that it cooks faster than a traditional convection oven.

With the things mentioned above, we can assume that they share similar characteristics. Among others, the most apparent is they both use hot air. The latter is also the reason why they do not require excessive oil as you would in air frying while achieving almost similar results.

More so, as noted above, they both have fans. These fans are responsible for ensuring that air circulates to cook food evenly. No need to worry that some parts will end up undercooked while other portions are overcooked.

The positioning of the heat source is also similar. You can find it at the top of the unit. It has a strategic position so that it is close to the food, which is also why it can cook fast.

2.    Size

Air fryers and broilers are two different appliances. Although, as I will mention later, they can also be two presets present in a single appliance.

A turbo broiler can be large and bulky, which can make it less space-efficient, especially if you have a tiny kitchen. Nonetheless, air fryers are often more compact, especially the basket types. However, don’t get me wrong. Air fryers can also be large! For instance, there are 26-quart air fryers, which can be larger than broilers!

3.    Energy Consumption

When looking for kitchen appliances, a lot of you will probably be concerned about energy consumption. For most, the priority is to find one that is efficient without compromising performance. Ultimately, this is also one thing that differentiates an air fryer and a broiler.

Between the two appliances, air fryers can be more energy-efficient. Especially if you have a low-wattage air fryer, you can be confident that it does not consume too much electricity. The insulation in an air fryer also makes it more energy-efficient since it can retain heat better than a broiler. In contrast, broilers often require a lot of energy. Most broilers are made of glass, which is known for being a poor insulator.

4.    Cooking Temperature

The two are also different in terms of the cooking temperature they reach and how quickly they heat up. A broiler can reach a higher temperature compared to an air fryer. With such, the latter is a better option if your food or recipe requires an extremely high temperature.

Nonetheless, it should also be noted that you have a selection of high-temperature air fryers. They can reach as high as 510 degrees Fahrenheit. Often, they can still be lower than what broilers can achieve. Meanwhile, the beauty of air fryers is that you can cook in low heat. This is especially good for recipes that require you to go low and slow instead of hot and fast.

5.    Cooking Programs

This is one area wherein air fryers have a distinct advantage. Most broilers, I am talking about the kitchen appliance and not a cooking preset in an air fryer, will work only as a broiler. As such, it can be space-consuming and may not provide the best bang for the buck.

With air fryers, on the other hand, you can enjoy a wide range of cooking applications. It has numerous cooking functions, including broiling, baking, roasting, grilling, and dehydrating. One of its selling points is that it is multifunctional. It is space-saving as it can replace many appliances.

6.    Price

Cost is a primary consideration when looking for kitchen appliances. While prices can vary based on specific brands, functions, and performance, in general, broilers are cheaper. Nonetheless, even if air fryers are more expensive, they are worth every dollar because of their versatility.

Why Choose When You Can Have Both?

Now that I talked about their differences as two kitchen appliances, let’s discuss how you do not need to choose one. It does not mean that you have to buy two kitchen appliances, either! Instead, you can buy an air fryer with multiple cooking functions, including broil.

To broil in an air fryer means to cook under direct heat. When you choose the broil function, the air fryer will use intense directional heat at the maximum temperature that the air fryer can reach. In contrast, air frying uses lower temperatures as the recipe requires. Broiling will expose your food to direct radiant heat for quick cooking.

If you are using the broil function in an air fryer, only the top heating element heats up. It requires putting food closer to the top, which is easy if your air fryer comes with an adjustable rack.


1.    Can you broil in an air fryer?

Yes you can broil in most air fryers. A lot of modern air fryers come with a built-in broil function. This way, you can broil without a turbo broiler. Doing so requires positioning the food or rack near the top heating element. It also uses a fan to circulate hot air.

2.    How do you broil in an air fryer?

The specific steps can be different depending on the brand and model that you have. In most cases to broil in an air fryer, you have to choose the preset and wait until the timer runs out. By doing so, the air fryer will heat at the maximum temperature it can reach at a fixed time, such as five minutes. It won’t be long since it uses the maximum temperature.

3.    What temperature does an air fryer broil?

The broiling temperature is the highest temperature an air fryer can reach. It can differ from model to model. In most cases the broiling function in an air fryer can range from 475 to 510 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of its high temperature, however, the air fryer might easily get hot and can even be a fire hazard. So, make sure to keep an eye on it when using the broil function.

4.    What foods can you broil?

Meat and fish are some of the most common foods you can broil in an air fryer. You can use it for almost anything that you want to have a charred exterior. However, it might not work well for food that can quickly cook.

5.    Which is better, air fry or broil?

There is no rule of thumb nor an easy way to answer this question. If I were to choose myself, however, I would say an air fryer is a better option if we are talking about kitchen appliances. If we are talking about presets, on the other hand, broil is better if you want to cook food quicker and achieve a distinct char on the exterior.

Final Verdict

As I mentioned in this comparison of air fryer vs broiler, they can be two distinct kitchen appliances. In the same way, they can also be two different cooking functions both present in a single appliance. Many of today’s air fryers can have a built-in broil function. Air fryers win if you are after versatility.

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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.