Forget to defrost dinner? No need to worry because you can cook these frozen chicken breasts right in the air fryer! Not only are they ready in less than 30 minutes but they’re incredibly tender and juicy too.

Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Breasts sliced on a plate with rice.
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We’ve all had those days where dinner just totally escapes you. Or, those times where we fully intended to defrost something and just forgot.

Well, here’s some good news for those exact times – you can cook frozen chicken breasts in the air fryer without any thawing necessary!

I’ve done a few frozen recipes in the air fryer before like frozen air fryer broccoli and shrimp so I knew the air fryer was capable of taking something that was essentially a block of ice and turning it into a crispy delicious final dish but I had my doubts about it being able to keep an entire chicken breast tender and juicy while cooking.

I was happy to be proven wrong though and end up with perfectly moist and juicy chicken breasts in just 25 minutes.

So, if it’s one of those nights and you just need a quick and easy dinner on the table, this one’s for you!

Prefer a seafood dinner instead? Check out the recipe for making frozen salmon in the air fryer instead!

Package of organic frozen chicken breasts.

CAN YOU COOK CHICKEN BREASTS FROM FROZEN IN AN AIR FRYER?

Yes! I know it seems nuts that you can cook a completely frozen piece of chicken in the air fryer but it’s true!

With just a few extra minutes of cooking time than a thawed chicken breast, the air fryer will completely cook a frozen chicken breast and keep it moist and tender!

Only have chicken tenders in the freezer? No worries, those will cook just as well as breasts. Or, you can turn them in to delicious crispy air fryer buffalo chicken tenders.

Helpful Accessories
Air Fryer Essentials: Must-Have Accessories for Perfect Results

From oil sprays to muffin cups and from pizza pans to racks, we've got them all, and they make fantastic Christmas presents, too!

DO I NEED TO THAW CHICKEN BEFORE AIR FRYING?

Not if you don’t want to!

The beauty of the air fryer is its flexibility. It’s sort of similar to the Instant Pot in that it can handle defrosted or frozen meats with ease.

If you find yourself having forgot to defrost the chicken for dinner, this recipe is for you. There’s no need to thaw the chicken before air frying.

Of course, you can if you prefer. If so, I’d suggest these delicious air fryer chicken leg quarters. Or, make these simple pan fried chicken breasts instead of lugging out the air fryer.

The air fryer makes quick work of anything frozen and you can even do your side dish by making these air fryer frozen vegetables too!

Frozen chicken breasts on a white plate with avocado oil and seasonings  in bowls on the side.

INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING AIR FRYER FROZEN CHICKEN BREASTS

  • 2 frozen uncooked chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds total)
  • avocado oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • smoked paprika

The seasoning mixture is really up to you though.

You can use any seasoning blend you like, you’ll just be mixing it with the oil as you’ll see below to create a “paste” that’s then brushed all over the frozen chicken before it cooks in the air fryer.

Brushing seasoning mixture onto frozen chicken breasts on a plate.

HOW TO COOK FROZEN CHICKEN BREASTS IN THE AIR FRYER

I don’t often preheat the air fryer when using it but this is one of those times you’ll want to. Similar to this air fryer skirt steak or air fryer lamb chop recipe, you want the air fryer nice and hot before the meat goes in.

Preheat the air fryer at 400°F for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the avocado oil and spices together in a small bowl and stir until combined. Brush the mixture on top of each chicken breast coating the entire surface.

Place the seasoned chicken into the air fryer either on the trays of an oven model or in the basket. This is one of those times you may want to use aluminum foil in the air fryer to catch any drippings as the chicken cooks for easier cleanup.

Air fry the frozen chicken breasts for about 25 minutes.

If you have a basket model air fryer, flip the chicken half way through the cooking time.

If you have an oven model air fryer, this isn’t necessary as long as the tray is placed in the middle of the air fryer so the air can evenly circulate around the chicken as it cooks.

Cooking time will depend on the thickness of your chicken breasts but for these which were about 1 1/4″ thick, it took 25 minutes.

The best way to determine if the chicken is fully cooked is to use an instant read thermometer. Once the chicken reaches 165°F it’s safe to eat.

If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, err on the side of underdone and slice the meat in the thickest part. If it’s still red/pink, you can always return it to the air fryer to cook longer.

Remove the chicken once fully cooked and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

For a simple dinner, serve with rice, potatoes or something like mashed yuca and your favorite vegetable.

Cooked frozen chicken breasts on the tray of an air fryer.

CAN YOU MAKE COOKED FROZEN CHICKEN BREASTS IN AN AIR FRYER?

