Can you cook ready meals in an air fryer? | a tasty guide

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Are you a fan of quick and convenient meals that fit your busy lifestyle? If so, you’re probably no stranger to ready meals – those pre-packaged delights that promise to satisfy your cravings with minimal effort.

But here’s the burning question: can you cook ready meals in the air fryer? The answer might revolutionise the way you enjoy your favourite on-the-go dishes.

What are the benefits of cooking with an air fryer?

First things first, let’s talk about the air fryer. This nifty kitchen gadget has taken the culinary world by storm, offering a healthier way to achieve that satisfying crunch we all love. An air fryer uses hot air circulation to cook food to crispy perfection with significantly less oil than traditional frying methods.

If you’re curious about the benefits of cooking with an air fryer, prepare to be amazed by the culinary possibilities it brings to your table.

  • Healthier indulgences

Let’s face it – fried foods are undeniably delicious, but the excess oil they absorb can leave you feeling weighed down.

Enter the air fryer: a kitchen superhero that allows you to enjoy the crispy textures you love without drowning your meal in oil.

By using hot air circulation, air fryers create that coveted crunch using just a fraction of the oil traditionally required. This means you can indulge guilt-free, with fewer calories and less saturated fat.

  • Reduced oil consumption

Air fryers require only minimal oil – often just a spritz or a light coating – to achieve that irresistible crispiness.

This reduction in oil makes your meals healthier and reduces the mess and hassle of cleaning up after a frying session.

  • Faster cooking times

Life moves at a fast pace, and your meals should too. Air fryers excel in speedy cooking thanks to their rapid air circulation.

Compared to traditional ovens, air fryers can cook food up to 20-30% faster. This means you can whip up a delicious meal in a fraction of the time, perfect for those busy weeknights when you’re craving something delectable without the wait.

  • Versatile culinary creations

An air fryer isn’t limited to just replicating the magic of frying. It’s a versatile tool that can handle a wide range of culinary tasks.

From roasting vegetables to baking cookies and even reheating leftovers, the air fryer is a multipurpose appliance that earns its space on your countertop.

  • Crispy, not greasy

One of the challenges of traditional frying is achieving that ideal crispy texture without the greasiness. An air fryer can fix this.

By evenly circulating hot air around your food, they create a crispy exterior that rivals deep frying, minus the excess oil. Whether you’re cooking up fries, chicken wings, or even onion rings, expect a satisfying crunch that’s sure to impress.

  • Easy cleanup

Cleaning up after a cooking escapade can often dampen the joy of enjoying a delicious meal. Air fryers are designed with simplicity in mind. Most models feature non-stick baskets or trays that make cleaning a breeze. Say goodbye to scrubbing oil splatters off your stovetop or oven walls; with an air fryer, you’ll spend less time cleaning and more time savouring your creations. This makes the air fryer an especially convenient gadget when it comes to cooking for one!

  • Energy efficiency

Are you concerned about energy consumption? Air fryers are generally more energy-efficient than traditional ovens.

Their smaller size and faster cooking times translate to less energy usage overall. So not only do you get to enjoy scrumptious meals, but you also contribute to a more sustainable kitchen routine.

  • Preserving nutrients and flavour

Retaining nutrients and flavours is essential when you’re on a quest for health-conscious cooking. Air frying preserves the nutritional value of your ingredients while enhancing their natural flavours. With its quick cooking times and minimal exposure to high temperatures, an air fryer helps you maintain the goodness that makes your meals both delicious and nourishing.

The air fryer isn’t just an appliance; it’s a game-changer in the world of cooking. Its ability to deliver crispy, mouthwatering dishes with a fraction of the oil consumption is nothing short of revolutionary. From healthier indulgences to versatile culinary creations, the benefits of cooking with an air fryer extend far beyond the plate.

Can you cook a ready meal in an air fryer?

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room – can you cook those beloved ready meals in your trusty air fryer? The answer is a resounding “yes,” with a few helpful tips to ensure you get the best results every time.

  • Check the packaging

Before you embark on your air-frying adventure, take a peek at the packaging of your ready meal. Some brands are one step ahead and provide air fryer-specific instructions right there, saving you the guesswork. If not, don’t fret! With a little experimentation, you’ll be able to create culinary magic.

  • Adjust time and temperature

Air fryers are like ovens, but they work their magic faster. When converting oven or microwave instructions to air fryer terms, consider slightly lower temperatures and reduced cooking time. It’s a game of trial and taste, so start with the recommended cooking time on the packaging and keep an eye on your meal’s progress.

  • Embrace preheating (optional)

Unlike ovens, many air fryers don’t require preheating. But here’s a secret: Preheating might be the key to achieving an evenly cooked masterpiece. If you’re feeling adventurous, try it and see if your ready meal comes out even more delectable.

  • One layer love

Air fryer success is all about creating a single layer of food. Gently arrange your ready meal components in the basket, ensuring they have room to breathe. If you’ve got protein and veggies in the mix, a little rearranging might be in order to ensure every bite is cooked to perfection.

  • A spritz of oil magic

Air fryers work their magic with minimal oil, but a light spritz of your favourite cooking oil can take your meal to the next level. It’s a balancing act, so just a touch is all you need for that extra-crispy goodness.

  • Keep an eye on it

The air fryer might be a magical kitchen companion, but like any wizard, it benefits from a watchful eye. Keep tabs on your meal as it cooks to avoid any mishaps. A little shake of the basket or a gentle stir can help ensure even cooking.

