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You know how simple questions don’t always have simple answers. You’d think “How long to cook frozen burritos in an air fryer” would be one that doesn’t fall into that category. I mean how complicated can it be?
Well… the simple answer is… it depends. And that’s not really an answer, is it? It just opens up more questions.
However as a rough guide for now – to cook a frozen burrito in an air fryer you’ll need a few minutes to preheat and then around 12-15 minutes.
But we’ve seen recommended cooking times vary from a speedy 8 minutes, all the way up to a leisurely 25 minutes. That’s a big difference even taking different temperatures into account.
That illustrates that it isn’t a simple answer and it does depend on various things – your air fryer, what’s inside the burrito, and how you like your burritos. To get the perfect burrito we need to get more specific. So I’ll try and clear it all up. Where do we start? Let’s go alphabetically.
If you already have an air fryer I don’t need to convince you how amazing they are. You know what all the fuss is about and why they’re so popular now.
So for the uninitiated, air fryers are those self-contained appliances that are principally used for cooking fried food – but using little or no oil; up to 90% less than conventional pan or deep frying.
You may have seen them after you’ve run out of things to watch on TV at the end of the night, on the ads where someone with a lot of energy for 2 in the morning is cooking things like fried chicken and french fries, and fried plantains! Obviously. Who doesn’t love a fried plantain at 2 am?
And then… Ta-Da! They show you how little oil was used. “It’s magic, it can’t be possible,” you say.
“Oh, it can be and it is,” I say.
They are extremely efficient appliances that cook by circulating hot air around the food while also creating a mist of oil to fry the outside of the food. They really do create great results with way less fat, so much more healthy. And they really are worth getting excited about, though not exclusively at 2 am.
Like everything you cook, cooking times will depend on what you are using to cook it with.
One of the many good things about air fryers is that they are pretty precise at getting the temperature you want. A large part of this is down to their size; they’re pretty compact compared to a conventional oven.
Now combine that with the super-efficient circulation of the hot air and you’re getting the same cooking temperature through the whole cooking space. No temperature variations in different parts.
And most of them have precise temperature settings, which is better than guessing with a dial somewhere roughly within 20 or 50 degrees.
One factor that will be different between air fryers is the size of their cooking space inside. Ideally, you need to have space around everything you cook in them to allow the hot air to circulate around and cook evenly.
So if you have a smaller model and want to cook a few burritos and they’re not ‘maintaining social distancing’ very well you may need a bit more time and the occasional re-arrangement or two of the rabble of burritos during cooking to make sure they’re cooked evenly all over.
Conversely with a larger air fryer with plenty of room to spare and just one or two burritos they’ll get cooked pretty well with just one quick turn halfway through.
Even a large air fryer will be smaller than most conventional ovens so if you want to cook your frozen burritos in an oven it makes so much more sense to use an air fryer. Why put on your large conventional oven just to pop in a burrito or two to sit there all scared in the middle of that vast empty space when you can keep them safe and cozy in a much more efficient air fryer?
Every air fryer will differ slightly so you’ll have a good excuse to eat lots of burritos while you tweak the times to get The Perfect Burrito.
Moving on to B for burrito. Don’t panic this isn’t an A-Z of how long to cook frozen burritos in an air fryer. I just got lucky with the Air Fryer, Burrito. Oh, hold on…we may have to discuss Chimichangas next!
There may have been some debate about how familiar people are with air fryers or not. But surely everyone knows what a burrito is, don’t they? In the Americas, definitely. They’re as common as a sandwich. (You do know what a sandwich is, right?) But in other parts of the world, they’re not as well known, or maybe there is some uncertainty and confusion over what exactly they are. Well, be confused no more.
A burrito is a Mexican food with originally just meat and beans but has evolved over time and by traveling north across the border to now include your choice of cooked meat, rice, beans, cheese, veggies, some salsa (the sauce, not the dance), sour cream, guacamole – all wrapped up and neatly rolled and tucked into a flour tortilla (a flatbread).
Fun Fact 1 – Flour, namely wheat flour, is not a traditional Mexican ingredient. Corn flour was originally the only one and is still the most predominantly used in Mexico. Mexico was ahead of its time with a gluten-free option. Go corn flour. Go Mexico. Wheat flour was actually introduced to Mexico by the Spanish conquerors of Mexico; no, not modern tourists, the conquistadors in the 16th century. Wheat flour tortillas have now been embraced fully by North America.
Fun Fact 2 – In Spain, a tortilla isn’t a flatbread at all. It’s more like an omelet. I say ‘more like’ because it’s not really like the omelet most people know. It’s egg, a lot of potatoes, and optionally a little onion, much deeper and more substantial than an omelet. And served cut into slices like a tart. Oh, and for something with simple ingredients it’s delicious! It’s also a favorite Spanish sandwich filling, placing a slice in a large baguette type bread. (Am I the only one wondering if they used a Mexican flatbread instead of a baguette it would be a tortilla?)