This recipe is for cooking raw, uncooked chicken breasts in the air fryer but you can definitely also use pre-cooked frozen chicken breasts if that’s what you have on hand.

The process and recipe is exactly the same, you’ll just reduce the cooking time in the air fryer slightly.

Since you don’t need to worry about the chicken hitting 165°F as it’s already been cooked, pull the chicken from the air fryer once it’s warmed through.

This will probably take at least 15-18 minutes from a purely frozen state.

Frozen chicken breasts cooked in an air fryer sliced on a plate with white rice and parsley.

TIPS FOR THE BEST AIR FRIED FROZEN CHICKEN BREASTS

  1. Try to choose chicken breasts of a similar size so they cook evenly at the same time.
  2. If you have a basket air fryer, make sure not to stack or overlap the chicken breasts. This is more easily avoided in oven models with trays.
  3. Don’t let the chicken thaw at all while prepping. The seasoning mixture actually sticks better to the frozen chicken if it’s frozen solid rather than spent any time at room temperature.
  4. Save the juices from the bottom tray of the air fryer! Pour them over the chicken before serving for extra flavor!
Juicy and tender seasoned frozen chicken breast cooked in an air fryer sliced on a plate with a fork on the side.

WHAT OTHER SEASONINGS CAN I USE?

This seasoning blend is both simple and pretty universally liked but if you prefer to try a different blend of flavorings, feel free!

Here are some other chicken breast seasoning ideas:

Combine the seasonings with the oil (unless using BBQ or buffalo sauce) to create a paste and brush onto the chicken in the same method as this recipe.

Air fryer jerk chicken or air fryer teriyaki chicken are also easy flavorful recipes to try for another variation.

Air fryer frozen chicken breast recipe with simple seasoning served on a plate with rice.

STORING AND REHEATING LEFTOVER CHICKEN BREAST

The chicken can be stored just like any other chicken leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

It makes great leftovers for lunch, can easily be repurposed into tacos or shredded for adding to salads and topping pizzas.

I find using the microwave for reheating to be the best at retaining moisture in the chicken. Reheat in a glass container or plate with a loose cover and only until just warmed. You want to avoid cooking the chicken any further if possible.

MORE AIR FRYER RECIPES TO TRY:

Brats in the Air Fryer
Air Fryer Cornish Hens
Air Fryer Scallops
Crispy Air Fryer Fish Sticks

If you have split chicken breasts, try this split chicken breast recipe also made in the air fryer. The seasonings are simple just like this recipe but with great flavor from including the bone!

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4.94 from 58 votes

Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Breasts

Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Breasts.
Tender and juicy frozen chicken breasts made in the air fryer in under 30 minutes for a quick and easy dinner.

Ingredients 

  • 2 frozen chicken breasts, about 1.5 pounds total
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Preheat air fryer at 400°F for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the oil and spices in a small bowl and stir until combined.
  • Brush the seasoning mixture onto the tops of the chicken breasts coating the entire surface.
  • Place the seasoned chicken breasts into the air fryer and cook for about 25 minutes. If you have a basket air fryer model, you'll want to flip the chicken half way through cooking. If you have an oven model air fryer, there's no need to do this, simply place the tray in the middle of the air fryer for even cooking.
  • The chicken is fully cooked when the internal temperature reads 165°F with an instant thermometer. Cooking time will depend on thickness of the chicken breasts.
  • Remove cooked chicken from the air fryer and let rest for about 5 minutes before slicing to serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 132kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 19gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 309mg

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

Additional Info

Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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19 Comments

  1. I could not believe my eyes or my taste buds when the frozen chicken breasts came out so delicious! The juices from the air fryer were an amazing touch to my dish.

  2. So happy I stumbled upon this. I’m the queen of forgetting to thaw my chicken until…dinner time? This method totally saved me tonight. Thank you!!

  3. This is a perfect recipe for me because I always forget to defrost the chicken which by the way came out perfect.

  4. These turned out so great!! I didn’t know you could make frozen chicken in the air fryer and was impressed that it turned out so good. I added some BBQ sauce after it was cooked.

  5. 5 stars
    WOW!!! I never believed cooking frozen chicken like this actually worked but a friend swore by your recipe and I decided to try – so great!!! I’m never turning back! ahaha thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    This is a great way to prepare frozen chicken breasts. They turned out nice and juicy, and it was super easy. Perfect weeknight dinner!

  7. I had never tried frozen chicken before until now in the air fryer and that made a fantastic and tender

  8. Well, this makes things so much easier! I love that I don’t have to mess around with defrosting the chicken and that it still comes out so perfectly!

  9. 5 stars
    I can’t believe how easy it is to throw these in the air fryer straight from frozen – genius! And totally delicious too.