Can You Air Fry Thanksgiving Dinner? TikTok Chef Reveals 'Perfect' Recipe

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, but some people might be looking for a healthier option, making the air fryer the perfect kitchen appliance. But is it actually healthier to cook your turkey in an air fryer? And does it taste just as good, or does it dry the meat out?

The mini-convection oven has become one of America's "must haves" according to market research firm The NPD Group. Air fryer usage has increased by more than 60 percent at dinner occasions during the past two years. So it's no surprise the hashtag 'air fryer' has been searched 5.2 billion times on TikTok.

Newsweek reached out to a popular food blogger and a couple of chefs to find out if it's possible to air fry a Thanksgiving dinner.

An air fryer is best known for creating fried flavors but with less oil and zero frying. It is essentially a mini oven that makes a great healthy alternative.

Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
Genien, Chicago based food blogger and recipe developer shared her air fryer turkey recipe Instagram/genie_cooks

Viral Thanksgiving Recipes

Social media is a great platform to not only connect with friends but to show off your expertise. As the holiday season approaches, many chefs and food bloggers have taken to the internet to share their top tips.

Previously, Newsweek shared an article highlighting viral videos offering new dishes to try this Thanksgiving.

Over 827,700 people watched this viral video demonstrating how to air fry a Turkey breast.

Newsweek spoke to Chicago-based food blogger Genien Sheikah, who goes by the name @genies_life on TikTok, to find out more about this alternative method of cooking. Her TikTok turkey recipe racked up 31,900 likes, with users commenting on how it looks even better than their usual Thanksgiving dinner.

Sheikah, 34, told Newsweek: "The air-fryer turkey tastes like everything that a turkey should taste like—it's moist, juicy, perfectly seasoned and so delicious."

The 3-pound turkey breast cost $15 and can be sliced 12 times, each slice being 174 calories.

The 'Perfect' Recipe for a Thanksgiving Turkey in an Air Fryer

Sheikah revealed the recipe behind her viral TikTok. Here is her method on how to cook your Thanksgiving turkey in an air fryer:

  • Bring the turkey to room temperature and remove the netting, if needed
  • In a bowl combine half a cup of mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons (tsp) of salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp sage
  • Coat the turkey with the mayonnaise mixture and be sure to get under the skin
  • Place the turkey into a preheated 360° air fryer for 15 minutes and flip it every 15 minutes until your turkey reaches a temperature of 165°
  • Rest the turkey for 15-20 minutes before slicing then serve.

The comments on the TikTok video are mostly complimenting the meat, but some TikTokers have their doubts and have suggested the meat is "dry".

Maya Feller, a Brooklyn-based registered dietitian, told Newsweek: "The key to a moist piece of meat is using an air fryer with a thermometer. If this is not possible, choosing to air fry smaller drumsticks or wings while following the manufacturer's suggestions will yield a succulent piece of meat."

A stock image of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. VeselovaElena/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Is It Cheaper to Use an Air Fryer for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Newsweek reached out to Vincenzo Della Polla, an executive chef and cooking school instructor at Pritikin Longevity Center, in Miami, Florida.

He said: "I use my air fryer all the time as it heats up faster than my traditional oven and tends to cook faster. If you need additional oven space during a big dinner like Thanksgiving, they are great to have.

"The unit I recommend is called a Cosori co130-ao. It allows you to broil, dehydrate, and even rotisserie a whole chicken or Cornish hen. You can also hold food warm in there as well, allowing you to finish up the rest of your meal."

Describing the benefits, Della Polla states an air fryer uses "much less electricity than a 220V big oven".

According to Direct Energy, a natural gas and electricity provider in North America, the average electric stove wattage comes in at around 3,000 watts. "Assuming an electricity rate of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a 3,000-watt oven will cost you about 36 cents per hour at high heat," states their website.

Richmond Howard wrote a blog post for meal preparation resource Meal Prepify, explaining how to work out the cost of air fryer electricity usage.

He said: "Air fryers use between 1,400 to 1,700 watts. You can convert this to 1.4kwh to 1.7kwh per hour of use. This can then be used to work out the precise cost, depending on your electricity provider, for each kWh of energy you use. This information should be present on any electricity bill.

"To work out the cost, work out how many kWh it takes to power the wattage of your air fryer. You can then multiply this number by the cooking time you want to use, and you will see how much it will cost. You will also need the size of your air fryer too."

