Winter Air Fryer Ideas You Need to Know About
If there’s anything we want more of in winter, it’s delicious comfort food. But traditional comfort foods don’t often spell good news for your waistline, so what you need is a healthier way to make your favourite meals.
If you’re a fan of fried foods, an air fryer is your saviour. And it seems plenty of people think the same: these popular appliances have been flying off our shelves even faster than usual since the pandemic started, with so many of us aiming to live and eat more healthily post-lockdown.
Providing a healthier way to cook fried foods without compromising on flavour, they’re just what your kitchen needs for winter and beyond.
They’ve got lots of benefits to boast about, so we’ve come up with some great air fryer ideas to help you make the most of this fabulous appliance. We’ll detail how and what to cook in an air fryer below, from chicken to vegetables and even jacket potatoes.
What is an Air Fryer?
An air fryer is essentially the healthier version of the deep fat fryer. Instead of cooking food by submerging it in hot oil, they cook it using air alone - or, if you like, just a tablespoon of oil. As the air circulates around the food, it creates the tasty, crispy texture you get from traditional deep fat-fried foods but with a lot fewer calories.
Here are the main benefits:
- Healthier. When comparing deep-fried food to air-fried food, the latter wins hands down as there’s so much less oil, and that means fewer calories. Deep fat frying also produces a cancer-causing compound called acrylamide, and there’s evidence to suggest air frying reduces this.
- Convenient. No more filling up, emptying and cleaning the oil container in a deep fat fryer - simply pop in your food and turn it on.
- Time-saving. They cook food fast - always a bonus! Especially if your busy lifestyle means you’re short on time.
- Less power-consuming. Given their fairly compact size, they don’t use as much energy as other appliances, compared to, for example, an oven, so there’s a smaller cost to both you and the planet.
Some of our bestselling models include the Tefal Easy Fry 4.2L Precision Digital Air Fryer with its compact design and digital touchscreen, and the Quest 17L Multi-Fuction Air Fryer, which is ideal for larger households and occasions thanks to the 5L extender ring.
If all this talk of healthier cooking is inspiring you, check out our healthy eating blog for more tips on how to change your eating habits for the better.
What Is the Best Air Fryer?
There are basically two different types of air fryer: ones with a basket in a drawer, similar to deep fat fryers, and ones without that are more like miniature ovens.
In basket air fryers, such as this Salter 3.2L model, the air is heated and then circulated by a fan within the basket. They’re generally smaller so are ideal if you have a smaller household or not much counter space.
In air fryer ovens, like this Daewoo 17L one, the heated air is blown down from above, and the racks allow you to place food closer or further away from the heating element. They tend to be larger so they can cook more food, though they do take up a bit more space on your counter. The capacity is great for families and if they have an extender ring, like the Daewoo model above, they can really help out on occasions when friends or other family members come round.
Now you know which type might be the best one for you, have a look at our air fryer ideas below to find the perfect meals to cook.
What to Cook in an Air Fryer
For anything crispy, the air fryer’s got your back. They can cook a huge number of things, from the obvious chips to all sorts of winter warmers like roast chicken and deliciously crispy yet fluffy potatoes for your roast dinners.
Here’s a handy list of what to cook in an air fryer, from the common to the more unusual.
- Fries and chips
- Battered or breaded fish
- Fried chicken and other meat
- Crispy chickpeas (try these with salt, cumin and paprika for a tasty snack or side)
- Potatoes (for a healthier roast dinner)
- Vegetables (any you’d roast or grill - including Brussel’s sprouts for your Christmas dinner. Breaded vegetables are also great.)
- Kale (add salt and paprika for deliciously moreish kale crisps)
- Reheated food (it won’t make once-crispy food soft like a microwave will)
- Empanadas and other pastries
- Mozzarella sticks
- Pigs in blankets
- Cookies and brownies
How to Cook Roast Potatoes in an Air Fryer
Less oil and fewer calories means you won’t feel guilty piling roast potatoes on your plate! Perfectly fluffy inside yet crispy on the outside is an easy thing to achieve with an air fryer - not just your oven.
Here’s how to cook roast potatoes in an air fryer step by step:
- Cut up your potatoes evenly
- Boil or steam them for five minutes so they’re semi-cooked
- Drain them and put them into your air fryer with a little bit of oil and your seasonings. Set them to cook for half an hour or until they look golden and crispy.
- Add extra seasoning if you feel they need it
If you’re cooking a full Sunday roast, you’ll also save on your energy bills if the whole lot’s done in your air fryer, meat and all. And if your oven’s short on space at Christmas with the turkey and other trimmings inside, just bring out your air fryer and it will take care of your potatoes and veg.
For more Christmas dinner tips, read our blog featuring all the must-haves for the most special meal of the year.
Can You Cook Jacket Potatoes in an Air Fryer?
Just as you can cook roast potatoes in an air fryer, you can cook jacket potatoes too. It’s a lot more energy-efficient than baking them in an oven as these nifty appliances use a lot less energy, which is a win for both your wallet and the environment.
Here’s how to do it:
- After scrubbing clean, spray the potatoes with an oil spray or rub them in a little oil with some seasoning (salt and garlic powder are ideal)
- Put them in your air fryer for around 40 minutes
- Check them halfway through and if they’re browning nicely, turn them over to make sure they cook evenly
If you make enough, you can even do twice-baked jacket potatoes. These make a great quick meal the following day. Simply use your ready-air-fried jacket potatoes and bake them again in your air fryer to reheat! This way you’ll retain that lovely crispy finish which you’d lose with a microwave.
As for the fillings, you can cook these in your air fryer too. In fact, this is one of our favourite air fryer ideas as it’s so tasty! For these perfect winter warmers, scoop out the fluffy potato inside once they’re cooked, mix with your chosen ingredients (cream cheese and herbs, for example) and simply pop them back in the fryer to crisp up the top.
Cooking Chicken in an Air Fryer
Whether it’s a roast chicken you’re cooking, crispy wings or chicken breasts, an air fryer can take on the task. Cooking it this way requires much less oil so it’s a lot healthier to eat, and it’s also faster than cooking it in an oven.
To cook either chicken breast, wings or a full roast chicken, simply rub a little bit of oil over the meat, along with your seasonings, and place it in your air fryer. If the cut is fairly small, turn it over halfway through to make sure it’s browned with crispy skin all over.
To Sum Up…
With air fryers offering a fast, energy-efficient and healthier way to fry food, while still providing great flavour and texture, it’s fair to say that they’d be a useful addition to your kitchen.
Whether you’re looking to improve your health or simply save time, have a look at our full range of air fryers to find the right one for you.