Tender frozen chicken breast in the air fryer; these golden chicken pieces are easy to make and ready to serve in no time.
Did you forget to take the chicken out of the freezer in time? No problem! This recipe for frozen chicken breast in the air fryer will save the day. Or at least dinner!
Really, all you have to do is to season the frozen parts, place them in the fryer, and flip them once during the cooking time. The result: tender juicy breast, golden, nicely seasoned, healthy, and ready to be served in a million different ways.
And if you did remember to defrost it, try the Cast-Iron Chicken Breast, the Baked Panko Chicken, or the Juicy Pan-Fried Chicken Breast.
This must be my most-cooked air fryer recipe. I use it a lot for many different things, like quick French fries, other meats, side dishes like carrots or zucchini, and so on, but this recipe has turned into a regular.
The best thing about it – except its being delicious and quick – it's the fact that I can use it even if I forget to defrost the meat in time. And it just goes with anything. I often cook some spicy basmati rice on the side (because basmati also cooks quicker than other rice sorts), I slice it and serve it on salad, I use it for enchiladas or I slice it thinly and make sandwiches. The possibilities are endless...
Check out Cooking Frozen Chicken Breast - The Ultimate Guide.
How to air fry frozen chicken breast?
- Preheat the machine according to its instructions. This step is not always necessary; it depends on your kitchen gadget. I need to preheat mine for 3 minutes so that it has a temperature of 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spray or rub the chicken with oil.
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and spices.
- Cook for 10 minutes.
- Flip and cook for a further 5 minutes.
How long to cook frozen chicken breast?
- Cooking frozen chicken takes only a few minutes more than cooking fresh meat, about 5 minutes longer.
- Roughly, you will need 15 minutes per 2,5 cm/ 1 inch, slightly more or less depending on the thickness of the breast piece. The cooking time depends more on the thickness of the pieces than on their weight.
- The best way of checking is using a meat thermometer; the internal temperature measured by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat should be 74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit (Amazon affiliate link).
- I had three pieces of chicken, a total of 500 g/ 1.1 lbs. Each piece weighed roughly 150-170 g/ 5.3-6 oz and was about 1 inch thick, so they needed 15 minutes.
- If your pieces are smaller, check after 10-12 minutes already. If the pieces are thicker, just add more minutes to the cooking time and check again regularly until the required internal temperature is achieved.
General cooking times:
- 1.2 cm/ ½ inch thick: 10 minutes
- 2.5 cm/ 1 inch thick: 15 minutes
- 4 cm / 1 ½ inches: 20-22 minutes
- 5 cm/ 2 inches: 28–30 minutes
- Use similar-sized meat pieces so that they are all ready at the same time. If some are too small, they might start to get dry by the time the largest pieces are done. Or you can just remember to remove the smaller pieces sooner.
- I prefer to use chicken pieces that I buy already frozen; for some reason, they are always flatter than the fresh breasts that I freeze myself. The flatter pieces cook more evenly, and you will have fewer dry spots around the edges.
- That might happen if the breasts are very thick in the middle compared to the edges. And as the meat is frozen, you will not be able to flatten it with a mallet.
- Don't staple the pieces in the basket; they should be arranged in a single layer.
Check out the web story for Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Breast.
- Spray the meat with a little oil. If you don't have an oil spray, rub it with 1 teaspoon of oil. Either vegetable or olive oil is fine.
- Sprinkle with the seasoning of choice on both sides.
- My basic seasoning is salt, pepper, and sweet paprika powder, but the possibilities are – again – endless.
- Try other sorts of paprika (smoked or hot), garlic powder, and curry powder.
- Or spice mixtures like lemon pepper, ras el hanout, or sumac for an oriental touch, any chicken seasoning of your liking, Cajun spices, and so on. Really, anything you like. (All Amazon affiliate links).
- I've tried all the suggested spices or spice mixtures mentioned, and I loved them all.
What to serve with it?
- Slice it and add it on top of a simple salad with yogurt dressing. Or on top of a chopped vegetable salad.
- Serve with spicy rice, for instance, BBQ rice, Jollof rice, or vegetable rice.
- Make some fries or baked potato wedges.
- Or some roasted cauliflower, carrots or Brussels sprouts.
