Choosing between a digital and manual air fryer and don’t know which of them is better for your needs? In this article, I will share with you my personal experience and what advantages and disadvantages have each type of air fryer so you can choose an air fryer that will fit exactly your needs.
As much as I would give you a short answer, it all depends on your needs. So let’s find out what is the best air fryer for you.
When I bought my air fryer, I bought it with the idea that this gadget will allow me to cook my favorite dishes with less oil, but shortly, I started to love it even more because it can help me to cook all the food a lot quicker and it gives a nice and crispy crust to the ingredients.
The food is prepared quicker in the air fryer because the air fryer basket is a lot smaller than a regular oven plus the hot air also circulates quicker inside of it. Also, you will love the air fryer, especially on hot summer days when instead of cooking something in your regular oven, you will cook the same dishes in the air fryer and you will not heat the entire house.
Before we will start to compare those two categories of air fryers, ask yourself if you are ready to pay more for your cooking experience? Or do you want to save on your buying? Do you need more functions? Will you use them? Will you cook complex dishes in the air fryer? or only some regular dishes and usually cooked from frozen? Do you plan to carry it with you to different places? or will it have a fixed place in your kitchen?
After you have answered these questions in your head, let’s go further and find what advantages and disadvantages each of these categories have, and let’s pick the right option for you.
Personally, I use the digital Cosori Air Fryer 5.8QT, which allows me to cook almost every recipe for a family of three. When it is needed, I can load it more and prepare it for 4-5 people. So in this article, I will compare my Cosori digital air fryer with a manual one.
What Is the Difference Between Digital and Analog Air Fryers?
How do we define a digital and manual air fryer? Even if all the air fryers have adjustable temperature control, a cooking timer, and an automatic shut-off, the main difference between the digital and analog air fryer is in the control panel and how you interact with this kitchen gadget.
The analog air fryer, also called the manual air fryer is the controlled by two simple dials that are responsive to the cooking time and cooking temperature and usually, the manual air fryer doesn’t have any other smart functions because these models of air fryers are made to serve the customers who look for a cheap air fryer.
On another hand, the digital air fryer has a digital touch panel, and pre-built presets where with only a single press of a button, you can select from different programs the cooking time and temperature for different types of foods. This will make the cooking process easier because you don’t need to remember what temperature you need and for how long you need to cook each category of food.
And the majority of digital air fryers have also more functions like air fryer warm-up, shake reminder, and keeping your food warm. For example, my Cosori air fryer has also built-in Wi-Fi that let me change from my smartphone the cooking time, temperature, and time when the cooking process should start. Also, it sends me a notification when I need to shake the air fryer basket or when the cooking time expired and the dish is ready.
Sure, all these smart functions are made to make the cooking process quicker and easier for you. But do you actually need them? Will you actually use them? If you will use the air fryer every day then you may love these functions. But if you will use your air fryer a few times a month then maybe you should buy a simple manual air fryer that will fit also your needs?
What to Pay Attention to When Choosing Between Them?
Look for some reviews to see exactly how they work and what functions have both of your models. Decide for yourself if you need more smart functions or you opt for simplicity and you want to save some money?
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For example, on some of the digital air fryers, you can’t disable the beep sound feedback that you will hear on every tap. This sound can get annoying sometimes. How intuitive is the menu on the digital air fryer? Can you select the cooking preset that you need in only one click? or the air fryer has only one select button that you need to press multiple times to jump from one preset to another? Can you easily change the temperature from 400°F to 200°F? or do you need to press multiple times the buttons and hear the beep sound for every press of the button?
As you can see there are a lot of details that you should take into consideration when you’re choosing a new air fryer for your kitchen. Read further and I will guide you through all the advantages and disadvantages of both categories so you can pick the right one for you.
Advantages of a Manual Air Fryer
- The manual air fryers are cheaper. If you’re on a budget, the manual air fryers may be the best option for you. It’s better to buy a top manual air fryer than an entry-level digital air fryer.
- If you don’t like electronic devices, you may find the analog air fryer to be easier to use. You will have only two dials to set the temperature and cooking time. Nothing more. If you plan to buy an air fryer as a gift for elder people who are not too familiar with gadgets, you should consider manual air fryers.
- You may set quicker the desired temperature and cooking time on an analog air fryer by pressing multiple times the plus and minus buttons until you will select the desired settings.
- As the manual air fryer has fewer components in them, they are smaller and more compact. If you are traveling a lot or you plan to take with you the air fryer around the house you may prefer a manual air fryer.
A quick note for those that plan to travel by the air fryer outside of the country, take into count that electronic tools from the US are made for the 110V socket while in Europe, is using the 220V standard. If you will put your 110V air fryer in a 220V, it will burn in seconds.
- As the manual air fryer has fewer functions and is built more simply, there are fewer components that can break. Also, the repair cost of this category of air fryers will be lower.
- It is quieter. If you have a digital air fryer, it will make a loud beep with every press of the button. For someone, this thing may be annoying, especially if you have a small kid in the house that can sleep at that time.
