Air fryer Christmas dinner hacks to take the stress out of cooking and allow you to enjoy the big day

Who needs to spend the whole day in the kitchen when you have an air fryer?

Air fryers line up from testing day
(Image credit: Future / Millie Fender)

We’re not exaggerating when we say that the invention of the air fryer can be likened to the invention of the wheel, the combustion engine, the lightbulb, and chocolate (duh). Don’t believe us? Well, maybe these air fryer Christmas dinner hacks will sway you.

The best air fryers have held a very large space in the hearts of the Ideal Home team for a few years now - and it’s fair to say that we love this handy kitchen appliance almost as much as we love Christmas. But you probably don’t need us to tell you that Christmas can be pretty hectic for those cooking up a festive storm in the kitchen. 

While guests can sit back and play party games with a glass of bubbly in their hands, those cooking Christmas dinner are stuck in the kitchen for hours on end. That’s why, with the help of experts, we’ve merged our two loves and put together a list of the best air fryer Christmas dinner hacks. 

Air fryer Christmas dinner hacks 

‘Using an air fryer can be a godsend on Christmas Day as it frees up space in your oven,’ says professional chef Sarah Manning-Ball in collaboration with Next.  But how do you get the most out of your air fryer at Christmas? Well, ho-ho-hold onto your hats because we’ve put together some genius ideas below. 

1. Swap the timer for a dual-zone air fryer

Image of Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer with two baskets

(Image credit: Ninja)

Timing is everything when it comes to your Christmas dinner. Nobody wants cold sprouts, after all! But trying to cook everything at different temperatures and for different lengths of time can be a real nightmare for those in the kitchen. Most of the time, Christmas cooks have to rely on five different timers to keep track of the food in the oven.

Marc Williams, Cookery School Director at the five-star hotel The Grand, York suggests swapping these timers for one of the best dual-zone air fryers instead - especially when cooking your veggies. 

‘The air fryers with two sections are great for cooking at different temperatures. Try honey-glazed parsnips on one side at 180°C and roast potatoes in the other at 200°C. This will make the day easy and free up some oven space if needed.’ 

And while professional chef Sarah agrees that honey-glazed parsnips are the way to go, she has issued a warning for those who don’t want to spend hours cleaning their air fryer after their Christmas dinner. ‘Just make sure you use a liner if you’re coating them in honey for a quick clean,’ she says.

2. No microwave? No problem for your Christmas pud

Christmas pudding

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you have the best air fryer for a family of four or you’ve bagged yourself the best small air fryer, there’s a high chance that you’re just as obsessed with an air fryer as everyone else. But with more and more people using this popular kitchen appliance, many people are choosing to ditch their microwaves. 

Everyone knows that the best way to cook a Christmas pudding is in the microwave, though, don’t they? Either that or you have to steam it in the oven for an hour - and nobody has the time (or the space) for that. 

But don’t worry if you no longer have a microwave, as you can cook a Christmas pudding in an air fryer in just a few minutes! 

If you really want to push the boat out and serve a deliciously moist Christmas pudding, you could even opt for an air fryer that comes with a steam function - like the Tefal EasyFry 3in1 Air Fryer, which we gave a 4-star review when we tested it.

3. Switch out a whole turkey for a turkey crown

turkey air fryer

(Image credit: Future / Millie Fender)

If you’re cooking for the 5,000 (AKA your whole family and your extended family), we’re sorry to say that you’re definitely going to need to use an oven to cook a turkey big enough to feed everyone. That’s because an air fryer big enough for a whole turkey doesn’t exist… yet. 

But if you’re cooking for fewer people or opting to reduce your meat intake this Christmas, you can definitely get away with cooking your turkey in the air fryer. In fact, our Head of Reviews, Mille Fender, did exactly that! She cooked a whole Christmas dinner in her air fryer - which included an entire turkey crown and a turkey leg. 

She said, ‘I wrapped both my turkey crown and turkey leg in some tin foil to lock in moisture and cooked as recommended for a fan oven, which was 160 degrees or two hours for the crown and one hour for the leg.’

