Air Fryer VS Panini Press

There is no shortage of options if you are looking for a kitchen appliance in the market. Air fryers and panini presses are very popular options when it comes to cooking and grilling.

However, both have their benefits, and many struggle to decide which is the better choice for them. So, what’s the difference between an air fryer and a panini press, and which one should you buy?

The main difference between an air fryer and a panini press is that an air fryer can do a lot more than grilling while a panini press just usually grills sandwiches, meat, and other foods.

What is an Air Fryer and how does it work?

An air fryer’s working principle is circulating hot air around the food, which helps to cook and brown the food. The food is placed in a basket or tray, and the hot air circulates the food using a fan. The oil is sprayed on the food or added to the basket before cooking.

What is a Panini Press and how does it work?

A panini press works by heating both the top and bottom plates and then pressing them together to grill the food. The food is placed between the two hot plates, and then the plates are pressed against it; this applies pressure onto the food and heats it, resulting in a crispy exterior.

Differences between an Air Fryer and a Panini Press

There are plenty of differences between these appliances; we have created a comparison table to make things easier for you!

 Air FryerPanini Press
Working mechanismCirculates hot air around the food using a fan and heating elementUses heated plates and pressure against the food to cook/grill it
Use of oilTypically uses a small amount of oil to fry food. It is still more than the average amount used in a panini pressRequires oil just on the surface so that the food doesn’t stick
Cooking timeGenerally takes more time for the air to heat, circulate and cookApplies direct heat from both sides to cook quickly
UsesCan cook in many different ways; it can bake, roast, grill, fry, broil, dehydrate, reheat, etc.Can grill, toast and griddle fry food
CapacityComes in various sizes but you’ll have less room for grillingCan open up and work as a griddle on both sides
Caloric countSlightly more caloric count than panini pressLow caloric count thanks to less usage of oil
CleaningRequires a more thorough cleaning (aside from cleaning the basket and other parts) as the fan and the heating element often gets jammed with greaseEasier to clean as you just need to clean the surface of the grill

Air Fryer or Panini Press: Which one to choose?

There are several different factors you should consider before you decide which one of these two appliances is best for your needs:


Both air fryer and panini press use very little oil, but an air fryer uses just a slightly more amount of oil. Hence, you might want to go for a panini press if you really want to reduce your oil intake.

Taste and texture

Air fryers produce a crispy exterior on the food with a moist and tender inside. Panini presses can also give the food a crispy exterior, but they result in a warm, melted interior. For taste, people usually prefer the grilled taste a panini press gives.


Air fryers are usually more expensive than panini presses. You can get a panini press for 1/3rd the price of an air fryer.

Cooking time

Air fryers and panini presses can both cook food relatively quickly, but the cooking time may vary depending on the type of food and the specific appliance. Usually, air fryer takes longer to cook compared to a panini press which applies direct heat to food.


Both air fryers and panini presses are safe appliances as their respective lids cover them but you may need to take precautions. Some models of air fryers have safety features to prevent burns and accidents, so you might want to go for them if safety is a major concern.

Maintenance and cleaning

Panini presses are very easy to clean as you just need to clean their surface. On the other hand, cleaning an air fryer basket is easy, but the other components (like fan and heating element) require a thorough cleaning every 2 to 3 months. This can be difficult as you would have to disassemble the appliance every time.


Air fryers are generally more versatile kitchen appliances that can be used to cook a wide range of foods. Panini presses are specifically designed for grilling sandwiches, but you can use them for grilling vegetables and patties too.

Final consensus

Both air fryers and panini presses are excellent appliances that have their own unique uses. Panini presses are better in the sense that they are cheaper, use slightly less oil, and can be cleaned easily. But air fryers are more versatile and can be used for many other purposes beyond frying.

In the end, it all comes down to the user and what their requirements are. If you’re looking for home usage and don’t have a limit on spending, go for an air fryer. However, if you’re a bit short on cash or are looking for something for your dorm, choose the panini press.

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Amna Muqeem
Hi! I'm Amna and I love cooking and eating different cuisines. My fiance, Immad, and I started this website to share our knowledge of food and kitchen appliances, and to learn more along the way! Here, we try different foods, learn about them through extensive research, and share our experiences with you. Same goes for kitchen appliances and the reviews we craft for you. I hope you enjoy our articles and get to learn from them. Do share your thoughts in the comments, we always read them! You can contact me through

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