Deciding whether to buy a halogen oven or an air fryer? We tried both to see which was best

We test whether a halogen oven or air fryer is better for your kitchen before you shop

Image of air fryer and halogen oven side by side on countertop during testing
(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

Deciding between a halogen oven vs an air fryer is a hot topic, as shoppers try to find the most energy-efficient option. And if you haven't shopped for either appliance yet, it's a question you might still be asking.

The cost of living is still biting and we’re still all trying to cut back on energy use these days in an effort to combat rising bills. And this is leading many of us to shun traditionally power-hungry electric ovens for other methods of cooking. The best air fryers are a popular alternative and I for one use my oven far less than I did before I got an air fryer.

Air fryers aren’t the only alternative to ovens though, another countertop cooker that’s been on the scene far longer is the humble halogen oven. But since halogen ovens and air fryers look very different and also use different technology, figuring out which one to buy can be a tricky task, particularly if you’ve no experience cooking in either appliance.

Air fryer vs halogen oven

Not only do I review lots of them, but I cook frequently in my own trusty air fryer. However, I’m pretty new to halogen ovens. My dad had one for years and swore by it, but I never used it, nor have I ever been asked to review one, so I was interested to get my hands on one and try it out.

I hooked up both the halogen oven and an air fryer to an electricity meter to see which was best for power consumption. But I also compared how quickly they cooked the same foods as well as whether I preferred the taste and texture of foods cooked in one over the other. 

The results make for pretty interesting reading and in my opinion, there’s a clear winner: the ever-popular air fryer. Scroll down to find out why I won't be switching to a halogen oven.

Who tested these appliances?

Image of Helen McCue, Freelance Contirbutor
Helen McCue

Helen is a regular contributor to Ideal Home, reviewing appliances (often air fryers) to let us know what they're worth. She lives in a village in Buckinghamshire and reviewed this halogen oven and air fryer side by side in her kitchen. She tested both of these appliances by using them to cook all sorts of everyday foods for herself and her husband.

How does a halogen oven work?

Image of JML Halowave halogen oven being tested at home

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

Quite simply a halogen oven is a countertop cooker that uses a halogen light bulb as its heat source. The bulb is housed in the lid along with a fan to distribute heat. The main cooking zone is usually a glass bowl and the bulb will pulse on and off to maintain the temperature inside the bowl. 

They have a reputation as a low energy alternative to standard electric ovens and are said to consume up to 75% less energy than an electric oven. 

How does an air fryer work?

Image of Tefal air fryer during testing at home

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

Air fryers are essentially mini convection ovens, they produce heat using an element and a high-powered fan circulates the heat evenly around the small cooking space. 

Drawer style air fryers have become the most common type, food is placed on a perforated rack inside a drawer that can be easily removed when the contents need a turn or a shake. 

But air fryers are also commonly combined with other appliances, many of the best multi-cookers now have an air fryer mode. Similarly, some air fryers offer multiple cooking functions such as grill, steam, bake, and dehydrate. 

Which one cooks fastest?

Image of halogen oven used to cook chips

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

First up let’s talk about preheating. The halogen oven I tried recommended a 5-10 minute preheat. I stuck to five minutes, I didn’t want to put it on empty for 10 minutes, that felt like a waste. My usual air fryer has an automatic preheat that takes around 3 minutes, but I’ve reviewed some recently like the Tefal EasyFry 3-in-1 that don’t need preheating at all.

Bar a couple of exceptions, the food cooked in the air fryer was cooked much quicker than in the halogen oven. The most notable example was scampi and chips. In the air fryer I allowed the raw potato batons 18 minutes to cook, adding the scampi and cooking with the chips for a further 10 minutes, so the whole lot was done in 28 minutes.

Image of halogen oven with uncooked chips

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

Whereas in the halogen oven the chips were cooking for 35 minutes before I added the scampi, I then cooked it all for a further 25 minutes. That’s a hunger-inducing 60 minute total cook time – double the time it took in my air fryer.

Broccoli florets also required double the cook time in the halogen oven, taking 12 minutes as opposed to 6 minutes in the air fryer. Meanwhile bacon and halloumi took a similar amount of time in both cookers.

A whole chicken roasted in a speedy 60 minutes in the air fryer, but needed 75 minutes in the halogen oven, which is 25% longer. Likewise a Quorn escalope that cooked in 15 minutes in the Lakeland Digital Compact Air Fryer required 25 minutes in the halogen oven.

So, if it’s speed you’re after, an air fryer is the way to go in almost all cases, especially if you take into account potential preheat times.

Image of halogen oven used to cook chips

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

Which is cheapest to run?

Okay, let’s cut to the chase, if you’re looking to buy one of these appliances to save on energy then this is the bit you’re interested in - how much an air fryer costs to run compared to a halogen oven. I recorded how much energy used when roasting a chicken as well as cooking scampi and chips. So let me break it down for you.

