Make perfect crisp Air Fryer Paxo Stuffing Balls every single time with these simple instructions. Included are all my tips for properly prepared, soft in the centre and crispy on the outside balls made with packet sage and onion stuffing mix. Try this recipe and you won’t look back!
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There is always a place for my beautiful homemade from scratch Sage & Onion Stuffing or Sage & Onion Sausagemeat Stuffing made with packet mix. But there is also a time and a place where all we want to just grab a packet of stuffing, mix it up quickly and simply then get it cooked and on the plate. This is that recipe.
Paxo is the most recognisable brand of packet stuffing here in the UK. And “Paxo” is often used to refer to any brand of stuffing including supermarket and value options. So please do use whichever packet stuffing you prefer. Sage and onion is the original, and in my opinion, best flavour variety but there are all sorts of fancy variations available now.
The instructions to make up the stuffing on the packet are generally pretty simple. I’ve broadly stuck to them but added my own little tweaks. This includes using a little more water in the mix. I find that stuffing balls can be a bit on the dry side so that extra bit of moisture makes for better eating. And I don’t really find the butter to be optional – get it in!
You may notice that I cook my stuffing balls for longer than many similar recipes to this. Most are around 10 minutes in the air fryer. I suggest cooking them for 15 minutes at a slightly lower temperature and then crisping them up at a higher temp for a further 5. The reason for this is simple – the cook time shouldn’t just be to crisp up and get colour on the outside of the balls, they really benefit from being properly cooked through too.
How to Serve
Stuffing balls are realistically mostly going to be served with a roast dinner. Some people will insist that stuffing is only served with roast chicken or turkey. More fool them I say – for starters, sage and onion stuffing is glorious served with pork. And I’ve realised over the years that I want it with any other roast too including lamb and beef.
Packet stuffing balls also make a cheeky but delightful addition to any other kind of “gravy meal”. And they can be a great way to bulk out a meal and make it more economical. Try stuffing with sausages, mashed potatoes, boiled cabbage and onion gravy.
Packet Stuffing Mix
As I mentioned above, Paxo sage and onion stuffing is really the first type of stuffing that comes to mind here in the UK. But you can use any brand you prefer, regardless of whether that’s a supermarket own range, another named brand or a value/saver option.
If you are using a brand that isn’t Paxo, you may want to check the weight of the packet and the amount of water that the packet instructions recommend you add. I’ve added 50ml extra to the prescribed 425ml.
So I would suggest following the instructions and then adding an extra 50ml. Or “a good splash” if you prefer to work in old money. I say this because unless you drop the whole kettle in the stuffing, I’m not too worried about crazy accuracy – it’ll be fine.
I don’t care if the packet instructions suggest adding butter or not, please add some. It just adds a little richness and improves the texture of the soft centre which you won’t regret.
I’ve used proper salted block butter, but you can add whatever butter or spread you prefer.
It’s usual to make up the stuffing ball mix with simple boiling water – usually straight from the kettle.
But if you want to take things to the next level, you can use chicken stock or add in a little of the cooking juices from whatever meat you’re also cooking. If you need the balls to be veggie, just stick with the water.
My final trick to really upgrade these air fryer stuffing balls is to give them a light spray with a neutral flavoured oil before they go in the air fryer. This helps give them a really crisp exterior but without that dry looking matt finish you quite often get on stuffing.
By spray oil I do meal proper oil in a spray, not any emulsion or “low calorie” option like frylight. These sprays can reek havoc with the non-stick coating on your air fryer and really provide almost no benefits over spraying proper oil.
If you don’t have spray oil, use a pastry brush to lightly brush oil over each of the balls. Don’t forget the underneath and sides.
This recipe is free from egg and nuts. But you should check the ingredients of the packet stuffing you are using thoroughly as some brands could vary.
Gluten Free Air Fryer Stuffing Balls: You can buy gluten free versions of stuffing fairly easily now. Paxo do their own version (correct as of October 2023). I would recommend not veering from the packet instructions for how much water to add as the rate of absorption will be much more finely balanced than with regular wheat stuffing.
