There’s no denying it – air fryers are taking the world by storm. Sure, you can use this machine to make crispy, salty fries or toasted ravioli, but you can also use it to cook up a perfect protein, crisp some vegetables, and even make baked goods! The best part? Air frying is quicker than oven cooking; the food always comes out crisp and tasty.
Are you new to the hot air fryer but don’t know where to get started? Start with the frozen foods in your freezer.
Can you cook frozen food in an air fryer?
You can air-fry almost any frozen food, especially, classics like pizza rolls, chicken tenders, and cheese sticks. In general, portion-sized or bite-sized frozen foods are perfect for the air fryer.
The air fryer does a great job of making pre-fried frozen foods crispy because of the convection function. This feature also allows hot air to surround the food, cooking it fast and without adding much oil.
The air fryer cooks food faster than the oven; therefore, the package’s suggested cooking time must be adjusted if specific air fryer instructions aren’t included. Generally, use the same temperature as you would in an oven, but slash the cooking time by about 20-25%.
How long do you cook frozen food in air fryers?
The air fryer’s manual usually contains a handy table of cooking times and ideal temperatures for all food items. For example, the included instructions will tell you exactly how to cook frozen chicken in a Ninja air fryer.
Some foods take a lot of time, while others, like bite-sized bagel bites, take shorter periods. For example, frozen chicken breast takes about 20 – 25 minutes, excluding preheating time; frozen chicken tenders take 11-12 minutes.
Don’t solely rely on the air fryer’s time. Always check to make sure your food is cooked completely. A kitchen thermometer will make this a simple job.
Manufacturers recommend preheating the air fryer, but there’s no harm in skipping this step. Just note that if you are starting frozen food in a cold air fryer, the cooking time might be four or five minutes longer.
Remember, the less food in the fryer basket, the shorter the cooking time will be; the more food, the longer it will be.
Can you cook frozen vegetables in an air fryer?
Cooking veggies in the right way is important to get all the nutrients they offer. Some vegetables are good to fry, some need sauteing, and some others need steaming.
Sometimes microwaving, roasting, and steaming can leave frozen vegetables in a pile of veggie mush. On the other hand, air frying is the perfect way to cook frozen veggies. Nutritionists suggest choosing cooking methods that expose food to heat for a shorter period to retain the most nutrients.
In an air fryer, the basket prevents the food from coming in direct contact with the heat source, thereby preventing too much nutrient loss. Plus, the air fryer cooks food faster than other methods.
Air fryer settings can vary from one veggie to another. The recommended cook setting for frozen Brussels sprouts and broccoli is 8-10 mins at 400°F.
Can you cook frozen pizza in an air fryer?
Absolutely! Cooking frozen pizzas in the air fryer is easy. Cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of the pizza crust. The entire process will take 5-17 minutes and just two ingredients: a frozen pizza and cooking spray. Add extra toppings to customize your personal pizza.
All air fryers are different. Some cook much hotter and faster than others. Also, cooking time may vary depending on the size and weight of the pizza. Mini 6-inch frozen pizzas cook in about 5-8 minutes. A medium pizza needs 15-17 minutes to cook.
The best way to determine the cooking time is to read the package instructions and start with the shortest time. Then, add minutes as needed. This will avoid overcooking.
Once you air fry your first pizza, you’ll know what works best for your particular air fryer.
What are the best frozen foods to cook in an air fryer?
Most frozen foods are perfect for air fryers. Here are 12 of the best frozen foods cooked in air fryers:
1. Frozen chicken tenders or breasts
For a quick, tasty meal, preheat the air fryer to 360°F. Place frozen chicken strips in the basket and cook them for 11 to 12 minutes. Don’t forget to turn the strips once halfway through cooking. You can also cook frozen chicken breasts for a perfect protein dinner option ready in as little as 20 minutes.
2. Frozen mozzarella sticks
Crispy on the outside, and cheesy on the inside, frozen mozzarella sticks are one of the many reasons to own a good air fryer. For a perfectly cooked mozzarella stick, preheat the air fryer to 350°F, layer the sticks in a single layer, and cook for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
3. Frozen French fries
Frozen French fries are a dream to cook in an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Spray the fryer basket with the cooking oil of your choice. Depending on the capacity, add frozen fries to the basket. Cook for 18 to 20 minutes, until crispy and golden.
4. Frozen egg rolls
Frozen egg rolls taste amazing if cooked in an air fryer. Egg rolls may become soggy or soft when cooking in a conventional oven. This is because the wrapper absorbs moisture from the filling. But with an air fryer, moisture gets absorbed immediately by the hot air, keeping the wrapper crisp.
Place frozen egg rolls in the basket, apply egg wash (shown in the video below), and air fry at 390°F for 10 to 12 minutes.
5. Frozen salmon fillets
Yes, you can air-fry frozen salmon fillets. Simply take out the fillets from the bag and layer them in the basket. Cook for 5 minutes at 320°F, then flip and cook at 360°F for another 3-5 minutes or until the meat flakes easily. It’s healthy and tasty!
6. Frozen dumplings
Dumplings are a quick and easy snack for the family. While reheating frozen dumplings, add oil spray, so they do not dry out but remain crispy. A temperature of 390°F for 8 minutes is all it takes to have this Asian favorite.