Chicken: As I already mentioned above, a whole chicken cooked faster in the air fryer and according to the energy meter it used 1.074 kWh of energy. I cooked it in the Tefal EasyFry 3-in-1 which doesn’t require preheating so that also helped keep the reading low. At the time of writing electricity costs on average (an extortionate) 35p per kWh, meaning it cost me around 37.6p to roast the chicken in the air fryer.

In addition to the 75 minutes taken to roast a chicken in the halogen oven, there was the 5 minute preheat to account for as well. The total energy used was 1.2 kWh. Meaning I spent 42p roasting the chicken in the halogen oven. So while there wasn’t much in it - less than 5p difference - over time this would start to stack up.

Image of halogen oven with cooked chicken

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

Scampi and chips: Once again the air fryer was far quicker so there’s no surprises that it used less electricity. My scampi and chips dinner  in the air fryer used 0.68 kWh compared to 1 kWh in the halogen oven. So that’s around 24p in the air fryer or 35p in the halogen oven. And this is a stark difference – if I cook this meal once a week I’d save £5.72 per year by cooking it in the air fryer compared to the halogen oven.

In both cases the air fryer was cheaper thanks to its speedy cook times. However, if comparing them like-for-like, the halogen oven used less electricity per hour than the air fryer, but that’s not much help if the longer cook times cost you more in the end. So I think it’s fair to say the air fryer wins this round too.

Image of air fryer with plate of scampi and chips

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

Taste test

Yes, yes and yes! Scampi in the air fryer has a crunchy crumb and chips get nicely crisped. But sadly, in the halogen oven the results were somewhat soggier. Plus, I was disappointed that the chips weren’t as fluffy on the inside when cooked in the halogen oven compared to air fried chips. I’m sure it all would have crisped up more eventually, but I wasn’t willing to wait longer than 60 minutes for what's usually a pretty speedy dinner.

The skin on a roast chicken browned and crisped up beautifully in the air fryer and though it was perfectly acceptable in the halogen oven, we preferred the air fried chicken. Having said that, the meat underneath the skin was moist and tender in both cookers.

Image of air fryer with chicken inside

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

There wasn’t much difference between the air fried bacon and the bacon cooked in the halogen oven. This is because in the halogen oven I put the bacon on a high rack (supplied with the oven), lifting it up much closer to the heat source, which meant the fat rendered nicely.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy halloumi cooked in the halogen oven, it crisped up less than the air fried version, but somehow dried out at the same time. Similarly, broccoli didn’t get that deliciously crisp and charred texture in the halogen oven that I enjoy when it has been air fried, though it was still nicely cooked.

Overall I preferred the taste and texture of the air fried foods, the air fryer is more successful at crisping foods and creating deliciously crunchy coatings.

Image of haogen oven used to cook halloumi

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

Which is easiest to use and clean?

Neither is difficult to use, the halogen oven has a very simple setup with just a timer dial and temperature dial, so I got to grips with it pretty quickly. But it felt overly simplified with quite dated dial controls. 

In general, most air fryers have a digital display and touch sensitive controls for time and temperature. Some offer preset cooking modes for common foods like chips and nuggets. And some include additional cooking functions such as bake, steam, grill, and dehydrate. Air fryers tend to be simple to use but at the same time, offer a bit more functionality than a halogen oven.

The halogen oven I tried has a large, heavy glass bowl that barely fits in my sink. Nothing stuck to it, so it wasn’t difficult to wash, but it was cumbersome and awkward. Air fryers generally have non-stick metal drawers and some, but not all, can go in the dishwasher which makes for speedy cleaning.

Image of air fryer and halogen oven on countertop during testing

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

Which is cheaper?

I tried the JML Halowave which costs £59.99 and has a large 10.5 litre capacity. Halogen ovens are very attractively priced and you can buy one for as little as £45. They’re certainly the cheaper option, which is a big draw.

Air fryers by comparison are expensive. I used a combination of three different air fryers during the process of writing this article, the Lakeland Digital Compact Air Fryer which is £89.99, the Tefal EasyFry 3-in-1 which is just under £200 and has a 6.2 litre capacity, and I also used the Ninja Foodi Health Grill and Air fryer, the most expensive of the bunch at £235.

Some top-rated air fryers can cost as much as £250, but price depends on capacity, brand, and functionality. The more expensive models often include multiple cooking modes and fancy digital control panels that you don’t get with a halogen oven. 

Which one should you buy?

If you’ve read all of the above, it won’t surprise you that air fryers get my vote. While the initial investment is higher, the food cooks better, faster, and consequently they use less electricity. What’s more, there are so many different options, from large capacity dual drawer models to those with multiple cooking functions bundled in. For me it’s a no-brainer, an air fryer is the way to go! 

Helen McCue
Freelance Reviewer

 After completing a Home Economics degree, Helen went on to work for the Good Housekeeping Institute and has been reviewing home appliances ever since. She lives in a small village in Buckinghamshire in the UK.

With contributions from