Cooking is a breeze...with an air fryer. Try our recipes for Cheat’s Salt and Pepper Chicken, Ful medames, Salted tahini, chocolate and date cookies and Bruleed rhubarb, custard and white chocolate French toast. 

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis has been converted by the kitchen gadget du jour 

I like to think I’m not one to be drawn into ‘gadget fads’. I don’t have a spiraliser, nor a fancy kitchen top mixer, or a bread maker (sorry, I can’t stand having a hole in the bottom of my loaf). 

My only concessions have been my Gaggia gelato machine and Kenwood food processor...until now. 

Friends had been raving for over a year about how “amazing” their air fryers were. How they couldn’t possibly live without them. 

My overriding impression though for a long time has been, “meh”. What do I need one of those for? 

So I’m almost embarrassed to admit how in love I am with the Ninja Foodie 11-in-1 SmartLid Multi Cooker. Like a favourite comfy jumper, it has melted its way into my life, and I can’t imagine being without it. Since the moment I switched it on just before Christmas, it has become a daily companion in the kitchen. 

We’ve air fried roast potatoes in 15 minutes. Boneless chicken thighs can be pressure cooked to tenderness in only eight minutes...most beans and pulses in around three to five. It has a saute setting, dehydrator, yoghurt setting, steaming mode, baking and grilling modes. I’m pretty sure the only thing it can’t do is wash up! 

Anyway, that’s enough of me waxing lyrical. If you managed to get your hands on one for Christmas or in the New Year, or one of the other brands, such as Instant Pot, here are a few interesting ways to put it to work. 

READ MORE: Good Housekeeping UK reveals the top air fryers for 2023

Great British Life: Cheat’s Salt and Pepper Chicken Cheat’s Salt and Pepper Chicken  (Image: Charlotte Bond)


(Serves 4) 

Ooh, this is lip-smackingly good, combining the fire of black and white pepper, with aromatic five spice and a liberal dash of salt. I like to serve bites of this up in lettuce cups as a kind of canape, but it’s also a tasty dinner with a bowl of dressed noodles and greens. It's lighter on oil than frying, but still has that delicious crunch, while remaining tender inside thanks to its velvet coating. 

Halve the pepper and chilli if you need to dial down the heat. 

To save money use boneless chicken thighs. Place the whole thighs in the main pot of your multi cooker with 250ml water and pressure cook on high for eight minutes. Allow the pressure to drop naturally (don’t open the valve) and allow the chicken to cool. Cut into bitesized pieces and halve the cooking time once coated in flour. 


650g chicken breast, cut into small pieces 

6tbsps cornflour 

2tsps fresh ground black pepper 

2tsps fine sea salt 

1tsp five spice 

1tbsp icing sugar 

½ chicken stock cube, crumbled 

Oil for coating 

To finish 

1 red pepper, finely chopped 

1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped 

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 


Combine the cornflour, pepper, salt, five spice, sugar and stock cube and mix well. 

Drizzle the chicken with a little oil and rub to coat. Now throw the chicken into your flour mix and coat evenly. Do this just before cooking or it’ll go gloopy. 

Pop the chicken into the air fryer basket in your multi cooker pan. Cook on air fryer mode at 210C for five minutes minutes. Shake the basket to separate and cook for another five minutes. Shake again, and give it another five minutes. 

Remove the air fryer basket and add a splash of oil to the main pan. Pop in the chilli, red pepper and spring onions and cook on the highest setting of the saute mode until the vegetables begin to soften a little – just a couple of minutes. Add the chicken, toss to coat and serve. 

Great British Life: Ful medames  Ful medames   (Image: Charlotte Bond)


(Makes 1 big tub) 

I like to think of this as a kind of silky, spicy Egyptian hummus. It’s made with fava beans (otherwise known as broad beans) which grow beautifully in the UK, but are sadly mostly exported to Africa and the Middle East. 

Fava beans are packed full of protein, have a low carbon footprint, taste delicious, and can help improve your gut health. What’s not to love? I bought mine online from which supports British farmers growing everything from beans, to pulses, quinoa, and amazing botanical flours. 

Serve your ful medames with flatbreads and crudites as part of a mezze lunch. 


180g fava beans (use butter beans if you can’t get hold of them) 

1 green pepper, deseeded and finely chopped 

4 cloves garlic, grated 

¼ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 

150ml extra virgin olive oil 

4tsps ground cumin 

1tbsp tomato puree 

Juice ½ lemon 

Sea salt to taste 


Cook the beans first. Follow the method that comes with your machine. With the Ninja I soak the beans overnight, then the next cover them in water and cook on high on the pressure cooker setting for five minutes. 

Drain the beans and set aside. 

Pour ¼ of the oil into the main pan of your multi cooker and add the pepper, garlic, chilli and a pinch of salt. 