Dairy Free Air Fried Stuffing Balls: The only dairy in this recipe is the added butter. Simply use a dairy free substitute.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
How Long to Air Fry Paxo Stuffing Balls
I recommend cooking the stuffing for 15 minutes at a lower temperature to really cook the balls all the way through. Then ramp up the temp and air fry for a further 5 minutes to get that glorious crispy outer.
As I mentioned at the top, this is a longer cook than many recommend but I’ve tested various cook times and I do think this is best. I find that with quicker cooks you can end up with pieces of not fully hydrated onion and bread in the centre. How something can be crunchy and a bit chewy at the same time is impressive but not something I want to serve.
If you want a faster cook, make twice as many stuffing balls from the same amount of mix. You can cook these for 5 minutes at the lower temp then 5 minutes at the higher temp as normal.
Leftovers – Storage & Reheating
Any leftover fully cooked Paxo stuffing balls can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for several days. Microwave or air fry them to reheat.
You can also freeze the cooked stuffing balls. I do prefer to leave them to at least mostly defrost before reheating. They don’t take long at all.
Common Air Fryer Questions – A Brief Guide to Air Frying
- What exactly is an air fryer?
- What are the benefits of using an air fryer?
- Are all air fryers the same?
- Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
- Do air fryers need to be pre-heated?
- What is the best temperature to air fry at?
- Can food be cooked from frozen in an air fryer?
- Can I reheat food in an air fryer?
- Are air fryer liners a good idea?
The Air Fried Feast Community
Come on over to Facebook and join my community discussing all things air fryer. Get involved in sharing your experiences and trials, help out others and find out what wonderful things everyone is cooking in their air fryers!
What Exactly is an Air Fryer?
Very simply, an air fryer is a small convection (fan) oven. The benefit is that the hot air is circulated all around the food being cooked which speeds up the cooking time and cooks the food more evenly.
What are the Benefits of Using an Air Fryer?
Size, time and energy usage. Air fryers are ideal for cooking smaller quantities. Heating up a space that the food just fits into requires less energy and means that the heat source is much closer to the food. Combining these two things can speed up the cooking time.
Are all air fryers the same?
Nope! The term air fryer is now used very broadly. I consider there to be 4 main types:
Basket Air Fryers
These are what I would consider to be the most common, especially in the UK. A boxy type unit has a pull out drawer/basket. Food isn’t usually visible whilst cooking.
Some larger models have two drawers so different items can be cooked at different temperatures or for different times.
This is the type that you’ll see in the images in this recipe. I mostly use a Cosori Lite 3.8L (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal. It isn’t an overly expensive or fancy model.
I’ve also recommended to several friends and family the model with a slightly larger basket. This is the Cosori 4.7L (CAF-L501) with a 4.7 litre basket. The unit is no larger than the 3.8 litre model on the outside but does have a larger internal basket capacity. I’ve borrowed this air fryer for some recipes where my smaller model was just too small. I’ll always note this in the recipe.
Rotary Air Fryers
Round air fryers with a paddle in the centre that rotates to move the food. This is the type I’ve been using for years – the most common is a Tefal Actifry.
Rotary types are not usually good for recipes where the food is breaded, glazed, likely to break up or in a tray/container. They do however make the best chips and roasted veg.
My 2 in 1 version like the one I’ve linked does have a rotating tray for things that could be broken up by a paddle, but the height clearance with the lid isn’t deep enough to use it to cook some items like sausage rolls.
Multicookers with Air Fryer Functions
Some like Ninja 11 in 1 and some of the earlier versions with a few less functions, have an air fryer option. They mostly operate the same as a basket fryer but the basket drops in the top rather than sliding in like a drawer.
Some electric pressure cookers like Instant Pots can also air fry when used with a specific lid.
Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
As much as I do love air frying, the honest answer to this is no. And the more detailed answer is that it will always depend on what you’re cooking, how much of it you’re cooking and what type and size of air fryer you have.
Once you need to cook in more than 2 batches, it often makes more sense to use an oven. If you already have the oven on to cook other items, it may make more sense to throw one more item in rather than using an additional appliance.
I don’t think either method is necessarily better than the other. The important point to note is that there is absolutely no difference in the finished product.
