Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Breast (Moist + Juicy!)

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Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Breast sliced on a plate with cucumbers.

Why You’ll Love This Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Breast Recipe

Here’s why this recipe is a winner:

  • Quick and convenient: Straight from the fridge, you can prepare a wholesome meal without a lengthy thawing or prepping time. Perfect for those evenings where you can not planned ahead!
  • Use up frozen chicken breasts: You know when you open the freezer and see you have a handful of leftover chicken breasts – this recipe is for THAT moment.
  • Crispy and juicy: The air fryer creates a crispy exterior while locking in the natural juices of the chicken breasts. Honestly – this is such an easy way to make juicy chicken breasts.
  • Versatile seasonings: I love to play around with different seasoning blends.
  • Healthier option: Air frying requires minimal oil compared to traditional frying methods like the stove top or oven.u
  • No thawing required: I know, right?!
  • Minimal cleanup: Cooking in the air fryer means less mess in the kitchen compared to traditional frying or baking methods.

My air fryer frozen chicken breast recipe gives you juicy and tender chicken with the tastiest coating. It is so quick and easy to cook frozen chicken breast in an air fryer.  

You’ve got to try this recipe for the incredible spice blend and balance of flavors – think paprika and garlic with golden brown sugar! It forms the most delicious crust in the air fryer.

Ingredients on the counter to make air fryer frozen chicken breasts.

Here’s What You Need

You’ll need a handful of pantry staples and equipment (air fryer of course) to whip this up:

Ingredients 

  • Paprika: Paprika adds a rich, smoky flavor and vibrant color to the chicken breasts. 
  • Garlic powder: Use it generously for a robust garlic taste.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper: Don’t skimp on the seasoning.
  • Cayenne pepper: You can choose to leave this out but I love spice with plain chicken fillet.
  • Brown sugar or honey: Brown sugar or honey help caramelize the exterior of the chicken breasts, creating a flavorful glaze.
  • Olive oil: This coats the chicken breasts and promotes even browning and crispiness in the air fryer. It also adds moisture to the chicken.
  • Frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts: Ensure that the frozen chicken breasts are evenly sized for uniform cooking.

Substitutions and Variations

Here is what you can switch up and play around with in this air fryer frozen chicken breast recipe:

  • Seasoning substitutions: Experiment with different seasonings such as smoked paprika, onion powder, Italian seasoning, or lemon pepper.
  • Sweeteners: Instead of brown sugar or honey, you can use maple syrup, agave nectar, or a sugar-free alternative to add sweetness and enhance the caramelization of the chicken breasts.
  • Oil options: Substitute olive oil with avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or melted butter for coating the chicken breasts before seasoning.
  • Cheese topping: Sprinkle shredded cheese such as cheddar, mozzarella, or Parmesan over the chicken breasts during the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Herby crust: Mix chopped fresh herbs like parsley, basil, thyme, or rosemary with the seasonings and coat the chicken breasts.

Tools to Grab

Here are the tools to set aside to make this recipe:

  • Mixing bowl: To make the seasoning blend. 
  • Air fryer : Make sure its preheated and ready to go.
  • Tongs : To remove the chicken breasts with.
Air fryer chicken breast on a salad.

Cooking Frozen Chicken Breast in Air Fryer: An Easy Guide

Here’s my step-by-step guide to the perfect air fryer chicken from frozen:

Make the rub for the chicken 

Combine paprika, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar in a bowl. Mix in olive oil in to form a seasoning blend and paste.

Spice coating on frozen chicken to put in air fryer.

Coat the chicken 

Coat the frozen chicken breasts with the paste. Try to cover them as evenly as possible.

Cook the chicken

Preheat the air fryer to 350°F. 

Place the seasoned chicken breasts in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Make sure they have space between them and are not touching.

Cook for 25-35 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Halfway through the cooking time, flip the chicken breasts to ensure even cooking. 

Check internal temperature

The chicken is fully cooked when the insides reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) with a meat thermometer. 

Let the chicken rest for a few minutes after cooking before serving.

Frozen chicken breasts in air fryer.

How to Defrost Chicken in Air Fryer 

 Here’s how to effectively defrost chicken in an air fryer:

  1. Lower temperature: Set your air fryer to a low temperature, typically around 250°F (120°C). This temperature ensures that the chicken defrosts evenly without starting to cook on the outside.
  2. Time adjustment: The time required for defrosting can vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken pieces. As a general guideline, plan for about 10-15 minutes per pound of chicken. You may need to adjust the time accordingly.
  3. Check periodically: Throughout the defrosting process, check the chicken periodically to ensure that it’s thawing evenly. If you notice any parts starting to cook, lower the temperature or stop the air fryer momentarily to allow the chicken to thaw more evenly.
  4. Use the defrost setting: Some air fryer models come with a specific defrost setting. If your air fryer has this feature, feel free to use it as it may optimize the defrosting process.
  5. Flip and rotate: If you’re defrosting multiple pieces of chicken or if your air fryer has a rotating basket, consider flipping and rotating the chicken halfway through the defrosting time. This helps ensure uniform thawing.
  6. Inspect: Once the chicken is defrosted, inspect it thoroughly to ensure that there are no frozen spots remaining. The chicken should be uniformly thawed and ready for cooking.
  7. Immediate cooking: It’s important to cook the chicken immediately after defrosting it in the air fryer to prevent bacterial growth and ensure food safety, via according to USDA.  

Frozen Chicken in Air Fryer: Time and Temperature

For frozen chicken in the air fryer, aim for 350°F to cook without drying it out. Cooking time ranges from 25 to 35 minutes, depending on thickness. Thicker pieces need more time.

Flip the chicken halfway through for even cooking. This ensures all parts are evenly exposed to heat, resulting in juicy, perfectly cooked chicken.

