This question is a topic I am asked often by my friends and family.
I recently bought an air fryer and I’ve decided to try and cook frozen food in it. This is what I discovered.
Can you put frozen food in the air fryer?
Yes, you can put frozen food in the air fryer! In fact, it’s a totally acceptable type of food item, and using your air fryer to cook them up is easy. Air fryers are quick, more energy efficient, and they cut out grease.
However, if you’re new to air frying or cooking frozen foods in general, adjust the temp to be a bit lower for a longer time. It’s also a good idea to preheat your air fryer before starting. What I recommend is always keeping a frozen food air fryer chart handy or printed out for reference. Generally speaking, most frozen items will take about 10-15 minutes at 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
Why are air fryers great for cooking frozen food?
Air fryers are great for cooking frozen food because they cook evenly on all sides and maintain heat well. Additionally, air fryers are quick and easy to use! Simply place your frozen food in the air fryer basket, set the timer, and it will automatically start the preheating process and wait for your meal to be cooked to perfection. No oil or parchment paper is necessary, making clean up a breeze.
Because the fan is constantly circulating hot air, the heat will find its way throughout all the sides of the food, and it will quickly melt the water from the frozen food. This will also help the food cook more evenly throughout.
Food that comes out of an air fryer usually ends up being almost as crispy as if it went into a deep fryer. That’s because the circulated air wraps itself around the food and dries out the surface layer of the food, hardening it. At the same time, the heat from the outside travels this way into the food and cooks it all the way through. Thanks to the hardened exterior of the food, the moisture is trapped inside, making it very difficult to escape.
How to cook frozen food in an air fryer?
When it comes to cooking something that is frozen in an air fryer, there are a few things that you need to do to make the process easier. Here are the steps that you need to take to get the best air-fried food from frozen.
- Choose your food and adjust your temperature. You do not want to cook frozen French fries at the same temperature that you are cooking a frozen corn dog, for instance.
- Spray your basket if it has not already been seasoned. If you have a fryer basket that has been seasoned, you may not need as much oil. If you do not, you will need to spray a thin layer of oil on the bottom of the pan.
- Lay your food out in a single layer.
- Cook half the time that is recommended, then flip the food halfway through.
- If you have food that is still soggy or that does not feel like it is crispy enough, you can then add it in for a few more minutes, and you can also spray a bit more oil on it to help the food crisp up.
Air fryer frozen food cooking chart
I’ve created a reference chart so that you can easily determine how long it would take to cook certain frozen things in the air fryer.
|Frozen Food||Temperature (℉)||Cook Time|
|Chicken cutlets||390 ℉||18 – 21 mins|
|Chicken nuggets||390 ℉||12 mins|
|Fish filets||380 ℉||14 – 16 mins|
|Fish sticks||390 ℉||12 mins|
|French fries||350 ℉||18 – 20 mins|
|Mozzarella sticks||375 ℉||8 – 10 mins|
|Pot stickers||390 ℉||12 – 14 mins|
|Pizza rolls||390 ℉||12 – 15 mins|
|Popcorn shrimp||390 ℉||10 mins|
|Sweet potato fries||375 ℉||16 – 20 mins|
|Tator tots||360 ℉||18 – 20 mins|
|Boneless wings||350 ℉||16 – 18 mins|
|Chicken fries||390 ℉||8 – 10 mins|
|Chicken fajita||400 ℉||8 mins|
|Chicken tenders||390 ℉||10 – 12 mins|
|Corn dogs||360 ℉||8 mins|
|Mini corn dogs||360 ℉||8 mins|
|Meatballs||350 ℉||10 – 12 mins|
|Turkey filet||370 ℉||10 – 12 mins|
|Hot pockets||390 ℉||12 mins|
|Pizza||400 ℉||10 – 15 mins|
|Salmon fillet||400 ℉||10 mins|
|Sausage||400 ℉||5 – 10 mins|
|Shrimp||390 ℉||10 mins|
|Veggie burger||350 ℉||10 mins|
|Burrito||380 ℉||12 mins|
Can you put raw and uncooked frozen food into the air fryer?
