I used an air fryer to make poppadoms, and it was… interesting

Air frying poppadoms
(Image credit: Future)

The best air fryers are all the rage right now, and once you've invested in a model, next comes plenty of experimentation, trying to cook different foods. Last Saturday, we made a vegetable curry, and as is usual, we wanted to accompany it with poppadoms and / or a naan because, well, it wouldn't be a curry without those classic Indian side dishes, would it?

Keen to try out the air fryer and have some fun with it, we thought we'd air-fry some poppadoms. Rather than purchase the ones that are ready to eat, straight from the bag, we opted for raw poppadoms that need cooking. The "usual" way to cook such poppadoms is to pop them in the microwave for one minute; but clearly, we wanted a challenge before sitting down to tuck in to our Saturday night curry.

Without giving too much away at this stage, let's roll with the idea that air-fried poppadoms are quick and easy to make, use less energy and are the heathier option to the alternative. After all, the above – speed, ease of use, cheap to run and healthier versions of our favourite foods – are the reasons that so many of us are currently buying air fryers. 

We didn't follow a recipe, and the time and temperature settings we used were a (very) wild guess. The results were.. surprising. We'll leave it at that as you continue to scroll down the page to find out what happened.

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How to (not) cook poppadoms

The normal way to get uncooked poppadoms ready to eat is to sprinkle them with a little water and pop them into the microwave. Or, if you're cooking them in the over, simply drizzle lightly with oil. For this experiment of trying to cook poppadoms in the air fryer, we tried both methods.

Preparing a poppadom for air frying

(Image credit: Future)

1. Sprinkle a poppadom with water

Don't soak it; just lightly sprinkle on some water. The water is just to give the air fryer something to dry out. 

2. Place in the air fryer

We're using the Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer, which has one drawer. The size of the poppadom saw it fit snugly into the air fryer drawer, but without it touching the sides.

Switch on the air fryer. This appliance doesn't need to preheat – it's hot from the get-go – so simply set the desired temperature and time for which you'd like to cook the poppadoms. We opted for 200ºC for 5 minutes (which was the minimum amount of time we could set).

3. Check in on the poppadom

We did this every 10-15 seconds. If your air fryer has a viewing window, this will be easy, and it means that no precious heat will escape as a result of opening the drawer.

4. Remove and repeat

After about 60 seconds, the poppadom should be ready. Carefully remove it from the air fryer basket; in particular, take caution if the air fryer is running.

Next we popped in a poppadom that had been drizzled with oil (just a light coating is suffice to achieve a crisp finish, as you would with fries) and followed the same process as above. 

The results?

Not surprisingly, the results were mixed.

Unfortunately, the poppadoms cooked with a sprinkling of water – as you would have cooked them in a microwave – came out burnt. The hot air that was circulating in the air fryer during the cooking process simply evaporated all of the water.

Drizzling a little oil over the poppadoms produced slightly better results – although they curled up so much, they were beyond useless to scoop up curry or mango chutney (our fave). The use of oil did achieve a more even crisp, resulting in a poppadom that was at least edible. This was our preferred poppadom, if we had to pick one.

Air-fried poppadoms in a bowl

(Image credit: Future)

Overall, though, neither method of air-frying poppadoms achieved results that really satisfied our appetite. They weren't nice to eat, and the texture after cooking was harsh and lumpy. In fact, the process of cooking poppadoms felt more time consuming in the air fryer as a result of only being able to cook one at a time, and having to open and close the drawer at regular intervals. 

For now, then, we'll be sticking to using the microwave for air-frying poppadoms.

Jennifer Oksien
Homes Editor

 Jennifer Oksien is TechRadar’s Homes Editor. Jennifer (Jenny) has over a decade of experience as a digital product writer specialising in appliances, smart tech and mattresses for some of the UKs leading retailers and magazine titles such as Real Homes, Ideal Home and Livingetc. Generally, you’ll find her watching the latest Netflix series, digging around in the garden or attempting to make a cake that is edible.