Disadvantages of a Manual Air Fryer
- It may take longer to interact with the air fryer if you don’t have the prebuilt presets. For example, the digital air fryers have presets for baking, french fries, chicken, vegetables, steaks, and so on.
- It doesn’t contain smart functions like pre-heat or shaking reminders.
- It doesn’t show you the actual status of the cooking process because you don’t have a built-in display.
- As the gradation of temperature is too wide, you can’t set a precise temperature for cooking. If you plan also to bake different cakes in your air fryer, you should consider a digital air fryer for the best results.
- As I said earlier, there are no built-in presets, so you should remember the cooking time and temperature for each category of food. This will be a disadvantage only in the beginning because after a short time you will remember those settings for your preferred type of food.
- The manual air fryers have fewer functions, so think from the beginning if you are good to go without these functions.
- You can’t change the temperature units from Fahrenheit to Celsius. From someone, this may be a dilemma if you found a European recipe where the temperature is indicated only in Celsius. On a digital air fryer, you can easily change the temperature unit.
Advantages of A Digital Air Fryer
- You can more precisely control the temperature and time because it is not only an estimate, but you see the exact numbers on the display. If you plan to bake in the air fryer, this should be one of the most important criteria when you will choose an air fryer. If you’re interested in baking in the air fryer check my recipes of how I made the chocolate cupcakes in air fryer, an upside-down yogurt plum cake, and a Sicilian cheesecake. As you can see, you can easily bake in the air fryer and you will get great results in it.
- There are multiple presets that will allow setting the cooking time quicker without the need of remembering those numbers by yourself.
- The digital air fryer usually has some additional smart functions like a warm-up, shake reminder, and fancier air fryers have built-in wi-fi that allows you to connect and control them from your smartphone. I like the last function because I can put ingredients in it, then I can start the cooking timer even if I’m outside of my house, directly from my smartphone. Or I can start the cooking process and make other things around the house, when the cooking time will end, or when I will need to shake the air fryer basket, I will get a reminder on my smartphone and watch.
- If you are a visual perfectionist, you may prefer the digital air fryer because they look cleaner and more elegant.
- The digital air fryers have a built-in display on which you can see the current status of your cooking progress.
- These air fryers are controlled with a touch screen that can be handy when you have your hands dirty and when you can control the air fryer with only a finger by pressing a button.
- You can easily change the temperature unit from Fahrenheit to Celsius. This may be handy if you found the desired recipe but the cooking instructions are for the European countries.
Disadvantages of A Digital Air Fryer
- Usually, digital air fryers are more expensive.
- Because of more functions, the digital air fryer may be confusing for elder people who prefer to control everything manually.
- In case of repair, the digital air fryers may cost more to repair and if you live in a small town, you need to wait for some time until the needed parts will be delivered to the service.
- Because the digital air fryer has more components in it, they are usually heavier and bigger than the manual air fryers.
- You may get annoyed by the digital menu. On some cheap digital models, you need to press a few buttons to set the temperature and time and to jump from one preset to another. You may make this quicker on a manual air fryer. I highly recommend watching a review on youtube on the specific model that you plan to buy.
- If you have a small kid that sleeps around the kitchen, you may find the digital air fryer too loud because it beeps on every touch. So, if you want to increase, or decrease the temperature or time, you need to make a few taps on the touch screen, and with each press of the button, the digital air fryer will beep. As much as I love my air fryer, I didn’t find a way to “Mute” my air fryer. When my kid is sleeping, I usually control the air fryer from the smartphone. In that case, the air fryer is completely silent. Yes, it is a solution but is an extra step and it annoys me sometimes when I don’t have a smartphone near me.
Answering Your Questions:
A digital air fryer is an air fryer that has a digital LED control panel and usually has pre-built presets and smart functions like pre-heat, keep warm and shake reminders.
An Analog air fryer or also called a manual air fryer is an air fryer that you can control manually with only two dials: One responsible for the cooking temperature and another for the cooking time. Usually, it doesn’t have any other functions, it’s lighter and cheaper.
If you are cooking often in the air fryer then definitely, pick the digital air fryer. It will save you much more time and will make the cooking process a lot easier. If you plan to cook from time to time only, pick the manual air fryer and save the money.
If you plan to bake in the air fryer then definitely pick the digital air fryer because you can control the cooking time and temperature more. Two facts that are very important in baking if you want to get the best results.
Conclusion? Which Is Better: A Manual or Digital Air Fryer?
As I said earlier, it depends entirely on your usage scenario and your preferences. If you are planning to cook only from time to time only simple dishes, go with a manual air fryer and save the money. If you plan to cook more often, and you also plan to bake in the air fryer, you will love the presets options and other addons that you will get with the digital air fryer.
Some people can’t live without the smart functions, others will get annoyed by the menu on the digital air fryer and on the loud functions that are emitting.
Knowing what I know now about my air fryer and if I will need to pick a new one, I will go with a digital air fryer because I use it a lot and it saves me a ton of time.
If your main criteria is your limited budget, then I will recommend hunting for some deals on digital air fryers. You can find from time to time good digital air fryers for under $60.
If you have already an air fryer, please let me know in the comments what air fryer you chose, why, and how happy you are with it.