You can, in fact cook raw food that has been frozen in an air fryer, but there are a few things to keep in mind. With food that is frozen and raw, the main concern is going to be that the outside of the food will cook faster than the inside.
You’ll want to take the time to lower your heat to start with to help thaw the food. This is going to thaw the food fully and help you to make sure that the food is cooked through.
After the food has thawed and cooked through partially, you then want to crank up the heat and crisp up the exterior. You may even try thawing the food partially before you add it to the air fryer to help make the cook time as short as possible.
What’s the difference between cooking refrigerated vs. frozen food in the air fryer?
The main difference between food that has only been refrigerated and those foods that are frozen is the ice. With food that is fully frozen, it can be hard to make sure that it is fully thawed when you cook and that it is fully cooked as well.
With frozen foods, you want to make sure that they are not only thawed, but that they are also cooked and crispy. With foods that are in the fridge, you do not have to add that extra step of trying to thaw the food and make sure that it is going to heat up fully and cook evenly.
With food that is in the fridge, you are not going to have to add that extra step of thawing before you are able to fully cook it and crisp it up nicely.
Do you need to preheat your air fryer before cooking frozen foods?
Preheating is not a huge issue if you have food that is not frozen, but if you do have food that is frozen, preheating can help to thaw the food faster and can help to make the most of all the time that the food is in the fryer.
By preheating, you are going to be allowing the food to heat up a bit before it starts cooking, and this will give you that bit of extra heat to help you really cook the food all the way through.
Do you need to season/marinate your food after or before freezing when putting it in an air fryer?
At the very least, if you are going to be cooking something in the air fryer, or know that you want to put it in the air fryer later, it is always a good idea to marinate it before you put it in the freezer, or at the very least, allow it a little time to thaw before you put it in the air fryer.
You can always take the time to preseason your food before you put it in the freezer if you think about it and if you decide that you want to add marinade to the food before you freeze it. This will help you to lock in that flavor and will also help you to really get that great seasoning in the meat before you cook it so that you can get that flavor.
If you want to season it after you freeze it or just before you cook it, you can add either a dry rub that is going to stick to the meat, a rub that has been mixed with oil to help it stick better, or even allow the meat to thaw a little bit before you cook it so that it does stick and it works well for you.
Marinating before you cook is best, and if you have the time, marinating it before you put it in the freezer is going to help lock in the flavor.
Tips on cooking frozen food in an air fryer
Don’t overcrowd your air fryer with frozen food
When cooking frozen food in an air fryer, be sure not to overcrowd the basket. Overcrowding will cause your food to cook unevenly and will result in soggy or burnt food. For best results, try to cook your food in a single layer.
After cooking frozen foods, you’re going to notice that the food is going to shrivel quite a bit. You may end up seeing your food shrink by as much as 15%, compared to what it was before.
Expect a lot of water to drip down
When you air fry frozen foods, you’re going to notice that the ice will end up turning into water. What surprised me the most was how much water was left at the bottom of my air fryer.
I recommend looking for a bowl and placing it underneath your tray so that it can catch all the water that leaks down to the bottom.
Frozen foods take a little longer than usual to air fry
When air frying frozen foods, you do not have to add a few extra minutes to the cooking process. But also, you may even want to lower the temperature since you don’t want your food to end up burning.
Don’t air fry frozen liquids
Please do not try to air fry frozen liquids like soups and stews. First of all, fires aren’t meant to cook liquids. And the second is that it is very inefficient to air fry liquids.
You’re probably better off putting it into a pot and cooking it on the stove for a much quicker and easier to clean meal.
Flip your food over midway during air frying
When air frying, you may have noticed that your food doesn’t cook evenly. This is because hot air circulates around the food in one direction only. Also, it’s usually hard for the air to reach the sides of your food if it is covered up and blocked by the tray.
To combat this, you can flip your food over midway through cooking. Doing so will help ensure that both sides of the food are cooked evenly.
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