Air fryers are becoming the preferred choice in today's modern kitchen, and for good reason. Air fryers produce healthier, crispier food faster than the traditional way of steeping food in oil for deep frying. Convenience and versatility are certainly among the wonders of this revolutionary kitchen equipment. But can it help when you're in a pickle? Guests are on the way and you forgot to thaw your poultry for dinner. Can you throw frozen chicken straight to the air fryer without worrying how it might taste later? We have consulted experts to help you address this dilemma.
The hot air constantly circulated by the air fryer can blast through and melt the frozen liquid and cook the meat as it normally would. Depending on the size and thickness of your boneless or bone-in slices, the air fryer can cook your chicken in 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the chicken inside the perforated basket in a single layer, allowing for some space in between the pieces to ensure overall circulation of the hot air-flow thereby cooking the meat evenly.
It certainly is a relief to know of this time-saving advantage of the air fryer. However, this begs the question of whether your frozen chicken would turn out as palatable as your properly prepared and cooked dish. It certainly would, so long as a few simple and necessary steps and tips are followed. Continue reading to learn how to serve a hastily prepared yet savory air-fried frozen chicken dish.
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Cooking Time For Frozen Chicken
So as not to overcook and end up with tough and dried meat, monitoring the cooking time is essential in air frying, frozen or not. Cooking time generally depends on the thickness of the pieces:
- 1/2 inch thick = 10 minutes
- 1 inch thick = 15 minutes
- 1 1/2 inch thick = 22 minutes
- 2 inches thick = 30 minutes
Flipping the chicken pieces halfway through its cooking time can also help in ensuring that the chicken is evenly and thoroughly cooked.
The Ideal Chicken Cut
Although you can air fry most chicken cuts, the best and healthiest choice would be a frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast. This particular cut is easy to season and cooks really fast.
There is also an abundance of recipes you can use for air-frying frozen chicken breast. Also, it is important to air fry identically-sized chicken cuts so as to prevent over-cooking and drying the smaller pieces or under-cooking the larger ones.
Seasoning Frozen Chicken
The savory taste of your chicken will obviously depend on your seasoning. While you can use a variety of recipes to cook your chicken, the simplest and easiest way to season a frozen chicken would be to sprinkle salt and pepper, then add some garlic powder and parsley.
You can also coat your chicken with breading. This may prove to be a bit more difficult with frozen chicken, but it can be done. Some cooks recommend coating the frozen chicken with mustard, then sprinkling bread crumbs on top. It won't be fully breaded, but it'll still be tasty.
Adding A Layer Of Oil
Basically, air fryers fry food sans oil. Less fat, less calorie food is what makes the air fryer the healthier alternative in frying. However, air-fried food does not taste the same as the traditional deep-fried recipes. That is why most air fryer recipes add a drizzle or spray of oil to crisp up the food the same way as the standard fried recipes.
Rubbing a teaspoon of oil onto your frozen chicken piece before seasoning will do the trick, and still be the healthier option versus the chicken piece boiled in a vat of oil.
Evenly Cook Your Chicken
Do not overcrowd your frozen chicken pieces in the perforated basket. Air fryers cook food by circulating hot air all over the food. Overloading your basket is a sure-fire way of defeating this function as air-flow will be limited to open surfaces.
Arrange your chicken pieces in a way that allows hot air to pass in between, over, and under to ensure that the food is thoroughly and evenly cooked. Once this is done, immediately remove your chicken from the fryer and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving to preserve its juicy, tender texture.
Do You Have To Pre-heat An Air Fryer?
You don't have to pre-heat an air fryer. But most experts will tell you that pre-heating your air fryer before tossing your frozen chicken into it will work to your advantage.
Pre-heating heats up the cooking surface before food is added and regulates the temperature and airflow at the right levels necessary for crispy frying. Food will also cook faster in a pre-heated fryer.
What's The Fastest Way Of Cooking Frozen Chicken?
Oven-roasting and air frying are likely the two fastest ways of cooking frozen chicken pieces. Cooking frozen food is time-consuming because of the need to thaw it first.
But the heat of the oven and the hot air circulation of air-fryers eliminates this step thereby cutting a significant amount of time in the cooking process. Done correctly, this short-cut method literally produces fast food without compromising on taste and texture.
Can You Cook Frozen Chicken Nuggets In An Air Fryer?
Frozen chicken nuggets can be tossed to an air-fryer straight from the freezer. The key to cooking frozen nuggets is to spread them separately in a single layer on the basket for about 10 to 12 minutes, flipping the pieces over once halfway through the cooking time. No need to add oil.
Is Air Fried Chicken Healthier Than Other Fried Chicken?
Air fryers are designed to cook food in a way that eliminates the need to use cooking oil. In this way, food cooked in an air fryer is comparatively healthier than food cooked in a standard deep frying method. Fat and calories are significantly reduced when using an air fryer.
It also eliminates the risk of taking in harmful compounds like acrylamide, which is formed when starchy foods like potatoes are cooked in oil. Several studies found that this compound increases the risk of developing cancer.
Using an air fryer also promotes weight loss since air-fried food has less fat content compared to deep-fried food. However, most experts agree that air-fried foods are still fried food, which, when consumed regularly, can have negative health effects.
Cooking frozen chicken is not only possible but can also yield delicious results. Observing the basic steps in using an air fryer coupled with a few simple tips can cut cooking time while ensuring the promise of a savory dish. Get creative with your seasoning. Use spices and breading and serve your air-fried frozen chicken as a salad topping, pair it with rice, or as sandwich filling!