Use a meat thermometer to ensure an internal temperature of 165ºF for food safety and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing.

Make Ahead and Storage

Here are the basics on how to prepare this recipe and store it safely:

Make Ahead

  1. Pre-season chicken: Season the frozen chicken breasts in advance, placing them in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours before air frying.
  2. Prepare seasoning mix: Mix the paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and other dry ingredients together in advance, storing them in a covered smakll bowl as part of meal prep.

Storage

  1. Refrigerator: Store any leftover cooked chicken breasts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  2. Freezer: Freeze cooked or uncooked seasoned chicken breasts individually. Thaw in the refrigerator before cooking.

Reheating

  1. Air fryer: Reheat the cooked chicken breasts in the air fryer at a lower temperature to maintain crispiness. Check periodically to prevent overcooking.
  2. Oven: Place leftover chicken in a preheated oven at a low temperature, covering it with foil to prevent drying out.

How to Serve this Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Recipe

There is SO much you can do with these juicy chicken breasts. Here’s what I love to do with mine:

  • Pasta dish: Slice the cooked chicken breasts and toss them with cooked pasta, marinara sauce, and Parmesan cheese for a simple and delicious pasta dish. It works well instead of grilling for recipes like my Asiago Tortelloni with Grilled Chicken.
  • Classic: Serve them with mashed potatoes and green vegetables like steamed spinach or asparagus. Mashed potatoes have to be one of my favorite side dishes – fries make a great alternative though. 
  • Rice bowl: Serve the air-fried chicken breasts alongside cooked rice (here’s my no-fail basmati rice recipe) or quinoa, and top with stir-fried veggies and a drizzle of teriyaki or soy sauce. This makes an easy lunch.
  • Taco night: Shred the cooked chicken breasts and use them as a filling for chicken tacos, burritos, or cheese quesadillas. Top with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and shredded cheese for a Tex-Mex inspired meal.
  • Soup or stew: Cube the cooked chicken breasts and add them to soups, stews, or chili for added protein and flavor. Simmer until heated through and serve hot with crusty bread or crackers.
  • Sandwiches: Slice and pop your chicken into a sandwich with other fillings like cheese, lettuce, tomatoes etc.

5 Common Mistakes When Making Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Air Fryer

Check out my pro tips as a food scientist to getting the best out of frozen chicken in air fryer. Here are the common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Not preheating the air fryer: Skipping the preheating step can result in uneven cooking and longer cooking times. 
  2. Overcrowding the air fryer basket: Crowding the air fryer basket with too many chicken breasts can prevent proper air circulation, leading to uneven cooking and soggy results.
  3. Not seasoning adequately: Skipping or under-seasoning the chicken breasts can result in bland-tasting meat. Be generous with seasonings like salt, pepper, herbs, and spices for maximum flavor.
  4. Cooking at the wrong temperature or time: Each air fryer model is different, so cooking times and temperatures may vary. Cooking chicken breasts at too high a temperature can result in dry, overcooked meat, while cooking at too low a temperature may leave them undercooked. 
  5. Not using a meat thermometer: Using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature is the most accurate way to ensure that the chicken breasts reach a safe temperature of 165°F (74°C) according to USDA. 
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FAQs About Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Breast

Just skimming through? Here are some key takeaways from this post:

Can I cook frozen chicken breasts in the air fryer?

Yes, you can cook frozen chicken breasts in the air fryer. The air fryer’s rapid hot air circulation allows you to cook frozen chicken breasts without the need for thawing.

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

Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness and size of the chicken breasts and the specific model of the air fryer. 

Typically, it takes about 20-25 minutes at 360°F (182°C) to cook frozen chicken breasts in the air fryer.

Should I season the frozen chicken breasts before cooking?

Yes, seasoning the frozen chicken breasts before cooking enhances their flavor. You can use a variety of seasonings such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and herbs to season the chicken breasts.

Do I need to preheat the air fryer before cooking frozen chicken breasts?

Preheating the air fryer is recommended to ensure even cooking and optimal results. Preheat the air fryer to the desired temperature for a few minutes before adding the frozen chicken breasts.

How can I tell if the frozen chicken breasts are cooked through?

The internal temperature of the chicken breasts should reach 165°F (74°C) via an instant-read thermometer.

Can I add sauce or marinade to the frozen chicken breasts before cooking?

Yes, you can add sauce or marinade to the frozen chicken breasts before cooking to enhance their flavor. However, be mindful of excessive moisture, as it may affect the crispiness of the chicken breasts.

Can I cook other frozen meats in the air fryer using the same method?

Yes, you can use similar methods to cook other frozen meats such as chicken thighs, chicken wings, pork chops, and fish fillets in the air fryer.

Adjust the cooking time and temperature accordingly based on the specific type of meat.

Can I reheat leftover cooked chicken breasts in the air fryer?

Yes, you can reheat leftover cooked chicken breasts in the air fryer. Simply preheat the air fryer to 350°F (175°C) and heat the chicken breasts for 3-5 minutes until warmed through.

Next Reading: Juicy Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Breast Recipe

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Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Breast (Moist + Juicy!)

Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Breast with the TASTIEST spice rub. Try this moist, juicy recipe and find out why it’s a favorite weekday staple!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar or honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
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Instructions 

  • Combine the teaspoon garlic powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Mix in olive oil to form a paste.
  • Coat the frozen chicken breasts with the spice mixture. Try to cover them as evenly as possible.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 350°F. Place the seasoned chicken breasts in the air fryer basket in a single layer, ensuring they are not touching.
  • Cook for 25-35 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Halfway through the cooking time, flip the chicken breasts to ensure even cooking.
  • The chicken is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  • Let the chicken rest for a few minutes after cooking before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 424mg | Potassium: 450mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 334IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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