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Here’s a little backstory about how I created this frozen chicken air fryer recipe. The other day, I got so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life with two young children that I completely forgot to pull the chicken out of the freezer to defrost.  When I finally realized my mistake, it was already time to start cooking dinner.  After the initial panic and wondering what I’d be able to pull together to serve the family, a question came to my mind:  can I cook frozen chicken breast in an air fryer?  

I didn’t seem like it was too crazy of an idea.  After all, air fryers cook other frozen foods, such as french fries, meatballs, and hash browns, beautifully.  Wouldn’t frozen chicken breasts turn out ok?  

With time ticking away and no better alternatives for dinner, I decided to risk it and try cooking my frozen chicken breasts in the air fryer.  Well, let me tell you, those chicken breasts turned out way better than I could have expected.  The outside was nice and crisp and the inside was moist and juicy.  The whole family, including the picky toddler, gobbled them right up!  

Intrigued by the idea of using an air fryer to cook frozen chicken?  Keep reading for my fast, easy, and delicious frozen chicken air fryer recipe!

Can you really cook frozen chicken in an air fryer?

It is my opinion that every kitchen should have an air fryer.  They can truly transform the way you cook.  Many of the items that you can cook in an air fryer may surprise you.  For instance, did you know that air fryers can yield perfectly crisp and delicious bacon?  

While using an air fryer to cook chicken breasts probably doesn’t sound all that surprising, you may be shocked to hear that you can even cook frozen chicken in air fryer!

Believe it or not, it is true.  Using the air fryer can help you transform frozen chicken breasts, right out of the freezer, into a juicy and tasty meal in just about 30 minutes.

Do I have your attention now?  Are you interested to learn how an air fryer could possibly help you achieve this feat?  Well, keep reading, and I’ll share my recipe and some tips to help you make scrumptious air fryer chicken in no time.

Do you need to defrost chicken to cook it in the air fryer?

Nope!  Defrosting chicken before cooking it in the air fryer isn’t necessary.  While you certainly can cook defrosted chicken, you can also make a really tasty chicken meal starting with frozen chicken breast (or legs/thighs).

The one thing I will add is that some recipes may be better suited to starting with thawed chicken.  For example, if you want to try to make panko breaded chicken breasts or chicken fingers, you’ll have a difficult time getting the breading to stick to a frozen piece of chicken.  In these cases, if you absolutely must start with frozen chicken (due to timing, etc.), then I’d suggest cooking the chicken plain in the air fryer for about 10 minutes.  Then, you can take it out and apply the breading.

Similarly, if you have some pre-cooked chicken in your freezer, either something you previously made or something that you purchased from the store, you can also use the air fryer to heat it up.  The exact amount of time that will be needed will vary based on the size and thickness of your chicken, but you should expect it to take somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes.

Frozen chicken air fryer recipe

What You Need to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Air Fryer

My air fryer frozen chicken recipe is really simple and straightforward.  As far as the ingredients go, you only need some olive oil and a few seasonings that you probably already have on your spice rack.  I chose to use Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper for my recipe, but you can easily substitute your favorite seasonings.  

You also won’t need many specialized tools to make this recipe.  Of course, you’ll need an air fryer.  If you don’t already have one or are looking for an upgrade, I’d recommend checking out the Cosori Air Fryer Max XL!  Beyond the air fryer, you’ll just need a small mixing bowl, some measuring spoons, a basting brush, and a meat thermometer.

Ingredients

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Tools

  • Air fryer
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Basting brush
  • Meat thermometer

Cooking Frozen Chicken in the Air Fryer:  Recipe Overview

This airfryer frozen chicken recipe requires few ingredients, is easy, and will turn out juicy and delicious!  Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to take your chicken from the freezer to the table in under an hour!

Step 1

Add the olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, and pepper to a small bowl.  Mix all the ingredients together.

Step 2

Spread the marinade over each piece of frozen chicken using a basting brush.  Work carefully to make sure the entire surface of the chicken is fully coated.  Reserve the remaining marinade; you’ll need to use it to re-coat the chicken during the cooking process.

