Karaage is a Japanese word, which refers to a cooking technique wherein an ingredient, usually chicken, is coated in flour or starch and deep-fried. If you are looking for a healthier way to enjoy this food, you might want to try air fryer frozen karaage.
Whether it is for a light lunch or a quick midnight snack, it is hard to go wrong with karaage! Stocking up on your freezer is a good idea, so you do not need to run to the nearest grocery or restaurant once you crave Japanese food.
In this guide, I will walk you through how to cook air fryer frozen karaage. It is quick and easy, even for someone who lacks experience in the kitchen.
Why Cook Frozen Karaage in an Air Fryer
One of the reasons to love air fryers is their convenience. Cooking frozen karaage can be time-consuming, but not if you do it in an air fryer. With the latter, you don’t need to wait for the chicken to thaw. You can cook it straight from the freezer to the air fryer, and it is ready within minutes!
Not to mention, cooking frozen karaage in an air fryer is healthier than deep frying. No need to drench chicken in oil! Instead, an air fryer works by circulating hot air into the food. There are tiny holes that generate heat to cook food with no or minimal oil, so you can enjoy your favorite dishes without the guilt!
Additionally, air fryers cook from all sides simultaneously, instead of heating only one portion at a time. This makes it easier to ensure even cooking, which means that there are no over or under-cooked parts. You can achieve crispy skin and juicy flesh easily (same like with the pork belly)!
How to Cook Air Fryer Frozen Karaage
In most cases, frozen karaage is already pre-cooked. This way, cooking it will be quick and easy. You also don’t have to add additional oil.
Take note, however, that frozen karaage can be available in different sizes. Some can be small bite-sized pieces while others are large chunks. Hence, there can be slight variations in the necessary cooking time. I suggest checking the label and following the recommendations printed.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on the things to do:
- Start by lightly spraying the air fryer basket with your choice of oil. This will prevent the chicken from sticking on the surface, which also makes the clean-up a lot easier.
- Place the chicken nuggets evenly on the air fryer basket. Keep them in a single layer. Do not stack the chicken pieces to ensure even cooking.
- Turn on the air fryer at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for ten minutes. Flip once you are halfway through.
- Use a fork to check the doneness of the chicken. If it is still not crispy on the outside and if the flesh is still hard when poked, cook for a few more minutes.
Tips and Tricks for Cooking Air Fryer Frozen Karaage
Cook karaage like a pro and impress everyone who will be tasting your food. Here are some of the best tips to keep in mind.
1. No Need to Thaw
When cooking karaage, you do not need to thaw the chicken before putting them in an air fryer. However, if they are stuck, then it is a good idea to submerge the package in water and wait at least five minutes. Use a knife or fork to separate the cuts, then you can put them directly in the air fryer.
2. Pay Attention to Chicken Sizes
As I have earlier recommended, you can cook karaage in the air fryer for ten minutes. These are for bite-sized pieces. If they are larger chunks, however, then you might need to cook them longer. 15 to 20 minutes could work. Always check the instructions and test doneness with a fork or knife, so you will know if you need to cook longer.
3. Do Not Overcrowd
Learn how full you can fill an air fryer before cooking karaage. Ideally, it should not be more than ¾ of its stated capacity. Make sure there is enough space between each piece. Do not put one on top of another. By having sufficient space, you can ensure even cooking. It also prevents the pieces from sticking.
4. Use Neutral Oil
Before cooking karaage in an air fryer, it is best to lightly spray the basket (like in our venison recipe). Even if you are not using too much oil, I recommend picking one with a neutral flavor. Avocado oil is my favorite. If the flavor is too strong, then it might ruin the natural flavors of the chicken that you are cooking. Pick an oil that does not overwhelm the chicken.
What to Eat With Air-Fried Karaage
Make karaage even more delicious by complementing it with the right dish, including the following:
Especially if you are Asian, a great way to enjoy juicy and flavorful karaage is with white rice! The soft texture of the rice is a perfect complement to the crispy exterior and juicy interior of your chicken. You can also level up your rice by adding seaweed to give it a more distinct flavor. If you are looking for a lighter version try cauliflower rice (that you can prepare in an air fryer by the way).
2. Potato Salad
If you want to eat rice but you want a filling meal, then you might want to enjoy karaage with potato salad. The first thing to do is to boil and mash potatoes. Then add potatoes, carrots, and cucumbers, which you should slice into uniform sizes. Add your choice of seasonings, including salt, pepper, and rice vinegar. Add mayonnaise gradually. Chill before serving.
3. Pink Pickled Onions
For something sweet and tangy, pickled onions are great to enjoy with your karaage. You can make one yourself by combining sliced onion, vinegar, wholegrain mustard seeds, salt, and sugar in a canister. Cover the lid, shake, and wait at least an hour before eating.
4. Cucumber Salad
This is another easy-to-make side dish that will go well with karaage. In a bowl, add sliced seedless cucumber, sugar, and salt. Let it rest for at least five minutes. Add onion and vinegar then stir. Refrigerate before serving to make it more flavorful and serve.
For a simpler side dish that you can prepare in an air fryer try our sweet potato recipe.
Dips and Sauces that Go Well with Karaage
While karaage can be flavorful on its own, it is best enjoyed with the right dip or sauce. Below are some of the options you might want to try.
1. Japanese Mayo
On top of the list is the quintessential Japanese mayo. You can buy it ready-made in groceries, making it a convenient option. Kewpie is one of the most popular brands. It is made of egg yolk, vinegar, and oil. Compared to regular mayo, Japanese mayo has a more prominent flavor from eggs. It also has minimal acidity and subtle tanginess.
2. Yuzu Ponzu
This Japanese sauce is oozing with smoky and umami flavors. Yuzu is the main ingredient, which adds a bright and citrusy flavor to the dip. In a small pan, add rice vinegar, mirin, katsuobushi, and kombu. Stir and let it cool. After ten minutes, strain the sauce in a jar. Add yuzu juice and soy sauce. Close the lid of the jar, shake, and enjoy the dipping sauce with karaage.
3. Sweet Chili Sauce
If you prefer something sweet and spicy, this sauce is the perfect addition to your air-fried karaage. It is simple to make, which will require combining Japanese mayo, honey, Dijon mustard, Japanese sweet wine, and low-sodium soy sauce. Once ready, pour the sauce all over the chicken instead of dipping the meat in the sauce.
Cooking air fryer frozen karaage is quick and easy! Straight out of the freezer, you can cook chicken in the air fryer! It takes only ten minutes, although it will depend on the size of the chicken you are cooking!