Do Air Fryers Need to Be Pre-Heated?
The answer to this is rather annoying – it depends. It depends entirely on your model and type of air fryer. The best advice I can offer is to check your manual and follow their guidance. My Cosori model has a preheat function. I press a button and it heats at 205c for 4 minutes.
It’s also worth noting that regardless of whether you are supposed to pre-heat or not, if you are cooking in batches, it is quite likely that anything after the first batch will cook a little quicker because of the retained heat. It is best to check on them before the cooking time is completed.
What is the best temperature to Air Fry at?
It will always depend on what you are cooking and from what state. All of my air fryer recipes don’t use temperatures above 200c because many of the most common fryers in the UK don’t go above this. Mine goes to 230c and I use this temperature a lot but it is no help for me to share recipes which most people can’t use.
Can Food Be Cooked From Frozen In An Air Fryer?
Absolutely! To cook from frozen you usually will need to reduce the cooking temperature and increase the time to make sure your food is cooked right through to the middle.
It is best to check my individual recipes for cooking from frozen advice as some items are a little different.
Can I Reheat Food In An Air Fryer?
Yes. As a general rule I reheat food for roughly 1/3 of the original cooking time at the same temperature. Or at 10 degrees lower for half the time for larger items.
Are Air Fryer Liners a Good Idea?
Unless otherwise stated, I do not use liners when air frying. Basket and rotary type air fryers are designed to be used without liners. Mini oven types will generally require some kind of tray like with a regular large oven although some come with crisper racks to use.
There are many air fryer liners available including quite thick silicone ones. These will affect the cooking times and possibly temperatures of your cooking/baking. I also don’t like how cooking juices are prevented from dripping through the basket rack. This can stop food from crisping all the way around.
If you do prefer to use them, once you have got a feel for how they affect your cooking and baking, you may need to make adjustments to the recipe accordingly.
More Air Fryer Recipes
All my recipes with instructions for how to cook or bake them in the air fryer can be found in my Air Fryer Recipe Index.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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Air Fryer Paxo Stuffing Balls Recipe
- 170 g Sage & Onion Stuffing Mix
- 25 g Salted Butter
- 475 ml Boiling Water
- 1 tsp Vegetable Oil - spray oil if possible
- Put a kettle of water on to boil.
- Measure 170g Stuffing Mix into a mixing bowl along with 25g Salted Butter.
- Pour over 475ml Boiling Water.
- Stir until all of the stuffing mix has absorbed the water and the butter has melted and mixed in.
- Leave the stuffing to sit for 5 minutes so the water hydrates the mix.
- If your air fryer has a preheat setting, start this now.
- At this point I like to smooth the mix over and mark 12 sections to get nice even sized balls. You can be more rough and ready if you prefer.
- Dip your hands into cold water to stop the stuffing sticking and start rolling the mix into balls.
- Place the balls onto a clean surface until they're all rolled.
- Spray or brush the stuffing balls with roughly 1 tsp Vegetable Oil or until they all have a thin coating. This will help the balls to crisp and colour without drying out.
- Place the stuffing balls into the air fryer. I like to gently use tongs which helps to not squish them and stops me burning my hands on the warmed basket.
- Air fry for 15 minutes at 180c/350f. This longer slower cooking is so the insides of the stuffing balls are properly heated and cooked.
- Air fry for a further 5 minutes at 200c/390f to colour and crisp up the stuffing balls.
- This recipe is tested in a Cosori Lite (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal.
- Not all models advise preheating is required. Please follow the recommended instructions for your model. Mine has a specific preheat setting which is 4 minutes at 205c.
- For this recipe, I managed to fit in 12 stuffing balls with more than enough room for air flow. I could potentially fit another 6 with just enough space left.
- As all air fryer models are a little different, you may find that you can fit more or less in at a time. Some models include stacking shelves which will increase capacity.
- Required cooking times and temperatures can also vary between models and brands. If you know that your air fryer runs a little hotter than most recipes suggest, use a lower temperature. And vice versa. Equally if you find that food cooks more quickly in your machine than instructions usually state, reduce the cooking time (or check it earlier) and vice versa.