Cooking frozen food
Frozen Chicken Breast in the Air Fryer
- 3 chicken breasts Note 1
- oil spray or 1 teaspoon vegetable or olive oil
- sweet paprika powder Note 2
- fine sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat the air fryer according to its instructions, mine needs 3 minutes to achieve the temperature of 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Season chicken: Spray or rub the chicken with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the spices of choice. Place it in the basket.
- Cook for 10 minutes. Flip and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Check the internal temperature, it should be 74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If the chicken breast pieces are thinner or thicker, adjust the cooking time. 1.2 cm/ ½ inch thick: about 10 minutes2.5 cm/ 1 inch thick: about 15 minutes4 cm / 1 ½ inches: about 20-22 minutes5 cm/ 2 inches: about 28–30 minutes
- Total weight of about 500 g/ 1.1 lbs, each breast should weigh about 150-170 g/ 5.3-6 oz and be about 2.5 cm/ 1 inch thick. If the thickness of the breasts is different, check the general cooking times above or in the blog post.
- Use any spices you like; this is just basic seasoning. You can add garlic powder, use any other sort of paprika (smoked or hot), or any spice mixture you like.
Julie Kirby says
I tried this using mesquite seasoning. My chicken was pretty thick so I cooked it 13 mins & flipped, cooked 13 mins & flipped, checked to see if it was done (it wasn’t) so I cooked for 10 more mins. It probably would have been okay at 8 more mins but I am always a little scared to undercook chicken. It still turned out pretty well and definitely will be a process I will use again. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for the feedback, Julie. I have the same problem with chicken, that is why I prefer to use a meat thermometer, it makes things easier. 🙂
I do have a meat thermometer somewhere but in between moves it’s been misplaced! I should just buy another, but I know if I do as soon as I use the new one I will come across the old one. ?
It happens all the time, it's like a law of the universe. 🙂
My breasts were frozen and not even half an inch thick. I followed instructions to a T. They were good but slightly tough. Would you recommend cooking longer next time? Is it true the longer they cook the juicier?
Hi Ashley. No, the longer you cook them, the dryer they will be. If they are thinner than those I had, you should take them out of the fryer sooner. Best way to check is with a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 165degrees Fahrenheit.
Gareth Oakes says
When cooking from frozen in the air fryer I sometimes wrap the breast in foil keep them juicy & moist, maybe for the second half of cooking or leave in foil to rest for a minute or 2.
I might use this to have chicken cooked the next day for lunch.
Von Numan says
I just unboxed my first air fryer. Which temperature setting should I use? f or c?
Hi, that's up to you, whatever you are more familiar with. I have mine in Celsius because I live in Europe and that's what we use here. But I always indicate both temperatures in a recipe. Have fun with it, it really is a great gadget.
I didn't have as good a turnout, trying to go 15 mins with 2 relatively small breasts. I think they must have been slightly thicker - I sliced them & added 6 mins at 360 and they were perfect.
Cooking time not long enough/temperature not high enough
It might be your air fryer, it works for the hundreds who reviewed the recipe.
@Marina, I agree, my oven has the air fryer built in and I needed 400 for 35 min for my 1.5" frozen breasts to get them crispy without drying out.
It took an hour to cook my chicken... This is not a good/accurate method.
How do you explain that it worked for hundreds of other people?
This temperature and cooking time were not accurate for the air fryer function integral to my range unfortunately.
Sorry to hear that, but that is another kitchen gadget altogether. I use a regular air fryer.
On one hand, it set off my smoke alarm over and over again (the ice and oil mix?) but on the other hand my husband said it was spectacular. I used my new Ninja toaster oven on air fry setting, 10 minutes on one side 10 minutes on the other. I didn't try it since I am vegan, but my husband loved it.
@Michelle, did you use a high smoke point oil like avocado or vegetable?
Both have a smoke point of 400 degrees F. or greater. Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVOO) can be as low as 350 degrees F.
Kelley Twitty says
Thank you for the recipe. The chicken cooked perfectly.
Thank you, Kelley. I am happy you liked it.
John Urbana says
It doesn’t say if you need to add water? Or if I can sit on the bottom of the pan or if it needs to be elevated
The recipe says everything you need to know, no water, no elevation, or I would have mentioned it. This is an air fryer, not an instant pot (the instant pot needs water and elevation).