How to defrost food in an air fryer?

by Véronique Raymond
Air fryer

It’s finally time to start preparing dinner and you realise that you have forgotten to take out your frozen ingredients from the freezer to defrost… We have all been in this situation, leading us to feel frustrated and splurging on take out food.

Could an air fryer be an answer to our defrosting nightmares? Are we really able to defrost frozen food inside airfryer just like an oven or a microwave?


Can you Defrost food inside an air fryer?

The answer is yes, you can! Make sure you set your air fryer at the correct temperature depending on what you are cooking. For example, if you are cooking white meat such as a frozen chicken breast, it is vital you heat the airfryer to the right temperature to ensure your meat defrosts.

Providing that the air fryer is set at the right temperature and that you are regularly checking on the progress on your food, you can decide to leave it in to cook after it has defrosted. However, setting the temperature too high when the food is still frozen could mean the exterior could burn yet may leave the inside of the meat still frozen and raw.

We recommend checking the progress of your food every few minutes especially if you are new to using an air fryer since they are powerful and extremely efficient appliances. Give your food a flip inside the air fryer basket to ensure it is defrosting, cooking or crisping evenly.


Does it take longer to cook frozen ingredients inside an air fryer?

Just like cooking frozen food in an oven, it will take longer to cook frozen ingredients than thawed food since the food first of all needs to defrost before it cooks. The advantage of an air fryer in comparison to an oven is that air-fryers are designed to ‘dehydrate’ foods at a quick speed and high temperature to create a crispy texture to your food. Therefore, an air fryer will most definitely defrost and cook your food quicker than an oven.

Of course, if you are looking to cook food quickly, we suggest allowing your meat to thaw in a refrigerator or in a bowl of cool water a few hours before. If you do decide to thaw your frozen ingredients in a bowl of water, make sure you replace the water every 30 minutes so that the water doesn’t become warm. This will prevent harmful bacteria developing on your food, which you should pay particular attention to especially if you are defrosting meat.


What ingredients can you defrost inside an air fryer?

From frozen chicken nuggets, fish sticks, pizza, vegetables to french fries, there really isn’t anything an air fryer can’t defrost!  There are so many easy air fryer recipes available online to choose from – simply put them into an air fryer and let the machine do the work.

If you are cooking a frozen steak or burger patties and hoping for a restaurant quality rare-medium finish, we would recommend thawing it beforehand and even using a frying pan instead of an air fryer to achieve the desired result. Since air fryers are so powerful and efficient, they thaw frozen food then cook the ingrediants within an impressively quick time frame, perhaps not giving you different gradients of doneness to your meat.


Are there any foods you shouldn’t defrost in an air fryer?

Providing that you set the temperature correctly in accordance to which ingredients you are defrosting, an air fryer is a versatile and safe appliance to defrost food.

If you are weary about defrosting certain ingredients inside an air fryer or potentially new to using an air fryer, check the machine’s instructions to understand its settings, capabilities and power levels.


How much oil do you need to put inside an air fryer for frozen foods?

Air fryers function on very little oil to create a crispy texture to your food, making it a healthier option to the deep frying method. You really do only need a teaspoon or a drizzle of olive oil to reach the desired crispy effect.

If you are simply looking to defrost your food rather than cooking it after, you are not required to put any oil in at all!

However, when it comes to cooking frozen food inside your air fryer, you may decide you need even less oil than using thawed food since there will already be moisture inside the deep fryer from the frozen food. We would therefore advise to lightly spray or brush olive oil onto frozen food to reach the desired crispy texture.


Can I put Frozen and Thawed food in at the same time?

We would strongly advise against mixing frozen and thawed food at the same time in the same basket due to the different types of bacteria it may produce, affecting the safety of your food.

It takes a different amount of time to cook frozen food in comparison to when food is thawed. Therefore,  cooking them separately will avoid the risk of developing food poisoning from unwanted bacteria on your food.


Do you have to put less food inside the air basket?

Due to the sheer power of the air fryer, simply respecting the capacity limits on the instructions should apply to both defrosted and thawed food.

If you overload the air fryer, you will find that it will take longer to defrost or cook. Make sure that your meat has been cooked by not only checking that it isn’t visibly raw inside but by using a thermometer to check its temperature.

Of course, if you want to ensure your food is cooked quickly, place your food into single layers inside the basket so that the hot air touches all sides of the ingredients to crisp evenly.

Don’t forget to flip over the food in the air fryer basket regularly to ensure all your ingrediants in the basket are being cooked.


Is it safe to defrost food in an air fryer?

It is definitely safe to defrost food in an air fryer if it is set to the right temperature. If you are weary of defrosting frozen food in an air fryer, simply let the food thaw in a refrigerator a few hours before cooking.

When frozen food is in the process of defrosting, bacteria can multiply at a fast rate if you are thawing ingredients at room temperatures. This is why it is recommended to defrost food in a fridge to ensure bacteria isn’t produced.

Overall, air fryers are an efficient and safe appliance to defrost frozen foods inside. Regularly observe the air fryer’s temperature, check the instructions and the settings for the particular  model that you have purchased  and flip your ingredients inside the basket to make sure your food isn’t burning or undercooking. Once food has defrosted in the air fryer,  choose to keep your ingredients in longer to allow them to cook and create the famous air fryer crispy crunchy texture!

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