Frozen chicken air fryer recipe

Step 3

Place the chicken breasts in the air fryer basket or on the tray.  It is important that the pieces of chicken do not overlap.  If you have more than will fit on the tray or basket, you may need to cook multiple batches.  Air fry the frozen chicken for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Step 4

After air frying for 15 minutes, flip the chicken breasts over to the other side.  Use the basting brush to re-coat the chicken with the remaining marinade.  Continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Step 5

Check the chicken breasts for doneness.  You will need to use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the chicken.  Be sure to press the meat thermometer into the center of each breast.  Chicken breasts must reach an internal temperature of 165 °F.  

Step 6

If the chicken has not yet reached 165 °F, continue cooking for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, then recheck for doneness.  Frozen chicken in air fryer time for cooking can vary, so it is always important to use your meat thermometer to check for doneness.  Once the temperature reaches 165 °F, remove the chicken from the air fryer and let it rest for 2 to 3 minutes  

Step 7

Serve your chicken with the sides of your choice.  Some of my favorite side ideas for this meal include mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, rice pilaf, and green beans.

How long does frozen chicken take to cook in the air fryer?

Now, you’re probably wondering how long to cook frozen chicken in air fryer.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a hard and fast rule or timing that I can share with you.  The exact amount of time your frozen chicken breasts will take to cook will depend on a few different facts.  These include whether you’re using bone-in or boneless chicken, how thick each piece is, whether the chicken had partially defrosted before it started cooking, and whether you’re cooking breasts, wings, thighs, or legs.

My recipe calls for using boneless skinless chicken breasts.  These should take somewhere around 25 to 30 minutes in most air fryers.  The best way to confirm that chicken is fully cooked, whether cooking it in the air fryer, oven, or stove top, is to check the internal temperature.  According to FoodSafety.gov, all poultry should be cooked until the internal temperature reaches 165 °F.  This is why it is imperative to have a reliable meat thermometer when cooking chicken and other meats and fish.

Easy frozen chicken air fryer recipe 1

Easy Frozen Chicken Breast Air Fryer Recipe Card

This frozen chicken in airfryer turns out moist and juicy.  It is certain to be a big hit at the dinner table.

Prep Time:  5 to 10 minutes

Cook Time:  20 to 30 minutes (depending on thickness of each chicken breast)

Servings:  4  

Calories:  188

Ingredients

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine the olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.  Mix the ingredients.
  2. Using a basting brush, spread the marinade over the frozen chicken.  Be sure to spread it over all sides of the chicken.  Save any extra marinade for use in a few minutes.
  3. Put the chicken breasts in the air fryer basket or tray in a single layer.  
  4. Air fry at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
  5. Flip over each chicken breast.  Brush the remaining marinade on the top of each piece.
  6. Continue cooking at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
  7. Check for doneness and continue cooking until the internal temperature reads 165 °F.
  8. Once fully cooked, remove the chicken from the air fryer and let it rest for 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Ready to Try Frozen Air Fryer Chicken?

Making frozen chicken breast in air fryer is a simple, yet delicious meal.  It can be the perfect option for those nights when you forgot to plan dinner or your dinner plans got ruined by something unexpected.  I also love that, despite how easy this meal is to make, it still turns out flavorful and juicy! 

Easy frozen chicken air fryer recipe 2

FAQs

Can you cook frozen chicken in air fryer?

Yes, you can cook frozen chicken in the air fryer.  The air fryer does a wonderful job evenly cooking frozen foods, and frozen chicken is no exception.  Air fryer frozen chicken is slightly crispy on the outside with a moist and juicy center.

How long do you cook frozen chicken in the air fryer?

When looking for frozen chicken breast air fryer cooking times, it is important to realize that the thickness of the chicken, as well as other factors such as the type of chicken (breast, wing, leg, thigh, etc.) can impact the total cooking time.  However, generally speaking, frozen chicken will typically take between 20 and 30 minutes to cook in the air fryer.  Always check for doneness with a meat thermometer, and do not remove the chicken before the internal temperature reaches 165 °F.

Can you cook frozen breaded chicken in an air fryer?

Can I cook frozen chicken in air fryer with breading?  The answer to this question is a bit more complex.  If you have a piece of frozen chicken, getting bread crumbs to stick to it isn’t going to work very well.  If you want to be able to cook frozen breaded chicken, you should either bread the chicken pieces before freezing them or cook the frozen chicken in the air fryer for about 10 minutes before trying to put the breading on.