Are Air Fryers the Cheapest Way to Cook Chips?

Are air fryers the money saver they're cracked up to be?

A portion of chips cooked in an air fryer.
(Image credit: Getty)

Air fryers have rapidly grown in popularity over the last few years. Sky News reported that in September 2022 Argos was selling 1.6 air fryers a minute. They also reported that sales of the best-selling models had risen by over 3,000% since the same time in 2021 and sales of the most popular model, the Ninja AF400UK, have risen by over 22,000% since October 2021. 

How do air fryers work?

Air fryers work by using a heating mechanism and fan at the top of the device to warm the air inside the fryer. The fan then rapidly circulates the heated air around the food in the basket. This crisps the food, just like it would when deep frying, but without the need to use any oil. So on top of any potential savings on energy bills, this also makes using an air fryer that little bit healthier too.

An air fryer sat on top of a kitchen worktop.

(Image credit: Getty)

The MyVoucherCodes Chip Index

The Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddo is so many things, a solid snack-sized chocolate bar, a reminder of childhoods, and an unofficial measurement of inflation. What’s not to love? Well, you can’t, or rather shouldn’t cook a Freddo in an air fryer, but you can cook chips. 

Energy prices and the percentage increases in cost can seem daunting and challenging to understand. So we’ve tried to think of something that’s easy to picture and can easily show the cost of the energy used to cook. 

And what’s better for that than a single portion of chips? 

With the help of a portion of chips, we’ll compare the energy cost needed to get it cooked and ready to eat using an air fryer or the more conventional oven.

So what are the lucky chips?

The chips lucky enough to be selected for this are the McCain Home Chips Straight, available from all major supermarkets. They market themselves as the nation’s favourite chip but unfortunately, our research does not extend that far. 

McCain recommends cooking the chips in a preheated oven at 220°C/210°C Fan/Gas Mark 8 for 24 -26 minutes. For this little experiment, we’ll go down the middle with 25 minutes plus an extra 15 minutes to preheat. Opinions on cooking chips in an air fryer range from 15 to 25 minutes depending on the chips and the air fryer being used. So again, we’ll go down the middle and go with 20 minutes.

Cost of cooking chips in an air fryer

To work out the cost of cooking chips in an air fryer we’ll need an average of energy used. Like all appliances, the energy consumption of air fryers differs from model to model so it’s impossible to get an exact figure. According to Sophie Bird at TechRadar the energy used by:

  • a 1500W basket air fryer in an hour will be 1.5kWh
  • a 1700W air fryer will use 1.7kWh
  • a 2400W air fryer will use 2.4kWh

As the air fryer is only being used for 20 minutes we can divide that energy usage by 3. Giving us an energy usage (rounded up to 2 decimal places) of:

  • 1500W - 0.5kW
  • 1700W - 0.57kW
  • 2400W - 0.8kW

With the government’s Energy Price Guarantee, the average price of electricity is guaranteed to be 34p/kWh until March 2023. This would make the price of cooking a portion of chips in an air fryer (rounded up or down to the nearest penny):

  • 17p in a 1500W air fryer
  • 19p in a 1700W air fryer
  • 27p in a 2400W air fryer

A portion of freshly cooked golden chips in the tray of an air fryer.

(Image credit: Getty)

Cost of cooking chips in an oven

So now we know how much it costs to cook a portion of chips in an air fryer, what about an oven? Ben Gallizzi at Uswitch estimated the average energy usage of an electric oven to be between 2kWh and 2.2kWh. So to be conservative we’ll go with the higher figure just in case you’re oven isn’t as efficient as it could be. This would mean that in the 40 minutes for the oven to heat up and then cook the chips, it would use 1.45kW (rounded to 2 decimal places) at a cost of 49p.

However, not everyone uses an electric oven. Gas ovens tend to use a little less energy than electric ovens and gas itself is cheaper per unit than electricity (just 10.3p/kWh!). Under Energy Price Guarantee, the average gas price is 10.3p/kWh. Shipitappliances estimates a gas oven uses roughly 1.5kWh every time it’s used. So for the 40 minutes to preheat and cook the chips, you’ll use 1kW at an average cost of 10.3p. 

So gas ovens are cheaper than electric ovens and air fryers. However, as seen over the last few years, the supply and price of gas are much more volatile. Also once the Energy Price Guarantee is no longer in place, this affordability may not be the same.

A portion of chips served on a wooden serving board with seasonings and a side portion of tomato ketchup.

(Image credit: Getty)

The average energy uses of appliances

So now we’ve looked at the energy used to cook a chip. What about the energy you’d use on a day-to-day basis using different appliances? 

Back in October 2022, Utilita worked out the cost of using different appliances to cook your meals each day. Utilita’s pricing is based on the Government’s Energy Price Guarantee, so whilst the costs will eventually go up, which is always the difficulty when talking about energy costs, it is a great way to see the comparative costs of using different appliances.

Oven

The cost of using your oven for the day is dependent on the type of oven it is. Utilita priced a gas cooker at costing 33p a day, whilst a dual cooker costs 72p, and an electric cooker will set you back 87p a day.

Microwave

The humble microwave is the cheapest option for a day’s cooking, coming in at only 8p. However, you are severely limited as to what meals you can prepare and cook in a microwave. So we can’t recommend it as your primary appliance for cooking. Although as always, the microwave wins on convenience.

A white microwave sat on top of a white surface against a yellow wall.

(Image credit: Getty)

Slow Cooker

Slow cookers were another big craze a few years ago. But that hype has now all been usurped by air fryers. Slow cookers however do come in at an incredibly respectable 16p a day for usage. 

Like the microwave though, there are a number of things you can’t cook in a slow cooker. Lean and tender cuts of meat will become dry and tough, meat with the skin on will become unfirm and mushy, and most seafood like fish and shellfish suffer the same dry fate as lean meats. Slow cookers also don’t deal well with too much liquid, soft vegetables, milk or cream, and frozen foods.

It may sound like we’re talking slow cookers down, but what they do well they do really well. In fact, a slow cooker and air fryer combo in the kitchen is a fantastic way to bring down your energy bills whilst still being able to cook a tonne of delicious meals.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 DayWeekMonthYear
Electric Cooker87p£6.09£26.38£316.54
Dual Cooker72p£5.08£22£264.03
Gas Cooker33p£2.32£10.07£120.83
Slow Cooker16p£1.15£4.98£59.76
Microwave8p58p£2.50£30.02
Jordan Alexander
Food & Drink Editor

I’m Jordan and I’ve been working at MyVoucherCodes since the summer of 2021. Outside of money-saving, I’m a keen musician and guitar player and can regularly be found in a dingy venue somewhere in Bristol or perched in front of my laptop recording. When I’m not doing this you’ll find me exploring the city, watching cult B movies, reading a Stephen King or Murakami novel, or guiding the mighty Bath City to Champions League glory on Football Manager. All the cliches, I know.