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How to cook your entire Christmas dinner in an air fryer

It can save you time as well as money on your energy bills but can it cook a whole roast dinner? We find out

Amira Arasteh
Thursday 22 December 2022 10:36 GMT
How to make a roast dinner in an air fryer

To me, the air fryer started off as nothing more than a healthier way to cook chips – saving some sunflower oil (pan-frying always used up half the bottle), along with a few calories here and there – but now, it’s safe to say that the country is in a full-blown air frying revolution.

While many budding chefs have switched to cooking chicken nuggets, fried halloumi, bacon and more with these pioneering appliances, a roast dinner might still seem like a stretch.

I should mention now that I taught myself how to cook during lockdown, but roast dinner was never on the curriculum. So this air fryer roast dinner of mine is, in fact, my first. Let’s say I’m more intrigued than nervous.

For me, I rose to the task with the same relaxed attitude with which I tend to embark upon most of my culinary experiments – did I mention cooking is a fairly new “skill” for me? Some say it’s like therapy – I’m positive I’ll get to that stage at some point. After all, the whole point of air frying is that it requires minimal effort, just the pressing of a few buttons... what could go wrong?

Adding to the popularity of air fryers this year in particular is the cost of living crisis, as these nifty appliances reportedly use less energy and take less time to preheat and cook than traditional ovens.

I can already sense some raised eyebrows. If you’re dubious that this method can work for the prestigious and beloved British roast dinner, then keep reading as I put it to the test and divulge the results – plus the highs, lows and exactly how much money you could save.

First things first: can you actually cook a roast dinner in an air fryer?

Folks, I am here to tell you that you can, indeed, cook an entire roast dinner in an air fryer. Now, I’ve confessed to having not cooked my own roast before, but I have indulged in plenty at various pubs, restaurants and, of course, my family home, so I know a good one when I see it.

What size air fryer is needed to cook a roast dinner?

I have the Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 multi-cooker, which proved to be the perfect size for cooking a roast dinner. With its 6L bowl capacity, a 1.2kg chicken had no problem fitting inside – with plenty of room to throw in the potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire puddings too.

A 6L air fryer can fit a whole chicken and all the trimmings (Amira Arasteh)

Even though it’s a great option when it comes to cooking capacity, if you live in a small space – and I definitely do – the Ninja 9-in-1 takes up a lot of room. Smaller, more compact air fryers can still get the job done, although you may need to forgo a whole chicken and roast a breast or leg instead.

Taste testing the roast

At the halfway point I still wasn’t feeling nervous, mostly because of the mouth-watering aroma that was filling my house.

I opened up the air fryer to check on the chicken and reader, it was perfection. The chicken was golden, tender and juicy but with a beautifully crispy skin.

The potatoes initially gave me cause for concern as I eyeballed them at the midpoint check-in, but by the end they were crispy and a lovely, golden colour.

The only thing I’d note is that I threw everything in together, American “pot roast” style, which won’t be to everyone’s taste. Upon turning the chicken, the poor Brussels sprouts were ever so slightly squished, but this also meant they were coated in the juice and flavour of the chicken, so that’s actually a plus, in my book.

How much did I save on my energy bills?

The Ninja multi-cooker has a wattage of 1,460 and the air fryer was on and in use for 35 minutes (including five minutes of preheating). Therefore, cooking my roast chicken with this appliance cost me just under 20p.

Had I cooked it in my oven (of which the wattage is 3,500), it would have taken at least 15 to 20 minutes longer, plus 15 minutes to preheat, costing me an approximate total of 81p (for an hour).

Now, obviously, it’s not possible to prepare gravy in the air fryer alongside everything else, but there was no way I was going to have my Sunday roast without it. So I also boiled my kettle (which has a wattage of 3,000) with 150ml of water to make my gravy, costing me about 2p.

Overall, I saved 61p cooking my roast dinner in the air fryer. If you cook a roast dinner every week, you could save £31.72 a year. Every penny helps...

The final verdict

Sold. Converted. I’ll never use my oven again.

The roast chicken tasted amazing, if I do say so myself. It was succulent, tender and juicy at the breast, with a crispy skin and perfectly cooked drumsticks and wings to boot.

The advantage of throwing everything together was that the carrots, parsnips and sprouts all picked up the flavours from the chicken and, while I did brush them with oil and a simple salt and pepper seasoning, the natural juices of the meat kept them moist while roasting, too.

I will admit that I have been able to get crispier and fluffier roast potatoes in the oven than in the air fryer. But I’ll also admit that I didn’t use the grill racks and could have potentially achieved a similar texture if I had. It’s definitely something I will try the next time I attempt a roast dinner in the air fryer – because this definitely won’t be the last.

Roast chicken in an air fryer recipe

This recipe takes just 30 minutes (Amira Arasteh)


For the roast chicken and trimmings:

1 whole chicken (weighing approximately 1.2kg)

8 carrots

6 medium potatoes

4 parsnips

4 Yorkshire puddings

Handful of Brussels sprouts


Salt and pepper, to taste

For the gravy:

4 tsp Bisto chicken gravy granules

150ml water


1. Preheat your air fryer for five minutes, while you peel and chop your vegetables.

2. Lightly brush some oil of your choice over the potatoes, parsnips, carrots and Brussels sprouts. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Mix rosemary and oregano with oil and brush over the chicken, before placing inside the preheated air fryer.

4. Add your vegetables and set to the “roast” setting for 30 minutes.

5. Check on your roast halfway through and flip the chicken to get an even, crispy skin.

6. A few minutes before the timer goes off, add your Yorkshire puddings on top.

7. Carve the chicken and plate up your roast dinner. Boil the water and mix with gravy granules before pouring over your roast. Enjoy.

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