Cook on setting 2 or 3 of the saute function with the lid down, checking it every few minutes, until softened but not coloured. 

Now add the cumin, tomato puree and lemon. Stir with the lid up for a minute. Add the drained beans and mash with a fork to a texture you like. I tend to keep a few chunky bits. 

Pour in the rest of the olive oil and combine. It will come together into a thick, luscious paste. Finish with salt to taste. 

Enjoy warm. 

Great British Life: Salted tahini, chocolate and date cookies Salted tahini, chocolate and date cookies  (Image: Charlotte Bond)


(Makes 20-22) 

I haven’t worked out where these little delights take me yet. To Istanbul... 

Wherever they belong, they pack quite the punch. And they cook like a dream in the air fryer in just eight minutes, with no pre-heating the oven! 

You’ve got a lightly salted, short cookie exterior, filled with a kind of ‘fudge’ made by smooshing together dates, tahini and dark chocolate. 

Serve with your favourite cup of tea. 


For the shortbread 

150g salted butter, cut into cubes 

75g golden caster sugar 

200g plain flour 

2tbsps custard powder 

1tbsp black sesame seeds 

For the filling 

50g dates, soaked for one hour in coffee 

1/2tbsp cocoa powder 

2tbsps light tahini 

75g dark chocolate, minimum 65% 


Pop all the shortbread ingredients into a food processor and blitz to crumbs. Add a little splash of ice cold water to bring it all together into a dough. Wrap well and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

Chop the soaked dates finely then pop into the multi cooker on setting 1 of the saute function. Add the cocoa, tahini and chocolate. Cook until melted. It will stiffen a little but don’t worry, that’s fine. Spoon the filling onto a plate, spread it out and allow to cool. 

On a floured surface roll the cookie dough to 1/4cm thickish and cut into 4cm circles. Take one and pop 1/2tsp of cooled filling in the centre then top with another round of dough. Press the edges to seal, then crimp slightly by pushing the edges of your forefinger and thumb around the outside of the cookie. This will help with the seal and ensure they don’t cook quicker on the sides. 

Pop six to eight cookies in your air fryer basket and cook on the air fryer setting at 210C for eight minutes. Repeat with the remaining batches. Check your second batch after six minutes as the top element will be hot from the first bake. 

I like to finish mine with a drizzle of chocolate. 

Great British Life: Bruleed rhubarb, custard and white chocolate French toast Bruleed rhubarb, custard and white chocolate French toast (Image: Charlotte Bond)


(Serves 4) 

Can you imagine being served this for brunch? Utterly indulgent. And a beautiful way to use the season’s gorgeous almost neon-pink spears of rhubarb.  

Use the best brioche you can get your hands on for the recipe so you really do get that buttery flavour coming through. 


8 slices brioche bread 

For the custard 

2 large egg yolks (freeze the whites for another time) 

50g caster sugar 

2tbsps custard powder 

150ml milk 

1tsp vanilla extract 

Pinch salt 

75g roughly chopped white chocolate (I like the Moser Roth Madagascan vanilla white chocolate from Aldi) 

For the rhubarb 

165g rhubarb, chopped into 1cm wide pieces 

2tbsps caster sugar 

Splash water 

For the dip 

3 medium eggs 

1/2tsp vanilla 

100ml milk 

To finish: Butter or vegetable oil, icing sugar, mini blow torch 


You can make the fillings up to two days before cooking. 

Whisk together the egg yolks, caster sugar, custard powder and vanilla extract. Warm the milk on your multi cooker’s saute setting at level 2 until you just start to see little bubbles at the edges. Pour the milk gently over the bowl of egg yolks and whisk to combine. 

Pour the mix back into the multi cooker pan and cook on level 2 of the saute function, stirring all the time, until it begins to thicken. Remove to a bowl and leave to cool. Once completely cold stir through the white chocolate pieces. Before using add a pinch of sea salt (don’t add it while cooking otherwise the mixture could go sloppy in the fridge). 

Clean out the multi cooker pan and add the rhubarb, sugar and water. Close the lid and cook on level 3 of the saute function, checking every couple of minutes, until it begins to soften and thicken a little. Crush with a spoon or fork and continue to cook until only a tablespoon or so of liquid remains around the mixture. Cool in a bowl. 

On the day of eating whisk up the eggs, vanilla and milk for the dip. 

Lay out four pieces of brioche and spread evenly with the custard (leaving a gap of 1.5cms at the edges), then spoon the rhubarb evenly into the centres. 

Top with another slice of brioche and squidge together. 

Drop a knob of butter into the pan of your multi cooker. Turn onto the highest setting of the saute function. Cook for three to five minutes either side until golden.  

Sprinkle with icing sugar and brulee with a blow torch. Serve with whipped cream.