We’re all looking for ways to make Christmas dinner easier – and if you’ve got an air fryer, festive food could be a whole lot simpler.

Christmas dinner normally requires a lot of effort to pull together all the starters, turkey and side dishes, and chef Poppy O’Toole says she’ll “definitely” be using her air fryer to help everything come together.

Michelin-trained O’Toole, 29, is something of an early adopter of air fryers – she first fell in love with them in 2018, and says: “I was working in kitchens at the time, and I was like, I don’t know how chefs are going to feel about this. It might fade, but I was intrigued – and it’s got bigger and bigger.”

She adds: “It was so easy to get on board with because of how convenient they are. As a chef, I wasn’t at home a lot – so my partner could use it really easily without me having to be over his shoulder.”

They’ve got speed and energy efficiency going for them, O’Toole suggests, and she’s even dedicated her most recent cookbook to air fryer recipes.

Her air fryer will go into overdrive on Christmas day, “because I need all the space for everything”, the Worcestershire-based chef says, “I’m going to be feeding a lot of people”.

“There’s not enough space to do everything, but what it’s really good at is giving you the capability to do more stuff at the same time,” she notes.

“So you’re not just relying on the oven and the hob – you’ve also got this other piece of equipment, which is amazing at cooking things and it can be done quicker and more energy efficiently.”

Before diving in, there are a few mistakes O’Toole warns against making with your air fryer on December 25.

“Make sure you put a timer on. I’ve done that a few times, where I’ve gone, it comes out in 20 minutes or whatever and you go, ‘yeah, I’ll come back in a few minutes, it’ll be fine’. And I’ve left it in there the whole time and it’s burned to a crisp.”

The second thing to watch out for? “Don’t overcrowd,” she says.

Great British Life: Poppy O'ToolePoppy O'Toole (Image: Haarala Hamilton/PA)

“It can be very easy to throw it all in, it’ll be fine. But it doesn’t work that way – the whole point is that the air circulation gets around everything, so it needs a gap where that can happen.”

And if you’re looking to impress your guests with beautiful-looking food, O’Toole recommends keeping your air fryer clean.

“This is another thing that I do very regularly, and I think a lot of people do – I don’t wash it enough, I don’t clean it enough. I end up getting these little dark bits on the rest of my food, which is fine when you’re cooking for yourself – that doesn’t matter.

“But when you’re cooking for other people, if you’ve got family coming over, you want to make sure it’s the best. So make sure in between each thing you cook, you give it a little wipe down.”

Interested in using your air fryer this Christmas? This is what O’Toole recommends doing…


“I always like little nibbly bits on Christmas,” admits O’Toole – and these can be easily whipped up in the air fryer.

“It’s something a little bit different around lunchtime, because I have my Christmas dinner a bit late – I have it more as a dinner around three, so around 12 you’re getting a bit peckish. So I do some lovely little nibbles – like crispy wontons, spring rolls, samosas, that sort of thing. They’re really tasty and fill everybody up, without having to do much.”

If you’re feeling industrious you can make these yourself, but they’re just as delicious from frozen – and you can save all your cooking efforts for the main meal.

Great British Life: Chestnut and bacon sproutsChestnut and bacon sprouts (Image: Haarala Hamilton/PA)

The main event

For O’Toole, the best way to use your air fryer is for all the festive sides.

“It’s really good for roasted parsnips, roasted carrots, sprouts or chestnuts,” she says. You can cook the parsnips and carrots together. “And then they can be ready and waiting for when you want them – you can get them into a tray, and once they’re cooked, you can keep them at the bottom of the oven or in a tray that you can warm back up”.

And one of the most important parts of any Christmas dinner: “I’ve got to say roast potatoes are very good in there, and you don’t have to pre-boil them – so that’s given you more space on the hob.”

Great British Life: Honey roasted carrotsHoney roasted carrots (Image: Haarala Hamilton/PA)

How can you pull off perfectly crispy roasties in the air fryer?

“Chop them up, get them in a bowl, add a tablespoon of water, a little bit of oil and salt – give it a mix, so we’ve got a bit of moisture on them. Then you get them into the air fryer and cook them about 160 or 170°C for about 20 to 30 minutes, so they’re a little bit cooked, then you whack it up to about 200°C to get the golden crispy outside.”


While O’Toole doesn’t plan on making Christmas pudding in the air fryer this year, there are plenty of sweet treats you can do in there instead.

Her sister will be clamouring for a pecan and pretzel blondies recipe (or you can try any variation on brownies you like – even mince pies would work), and O’Toole adds: “Custard tarts – they’re so simple and something about doing them in the oven is always terrifying to me, but being able to put them in the air fryer for literally a few minutes is perfect.

“That’s definitely something I’ll be doing.”

Poppy Cooks: The Actually Delicious Air Fryer Cookbook is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Publishing, priced £20. Photography by Haarala Hamilton. Available now.

Great British Life: Poppy Cooks: The Actually Delicious Air Fryer CookbookPoppy Cooks: The Actually Delicious Air Fryer Cookbook (Image: Bloomsbury Publishing/PA)