If you’re hoping to find out how to cook frozen burritos in an air fryer you’ve come to the right place!
As it turns out, it’s a bit trickier than cooking them in an oven. The great news is that they taste much better cooked in an air fryer vs a microwave.
I’ve done the hard work: Lots of trial and error, and wasted a lot of burritos to find the best way. In my easy-to-follow guide I’ll show you how to make great burritos you’ll love.
Infographic – Fast frozen burrito air fryer cooking tips
Basics first: Simple tips for cooking frozen burritos in an air fryer
It’s actually quite easy to cook your own great-tasting burritos at home. There are some things you’ll need to know, however, before cooking your first time.
Here’s a quick summary of the basic steps you’ll need.
Watch out! Don’t follow advice on the package
Typical cooking instructions for using a traditional oven on my frozen burrito package. The problem is that while it’s fine for those kinds of ovens, air fryers are different. You’ll get terrible results doing it that way when using your air fryer!
Most frozen foods including frozen burritos, chimichangas, and much more included both microwave and conventional oven cooking instructions. I’m here to warn you: Don’t use those instructions for your air fryer when cooking your burritos!
You’ll get terrible results & you’ll really miss out on what you could have if done right. The reason is that while air fryers work very similar to an oven, in practice they don’t cook the same way.
2 things will happen if you cook your burritos at a high temperature (like 350°F shown above) like you would in a regular oven:
- The tortillas will dry out and become hard and crunchy
- Burrito contents (especially with meats or cheeses) will overcook, leak out badly, and cause a mess
That being said, let’s move on to the right way to do it.
How & why to preheat your air fryer
Top: Preheat settings for an air fryer with digital controls. These usually have a preheat mode button but you may need to adjust them manually anyway. Bottom: For models with dial controls, turn the cooking temperature to about 180°F and set the timer to 3 minutes (or 5 minutes if yours has a preset for that).
Air fryer makers recommend warming up the fryer to the cooking temperature before you add food. But why is that?
I can tell you from my personal hands-on experience there are several good reasons why:
- The electric heating element (much like an oven) gets warmed and ready to use
- Inside surfaces that touch & cook food are hot and ready to work properly. Food will start cooking when it touches them
- Preheating avoids a warming delay that would happen if you started cooking from room temperature
In other words, you’ll get your air fryer ready to begin cooking right away – it’s preheated (already hot) and ready to use. You won’t have to worry about trying to adjust cooking time for a cold fryer.
Just like how you and I may warm up a car before driving during the winter it’s the same principle.
Preheating means good cooking
There’s not really a way around it most of the time – especially with frozen foods. In fact, those can be harder to cook than room temperature foods since they need more time to thaw.
For food that’s heated properly and cooks well, you’ll need to let your air fryer warm up. Doing this allows your meals to cook consistently and reliably.
Even though they’re small and don’t take nearly as much time as a regular oven to warm up, it’s still worth doing.
How to preheat your air fryer
Shown: I’ve tested preheating times for several air fryers to find out what REALLY happens when preheating them. I found out that it depends on the temperature range. For cooking frozen burritos a lower temperature is best, which means it only takes about 3 minutes for most to warm up before cooking. However, for other foods, a higher temperature is needed. It takes up to 5 minutes for preheating the fryer.
Preheating is really easy! While it does depend on the particular model brand of fryer you own, the good news is that it works the same for nearly all of them.
You’ll do it one of two ways:
- Digital controls/push button models: These often have a preheat button. If yours has a “warming” or preheat button for 180 or 170 degrees and 3-5 minutes, use that preset button. Otherwise, adjust the preheat time for 180°F and 3 minutes or more (5 minutes is fine, too)
- Air fryers with dial controls can be set to the cooking temperature then set for 3 mins cooking time. When the timer is finished it’s ready for you to add the food and get started cooking
Use at least 3 minutes time at 180°F to preheat your air fryer. (Note: 5 minutes or more is fine too. It’s just longer than is necessary)
Getting your burritos ready to cook
Getting your burritos ready set up to cook takes only a few moments. To get the best results, fill the fryer container (basket) with the burritos making sure they’re not stacked on top of each other. It’s ok if they touch but you don’t want them covered up much as that prevents the hot cooking air from reaching them.
Time to get your burritos ready to cook! It’s easy, though, so don’t stress…and it only takes a short moment too.
(Note: The same tips apply to other foods as well, like hamburger patties, Hot Pockets, and so forth)
- Put the burritos inside the basket so that they don’t cover each other. This is to avoid keeping the air fryer’s hot air from being able to reach them well (especially important for foods like fries, tots, etc.)