Fun fact 3 – Burrito is Spanish for small donkey. Burro is a donkey in Spanish, and a very common way of saying a small and kind of cute version of something in Spanish is to change the ending of the word to ‘ito’ or ‘ato’. So burro becomes burrito. How cute. Wait! That’s not what’s in it!!
There is debate about exactly why the food is named after a cute little donkey. The various suggestions are that they:
- were originally sold from a donkey/donkey cart
- are loaded up to carry lots of things, like a donkey
- were carried by donkey, so travel with it like its smaller sidekick
- resemble the rolled pouches carried on the side of a donkey
- resemble donkey’s ears (my least favorite idea of a snack)
- were named after the less than flattering nickname given by one vendor to the poor children that he provided food. Burro also means idiot/dunce. Not nice and not likely.
Whichever one is true, I personally prefer the idea it was about loading it up as much as possible with lots of things.
Burritos are a great every day and convenient food but the best thing is there is such a variety of what you can put in your donkey’s ear. See, that’s a horrible idea for a snack! You can mix up the choice of fillings; to give you a huge choice and satisfying snack or light meal that everyone will love.
And that’s where the cooking times come in. A basic cheese and bean burrito will be pretty slim so will need less cooking time than a big fat beef burrito stuffed full of cheese and rice and beans and veggies. You wouldn’t cook a chicken nugget for the same time as a chicken quarter. Or a french fry for the same time as a baked potato. Or a steak for the same time as a beef wellington. I’ll stop now, you get the idea.
A chimichanga is basically a deep-fried burrito. It’s not really relevant but I just had to get the ‘C’ in. Fillings differ slightly from a burrito as it’s deep-fried so it wouldn’t have sour cream or guacamole inside. The dips can be added to your plate after cooking. And it’s Tex-Mex, created in the US rather than Mexico.
And incidentally one of the best food names on the planet. It sounds like it should also be a dance, like salsa. “Hey let’s party the night away, salsa, drink tequila and chimichanga until we drop.”
Let it go. Let it go. Let the A to Z go and skip to ‘F’ for frozen burritos.
Hold on, I suppose I could have mentioned Enchiladas. They are usually corn tortillas, not wheat, with a meat filling and with lots of sauce covering them. We’re talking lots of sauce so they’re eaten from a plate as they’re not practical to eat with your hands like a burrito. Think Mexican cannelloni.
And the ‘chil’ in ‘enchilada’ is because it was traditionally a chili flavored/seasoned sauce.
Right, let’s get back to frozen (F is also for Focus!) and frozen burritos. Frozen burritos have become a staple edition to most American freezers as a convenient snack or light meal. They come in many brands, many variations, and flavors. Beef, chicken, cheese, bean, vegan, gluten-free, organic, even mixing cultures with Asian variations.
And my all-time favorite – the breakfast burrito! Isn’t that just the perfect breakfast?
Give me a moment to drift off and dream of a breakfast burrito…..
…OK. I’m back. A great cooked breakfast is pretty good. Eggs, bacon, cheese, potato, avocado, tomato, onions. But wrap it all up snugly in a tortilla so you can hold it all in your hand and eat it? Gooood morning! It doesn’t get any better. Before 10 am anyway.
Frozen burritos were really created for the microwave era. Produced in a plastic bag and popped in the microwave. For convenience. But now we have air fryers, it’s time to drop the microwave method and give the air fryer a chance to prove that it can do a much better job, in just a little more time.
There’s a huge range of frozen burritos to choose from ranging in price and quality dramatically. Find your favorites, experiment a little, and find your perfect match. Maybe a daily favorite? Is there a roast dinner burrito out there for Sunday lunch?
Soft Or Crispy?
Another thing to consider in your cooking time is if you like your burrito’s tortilla to be soft. Or do you prefer a crispier covering to your burrito? The cooking time and temperature both affect your cute little donkey’s blanket.
A slightly lower temperature or less time will cook the burrito while keeping the outside softer. If you really want to keep your tortilla as soft as possible then consider wrapping it in foil, but you will need to increase cooking time. Now you can’t do that in a microwave. Microwaves and metal really do not mix. Like donkeys and tigers. Not good in the same room.
Conversely higher temperatures or longer times will cook the burrito while giving you a crispier tortilla.
Golden Rules For Best Results
- Brush or spray a little oil on the cooking basket. This stops the tortilla from sticking to the basket. You don’t want it to rip as you take it out. Even if your burritos are wrapped in foil it won’t hurt as the foil can sometimes stick.
