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Can You Put Microwave Meals in Air Fryer?

Wondering if you can put microwave meals in your air fryer? Well you’re not the only one!

Air Fryers have become a very popular kitchen gadget among many people. A lot of people believe it makes the best frozen foods or heated up leftovers.

While it is a great way to heat up or cook many food items, a big question for many is whether you can use an air fryer to cook microwave meals.

The good news is, yes you can!

In this article we will discuss the best way to safely use an air fryer to heat up microwave meals as well as all your other favorite things. 

a microwave meal sitting beside a black air fryer at 350 degrees

Compatibility of Microwave Meals and Air Fryers

Microwave Meal Containers

When considering whether you can put microwave meals in an air fryer, the important thing to take into account is the compatibility of the meal containers.

Many microwave meals come in plastic, foil, or other packaging materials. These materials might not be suitable with an air fryers heating element.

It’s important to check the instructions or labels on the microwave meal packaging since some materials can’t withstand the high temperatures of an air fryer.

If the container isn’t safe for air frying, there are other alternatives.

It’s a good idea to transfer the meal to a suitable pan or tray before placing it in the air fryer rather than putting the whole meal inside. 

For example, most air fryer ovens can fit microwave meal containers but if you have a small air fryer with a basket, you may need to use a different pan.

Effects on Food Taste and Texture

a pasta meal inside a black air fryer

A microwave oven and air fryer work differently when cooking food.

This means that using an air fryer to heat up easy meals like frozen dinners might lead to different taste and texture results. This can vary depending on the type of food.

Since air fryers are known for their ability to crisp up foods, you can expect your microwave meal to have a crispier texture than if it were simply microwaved.

Air fryers are a great way to heat up things like french fries, tater tots, chicken nuggets or even veggies like a sweet potato or broccoli because their texture is usually best crispy.

On the other hand, heating up things like chicken breasts or fish may require more caution.

This is simply due to the fact that these are foods you don’t want to overcook. If overcooked it can cause the texture to be rubbery. 

In general, air fryers provide a more desirable flavor and texture for food items compared to microwaves. However, they typically have longer cooking times.

While it is possible to heat most microwave meals in an air fryer, you should be prepared for variations in taste, texture, and cooking time.

To sum up, while it’s possible to heat microwave meals in an air fryer, it’s essential to consider the container’s compatibility among other things.

Temperature safety and how the air fryer’s cooking method might affect the meal’s taste and texture.

Always follow the instructions on the food packaging. But, when in doubt, transfer the meal to a suitable container for air frying.

Air Frying Microwave Meals

Temperature and Cooking Time Adjustments

a slightly ajar air fryer with a microwave pasta meal inside

When air frying microwave ready meals, you’ll need to adjust both the temperature and the air fryer cook times to ensure optimal results.

Generally, air fryers cook at higher temperatures than microwaves. And popular brands like Philips, Cosori, NuWave, and Cuisinart offer adjustable temperature ranges.

While microwaves cook at a higher heat for less time.

As a starting point, the best method is to set your air fryer between 320°F and 360°F, and allow for a longer cooking time than you would in a microwave.

This will ensure a safe internal temperature. Keep in mind that thicker, denser meals like a whole chicken or frozen chicken wings may require additional time.

Another great idea is using a meat thermometer or food thermometer to reach a desired temperature when cooking meats and things that are considered raw.

Once you are comfortable with air frying cook times you can decide personal preferences for crispiness and texture. 

Cooking Chart: Temperature and Cooking Time for First Time Users

Meal TypeRecommended TemperatureApproximate Cooking Time
Light & Quick Bites320°F – 340°F5 – 8 minutes
Heavier, Dense Meals340°F – 360°F10 – 15 minutes

Even Cooking and Browning Tips

an air fryer basket with a a microwave dinner in a bowl inside

Air fryers are known for their method of heating food more evenly than a microwave or traditional oven. And they’re also well known for achieving crisp, browned finish.

The best way to ensure the desired end result, and that your delicious meals are cooked evenly, is to remember these tips:

  1. Remove any plastic packaging. Transfer the meal to an oven-safe dish, or place the meal on a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil in the air fryer basket. Never place plastic containers in the air fryer. 
  2. Space out ingredients to allow for better air circulation, resulting in more even browning and heat distribution.
  3. Turn or shake the ingredients halfway through the cooking process to ensure all sides are cooked evenly.
  4. Keep an eye on the meal as it cooks, adjusting the time or temperature if needed based on the appearance and texture of the food.
  5. Make sure to clean out any crumbs or residue inside of the air fryer basket, so it is ready to use next time.

By following these guidelines, you’ll enjoy microwave meals or any of your favorite foods. Plus, they are elevated in taste and texture by air frying, without sacrificing too much convenience.

Benefits of Air Frying Microwave Meals

Healthier Options

One of the main advantages of using an air fryer for microwave meals is the convenient way to cook with less oil or even none at all.

This results in a significant reduction in the calories and fat content of the food, providing a healthier way of cooking compared to traditional deep fryer methods.

Plus, when using an air fryer it takes less energy and work compared to deep frying.

Whether you’re heating up your grandma’s famous fried chicken or making homemade kale chips, the air fryer is a easier and healthier alternative.

In addition, since air fryers use hot air to cook food, they help to minimize nutrient loss compared to other cooking methods, such as using a conventional oven, boiling, or deep frying.

Air fryers can also be an excellent choice for those looking to adhere to specific diets or make healthier choices.

