It’s late at night. You just arrived home from a full day of work in the office. You’re tired and hungry. When it’s time to cook, you realized one thing – your meat from the freezer is as hard as rock. Hence, you ask – can you cook frozen meat in an air fryer?
If you’re trying to figure out the answer to the question, read on! We’ll also give some tips, so you can cook frozen meat like a pro!
To Defrost or Not Defrost – That Is The Question
Before anything else, let’s look at two sides of the coin. Doing so will help you weigh the good and the bad, and hence, you can decide what’s best to do.
Why You Should Defrost Meat
First, let’s look at what advocates of defrosting are saying. Among others, one of the benefits is that it allows more consistent cooking. It makes it easier for heat to reach all parts of the meat, and hence, it will be uniformly cooked.
In addition, proponents of defrosting also say that it has the potential to improve the overall texture of the meat. Defrosting can help in breaking down the connective tissues. As a result, it may end up softer and easier to chew.
Flavor absorption is also another good reason to consider thawing. Especially when it has a marinade, the meat can fully absorb the flavors when you thaw it before air frying.
Why You Should Not Defrost Meat
Now, to be fair, let’s also look at the reasons why some people are not fans of defrosting. For most, they will defrost by leaving meat at room temperature. However, such can make it prone to the growth of bacteria, which can compromise health and safety. Nonetheless, if you practice safe thawing methods, you don’t have to worry about food-borne illnesses.
In addition, you should not defrost meat because it requires a lot of time. This is especially the case if you’re defrosting a huge slab of meat and if you’re cooking for a large group. The good news is that there are ways to do it quickly. For instance, defrosting in an air fryer is one alternative you might want to consider. You can even do so in a microwave.
It can also affect the texture and overall quality of the meat. This is especially the case in meats with thick cuts. They might disintegrate and may become too soft once cooked.
So, Can You Air Fry Frozen Meat?
It’s time to answer the main question in this post. YES, you can cook frozen meat in an air fryer! Whether you’re cooking air fryer steak bites or crispy beef strips, there’s no need to defrost. You can cook straight in an air fryer, which makes it a great way to save time.
Given the way an air fryer works, defrosting is not necessary. In the case of traditional cooking methods, heat transfers from the exterior to the interior of the meat. Meanwhile, in air fryers, there’s even heat circulation, so it can cook evenly, even if the meat is frozen. If there’s a major difference, however, it would be that cooking takes a bit longer.
The Best Practices for Cooking Frozen Meat in an Air Fryer
While it’s possible to cook frozen meat in an air fryer, it does not mean that you can expect optimal results all the time. It’s crucial to be proactive, so take note of the things mentioned below.
- Do Not Skip Preheating
Preheating the air fryer may seem like making cooking longer, but it actually does the opposite Once the interior is already hot before putting the meat inside, it will cook quicker. In most cases, preheating will take only five minutes.
- Avoid Overcrowding
Arranging frozen meat in a cooking basket or rack is an art you need to learn. Do not overcrowd. Stacking meat is also a big no. Otherwise, you risk sacrificing air circulation. The result is that it will not cook food evenly, which is specifically bad if you’re cooking frozen meat.
- Monitor the Temperature
When do you know that meat is done cooking in an air fryer? It’s not just a guessing game. Some will look at the color while others may try to poke it with a fork. Nonetheless, the best thing that you can do is to use a meat thermometer. This way, you can check the temperature and take the meat out of the air fryer once it reaches the desired internal temperature. Also, remember that meat continues to cook because of residual heat.
- Adjust the Settings
It’s a good thing that an air fryer has pre-programmed settings. However, if you’re cooking frozen meat, you might need to make some adjustments. For instance, this could mean adding a couple of minutes to the cooking time. At the same time, it might also necessitate the need to increase the temperature. This is to make sure that your food is properly cooked since you started with it frozen.
- Flip The Meat
Like cooking most foods in an air fryer, flipping when you’re halfway done is a good practice. This is another way by which you can ensure better consistency when cooking. You can cook all sides evenly, which is especially important if you’re cooking thicker cuts of meat.
Common Problems When Cooking Frozen Mean in an Air Fryer
Before we conclude this guide, let’s talk about the potential problems you’ll encounter. More importantly, I’ll share a few effective solutions you might want to consider.
- Raw Interior, Burnt Exterior
One of the most common problems is that the interior is already burnt while the exterior remains uncooked. A potential reason is that you are cooking with the wrong settings. This could be because it’s too hot, and hence, you’ll end up overcooking outside the meat while it remains uncooked inside. If possible, you can also poke holes or slice the meat for more consistent cooking.
- Separation of the Crust
If the meat has coating or breading, the crust might separate from the meat. Such can be frustrating because it changes the flavor and texture of the food. It happens when the breading or coating does not bond well with the meat you are cooking. You might want to add a neutral oil to prevent this from happening. It can also help to make sure that you flip the meat.
- Sticking to the Cooking Surface
When the meat sticks on the cooking surface, it will be more difficult to clean. To add, it can also affect the overall quality of the meat and it can end up disintegrating. Such a problem is common when you’re cooking fatty meat cuts. An easy solution is to spray cooking oil. Adding aluminum foil or parchment paper can also help.
So, can you cook frozen meat in an air fryer? If you’ve been paying attention, then you’ll know the answer. Yes, you can do it! Cooking straight from the freezer can be a time-saver. Not to mention, it can also prevent food-borne illnesses as leaving meat at room temperature to thaw before cooking can be a health hazard. While you can do so, pay attention to some things, such as adjusting the cooking time and checking the internal temperature.