- Preheat the air fryer for a few minutes. Not long is needed in these super-efficient appliances as they heat up very quickly.
- REMOVE THE PACKAGING! You may be so used to throwing them in the microwave and forget to take the packaging off.
- Turn your burritos once halfway through cooking. If you have a lot crammed in you may need to move them more than once. But ideally don’t fill the air fryer that full. Which leads to…
- Leave space around the burritos for air to circulate and cook evenly and thoroughly. Cook in batches if necessary. It won’t take much longer overall.
It’s Time For Times
Now we’ve got all the ingredients let’s get more specific about cooking times. We’ve gleaned this from trial and error and researching ideal cooking times. Let’s move on from alphabetical now, and order from the quickest to the longest.
Simple, small, and soft – bean and cheese
Temperature – 360F/180C.
Time – As these need the least time you may get away with 8 minutes but could need 10. If you want them crispier bump it up to 12 minutes. The danger with these is overcooking and ending up with a crispy sole of a shoe (or a donkey’s ear!) so I’d recommend the first time turning after 5 minutes and see how they’re looking. Then you can see if 8 will be enough or need more.
Medium and meaty
Temperature – Crank it up to 400F/200C.
Time – A medium and meaty 12-15 minutes. Again go in for an assessment and a turn, after 7 minutes this time, and go from there. Add on a couple of minutes to desired crispiness if necessary.
Big and bulky
Temperature – Stick with 400F/200C.
Time – Not much more. Probably 15-17 minutes is best, Check, turn and assess after 9 minutes.
Temperature – 380F/190C.
Time – Up to as much as 30 minutes. Wrapping in foil will stop the tortilla from getting crispy but will slow down the cooking so will need to be in for longer. And can’t really check it halfway, apart from a squeeze (with a cloth) for firmness, or more the lack of it to check it’s not frozen. So a bit more trial and error on these, but worth it as you’ll get great results.
You can tweak all these times and temperatures until you get the yummiest results; just how you like them with your particular air fryer and your favorite frozen burritos.
Maybe lower the temperature a little and extend the cooking time to see how that affects the results. Softer, crispier. Meltier. Yes, that is a word, now.
For advanced burrito perfecting – set the temperature a little lower initially to cook through gently, then turn up the temperature a little for the last 3 or 4 minutes to crisp the outside. If that’s your thing.
My Top Tip
Get yourself some disposable temperature sticks. They are perfect for sticking into burritos (and any food) to check they’re cooked through. Especially important when cooking from frozen.
If you’re not familiar with them they’re either made of card or look like a big plastic toothpick. You push them into the center of the food and they change color if the food is hot enough.
I don’t recommend the card ones as they can be difficult to insert into most food. You can get a knack for it with a quick jab, but there are other options so why bother.
Much better to just get the toothpick ones. They stick into anything and are much easier to use. I love them. A must-have in every serious kitchen. And in fun kitchens too.
Of course, if you have a professional cooking thermometer, even better. It doesn’t make me jealous of my disposable ones at all! Nope. Not jealous.
Homemade AND frozen
Er, what? Yes, this is about how long to cook frozen burritos in an air fryer. But we didn’t say that it was restricted to the supermarket, mass-produced, convenient frozen burritos. How about making your own burritos? And freeze them for eating later.
How much better when you get all your favorite ingredients, cook them up and cram them all into a tortilla? Don’t put up with green peppers if you love red ones. Apparently, they all taste the same but I’m not convinced. I’m a red pepper person.
You can get creative. Is fish allowed in a burrito? Or is that only a taco thing? Surely pulled pork is not just allowed, but absolute genius.
And exactly how many cheeses are there in the world? Okay, they won’t all melt well but so many that you can choose from that do melt. How about feta? That’ll melt and with its lovely crumbly texture and its saltiness could be a winner in your dinner.
Mixing up food cultures is a good thing, so you can try some Asian flavors, Thai sweet chili, lemongrass. Or Indian. There are so many amazing Indian flavors to try. Maybe pop some lentils in your burrito instead of beans? Or paneer? How about some chorizo? Or good old English sausages?
If you love hot chili you can load it up with as much as you can handle for a super spicy burrito.
There really is no limit to what you could try in your burrito.
You can either make a special batch of burritos just for freezing or if you’re making some burritos to eat straight away then make some extra to pop in the freezer ready for whenever you have a craving for a delicious burrito. Drop them in the air fryer and enjoy!
So there you have it – the A to C to F to 12 to 15 minutes of how long to cook frozen burritos in an air fryer. I hope you enjoyed our little journey and that you’re now fully equipped to have delicious burritos cooked to perfection in an air fryer.