I'm using an Air Fryer to cook our Christmas food
I used an air fryer to cook everything for my Christmas party and it was a triumph – even the mulled wine was great
- From camembert to mince pies, all of the essentials were cooked in the device
- READ MORE: Revealed: The 7 foods you never knew you could cook in an air fryer – from hard ‘boiled’ eggs to steak
Entertaining during the festive season means mulled wine, mince pies, beige party food, Christmas songs, Christmas jumpers, and cheer all around.
In the past, my husband and I have tried dinner parties, drinks parties – even Christmas barbecues in the garden in an effort to copy those German Christmas market vibes we all love.
But sometimes entertaining can be a lot – the shopping, planning, preparing, and then all the cooking can sometimes mean that as the host you get less of the season’s greetings and more of the stress.
So this year, I’ve decided to keep things as simple as possible. Forget barbecuing hundreds of sausages out in the freezing cold, or spending a day cooking a feast.
This year, I’m turning to my air fryer.
In a bid to reduce stress and keep things simple this Christmas, Ellen Manning has opted to cook all the party food essentials in an air fryer
There isn’t much you can’t do in an air fryer these days – just look at the internet.
From easy dinners to cakes, snacks and bizarre social media creations, the air fryer is where it’s at and it’s not showing any signs of being relegated to the cupboard just yet.
You can even cook your whole Christmas dinner in an air fryer if you really want to, but I figure party food might be a bit easier.
I’m a huge fan of air fryers. The first one I had was a pretty basic model but seemed to make cooking anything from potato wedges to chicken, and the odd Instagram-inspired experiment, far easier than before.
Maybe it was in my head, but it certainly felt like it ticked all the boxes of ease, health and affordability.
Since then, I’ve upgraded to one of those swanky-pants ones that does pretty much everything except the washing up.
As well as air frying, it sautés, slow cooks, pressure cooks, sous vides, roasts, bakes. It even dehydrates and makes yoghurt apparently – though I’m yet to test these.
Regardless, it’s cemented my adoration for the air fryer, and I’m hoping it will get me through Christmas party prep with minimal effort, prep and washing up.
Ellen (pictured) hosted a Christmas party full of festive nibbles, which were cooked solely in her trusty air fryer
From miniature toad in the holes to an Indian inspired snack selection, Ellen found a large selection of nibbles that were air fryer friendly
As I start planning, I decide this is the time to really put it through its paces, testing that dehydrate function for some gorgeous garnishes for Christmas cocktails, as well as mulling wine, using the bake function for some bread, and air frying all the readymade snacks I can find in the supermarket.
Shopping for party food is a revelation. The last time I bought stuff like this it was a minefield of oven, grill and microwave instructions and different timings for every single packet.
I’m thrilled to see ‘air fryer friendly’ slapped all over pretty much all of the party food I find – and there’s a lot of it on offer.
Everything from festive vol au vents to Indian-inspired street food, mini toad in the holes, ‘chicken corn dogs’ and more.
Even more helpfully, most of the packets declare that they belong to a party food family that all cooks at the same temperature – another handy factor that means I don’t have to faff around with temperatures.
Ellen added a foil layer to squeeze all of the Christmas party food into the one machine, including the miniature toad in the holes (pictured)
Luckily for Ellen, the party food she selected could all be cooked at the same temperature, making the process one step easier
I decide Christmas isn’t complete without a baked camembert either, so grab a ‘festive’ version that comes with its own chutney.
For sweet stuff, I’m going to warm up a mini Christmas pudding, and of course obligatory mince pies and stollen bites.
Drinks-wise, I’m going to dehydrate orange slices and use them to garnish a little Christmas cocktail. And of course, mulled wine is the order of the day, and I reckon I can use my slow cooker function to warm it up in advance.
Despite the ease of using specially-created air fryer foods, my whole menu still requires a bit of planning in terms of timing.
The dehydrating of oranges may need minimal effort, but it’s time heavy, so I start them the night before. Good job, because it really does take hours.
Mulled wine was a Christmas dinner party essential for Ellen, and she dehydrated the oranges in the air fryer before serving
In addition to the mulled wine, Ellen rustled up another quick Christmas cocktail with dehydrated oranges, cranberry juice, and vodka (pictured)
It works a treat though, coming out nice and crisp, so I vow to finally try the beef jerky I’ve been meaning to tackle using the same function.
Next up is the mulled wine – given that laziness is the order of the day, I’ve bought a readymade bottle that just needs warming up, so it gets glugged into the slow cooker pan with some cinnamon sticks and some orange and put on a low heat a few hours before, filling the house with the smells of Christmas.
The advantage of doing it early is I can have a glass while I’m doing everything else, and it’s ready for when people arrive.
I get it insanely hot because it’s going to have to come out of the crockpot thing so I can air fry everything else, so hopefully it will still be warm by the time I’m done.