Many people have found success in using air fryers to modify traditional recipes to make them more aligned with their dietary restrictions or preferences.

Plus all your air fryer recipes will create more crispy foods that add a great texture and taste with a smaller amount of oil involved. 

Crispy Results

a microwave meal in a bowl beside a black air fryer

Another benefit of air frying microwave meals is the improved taste and texture of the food.

Air fryers usually produce crispier results and more moist foods compared to a microwave, toaster oven, or convection oven.

They circulate hot air around the food, which helps to remove excess moisture and create a crispy exterior. 

For example, you can expect a much better texture when cooking a frozen meal like fish sticks or chicken nuggets or TV dinners in an air fryer.

Note that it’s not recommended to put wet batter in an air fryer, as it won’t set properly and won’t have the crispiness that air fryers tend to have on meals.

Air fryers are also versatile kitchen appliances, allowing you to cook various types of foods, from vegetables to meats and even baked goods.

This versatility means that you can achieve a wide range of textures and flavors in your meals, without needing to use multiple appliances or heating methods.

An air fryers compact size and versatility is especially great for people with small kitchens or limited counter space.

In summary, air frying microwave meals not only provides a healthier option but also delivers a better taste and texture experience.

By cooking with an air fryer, you can enjoy flavorful crisp food while saving on energy bills, calories, oil, and fat.

Air Fryer Recipes

You can use your air fryer to warm up your favorite meals, but air fryers are also great for cooking quick and easy meals for the whole family.

There are numerous great recipes for an air fryer that  a lot of households use on a regular basis.

You just need to find what you like and research some fun air fryer recipes.

Potential Issues with Air Frying Microwave Meals

Incompatible Containers

One of the primary concerns when air frying microwave meals is the use of incompatible containers which could pose potential health and safety issues. Specifically, placing microwave-safe plastic containers directly in the high-temperature environment of an air fryer can lead to melting and catching fire.

Moreover, the consumption of chemicals released by melting plastics is not recommended for humans.

To mitigate this issue, ensure that you are using air fryer-safe containers that can withstand the high temperatures. Avoid placing any plastic containers inside the air fryer basket.  

Uneven Heat Distribution

a black air fryer with a pasta microwave meal inside

Another potential issue that arises when putting microwave meals in an air fryer is the possibility of uneven heat distribution.

Unlike microwaves, which use electromagnetic waves to heat food evenly from the inside out, air fryers rely on circulating hot air to cook food. 

This difference in the cooking method might result in some parts of the meal or sides of the food being overcooked, while others remain undercooked.

To help address this issue, consider the following tips:

  • Remove the contents of the microwave-safe meal container and place them directly in the air fryer basket. Ensure that the food is spread out evenly to allow hot air to circulate freely.
  • Regularly pause and check the air frying process, gently stirring or rearranging the contents to promote even cooking.
  • Adjust the cooking temperature and time as needed. Also, keep in mind that some meals might require longer cooking times in an air fryer compared to a microwave.
  • By being aware of these potential issues when air frying microwave meals and taking the necessary precautions, you can successfully prepare your meals using an air fryer without compromising their quality or safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put microwave meals in an air fryer?

Yes, you can put microwave meals in an air fryer, but not in every case.

Air fryers and microwave ovens have different functions and heat food in different ways. This means not all foods you can cook using a microwave can be cooked in an air fryer.

Is it safe to put plastic containers in an air fryer?

No, you should not put plastic ready meal containers in an air fryer. These meal containers may melt or release harmful substances at a high temperature.

Instead, transfer the food to a safe, heat-resistant dish before air frying.

What types of microwave meals work well in an air fryer?

Most microwave meals can be cooked in an air fryer. Especially those meals that are already cooked and just need to be warmed through.

Foods like TV dinners, frozen Lean Cuisine meals, or other pre-cooked, frozen meals are the best foods to be reheated in an air fryer

The air fryer can also make the food crispier compared to using a microwave.

How long should I cook a microwave meal in an air fryer?

The cooking time for microwave meals in an air fryer depends on the specific meal and the air fryer’s settings.

Generally, it can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes at around 350°F (180°C). Always ensure the meal is fully heated through before consuming.

What are the benefits of using an air fryer over a microwave for cooking meals?

a black air fryer with a creamy pasta microwave dinner inside

Air fryers can crisp up foods, whereas microwaves tend to make them soggy.

If you prefer a crispy texture for certain dishes, such as breaded foods or oven-baked meals, an air fryer might be a better option for cooking frozen or pre-cooked meals. 

However, microwaves are faster at heating food in just minutes and may be more convenient for daily use.

Is there such a thing as a microwave air fryer combo?

Yes, microwave air fryer combos have become very popular in recent years. Microwave air fryers offer features and settings for using a traditional microwave or an air fryer all in one machine.

Many retail stores like Best Buy, Amazon, and Walmart carry numerous good options. All of which come with cooking instructions on how to use it for your simple recipes and convenience foods.

Putting Microwave Meals in an Air Fryer

Overall, there’s a few things you need to consider before putting your microwave meal in the air fryer.

Air fryers are an easy way to enjoy a nice and crispy microwave meal.

But, if you follow these helpful tips in this guide, you’re sure to find the best way to enjoy your microwave meal.

So there you have it, that’s the scoop on can you put microwave meals in an air fryer!

can you put microwave meals in air fryer featuring an image of a microwave pasta in a black air fryer

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