The U.S. average retail price per kilowatt-hour is 11.10 cents so a turkey breast cooked for 45 minutes would cost 12-14 cents.

Will Using an Air Fryer Save Time on Thanksgiving?

Usually, a Thanksgiving spread has a roast turkey as its centerpiece, but an air fryer isn't big enough for the whole bird.

Feller said: "I would encourage folks to be mindful of the size of the animal protein that they are using in the air fryer. A 20-pound turkey most likely won't fit into an air fryer. The home cook may need to choose a smaller bird or opt for a turkey that is not whole."

For Sheikah, her boneless turkey breast was ready in 45 minutes, and she said it must be left to rest to lock the moisture in.

When using an oven, it takes much longer. According to Epicurious, an American digital food brand, "the simplest way to figure out turkey roasting times is to calculate 13 minutes per pound at 350°F for an unstuffed turkey (that's about 3 hours for a 12- to 14-lb. turkey), or 15 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey."

While the turkey cooks more quickly, it may take longer to cook all the trimmings if you only have one appliance.

"To cook a thanksgiving dinner using an air fryer only can take longer if the air fryer is on the smaller side," Blanca Garcia, a nutrition specialist at health advice site HealthCanal, told Newsweek.

Air Fryer vs. Oven: Does an Air Fryer Make the Thanksgiving Turkey Dry?

Speaking to Newsweek, Della Polla said: "Truthfully these small units are more effective as they have a similar size fan as your big oven does. By blowing that hot air around in that little cubic footage, they allow the food to brown much faster and more evenly than in a big oven space.

"Food can still be tasty when using an air-fryer and I recommend trying time-saving techniques like making things in small muffin pans. We love this at my house as not only is it great for portion control, it allows things to cook faster!

"Make stuffin' muffins instead of cooking your stuffing in a big casserole pan! Sweet potato casserole can all be prepared this way."

Sharing another air fry tip for the holiday, he said: "If your potatoes are stacked on top of each, they won't roast and brown properly which is why those units tell you to shake the basket several times as they cook. Now the unit I recommend is shaped more like a toaster oven. The "basket" is actually a large wire rack that allows your food to be spread out, allowing more surface area to cook the product more evenly."

Is It Healthier to Use an Air Fryer?

For many Americans, sweet potato is a staple of Thanksgiving dinner. Recently, a TikTok video of a sweet potato pie went viral.

The video posted by @airfrypapi racked up over 57,000 likes and has been viewed more than 491,000 times since it was posted on October 28.


Air Fryer Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie! 🥧 Just whipping these pies and testing flavors before thanksgiving. You already know this is a smash. If you’ve never made a brown butter anything “JUST DO IT” - Nike 😬 #airfryerpapi Free Recipe… Click the link in my bio! . . . . . aairfryerddessertsswetpotatoaairfryerrecipesaairfryercookingssweetpotatopieaairfryerbakingaairfryerlifemmarthastewartffoodnetworkaairfryerrecipethanksgivingdesserts

♬ original sound - Air Fryer Papi

Sheikah refers to air-fried meat as a "much healthier option" as opposed to traditional deep frying and it's quicker. But some dishes like the above can still be calorific despite being air fried.

However much less oil is used and Web MD states air frying "cuts calories by 70 percent to 80 percent and has a lot less fat."

Garcia told Newsweek the best way to "preserve nutrients while cooking is sautéing or stir-frying." But this isn't possible for most Thanksgiving delights like green bean casserole and creamy mashed potatoes.

Garcia said: "The food cooked in the air fryer could lose some of its nutritional value. Water soluble vitamins such as vitamins C and B are susceptible to being reduced when cooking. Also, vitamins A, D, E, and K, and the minerals potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium.

"Typically you cook food medium to high heat in a small amount with very little fat used to cook. This can help reduce the number of nutrients lost in typical grilling, broiling, and roasting

"Although an air fryer's heat can affect food's nutrient content, not all is lost.

"The appeal of an air fryer is the ability to eat crispy food, without all that oil when frying foods. An air fryer can significantly reduce the calories from fat that gets soaked in food.

"But to cook a Thanksgiving dinner using an air fryer only can take longer if the air fryer is on the smaller side."

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