Air fryers have become the latest must-have kitchen appliance, and it’s not hard to see why when you consider that they are economical, cook food super quickly, and deliver great results in terms of taste and texture. If you’re new to air frying then you probably have some questions regarding how to best use them, and one query that comes up, again and again, is whether or not foods should be defrosted before using an air fryer. The answer to this question really depends on what type of food it is that you’re cooking.
Most foods can be cooked from their frozen state in an air fryer, but some foods, such as joints of meat, will be better if you defrost them first. It’s also possible to defrost food in an air fryer, which can be really convenient when the time is against you.
Here we look at the types of foods that do need to be defrosted before air frying, and those which can be cooked straight out of the freezer.
Foods You Can Air Fry Frozen
Frozen french fries cook beautifully in an air fryer, and of course, there’s no reason to defrost them. French fries which are frozen never need to be defrosted, whether you are cooking them in an air fryer, a deep-fat fryer, or a conventional oven.
They can always be taken straight from the freezer to the cooking appliance of your choice. Just remember that frozen french fries will take a little longer to cook than french fries prepared at home from fresh potatoes.
Chicken nuggets and chicken wings
Chicken nuggets and chicken wings which have been frozen can be cooked in the air fryer without the need to defrost them first. In fact, these types of foods will taste best if you don’t defrost them, so cooking them fresh from the freezer is the best option.
Cooking chicken nuggets and chicken wings in an air fryer will result in a crispy, crunchy skin, and perfectly moist inner chicken meat. The air fryer cooks these foods by circulating hot air and a small amount of oil, for perfectly cooked chicken that is healthier than the same food cooked in a deep-fat fryer.
Frozen pizzas can be cooked in an air fryer straight from the freezer, with no defrosting necessary. This includes fresh pizzas you have bought from the store and frozen to extend their shelf life, frozen pizzas which were bought from the frozen aisle of the grocery store, and homemade pizzas which you have frozen yourself.
They can all be placed directly in the air fryer without being defrosted, as long as your air fryer is big enough. If you need to cut the pizzas in half in order to fit them into your air fryer, then they may need to be defrosted first so that you can cut them.
Many types of ready meals can go right from the freezer to the air fryer without the need to be defrosted. This includes frozen-ready meals such as pasta bakes, lasagnas, pies, casseroles, and curries.
These foods have usually been pre-cooked before they are sold, and therefore won’t contain any raw meats, so cooking them in the air fryer is more about heating them up rather than actually cooking them. Be sure to adjust your cooking time, since air fryers will cook frozen ready meals more quickly than a conventional oven.
Frozen sausages can be thrown straight into your air fryer basket without being defrosted. The air fryer will defrost them before cooking them, which means that you’ll need to add on a little extra time compared with cooking refrigerated sausages.
Foods You Should Defrost Before Air Frying
There are many types of raw meat that can be cooked from frozen, such as chicken breasts, however, you will get better results when these are defrosted first and then cooked in the air fryer. There is also a safety issue when it comes to cooking raw meat from frozen, and doing so incorrectly could result in food poisoning.
The safest way to cook raw meat is to defrost it in the refrigerator for around 24 hours, and then cook it. Never defrost meat on the kitchen counter at room temperature, or in hot water, as this will allow harmful bacteria to thrive.
Like raw meat, raw fish will be best when it is defrosted before it is cooked in an air fryer. Aside from the safety concerns associated with cooking frozen raw fish, you will get much better results when the fish has been thawed first.
Cooking raw fish from its frozen state will give you dried-out fish that has a chewy and unpleasant texture. This is because fish flesh is quite tender, and it will dry out too much when cooked for an extended time to account for being frozen.
How To Defrost Using Air Fryer
If you need to defrost some food before cooking it, but you don’t have enough time, then you can actually use your air fryer to speed up this process. Some air fryers come with a defrost setting, which you can simply press after putting your frozen food in the air fryer basket and it will select the correct temperature for you.
If your air fryer doesn’t have a defrost setting, you can set the temperature yourself to 350°F or 180°C, and this will defrost your food at a safe level. Remember to remove all packaging before defrosting any type of food in an air fryer.
The length of time the food takes to defrost will depend on what it is, and its size, so you may need to check on the state of the food quite often if you haven’t defrosted it this way previously. Once defrosted you can then ramp up the temperature on your air fryer to cook the food immediately afterward, at your usual setting.