We tried this last-minute air fryer Christmas cake recipe – it tastes delicious!

Ninja Foodi MAX Health Grill & Air Fryer AG551UKDBCP
(Image credit: Future | Photo by Emily Peck )

If you haven't had the a chance to get your baking done in the run-up to Christmas, there’s still time to make this delicious air fryer Christmas cake recipe. Yes, you read that right: you can make Christmas cake in one of the best air fryers.

We’re big fans of air frying, as it can cut standard cooking times in half, limiting the need to heat your whole oven every time you want to cook or bake. A popular way to bake a Christmas cake in a conventional oven is for up to three hours at 300F / 150C, but using a air fyer can cut that down to around an hour and a half. 

Air fryers have variable temperature and timing controls. and some even have dedicated 'bake' settings that make preparing sweet treats even simpler. 

We've found lots of Christmas cake recipes online, with many YouTubers sharing their recipies. So, feeling festively inspired, we gave it a go ourselves. 

Air fryer deals

If you want to make Christmas cake in time for the weekend festivities then you're going to need to get hold of an air fryer if you don't already have one. The options below were all in stock when we last checked, but you'll need to place your order within the next day or two.

Air fryer Christmas cake recipe 

We based our recipe on Carr’s Flour classic Christmas cake recipe, adjusting the cooking time to suit our air fryer. We used the Ninja Foodi Max Health Grill Air Fryer, which nicely housed a 8-inch round deep cake tin.

Ninja Air Fryer

We placed our mixture in the Ninja Foodi MAX Health Grill & Air Fryer AG551UKDBCP for 1 hour 30 minutes at 270F / 130C (Image credit: Future | Photo: Emily Peck )

The Ninja Foodi Max Health Grill Air Fryer is slightly different from your standard air fryer, as it has a lid that you lift off to reveal the baking area. If you're using an air fryer with a drawer that you pull out, it's a good idea to check that your baking tin fits inside neatly before you start the recipe. 

Top tip: a good variable temperature control comes in useful when cooking a variety of sweet and savory foods in an air fryer. Some designs have specific baking settings that make the whole process even easier. 

Air fryer Christmas cake recipe ingredients 

Here's what you'll need to use from your store cupboard when making this air fryer Christmas cake recipe: 

  • 1kg  / 35oz of mixed dried fruit (currants, sultanas, raisins, cherries, figs, candied peel, cranberries, dates)
  • 225g / 7.9oz plain flour
  • 225g / 7.9oz butter
  • 225g / 7.9oz soft brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • 1 dessert spoon black treacle
  • Zest of 2 lemons

Air fryer Christmas cake recipe method

We found it relatively easy to make a Christmas cake in an air fryer, as it was a simple matter of mixing the ingredients, pouring the mix into a baking tin and baking.

Step 1. Whisk the butter and sugar in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs and add slowly to the butter and sugar.

Step 2. Fold in the flour and spices to the egg mix, then fold in the fruit plus the lemon peel and treacle.

Step 3: Pour the mixture into a parchment paper-lined 8-inch round cake tin.
Note: make sure you use a cake tin which fits inside your air fryer basket.

Ninja air fryer

Christmas cake mixture in the tin prior to air frying (Image credit: Future | Photo: Emily Peck)

Step 4: Place the mixture in the tin in the air fryer for 1 hour 30 minutes at 270F / 130C

Step 5: Leave to cool then decorate

Ninja Foodi MAX Health Grill & Air Fryer AG551UKDBCP

We were impressed by the even bake, although it was a little lighter than an oven-baked Christmas cake (Image credit: Future | Photo by Emily Peck )

Our cake came out a little lighter in color than a typical Christmas cake, but this can be adjusted by adding a little extra molasses. You may want to add a few more glace cherries to give the cake a little more chew and texture. 

Air fryer Christmas cake recipe verdict 

We were impressed at how evenly our Christmas cake baked. In hindsight, we probably should have added a little more molasses to this recipe to make the color of the cake deepen, as it came out looking rather light.

But overall, it came out with an exterior that was attractive in color and had a good crunch when we bit into it. Inside, it had the rich density you'd expect from an oven-baked Christmas cake, but felt moist and spongey at the same time. 

Christmas cake made in an air fryer

We were impressed by how evenly the air fryer cooked our Christmas cake recipe (Image credit: Future | Photo by Emily Peck )

The 8-inch tin we used fitted neatly in the Ninja air fryer, but there wasn't much room above it. As we made a dense Christmas cake this wasn't too much of a problem, but this restriction in air fryer height is something to bear in mind if you plan to make a traditional sponge that will rise when baked. 

With Christmas just around the corner, there isn’t much time to feed your cake with brandy to keep it moist. We soaked the mixed fruit in brandy the night before making the cake for additional moisture. 

To store the cake, it’s a good idea to wrap it in a double layer of baking parchment and then in foil so that the fruits don’t react with the metals in the foil. To finish off our cake we added a layer of marzipan, royal icing and a few traditional Christmas cake decorations. 

While we've yet to find a decent air fryer Christmas cake recipe on Instagram or TikTok, we did stumble across a range of Christmas cake recipes to try out in the slow cooker. This slow cooker recipe, for example, uses just four ingredients, but it will take up to eight hours to cook. If you're keen to try it out, you can use one of the best instant pot and slow cookers from our round-up. 

Emily Peck
Lifestyle journalist

Emily is a lifestyle journalist who writes for a range of publications including TechRadar, Livingetc, Wired, Ideal Home and GQ. She writes about interior design and smart home, gardens, wellbeing, food and fitness and has tested everything from food processors to paddleboards, and bee hives to the best beds. When she’s not typing away at her computer, she can be found tending to her Dorset-garden, trying the latest water sport at the beach or acting as chauffeur to her two young kids.