We tested 5 popular microwave meals in the air fryer for you, to see if you can cook frozen ready meals in the air fryer like you can in a microwave and what they are like along with cooking times and temperatures.
From frozen we tried air fryer cottage pie, sausages and mash, an all day breakfast, a Lancashire hotpot and of course a beef dinner.
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I remember when we did food technology at school. The teacher was lovely and she had a way of explaining things that made us think about things differently.
I remember her brining into class microwave meals.
We cooked them with her, and all tried them.
My favourite was (and still is) the spinach cannelloni with loads of cream cheese. It was delicious and I could eat it for ever.
But she gave us one lesson – these meals whilst easy and convenient are labelled as for two people but when you open them up and reheat you are lucky if one will feed one person.
That and the price and since then I have rarely had a microwave meal.
So when we were asked by one of our readers of Recipe This to test drive microwave meals in the air fryer, it was like a trip down memory lane and fun experience of how these classic meals can make it into the air fryer.
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Can You Cook A Meal In An Air Fryer?
YES, YES, YES, you can cook a whole meal in the air fryer and we have made many air fryer meals.
Our favourite is our air fryer harvest casserole which is brilliant for having a clear out when you have loads of veggies in.
Can You Cook From Frozen In An Air Fryer?
Yes, you sure can. The air fryer is fantastic for cooking from frozen and we have lost count of the amount of food we have cooked in the air fryer, that started out frozen.
Can You Cook Ready Meals In An Air Fryer?
Yes, you can cook ready meals in an air fryer, and you will love them. Our favourite so far is air fryer frozen lasagna but not there are plenty of options to choose from and we are going to show you 5 of them today.
Can You Put Microwave Meals In Air Fryer?
Yes, you can put microwave meals in the air fryer, or any other ready meal. Though microwave meals will cook the fastest in the air fryer because generally microwave meals are usually already cooked and you are just using the microwave to warm them through.
Can You Put Plastic Ready Meal In Air Fryer?
Yes, you can. Just think that the air fryer can handle any packaging that you would naturally put in the microwave or in the oven. So that means that plastic ready meal container, is perfect for the air fryer, plus saves you on washing up.
Can I Cook A Ready Meal In A Foil Tray In An Air Fryer?
Yes, you can also cook a ready meal in a foil tray in the air fryer and I have done this too. Some of my favourite prepped potatoes from Tesco come in a foil tray and its also so easy for melting cheese or adding sauces.
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Tesco Microwavable Meals
For our air fryer ready meals experiment we are using Tesco Microwavable Meals. We were ordering an online delivery from Tesco and thought we would experiment with a few of their different microwave dinners.
We purchased the following microwave meals for one:
All Day Breakfast
Sausage & Mash
Then for the kitchen gadgets that we have used in this ready meals in air fryer experiment it has been our Philips Air Fryer and Cosori air fryer. That way we can experiment with more than one meal at once.
Plus, we recommend you head over to our air fryer recipes category as we have more than 500 tried and tested air fryer recipes and have been air frying for 10 years.
How To Cook Tv Dinners In Air Fryer?
Whether you call them TV dinners, microwave meals, or ready meals, the process for cooking them in the air fryer is the same.
- Remove. Start by removing the wrapping from the ready meal. This is usually the box and a layer of cling film (plastic wrap).
- Cook. Then place the TV dinner into the air fryer and air fry for approximately 25 minutes or until piping hot. This will vary between different air fryer ready meals, but we will share with you in more detail below the differences.
And I am sure you can see now how easy it is to cook ready meals using the air fryer.
How Long To Cook Ready Meal In Air Fryer?
We found that through the different ready meals it wasn’t the same for cooking each of them in the air fryer. This varied because of the size of them and the way the contents had been frozen.
We noticed that the microwavable meals packaging said between 36 and 46 minutes and our biggest target was to beat the oven cook time on them.
We cooked the frozen microwave meals on the following times and temps:
Frozen cottage pie in air fryer – 10 minutes at 120c/250f to partially defrost, followed by 20 minutes at 180c/360f. Saving 16 minutes on the oven time.
Frozen lamb hotpot in air fryer – The same 10 minutes at 120c/250f to try and defrost followed by 15 minutes at 180c/360f. Saving 21 minutes.
Frozen all day English breakfast – The same 10 minutes at 120c/250f to try and thaw and then stir the beans. Cook for another 8 minutes at 180c/360f. Saved 18 minutes and cooked in half the time.
Frozen sausages and mash in air fryer – The same 10 minutes at 120c/250f to try and defrost followed by 15 minutes at 180c/360f. Saving 21 minutes.
Frozen beef roast dinner in air fryer – Remove the Yorkshire pudding first otherwise it will be overdone. Then the same 10 minutes at 120c/250f to try and defrost followed by 10 minutes at 180c/360f, then a final 4 minutes with the Yorkshire pudding added. Saving 22 minutes.
Interestingly, all five frozen microwave meals are cooked quicker in the air fryer than the oven.
These are also based upon ready meals in air fryer UK but you can do the same with any USA, Canada, Aussie, South African ones etc.
And for best microwave meals the award has to go to the breakfast. But I also think to myself how quick it is to load ingredients into the air fryer to make our air fryer English breakfast.
Listen To 5 Ready Meals Cooked in The Air Fryer
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The Air Fryer Frozen Food Cookbook
Did you know we have a very popular air fryer frozen food cookbook? It helps you simplify cooking with the air fryer and is filled with air fryer frozen food classics.
Your ready meals in air fryer recipe is below, note you can print it out with or without photos, adjust servings, or click between metric and imperial depending on where you are in the world.
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Air Fryer Microwave Meals
5 Frozen Microwave Ready Meals
- Frozen Cottage Pie
- Frozen Lamb Hotpot
- Frozen Roast Beef Dinner
- Frozen All Day Breakfast
- Frozen Sausage & Mash
- Remove the packaging from the ready meal including any cling film or plastic wrap and then place into the air fryer.
- Defrost for 10 minutes at 120c/250f.
- Then air fry for 20 minutes at 180c/360f for the frozen cottage pie or until piping hot.
- For the lamb hotpot after the defrost, air fry for 15 minutes at 180c/360f or until piping hot.
- Then for the breakfast, after the defrost, stir the beans, and air fry for 8 minutes at 180c/360f.
- Next do the sausage and mash and after defrost cook for 15 minutes at 180c/360f.
- Finally for the beef dinner, remove the Yorkshire pudding as you don’t want it overcooked, then do the defrost, then do 14 minutes at 180c/360f, adding the frozen Yorkshire pudding for the last 4 minutes.