Your air fryer is a powerful kitchen appliance that can cook freezer section appetizers (think onion rings & potato skins) more efficiently than an oven. In this post, I’m teaching you How to Cook Frozen Appetizers in an Air Fryer!
What is a frozen appetizer?
Let’s start with an appetizer. An appetizer is a small food item enjoyed before the main meal to stimulate appetite and anticipation for what’s to follow. It can really be any kind of food you want it to be!
Now combine that with frozen appetizer – I’m talking any prepared appetizers from the freezer section of the grocery store. This could be anything simple like french fries, to something more random like cheese & bacon potato skins or mini pizzas.
There are lots of frozen foods that you could prepare and eat as appetizers, but I’m not referring to those. For the purposes of this post, I’m specifically talking about prepared or fully cooked frozen appetizers that can be cooked directly from frozen.
Generally, frozen appetizers are already prepared to go right into the oven or deep fryer, so they’re ideal to just toss into the air fryer and cook.
Can you cook frozen appetizers in air fryer?
Yes! You can certainly cook frozen appetizers in an air fryer. I would estimate that 95% of frozen appetizers would work in the air fryer.
With the exception of liquids like soups or items you don’t want crispy like dumplings, most freezer section appetizers can be cooked in the air fryer.
Why use an air fryer to make frozen appetizers?
Here’s why I prefer to use my air fryer over my oven to heat up frozen appetizers:
- Using the air fryer saves time, since preheating the oven can take 10-15 minutes on top of cook time. (95% of the time I do not preheat my air fryer, and when I do, it takes only about 3 minutes.)
- The air fryer tends to make things even crispier than the oven can.
- Using an air fryer is a more efficient use of energy, since you’re heating a smaller space for a shorter amount of time.
Which air fryer do you recommend?
There are several brands of air fryers out there that work great, and I will admit I have not tried them all. But, I have tried two different ones in my life that I can tell you about.
A few years ago, I started with a small Philips model which worked well, but it was small and I did not like the metal grate style basket. Now, I currently own and recommend the Cosori XL 5.8 qt Air Fryer , which you’ll see photographed in this post.
This air fryer has a non-stick style basket, which I prefer over the metal grated version. I also love the size. Because most items cooked in the air fryer need to be arranged in a single layer for most even cooking, the larger sized basket is better, in my opinion.
How long do you cook frozen appetizers in an air fryer?
Most frozen appetizers will take about 8-12 minutes to cook in an air fryer. However, some foods will take longer, such as tater tots and chicken nuggets. Some foods will also take less time, such as soft pretzels and Texas toast. Cook time will always vary by the size, shape and style of food.
What temperature do you cook frozen appetizers in an air fryer?
The temperature for cooking frozen foods in an air fryer will vary depending on the type of food, your specific air fryer, and your crispness preference, but generally, 350F is a good place to start.
If you want the food to be extra crispy, like onion rings, tater tots, or hash brown patties, try a hotter temperature like 380-400F.
If the food has a sensitive interior that you want to keep soft or not over cook, such as mini quiches or soft pretzels, try a slightly cooler temperature like 320-330F.
If your food needs a crispy exterior but also has a saucy or cheesy interior, like potato skins or jalapeño poppers, start around 350F and go from there.
What to do if your food is browning too fast…
If your food is browning too quickly on the outside while the interior is still cold, try reducing the temperature and cooking for a few minutes longer.
Some foods can be cooked in a range of temperatures, with the upper of the range giving a crisper result and the lower of the range being less browned. This can change based on your preference.
A meat thermometer can be helpful to determine the internal temperature of your foods to see if they are done! A good temperature for cooked reheated food is 165F.
When do you use oil and when do you skip it?
Something to know here is that most prepared frozen foods already have oil in them (or in the breading), which means you don’t need to add any more oil. You can check the ingredients list to be sure.
However, when you’re preparing a food from scratch such as acorn squash, oil will almost always be necessary.
**Note: I have been known to add a little extra oil to tater tots and french fries to get them extra crispy! Do what you want!
Another thing I want to add – it’s always up to your preference. A little extra spray oil on the outside of most of these foods would not hurt anything at all.
