I used to be a cautious air fryer cook. I tried my hand at homemade French fries and enjoyed crispy veggies, but never thought to use my air fryer for anything that didn’t specifically call for it. In fact, it didn’t even have a permanent spot on my counter.
But then the heat wave of summer 2022 arrived, and I couldn’t fathom turning on my oven. Suddenly, the lightbulb went off. Hadn’t everyone been describing the air fryer as a small, powerful convection oven? I threw everything into it with shockingly successful results—my favorite of which is store-bought frozen dinner rolls.
Air fryers cook food quickly and require very little time to preheat (if at all), so the frozen rolls cook in the air fryer in a flash. But it’s not just the convenience factor that sold me. Air-fried frozen dinner rolls emerge with extra-crispy crusts and warm, fluffy interiors, begging to be spread with butter or dunked into marinara.
This cooking method, though born out of keep-the-kitchen-cool necessity, has now become my norm. If I’m cooking pasta on the stovetop, I’ll throw some rolls into the air fryer while I add my finishing touches of Parm. Hosting Thanksgiving dinner? Give the oven space to the turkey and let the air fryer handle the rolls. There’s simply no reason not to.
How to Cook Frozen Dinner Rolls in the Air Fryer
Most store-bought frozen dinner rolls call for a bake time of 10 minutes or less at 350°F. If this is the case, I prepare them the same way in my air fryer. If the cook time is longer (say, for a full tray of Sister Schubert rolls), I start checking on them a few minutes early. Remember, all air fryer models are different, so experiment a bit until you find what’s best for yours. Here are a few more tips:
Let rolls rise, if instructed. Some rolls require a room-temp rise before cooking.
Preheat the air fryer. Whether your air fryer has a setting for this or not, giving it a 5-minute head start will help the rolls cook faster.
Don’t crowd the basket. Cooking the rolls in a single layer will help them cook and crisp evenly. Fewer rolls will also cook more quickly.
Check for doneness. Rolls that are warm to the touch may still be frozen in the center. Before declaring them finished, slice one open to double-check.
Brush with butter. For a fancy finishing touch, brush the cooked rolls with melted butter, sprinkle with flaky salt, then pop ‘em back in the air fryer for a final minute.