Simple, budget-friendly air fryer recipes to make the most of your new gadget

If you managed to get your hands on an air fryer over the last few months, well done.

The appliances have been selling out this winter, as rising energy prices are leading many to look for cost effective alternatives to the traditional oven.

Not only is an air fryer cheaper to run than an oven, it’s better for the environment too, using up to 63% less power.

A third of us are even planning to cook Christmas dinner in their air fryer, showing the craze has well and truly caught on.

But it’s no good having an air fryer and only digging it out of the cupboard for frozen chips and nuggets. Just because the gadget excels at fast food with crispy and even results, it’d be a shame not to branch out.

Budget-friendly cooking doesn’t have to mean boring, so try these affordable and simple recipes to make the most of your air fryer, from snacks and sweet treats to dinners the whole family will enjoy.

Mini pizzas

This recipe, from Ocado, is great for busy lunchtimes. If your air fryer is a little on the small side to lay a tortilla flat, snip the edges with scissors for a perfect fit.

Ingredients

  • Tortilla wrap/pitta bread
  • Passata
  • Cheese
  • Additional toppings

Method

Spread tomato sauce over your alternative pizza base, and air fry for around 8 minutes until crisped up around the edges.

Add your cheese and toppings, pressing them firmly into the base to prevent them flying around, and cook for a further 3 minutes until the cheese is deliciously molten.

Criss Cross nachos

Iceland has created this easy weeknight dinner using its Criss Cross Fries, but any waffle fries or crinkle cut versions will work for the recipe.

The supermarket totted it up, and it should cost less than 32p in energy to cook this meal for two, with each serving coming in at £2.

Ingredients

  • 700g Criss Cross Fries
  • 350g minced beef and onions
  • 1 packet of chilli con carne mix
  • 100g cheese
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 tbsp pickled jalapenos

Method

Heat up a tablespoon of oil into a frying pan and add the beef and onion mix. Fry until browned all over and the liquid has all evaporated, then add your seasoning mix and cook for a further two minutes.

While the beef cooks, line the air fryer with a large sheet of baking paper and pop the criss cross fries in the air fryer for 10-12 minutes.

Once the fries are cooked, place them into individual small oven dishes. Top with the beef, a quarter of the cheese, the tomato and the jalapenos, and return to the air fryer for 3-5 minutes until the cheese has melted.

Remove the paper from the air fryer and dig in.

DIY cheese sticks

Save money on a takeaway favourite by making your own ‘mozzarella’ sticks in your air fryer. Use Cheese Strings to make life even easier.

Ingredients

  • String cheese
  • Flour
  • Beaten egg
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Season a bowl of flour with a decent pinch of oregano and the salt and pepper.

Dip your cheese string in the seasoned flour, then in the beaten egg, then in breadcrumbs. Repeat this twice for each stick.

Cook in your air fryer for 6-7 minutes until golden-brown and molten.

Indian pakora fish wraps

Another recipe from Iceland, this uses the retailer’s Pakora Fish Fillet Strips. If you can’t get hold of them, though, you can use any fish goujons or pakoras available.

Energy-wise, this meal costs just 17p to cook, with each of the four servings coming in at £1.70.

Ingredients

  • 450g Iceland Pakora Fish Fillet Strips
  • 8 white tortilla wraps
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 300g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 cucumber, half grated and half cut into semi circles
  • 75g mango chutney

Method

Cook your Pakora Fish Strips in the air fryer for 10-12 minutes.

Stir the grated half of the cucumber into the yoghurt.

Heat up the tortilla wraps in the microwave for around 30 seconds.

Top the wraps with the mango chutney and add the carrot, cucumber slices and onion.

Finally, add two or three pakora fish fillet strips per wrap and finish with a drizzle of cucumber yoghurt.

Chocolate bread and butter pudding

Air fryers are perfect for low-effort yet impressive desserts like this indulgent chocolate bread and butter pudding.

Serving two, it uses less than 26p in energy and costs £1.31 per serving.

Ingredients

  • 3 pains au lait or brioche buns
  • 60ml double cream
  • 70ml milk
  • 30g melted butter
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • Vanilla ice cream to serve

Method

Mix the egg yolks and sugar until it dissolves, before stirring in the milk, cream and melted butter.

Tear up the pains au lait into bite-sized chunks and add half to the small baking dish, then add the chocolate.

Top with the rest of the pains au lait and pour in your egg mixture.

Cover with foil and cook for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly before eating and finish with a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream or a sprinkle of icing sugar.

Flapjack crisps

Alongside Lyle’s Golden Syrup, influencer Fitwaffle has reinvented the humble flapjack, turning the oaty treat into a healthy and inexpensive snack.

Fitwaffle’s Eloise said: ‘They’re delicious, and perfect for sharing and dipping.’

Ingredients

  • 150g salted butter
  • 60g light brown sugar
  • 150g Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 280g jumbo oats
  • Extra golden syrup and/or melted chocolate for dipping

Method

Melt the butter, light brown sugar, and syrup in a saucepan on a low to medium heat, stirring regularly until fully combined.

Remove from the heat and fold in the oats until they’re fully coated in the mix.

Line your air fryer with a sheet of baking paper. Scoop one levelled tablespoon of the mix onto the baking paper and press it down into a thin disc shape or place a sheet of baking paper on top and use rolling pin to flatten, then remove paper. They will spread slightly so make sure there’s enough room in between them.

Air fry at for 5 mins, then allow to cool fully before serving.

Pasta chips

Most pasta dishes aren’t suitable for the air fryer, but this tasty snack uses up the storecupboard ingredient for a tasty snack.

Ingredients

  • Pasta
  • Grated parmesan
  • Seasonings of choice

Method

Boil the pasta until al dente, before draining and patting dry with kitchen paper.

Toss the pasta with grated parmesan and your favourite seasonings – Ocado recommends a blend of sea salt and a pinch of smoked paprika.

Cook in the air fryer for 7-10 minutes until golden and crunchy, and serve with a tasty aïoli or tangy tomato dipping sauce.

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