Frozen foods are known for their convenience. Your favorite restaurant potato skins can be on your kitchen table in just minutes, and they last for ages. Many households keep a stock of at least one or two bags or boxes of frozen food on supply in their freezer.
As more air friers enter modern homes, the ease with which they crisp up foods is widely praised. They’re fast and efficient, and perfect for heating up frozen foods. With so many frozen foods on the market these days, what are the best frozen foods to cook in your air fryer?
Pizza rolls, fish sticks, chicken wings, and french fries are some of the best frozen foods to cook in your air fryer. A cut of salmon will roast up deliciously, and veggie burgers get hot and juicy after a round in the air fryer.
Best Frozen Foods To Cook In Your Air Fryer
Many foods cook well in an air fryer. It is high heat and requires little oil or fat to cook with. Because of this, you can try to cook up just about anything in this convenient countertop appliance.
Some of the best foods are of the fried or baked variety, especially ones that you want to get a nice crisp on. Below are some of the frozen foods that cook the best in an air fryer.
1. Chicken Wings
Chicken wings are delicious already, but when introduced to an air fryer, they get a perfect crispy crunch to them that tastes just like the ones you’d find at a restaurant. They’re rather easy to tackle, too, and will be done in a matter of minutes.
To Reheat Chicken Wings In The Air Fryer
- Preheat your air fryer to 375F/190C. You can usually leave it for about five minutes to fully preheat.
- Arrange your frozen chicken wings into the air fryer basket. You can line the basket with parchment paper if you’d like, but bear in mind that it will be hot. Make sure the wings have space between them. You may need to do more than one batch if you want a lot of wings.
- Spritz your chicken wings with cooking spray, tossing to coat.
- Cook the wings for 5-7 minutes. Halfway through the cooking process, shake the basked about to ensure even coating.
Note that this process refers to chicken wings that were pre-cooked and bagged for sale. If you’re using raw chicken wings, set the heat to 400 and cook for 30 minutes for small wings, using a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Poultry is ready to eat when it has reached an internal temperature of 165F/74C.
- Let the chicken wings sit at room temperature for a few minutes first. This will help with crisping and proper heating.
- Heat up similarly sized pieces. When you’re fishing through the bag for wings to heat up, try to find ones that are close in size. This way, smaller pieces won’t start to dry out while bigger ones are still cooking. Usually, with commercial brands of chicken wings, they will be relatively uniform in size anyway.
- Don’t overcrowd the basket. The way an air fryer works is by pushing air through the basket chamber. Crowding the space means that hot air cannot reach every piece evenly.
2. Pizza Rolls
Saucy, chewy pizza rolls are already crowd-pleasing snacks that are ready to eat in minutes. They’re a classic for a reason, and will likely never go out of style Using an air fryer makes this process even easier and leaves you with a nice crisp to each pocket.
How To Heat Pizza Rolls In The Air Fryer
- Line your air fryer basket with parchment paper. This will make removing your pizza rolls easier, and facilitate easy cleanup in case rolls burst or leak.
- Preheat your air fryer to 375F/190C. This should only take a few minutes.
- Lay your pizza rolls in the basket in a single layer. There is no need to coat them with oil.
- Heat them for 3-5 minutes in the air fryer
That’s all there is to it! It is a little more time-consuming than popping them into the microwave, but the result is so much better. Your rolls will not be soggy or limp, and they’ll be cooked all the way through.
- The insides of your pizza rolls will be molten hot when you get them out of the air fryer. Let them cool for a few minutes once they’re done cooking before eating.
- Do not overcrowd the air fryer. This will make it so the air can’t easily travel between each roll and heat them evenly.
- If you have the room, you can put a small ceramic condiment dish of marinara sauce, ranch, or whatever sauce you prefer into the basket in the last minute of heating. This will warm your sauce up too!
3. Fish Sticks
Dinner comes together easily with frozen fish sticks and an air fryer. They’re already cooked and contain their own oil, meaning much of the work has been done for you. A lot of frozen fish stick brands contain no artificial flavors or preservatives and are made of real fish. They’re a perfect meal for the air fryer.
How To Cook Frozen Fish Sticks In Your Air Fryer
- Preheat the air fryer to 400F/204C. Give it a few minutes to heat up.
- Arrange your sticks into a single layer. You’ll make the most of the space in a round air fryer basket by arranging them in a circle like a clock. In square baskets, neat rows will work the best.
- Let the fish sticks cook for five minutes.
- Flip the sticks over and let them cook for an additional five minutes.
And just like that, you’ve got dinner ready to go. The sticks will be wonderfully crispy and flaky, with plenty of fresh fish flavor. Because there’s no extra oil, the flavor of the fist itself really shines through. That’s why fish sticks are one of the best frozen foods to cook in your air fryer.
- Give the fish sticks a few minutes to cool before eating them. Not only will this keep your mouth from burning, but it will let the texture of the fish settle and get nice and flaky.
