Yes, You Can Cook Meat Straight From Frozen In Your Air Fryer

The air fryer is convenient for those with busy schedules who don't have time to cook on the stove throughout the week. However, did you know that you don't even have to thaw meat before cooking it in an air fryer? That's right — you can cook meat straight from frozen with little fuss. 

According to the USDA, it's perfectly safe to cook meat straight from frozen, but it's important to note that it will take a tad bit longer than if you were cooking thawed or fresh meat. On average, it should take around one and a half times as long, so plan accordingly. This should also be true if you're cooking with an air fryer, which uses a fan and heating element to replicate the textures you might get from a conventional fryer. 

Still, using an air fryer to cook frozen meat should be quick and convenient. Depending on the type of protein, your meal may be finished cooking in under 30 minutes (less than 10 minutes in some cases, such as shrimp). You should also keep in mind that larger air fryers may cook food slightly faster than smaller air fryers. Likewise, freezing meat can affect its quality, especially when compared to fresh meat. 

Types of frozen meat you can air-fry

You're not limited when it comes to what kinds of meat you can air-fry. The kitchen device can cook a range of poultry, beef, pork chop, and seafood from frozen, so you should have plenty of options when it comes to dinner. For instance, you could cook up some frozen beef patties for delicious burgers without ever having to break out the grill. Cook salmon patties for bagels or air-fry a lovely steak dinner for two. 

Before air-frying, remember that each protein has an ideal temperature you should be cooking at for best quality. Chicken generally cooks at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, while you may cook meatloaf at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. It's important to check those times prior to cooking to avoid any blunders. 

When you're cooking with frozen food, be careful about excess moisture dripping in the air fryer. Keep an eye on how the protein is cooking. Additionally, it's important to note that not every type of meat may be good to cook in the air fryer. Whole roasts and chickens may not conveniently fit and shouldn't be forced. Likewise, while you can cook a burger in an air fryer, it may not have that same smoky crisp as if you were cooking on a grill. 

Tips for air-frying frozen food

There's a fine balance between overly burnt and undercooked when you're cooking with an air fryer. But it's important to make sure the food is cooked to optimal temperatures to avoid the risk of a foodborne illness. 

According to the USDA, poultry should have an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Poultry has a slightly lower recommended temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The best way to ensure the food is at its appropriate temperature is to use a meat thermometer. Aim for the thickest piece of meat (usually the center), and be sure not to let the probe touch any bone or connective tissue, as that may affect the reading. 

The other pitfall you may encounter is figuring out how to season the meat. There's nothing worse than bland protein, so you'll have to get a bit creative when you're dealing with frozen meat. One thing you can do is marinate the meat before freezing it. This allows you to impart the same flavors as you would marinating fresh meat. Alternatively, you can let the meat partially cook, then remove it to season before letting it finish cook in the air fryer.