‘After I was finished cooking the turkey in foil, I peeled back the top bit to reveal a lot of lovely juices which I used to base the turkey before I whacked the heat up to 200 degrees for 15 minutes to get some browning on the skin.’

This is something that Sam Milner, author of the bestselling air fryer cookbook, The Complete Airfryer agrees with - although she found that her stuffed supermarket turkey crown didn’t take as long as Millie’s to cook. ‘Air fryer turkey crown takes just 55 minutes much much faster compared to the oven, and there’s no pre-heat required. Also note that to avoid dry turkey syndrome we cook breast side down first.’

4. Create the ultimate crisp on your roasties

Roast potatoes served on a dish

(Image credit: Future PLC / Sean Calitz)

For years, my family has teased me on my roast potato antics. At the end of every meal (because you always leave the best until last), I tap all of my roasties with a knife to see how crispy they are, and then eat them in order of crispiness - starting from the least crispy to the crispiest. 

If you understand the importance of a crispy roast potato as much as I do, you’ll probably want to know how to make the ultimate crispy roast potatoes in an air fryer. Well, you have two options. 

You could either use the air fryer insert to lift the potatoes out of the fat as it drips down, or you could let the roast potatoes cook in the oil, just as they would on a roasting tray in the oven. Both options can work - but there’s no doubt that you’re going to get crispier roasties by choosing the latter option. 

Want to know the best bit? There’s absolutely no need to par-boil roast potatoes before you cook them in the air fryer, so that saves you some washing up! 

Just make sure you give your roasties a shake halfway through cooking time, which should be about 30-40 minutes in total. 

5. Slice your sprout cooking time in half

air fryer christmas dinner

(Image credit: Future / Millie Fender)

You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em, but Christmas is the one time of the year that sprouts should make an appearance. However, cooking sprouts can be a real hassle - especially when you have to boil them first. 

But if you want to fall even deeper in love with your air fryer this Christmas, you might want to cook your spouts in your air fryer instead. Plus, you don’t even have to use fresh sprouts for this Christmas air fryer hack.

‘Sprouts are amazing in the air fryer, and there’s no need to boil them first,’ says Sam Milner. ‘You can also use frozen sprouts in the air fryer and speed up the cooking time on sprouts by slicing them in half before air frying.’

But if that’s still not enough to win you over, you might want to do what every other sprout-lover does and cook them with bacon, too. 


Can you cook a Christmas dinner in an air fryer?

Yes! You absolutely can cook a Christmas dinner in an air fryer. It’s up to you whether you cook the whole meal or just certain aspects of a Christmas dinner in an air fryer, but the opportunities are endless. 

You could choose to dedicate your air fryer space to cooking your vegetables, or you could give yourself more space in the oven by using the air fryer to cook your turkey crown. 

Just remember that you probably won’t have enough space in your air fryer to cook a whole turkey, so opting for a smaller turkey crown would be your best bet. 

What 5 foods should you not put in an air fryer?

Air fryers can cook almost anything, but there are certain foods that you need to steer clear of when using an air fryer. 

  • Wet batter: Whether you’re battering your own fish or trying to make Yorkshire puddings, you should avoid putting anything with wet batter into an air fryer as it could damage the internal elements of the appliance. 
  • Popcorn: There’s nothing better than popping your own popcorn, but an air fryer is very different to a microwave. Instead of popping in an air fryer, it’ll likely just fly around the machine and potentially cause irreversible damage. 
  • Cheese: Although hard cheeses should be fine in an air fryer, softer cheeses will probably just melt within seconds and leave you with a puddle of charred cheese to clean up. If you want to melt a camembert this festive season just make sure it's in a container first.
  • Raw grains: Love rice and pasta? We don’t blame you. And while an air fryer can easily help you make fried rice or pasta crisps, these raw grains need to be boiled before they can be cooked further in an air fryer.
  • Leafy greens: It may seem like a good idea to cook kale or spinach in an air fryer, but these light leafy greens won’t stay put while the air fryer is turned on. Instead, they’ll fly around the basket and cook unevenly. 

So, which Christmas dinner air fryer hacks will you be using this year?

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.