- If you want to add a side like fries or tater tots, you can cook them up simultaneously. Simply divide the space in the fryer by half and lay your side-dish adjacent to the sticks.
4. French Fries
On the subject of side-dishes, an air fryer is a french fry’s best friend. There’s less of a chance to burn them as there would be in an oven. Not only that, but they’ll avoid the sogginess that plagues microwaved French fries.
How To Cook Frozen French Fries In Your Air Fryer
- Preheat your air fryer to 400F/204C.
- Place your frozen french fries into the air fryer basket. You don’t have to keep them to a single layer, but don’t overcrowd them either.
- Salt your fries if you’d like, but they may already be salted. You can also give them a light spritzing of cooking spray if you want them a little crispier.
- Cook your fries for 10 minutes, or until they’re crisp to your liking and devoid of cold spots.
They’ll come out of the air fryer with a perfect crisped-up outer coating and a lovely, soft inside. Putting a batch of fries in the air fryer is perfect if you’ve got the main dish cooking on the stove or in the oven. A delicious, salty side will be ready just in time.
- Cooking fries in the air fryer also makes an excellent opportunity to customize! You can add seasoned salts, sauces, or extras like green onions. This will give your air fryer french fries a boost. Talking about french fries, find the comparison between poutine vs chilli cheese fries.
Meatballs in the air fryer turn out juicy, tender, and with a light crispy coating. Heating meatballs up in the air fryer is a perfect solution to an appetizer, topping for spaghetti, or afternoon snack.
To Cook Frozen Meatballs In The Air Fryer
- Arrange your frozen meatballs into an even layer on the air fryer basket.
- Coat the meatballs with a thin but even layer of cooking spray.
- Air Fry at 380F/195C for about 8-13 minutes, or until heated all the way through and there are no cold spots.
- Halfway through, you should give them a shake to ensure even and proper cooking.
After they’ve cooked and cooled, all that is left to do is enjoy. What makes them so perfect for the air fryer is that they don’t require much attention other than a quick shake. You can work on other parts of the meal while they’re cooking; it’s ideal for multitaskers.
- Serving with a sauce? When you take the meatballs out to shake, coat them with your favorite glaze or sauce. Sauces with high sugar contents will even caramelize in the air fryer just a touch, making them savory and sticky.
Transportable, hearty, spicy, and delicious. Taquitos are packed with flavor and are easy to eat on the go, making them a popular snack or finger food. They even work well as a meal of their own. What makes them even easier is cooking them in the air fryer.
To Cook Frozen Taquitos In The Air Fryer
- Lightly spray your taquitos with a coating of olive oil. Spread them in an even layer in the air fryer basket. Do not crowd them, and be sure that there is room between each one.
- Air fry them for 7-10 minutes at 380F/195C, until they’re crisp to the touch. There is no need to preheat the oven.
- Cook your taquitos straight from frozen without thawing. Thawing them will allow the moisture to seep into the tortilla and make your taquitos soggy.
- If you have to cook more than one batch, you might find that your later batches are done faster because the air fryer is already heated.
- This method will work for both flautas and taquitos.
- Smaller taquitos will need less time to cook; check in on bite-sized taquitos after 4 minutes.
7: Frozen Salmon
Salmon is one of the most popular fish in the US, and it’s clear to see why. It is flaky, buttery, endlessly versatile, healthy, and delicious. A bag of frozen salmon in the freezer can be cooked in an air fryer for an instant main course that needs no thawing or prepping.
To Cook Frozen Salmon In The Air Fryer
- Preheat your air fryer to 400F/204C. While it’s preheating, you can prepare any spices or sauces you’ll be putting on your salmon.
- Season your salmon and set it into the air fryer on a piece of parchment paper. Spray i
- Cook the fish until it is at an internal temperature of at least 140F. This time will depend on how thick your cut of salmon is. Thin slices will not need as much time, while thicker ones will. The average time is 7-9 minutes, but reduce or increase that depending on your cuts.
Once your salmon is to your desired doneness and fully cooked through, it’s ready to eat! What makes it one of the best foods to cook in your air fryer is that it will save you the trouble of needing to thaw anything out. A savory, hearty dinner is ready in just a few minutes.
- Salmon can be temperamental. Check in on it after 5 minutes to ensure it isn’t overcooking. Cooked salmon should be opaque and flaky.
8: Veggie Burgers
As more and more people embrace the deliciousness of plant-based burgers, they’re also looking for the best way to cook them. Veggie burgers cook up perfectly in the air fryer, staying juicy and flavorful after just a few minutes.
To Cook A Veggie Burger In Your Air Fryer
- Preheat your air fryer to 375F. It’s vital to preheat your air fryer, because the burger will cook the best with a hot surface to sit on.
- You don’t need to add any additional oil or grease to the burger or the air fryer, simply remove the veggie patty from the packaging.
