Can You Put Microwave Meals in an Air Fryer?

Microwave meals are a convenient option for quick and easy dining, but sometimes you might crave the texture and taste that only baking or air frying can provide. The good news is that many microwave meals can indeed be prepared in an air fryer, offering a crispy finish that a microwave cannot achieve. However, there are important considerations and steps to follow to ensure safety and optimal results.

Considerations for Air Frying Microwave Meals

Material Compatibility

  • Container: Microwave meals often come in plastic containers, which are not suitable for the high heat of an air fryer. You’ll need to transfer the meal to an air fryer-safe container, such as glass or ceramic, that can withstand temperatures of up to 400°F or higher.
  • Aluminum Trays: Some microwave meals come in aluminum trays. While aluminum is air fryer-safe, it’s crucial to ensure that it does not come into direct contact with the heating element to prevent any risk of fire.

Adjusting Cooking Times and Temperatures

  • Microwave meals are designed to cook quickly due to the microwave’s method of heating food from the inside out. In contrast, an air fryer cooks from the outside in, requiring adjustments to cooking times and temperatures. Generally, you’ll want to reduce the temperature by about 25-30°F from the oven cooking instructions (if available) and start checking for doneness well before the recommended oven time.

Steps to Air Fry Microwave Meals

  1. Preheat the Air Fryer: Start by preheating your air fryer to the desired temperature. A good starting point is 350°F, adjusting as necessary based on the specific meal.
  2. Transfer to a Suitable Container: Remove the meal from its original packaging and transfer it to an air fryer-safe container. If the meal requires covering, use aluminum foil or an air fryer-safe lid.
  3. Adjust Portions: If possible, spread out the meal in the container to allow for even air circulation and more uniform cooking.
  4. Cooking Time: Place the container in the air fryer basket. Cook, using the oven instructions as a rough guide, but reduce the temperature and start checking for doneness early. Stir or rotate the meal halfway through cooking to ensure even heating.
  5. Check for Doneness: Ensure the meal is heated thoroughly by checking the temperature with a food thermometer. The USDA recommends heating to an internal temperature of 165°F for safety.
  6. Serve Immediately: Once heated through and potentially crispy on the edges, carefully remove the container (it will be hot!) and enjoy your meal.

Tips for Success

  • Moisture: Some air-fried microwave meals may dry out. Consider adding a little water or covering the dish with foil to retain moisture.
  • Crispiness: For meals that benefit from a crispy finish, such as breaded chicken or vegetables, leave them uncovered and possibly add a light spray of oil.
  • Experimentation: As with any new cooking method, there may be a bit of trial and error involved. Start with lower temperatures and shorter cooking times, then adjust based on the results.

Conclusion

While not all microwave meals are suitable for air frying, many can be successfully prepared in one with a bit of adaptation. The air fryer can transform a simple microwave meal into a dish with improved texture and taste, rivaling that of oven-baked food. Always ensure to use air fryer-safe containers and adjust cooking times and temperatures to avoid overheating and ensure even cooking.

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Bubbly Chef author