  • Size matters

Size matters, especially when it comes to your air fryer. Make sure your appliance can accommodate the size of your ready meal. If you’re in for a feast, consider cooking in batches or exploring other cooking options.

The air fryer isn’t just a gadget; it’s a game-changer for your culinary escapades. By welcoming ready meals into its world, you’re embracing a new level of taste, texture, and convenience. So, the next time you’re eyeing that inviting ready meal in your freezer, remember that your air fryer stands ready to work its crispy magic.

In the delightful world of modern cooking, blending convenience with creativity is the name of the game. And when it comes to the question, “Can you cook ready meals in the air fryer?” – the answer is a flavourful yes! With a dash of experimentation and a sprinkle of ingenuity, you’ll be savouring the perfect crunch in every bite, all while revelling in the joy of easy, delicious meals that fit your busy lifestyle.

So go ahead, fire up your air fryer, grab that ready meal from the freezer, and get ready to savour the culinary transformation. Your taste buds and your busy schedule will thank you!

How to convert cooking times for air fryer

Converting cooking times from traditional methods to an air fryer can be trial and error, but with some general guidelines and a touch of experimentation, you’ll become a pro at it. Here’s how to convert cooking times for an air fryer:

Air fryer conversions

  • Understand air fryer basics

Air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food, creating a crispy texture with less oil. They cook faster than conventional ovens due to the compact space and efficient air circulation.

  • Start with similar temperatures

When converting a recipe, start by using the same temperature as the original recipe. Air fryers typically cook at temperatures between 300°F and 400°F (150°C to 200°C).

  • Reduce cooking time

Air fryers cook faster than traditional methods, so start by reducing the cooking time by about 20-30%. For example, if a recipe in the oven takes 30 minutes, try cooking it in the air fryer for around 20-24 minutes.

  • Monitor and adjust

Air fryers vary in terms of size and wattage, so keep a close eye on your food as it cooks. Check for doneness earlier than you think, and adjust the cooking time as needed.

  • Test for doneness

Use a meat thermometer for proteins or a toothpick for baked goods to ensure they’re cooked to your desired level. Remember that the internal temperature should be safe for consumption.

  • Experiment with batches

If you’re cooking a large quantity, it might be better to cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket. Overcrowding can affect the airflow and result in uneven cooking.

  • Shake or flip?

For even cooking, shake the basket or flip the food halfway through the cooking process. This helps achieve a consistent texture on all sides.

  • Preheating (Optional)

Some recipes benefit from preheating the air fryer before adding the food. Preheating can help with achieving a more even cook.

  • Adapt based on experience

As you gain experience with your specific air fryer, you’ll become better at determining how your favourite recipes need to be adjusted. Keep notes on cooking times that worked well for different types of dishes.

Remember that while these guidelines can be helpful, cooking in an air fryer might require a bit of experimentation before you perfect your timing. Be patient, trust your instincts, and enjoy the process of discovering how to make your favourite dishes shine in this innovative appliance.



Can you really cook ready meals in an air fryer?

Absolutely! Air fryers are versatile appliances that can cook a variety of foods, including ready meals. They use hot air circulation to create a crispy texture similar to frying, making them a great option for heating up convenience foods.

Do I need to make any adjustments when cooking ready meals in an air fryer?

Yes, you might need to make a few adjustments. Follow the package instructions for the ready meal as a starting point. However, you might want to slightly reduce the cooking time and temperature, as air fryers cook faster than ovens.

Can I use the same temperature and time settings for all ready meals?

Not necessarily. Each ready meal may have different ingredients and cooking instructions. It’s a good idea to refer to the packaging for recommended cooking times and temperatures, and then adjust based on your air fryer’s performance and your personal taste preferences.

Do I need to preheat the air fryer before cooking a ready meal?

Preheating is not always necessary, but some people find that it helps achieve more consistent results. If you choose to preheat, it’s usually just for a few minutes at the cooking temperature mentioned on the packaging.

Can I cook multiple ready meals at once in the air fryer?

It depends on the size of your air fryer. If it’s spacious enough to accommodate multiple meals without overcrowding, you can cook them together. Just be sure to leave enough space for air circulation to ensure even cooking.

Do I need to use oil when cooking ready meals in the air fryer?

Most ready meals are designed to be cooked with minimal or no added oil. However, you can lightly spray some oil on the food if you want to enhance its crispy texture. Be cautious not to overdo it.

How can I prevent my ready meals from burning or overcooking?

Keep a close eye on the cooking process, especially during the last few minutes. Ready meals can vary in composition, so it’s essential to monitor them to prevent burning or overcooking. You can also shake the basket or gently stir the contents for even cooking.

Are there certain types of ready meals that are better suited for air frying?

Most ready meals that can be heated in an oven or microwave can also be cooked in an air fryer. Meals with crispy components like breaded items, fries, or even samosas tend to do particularly well in air fryers.

Can I reheat leftover ready meals in the air fryer?

Absolutely! The air fryer is an excellent tool for reheating leftovers, including ready meals. It can help revive the crispy texture and maintain the flavour of the food.

Are there any types of ready meals that I should avoid cooking in an air fryer?

While most ready meals are suitable for air frying, it’s a good idea to avoid items that have a very high fat content or are extremely delicate. Very greasy foods might lead to excessive smoke or splattering in the air fryer.

Remember that while air fryers are convenient and versatile, some experimentation might be needed to find the perfect cooking times and methods for your favourite ready meals. Always refer to the packaging instructions as a starting point and adjust based on your experience and preferences.