- Place the veggie burgers in a single layer in your air fryer basket. Depending on the size, you might only be able to do one.
- Cook the veggie burger for 8 minutes, before flipping it with a spatula.
- Cook for an additional 8 minutes. You might not need this much time for it; check on it after about 5 additional minutes to see if it’s crispy on the outside.
Once your burger is done, place it on a toasted bun and fix it with your favorite toppings. Veggie burgers that have been cooked in an air fryer are tender and delicious.
- The thickness and size of your veggie patties will change the cooking time. Smaller veggie burgers may only need 7-8 minutes total at 375.
- Homemade veggie burgers might need more time if they’ve been made thicker than commercial patties, along the lines of 10-15 minutes.
- You can cook your burgers at 350, if you prefer, they will just take a bit longer to heat up entirely.
9: Mozzarella Sticks
Mozzarella sticks are one of the best things to cook in an air fryer, even from frozen. You’ll have a snack ready that will be so perfectly crunchy and melty, you’ll never want to cook it any other way.
To Cook Mozzarella Sticks In Your Air Fryer
- Preheat your air fryer at 380F/193C.
- Arrange your mozzarella sticks in a single layer in your air fryer. There’s no need to coat them with an oil spray.
- Air fry them for 4 minutes, before giving them a gentle shake or a turn.
- Fry for an additional 1-2 minutes. The cheese should start to ooze out.
In less than ten minutes, you can enjoy a gooey cheesy snack that is even better than when it is heated in an oven.
- If you want to, you can actually set your mozzarella sticks into the air fryer without preheating it. All you need to do is adjust the time needed; cook for about 5-6 minutes before turning instead.
- If you’re cooking in multiple batches, subsequent batches might not take as long.
- You can heat up a cup of marinara sauce too! Simply add in a microwave-safe cup with your sauce in at the last 2 minutes of cooking.
- Give the sticks time to cool. The cheese inside will be very very hot.
10: Chicken Nuggets
A favorite of kids and adults alike, chicken nuggets are a lunchtime favorite that anyone can get behind. Cooked in the microwave, they tend to get soggy and soft. An air fryer will whip them up quickly without the need to turn on the oven.
To Cook Frozen Chicken Nuggets In An Air Fryer
- Preheat your air fryer to 375F/190C. This should only take between 3-5 minutes.
- Set your nuggets in an even layer in the air fryer, leaving room between them. There is no need to give them a spray with oil.
- Cook the nuggets for 5-6 minutes before giving them a flip.
- Heat for an additional 5 minutes.
It’s a crowd-pleasing favorite that the air fryer is a master at heating up. It’s perfect as a snack for one, and ideal for a quick lunch.
- If you’re using a larger air fryer, you may need to adjust for time. Larger air fryers tend to cook more rapidly, so check your nuggets after a few minutes.
11: Potato Skins
The famous restaurant appetizer can finally come together right at home, and is perfect for an air fryer. It keeps them from getting mushy and soft, keeping the skins and toppings crunchy. They’re fantastic on game day,
How To Cook Frozen Potato Skins In An Air Fryer
- Take your potato skins out of the package and set them into an un-preheated air fryer, skin-side down.
- Cook them for 5-6 minutes at 370F/187C.
The simplicity of it is why they’re such good frozen foods to cook in an air fryer. They’ll stay crisp while warming all the way through.
- You can cook these easily in a standard air fryer with a basket, or in an air fryer oven. If you use an air fryer oven, set them in the middle rack and select the “Air Fry” function.
Overall Tips For Cooking Frozen Foods In Your Air Fryer
All air fryers are different. Every one on the market will have specifications, sizes, and ability to heat. Some get much hotter than others, some take longer to reach the maximum temperature. You should get a feel for your air fryer to know how your model in particular works.
Thankfully, cooking frozen foods in an air fryer is a good way to test what it can do. What is great about it is that, if things go awry, you won’t have wasted time with prepping or handmaking ingredients.
For example, running some French fries through will give you a good idea of how well your fryer handles a bit of crowding, and how long it takes to preheat. Once you have cooked frozen food in your air fryer, you will have a better idea of what to do next time.
Since all air fryers are so different, keep an eye on your food as it cooks. Food can still burn or overcook in an air fryer, so open it on your first trials to check in on how the mozzarella sticks or chicken wings are doing.
Your air fryer is incredibly handy in the kitchen. Since it cooks with hot air, you don’t need to add excess oil, and it heats things up in a flash to boot. Frozen foods shine in an air fryer, leading to maximum overall convenience.
Potato skins, chicken wings, and fries feel practically destined for the cooking expertise of an air fryer. Mozzarella sticks come up restaurant-quality crispy and gooey after less than 10 minutes. The best frozen foods to cook in your air fryer are anything that you want to be crispy, warm, and evenly cooked.