3 ways to cook a Christmas turkey in an air fryer

Yes, you can cook your Christmas turkey in an air fryer… and here’s how

How to make Christmas turkey in an air fryer
(Image credit: Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash)

Worried about cooking the Christmas turkey this year? Take the stress out of turkey preparing and roasting with these three tried and tested air fryer recipes.

With the most important meal of the year coming up, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to cook your turkey… and might I suggest using the best air fryer to complete the task? One food I never expected to see being squeezed into an air fryer is a turkey, but it turns out using your air fryer to cook a Christmas turkey is easy, time-saving and surprisingly delicious.

I’ve already covered how to cook your Christmas sides in an air fryer, including recipes for roast potatoes, Brussel sprouts, stuffing, and more. Now it’s the turkey’s turn and here are three ways to cook your Christmas turkey in an air fryer.

Christmas turkey in an air fryer: 3 methods to try

First, it’s important to consider the size of air fryer you’re using. A whole turkey won’t fit in a standard air fryer and if you try to squeeze it in, you can end up damaging your air fryer and getting an uneven cook on your turkey. You also don’t want any part of the turkey pressing against the sides of the air fryer as it won’t cook properly and you might get burnt edges and a raw middle – no one wants food poisoning at Christmas!

If you want to cook your turkey in an air fryer, I recommend choosing a turkey crown or a boneless turkey breast. Alternatively, you can choose a super-sized air fryer like the Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer or the Tower 10-in-1 Xpress Pro Combo. But overall, if you want to roast the whole bird, you’re better off using the best oven to get the job done.

Other than your air fryer, you’ll also want to have the best meat thermometer at hand. Don’t let the crispy skin fool you – it might not be cooked all the way through, so use a meat thermometer to check its internal temperature. The temperature should be 75°C or above.

1. Turkey crown with dry brine and compound butter

A Tefal air fryer with two baskets filled with Christmas food

(Image credit: Tefal)

This air fryer recipe from chef Nathan Anthony is extremely traditional, as it preps and cooks the turkey similar to how you would in an oven.

1.  Two or three days before Christmas, make a brine by combining salt, pepper, brown sugar, rosemary, thyme, sage and cinnamon. Mix this together in a bowl and spread it over your 2kg turkey crown or breast. Add orange slices to the top and leave to sit.

2. On Christmas Day, make a compound butter with butter, garlic, lemon, oranges, rosemary, thyme, oregano and other seasoning you like. Pat the turkey’s skin dry and cover it with the compound butter.

3. Cover your turkey in foil and cook it in your air fryer at 180°C. Anthony says to cook it for 20 minutes per 450g, plus an extra 20 minutes. Baste the turkey halfway through cooking and remove the foil for the last 20 minutes to get crispy skin. 

4. Test the temperature of the turkey and if it’s not cooked, put it back in the air fryer for another 20 minutes. Once cooked, let it rest in the foil for 20 minutes before carving.

2. Turkey drumsticks

If you have a limited number of people coming for Christmas or you prefer the legs of the bird, you’re going to love this turkey air fryer recipe from Foolproof Living. It’s simple and takes much less time than a full turkey crown or breast.

1. Pat your turkey drumsticks dry with paper towels before setting aside.

2. Make a simple compound butter using butter, paprika, garlic and onion powders, and seasoning. Apply the compound butter to your turkey legs, making sure to get an even coating.

3. Put the turkey drumsticks in the air fryer at 200°C for 20 minutes. Flip and rotate the legs after this time and let them cook for another 15 minutes. Once the internal temperature says they’re cooked, let the drumsticks rest before serving.

3. Turkey with bacon using an outdoor air fryer

Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven

(Image credit: Ninja)

The third and final recipe is from Ninja and uses the Ninja Woodfire Electric Outdoor Oven to cook the turkey. You might think this is cheating but the appliance used in this recipe is multifunctional and can be used as a barbecue, pizza oven and air fryer all in one.

1. Turn the dial on your Ninja Woodfire Electric Outdoor Oven to ‘Gourmet Rest’ and set the temperature to 330°C for 5 minutes. Push the right-hand dial to ‘Stage 2’ and set the temperature to 160°C for 2 hours and 30 minutes. Select ‘Start’ and let it preheat. The accessory frame should also be added to the air fryer/outdoor oven.

2. Cover your turkey crown with butter and any seasonings you like. Using the Pro-Heat tray with the Roast Rack, place the turkey breast side down. Once the Ninja Woodfire Electric Outdoor Oven is preheated, add your turkey, close the door and press start.

4. Let the turkey cook for an hour before flipping it over and layering streaky bacon on top. Baste the turkey before closing the door and letting it cook for another 30 minutes.

5. Remove the turkey on its rack from the Ninja Woodfire Electric Outdoor Oven. Add vegetables to the Pro-Heat tray before putting the turkey and rack back on top and letting it cook for another 30 minutes. After this, remove the turkey and check it’s cooked before covering with foil and resting for 30 minutes.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!