Next up is the camembert, which I’d usually bake in the oven but don’t need to thanks to my ‘bake’ function.
Ellen cooked the Camembert in the air fryer on top of a plate- and it came out smooth and oozing
Finding a party food selection that could be cooked in an air fryer was easy for Ellen, who found a wide variety in a range of supermarkets
It needs half an hour and is soft and squishy and just ready to ooze when it comes out.
My only concern is whether it will still be that way by the time I’ve air fried everything else, but I’m determined not to use any other appliance, so keeping it warm in the oven is out of the question. I pop it on the side hoping it will be fine and embark on an air frying marathon.
My feast is a heady mix of beige and browns – the prerequisite for a Christmas party.
We’re having a late afternoon shindig so picky food is the order of the day and this fits the bill nicely.
There are Szechuan spiced chicken wing lollipops, chicken ‘corn dogs’, an Indian-inspired snack collection, mini Toad in the holes, ‘posh prawn toasties’, Jalapeno poppers, a king prawn selection – think prawns in various coatings, and even some Christmas tree-shaped festive vol au vents.
Something for everyone. I realise I haven’t really picked up much to cater for vegetarians as we haven’t got any coming, but I could have if I’d needed to. I’ve only scratched the surface of the easy supermarket party food on offer.
After figuring out the timings for each dish, Ellen managed to produce an impressive Christmas party food spread
My selection is pretty much all cooked at the same temperature – 180C in a fan oven which I figure is the same as the air fryer. The timings vary slightly, but that gives me scope to start the things that take longest first and then swap them out, keeping up a constant cycle of cooking to limit how long it takes.
I also take the command decision not to do everything from each packet so I can put more in later and serve it fresh. Because we all know that people get the munchies when they’ve had a few mulled wines.
Speaking of drinks, while I’m between ‘changeovers’, I decide a festive cocktail is in order to show off my dehydrated orange garnishes.
I mix up an easy vodka and cranberry version and behold, a ‘Christmas Cranberry Cocktail’ that’s more vodka than anything else but is guaranteed to be a hit.
The food’s on its way, and with my husband’s help we have a steady conveyor belt of cooked items stacked up on the side, but in a bid to speed things up we pop a layer of tin foil in to create a second level for the mini toad in the holes.
A gamble, but it pays off and saves time. We’ve been cooking for about an hour in total (apart from the mulled wine and orange garnishes) and we’re nearly done, so on the table they all go, complete with various dips and sauces that came in the packets.
I nearly forget the part-baked bread rolls I’ve got for the camembert but fortunately they’re just a ten-minute wonder, so in they go while I’m arranging my platters.
Swiftly behind them as we get the first mulled wines on the go are my dessert choices.
A mini Christmas pudding that I remove from its plastic mould and dump in the air fryer surrounded by mini mince pies and some mini Stollen bites. The perfect post-party pudding I reckon.
Who knows if the Christmas pudding will work – it should be steamed or microwaved, but it looks cute and I’m convinced nobody will tell me if they don’t like it.
Within a few minutes, we’re ready! A beige feast to behold, perfect for a festive get-together and I haven’t used a single gadget except my air fryer.
Pudding was no exception for the air fryer- and Ellen warmed up the mince pies and even a Christmas pudding in the machine
The impressive selection included vol-au-vents, corn dogs, an Indian snack selection, and camembert
Most of its great – warm enough, crispy where it needs to be, and perfect for snacking as we sip mulled wine (which, by the way, is great, and still lukewarm despite having been away from the heat for some time).
The camembert, too, has cooled down and lost that silky smooth, melty cheesiness, turning instead to a bit of a lumpy mess, but I can distract people with ‘corn dogs’ and a Christmas cocktail so I’m not too worried.
Some of the onion bhajis from my Indian selection have suffered too, turning into tiny rocks while they’ve been standing, but everything else is edible and has all the hallmarks of a Christmas party food selection – a range of random tastes, a few questionable combinations, and the perfect fodder for soaking up Christmas drinks while Mariah blares in the background.
The Christmas pudding, predictably, hasn’t quite worked. I realise I should have probably actually used the ‘steam’ function on the air fryer – so that’s one for next time.
But the mince pies and stollen bites are warm little lumps of loveliness and give everyone an excuse to have another slightly cold mulled wine.
Overall, it’s a triumph. And most importantly, I’m stress-free and have zero washing up to do, apart from a few glasses.
So is it possible to cater a Christmas party entirely in your air fryer? Absolutely – and supermarkets appear to have adopted the role of little air fryer elves, designing snacks and party food specifically for this very aim, knowing that at this time of year we’ve already got enough on our plates (metaphorically as well as physically) to be worrying about cooking temperatures, washing up, and setting multiple timers.
Will everything be perfect if you’re doing everything all in one appliance? Probably not. But what Christmas party ever is…….
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