- If you’re trying to cook as many burritos at once as possible, try laying them inside at different angles and slightly touching each other
- In some cases it might be helpful to put them inside at 90 degree angles if there’s limited space or on their sides
- If necessary and space is tight, it’s ok if they touch each other a bit – just don’t completely cover burritos by adding more on top of them
When using an air fryer it’s important to avoid covering the burritos as much as possible. Food stacked on other pieces of food will cover surfaces and cause some areas to be undercooked.
That’s especially a bad idea for foods with a frozen interior like chimichangas and burritos that need heat for a long time to thaw & warm inside.
How long should I cook frozen burritos in an air fryer?
I measured cooking times while checking the burritos every 5-10 minutes until they were well-cooked and tasted great. I used my larger air fryer (a 3.7 quart Cosori unit) and a smaller one, a 1.2 qt Dash personal air fryer as they’re good examples for what many people will use. The larger one (cooking 4 burritos) was done in 25 minutes. The smaller, personal-sized air fryer had 2 burritos and was ready in about 20 minutes.
As not everyone has the same size air fryer I made sure to test cooking times using 2 sizes: A larger & popular Cosori 3.7 quart 1700W model (more suitable for families) and a smaller personal air fryer, the Dash 1.2 quart 1000W model.
Here’s a brief timeline of what happens when cooking frozen burritos:
- 0-10 mins: Thawing out, still very cold inside
- 10-15 mins or so: Outside becomes warm, inside has nearly completely thawed
- After 15 minutes: Inside continues warming/cooking
- After 20-25 minutes: The burritos are ready inside and great to eat!
Tip: You can be confident how well food is cooked by using a digital temperature gauge with a probe to check. In the case of burritos, a temperature inside of 100 degrees and above is recommended. I recommend a thermometer like the ThermoPro TP03A digital kitchen gauge as it works well and comes in very handy!
Once the timer is done you can check to see if your burritos are fully cooked and ready.
To do so, one of the best ways is to use a digital food thermometer as shown above. For best taste and to make sure the inside temperature is good. When checking it you should measure above 100 degrees.
I’ve found that’s best for great taste. At below that they’re edible, but not nearly as tasty or enjoyable.
When fully cooked, your burritos will be like this:
- Warm, relatively soft outside (shouldn’t be too hard or crunchy)
- Melted, hot interior that tastes good
You may notice some grease or oil leaking out. That’s normal depending on the kind of burritos you’ve bought.
In the examples above I cooked beef & bean burritos which can leak a bit after cooking. I’ve had several where the soft tortilla had a bit of oil showing after time passed.
Example of an overcooked/high-temperature air fryer burrito
Here’s the result of cooking burritos in an air fryer at a higher temperature like 350° instead of a lower temperature. The inside can leak excessively and the outside tortilla will become hard and crunchy – not good to eat! These aren’t good burritos and are why I recommend using a lower temperature although it may take a bit longer.
As I mentioned before, here’s an example of why you don’t cook burritos at a higher temperature like 350°F. I found out the inside would begin to leak badly since it was overcooking.
Not only that but the outside became hard and unpleasant to eat. Not good!
Last touches and we’re done. Time to eat!
Once ready, it’s time to eat! The great news is that cooked frozen burritos are safe to eat immediately as they’re not too hot.
I recommend serving immediately for best taste, as if left too long they may tend to become saturated with grease from the cooked cheese or meat inside.
How to best reheat cold burritos
One thing I’ve found is that you won’t want to warm up your fantastic air fryer cooking in a microwave. It simply doesn’t taste anywhere close to how it did when fresh!
For best results, restore them to a delicious, fresh state by reheating them in a warm air fryer at 180°F for about 3 to 5 minutes.
Clean up & last notes
Check out what’s left over after I cooked my burritos. While not typical of all burritos you’ll buy, those with foods containing fats or oils like cheese, meats, and others might leak into the frying basket while cooking. That’s normal.
I did find that my beef & bean burritos left a small amount of oil & grease behind when I was done. That’s nothing to be concerned about, as it’s normal.
The great news is that clean up is really easy!
To clean up your air fryer basket after cooking, just add a drop of dishwashing detergent after filling it with warm water.
Clean the inside with a soft washcloth or sponge as you don’t want to damage the nonstick coating with an abrasive cleaner. It only takes a few seconds and you’re done.
Allow the parts to air dry or dry with a towel if you prefer.
(Note: Most air fryer baskets are dishwasher safe so you could use that too).
More air fryer cooking guides
But wait, there are even more fantastic foods you can cook with your air fryer! Check out my other guides based on hands-on testing, measurements, and most of all….taste!