7. Frozen garlic bread
Garlic bread can be toasted from frozen to perfection in the air fryer. Thin slices will require 400° F for 2-3 minutes. For thicker slices, add 1 or 2 minutes. For extra crispiness, cook it for a few more minutes, and you’ll have an awesome accompaniment to your pasta dishes.
8. Frozen meatballs
Air frying frozen meatballs is super easy and quick. Place the frozen meatballs in the air fryer basket, ensuring they don’t touch each other. Cook at 400°F for 8-10 minutes until soft and cooked through. Glaze them with BBQ sauce, throw them into your favorite sauce, and serve hot.
9. Frozen bagel bites
It doesn’t get much easier than bagel bites in the air fryer. Pop them into the air fryer at 375°F, and in less than 6 minutes, you’ll be snacking on tasty goodness.
10. Frozen brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts also cook well in an air fryer. Cut the sprouts in half. Turn the air fryer to 390F and set it for 5-8 minutes. The air fryer helps the sprouts get crispy without loading them with too much oil. That leaves room for some bacon, right?
11. Frozen cookies
You don’t have to preheat the fryer when it comes to frozen cookies. Place the cookie dough balls 2 inches apart in the air fryer basket, preferably on parchment paper. Set the temperature to 300°F, and you can enjoy yummy cookies in less than 10 minutes. The air fryer cookie method is great for watching your portion size. Cook only a serving instead of being tempted by an entire batch.
12. Frozen meals
Are you a fan of Marie Callendar’s frozen dinners or Lean Cuisines? Well, the air fryer is a great alternative to a microwave when it comes to heating up these meals. Make sure to read the package to see if the meal container is oven safe. If so, then it should be air fryer safe too. Just make sure to remove the plastic cover. Since the air fryer likes to crisp foods up, cover them with foil if you don’t want the top extra crispy. For even heating, stir or flip the food halfway through cooking.
Most frozen dinners can be cooked at 350°F for 20-30 minutes.
What cannot be cooked in an air fryer?
The air fryer is a handy, versatile cooking machine, but a few food items are best suited for the traditional oven or stovetop.
1. Freshly battered food
Wet, liquid batter is problematic in an air fryer. It will drip through the basket while your fish, chicken, or pork chops cook. While frozen, battered foods are air fryer partners, freshly battered foods are best cooked in the oven or on a stovetop.
2. Most leafy greens
Put leafy greens in the air fryer, and they will fly around the basket due to high-speed hot air. Plus, greens are very tender and can become a burnt mess fast. If this isn’t your goal, leave greens like spinach and kale to sauteeing. The exception would be crispy kale chips. These are doable in an air fryer as long as you spray the basket and greens evenly with oil and keep a close eye on the cooking time. Crispy is the goal, not charred beyond recognition.
3. Whole chickens
Whole chickens can be tricky in an air fryer. I’ve personally cooked small ones, but large whole chickens in a too-small air fryer basket will overcrowd and produce poorly-cooked meat. The sides of the bird closest to the heat source will dry out or burn before the other sides cook.
4. Fresh cheese
While frozen mozzarella cheese sticks are perfect for an air fryer, fresh cheese will ooze out and create a stuck-on mess. Unless it is frozen, you shouldn’t use cheese in air-fried recipes.
5. Grains that need lots of water
The air fryer is meant for dry food items. Grains such as rice that need to be submerged in boiling water can’t be cooked using an air fryer.
Summary of “Can you cook frozen foods in an air fryer?”
Most frozen foods are ideal for the air fryer. The air fryer cooks quickly without added fats. It is a great method to retain the nutrients in vegetables. While already-fried items turn out beautifully, so do frozen non-fried meats like chicken breasts and fish fillets. Here’s a handy recap chart to get you started.
|Frozen Food Type||Air Fry Temperature||Air Fry Time|
|Chicken tenders||390°F||11-12 min|
|Chicken breasts||360°F||20-25 min|
|Pizza minis||380°F||6-10 min|
|Mozzarella sticks||350°F||8-10 min|
|French fries||400°F||18-20 min|
|Egg rolls||390°F||10-12 min|
|Salmon fillets||320°F (5 min) +|
360°F (3-5 min)
|Total 8-10 min|
|Garlic bread||400°F||3-5 min|
|Bagel bites||375°F||5-6 min|
|Brussels sprouts||390°F||5-8 min|
|Cookie dough||380°F||10 min|
How long do you cook frozen food in an air fryer?
Frozen food cooking times will depend on the type of air fryer, cook temperature, and type of frozen food. Other factors like preheating and basket fullness can also affect cooking time. Always refer to your air fryer’s cooking manual.
Can you cook raw frozen food in an air fryer?
Yes, you can cook raw frozen foods like chicken breast and salmon fillets in an air fryer. Make sure they are cooked through before eating.
Do you have to defrost food before air frying?
No, you do not have to defrost food before air frying.
What cannot be cooked in an air fryer?
Freshly breaded items, leafy greens, whole chicken, fresh cheese, and grains that need a lot of water can be tricky to cook in an air fryer. These foods perform best with traditional oven and stovetop preparation.