Air Fryer Frozen Foods Cook Time Chart
I’ve published a few different articles and recipes on Project Meal Plan that involve cooking frozen foods in your air fryer.
In order to provide a helpful resource and put all the useful information in one place, I’ve created an Air Fryer Frozen Foods Cook Time Chart that’s free for anyone to download!
Download the Air Fryer Frozen Foods Cook Time Chart here! Print it out, stick it on your fridge, or just keep it on your phone as a handy reference.
This chart has 16 different common frozen foods you can cook in your air fryer, including the suggested time and temperature. Use these cook time and temp suggestions as a starting place for your air fryer freezer food cooking!
How to Cook Frozen Appetizers in an Air Fryer: General Rules of Thumb
- Place foods into the air fryer basket in a single layer for most efficient cooking. Some foods (such as onion rings) are okay in multiple layers but will take longer to cook.
- When cooking frozen prepared foods in your air fryer, there is usually no need for oil, because most breaded or fried foods come with oil already inside or in the breading.
- Various types of foods will need different times and temperatures for best results. A good rule of thumb is to start at 350F for 8-12 minutes and adjust your cook time and temperature from there, according to what food you are cooking:
- For extra crispy foods like onion rings or tater tots, go with a hotter temperature and more time.
- For foods with sensitive interiors like mini quiches or soft pretzels, go with a lower temperature and less time.
- For foods with crispy exteriors and saucy or cheesy interiors, 350F for 8 minutes is a good bet, checking at 6 minutes.
- For preheated air fryers or subsequent batches of foods, reduce the cook time by 1-2 minutes.
- You can always test your foods by cooking one piece only at first. Check my Air Fryer Frozen Foods Cook Time Chart above for an estimated starting cook time & temp of 16 different freezer foods.
9 Examples of Cooking Frozen Appetizers in an Air Fryer
Here are 9 different examples of different frozen appetizers cooked in my air fryer to give you an idea of the range and types of frozen foods you can cook in the air fryer, as well as their suggested cook times.
*For preheated air fryers and subsequent batches, reduce cook time by 1-2 minutes!
Cook Temperature & Time: 330F for 4 minutes
Notes: Salt is optional (most pretzels come with pretzel salt). To add salt, wet the pretzel with a mist or a paper towel, then press salt onto the pretzel. I had success with the salt sticking to the pretzel during air frying. No need for any spray oil.
Cook Temperature & Time: 350F for 11-13 minutes
Notes: Flip or rotate the corn dogs about halfway through cooking. A meat thermometer might be useful if you want to confirm the internal temperature. No need for any spray oil.
Cook Temperature & Time: 350F for 7-8 minutes
Notes: Check at 6 minutes and stop if cheese is erupting. A meat thermometer might be useful if you want to confirm the internal temperature. No need for any spray oil.
Cook Temperature & Time: 320F for 8-9 minutes
Notes: Check at 7 minutes. The tops should be browning. No need for any spray oil.
Cook Temperature & Time: 400F for 7-8 minutes
Notes: Flip or rotate halfway through. Please note that homemade taquitos or flautas will have a slightly different cook time and temp. No need for any spray oil.
Cook Temperature & Time: 320-350F for 8-9 minutes
Notes: Check at 7 minutes. Cheese will brown more quickly at the higher temperature. No need for any spray oil.
Cook Temperature & Time: 400F for 10-12 minutes.
Notes: Flip and shake onion rings halfway through. Can be overlapped, however a fuller basket will take longer to cook. No need for any spray oil.
Cook Temperature & Time: 330F for 3-4 minutes
Notes: Flipping optional depending on your air fryer and preference. No need for any spray oil.
Cook Temperature & Time: 350F for 9-11 minutes
Notes: Spray potstickers liberally with oil, or toss in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of oil. Flip and shake halfway through.
If you found this article helpful, I think you should also check out 10 Easy Air Fryer Recipes for Beginners!
What other freezer air fryer foods are you making? Share how they turned out, along with the time and temps in the comments below! Let’s make this the ultimate collection of freezer to air fryer cooking info!