Welcome back to Air Fryer Bro, the place where we love to discuss everything about air fryers! Today, we are looking at making air fried frozen chicken wings (a family favorite in this household). Is it easy? Is it even possible? Can you cook frozen chicken wings in an air fryer? Let’s find out!
What are the considerations for cooking frozen chicken wings in an air fryer?
When cooking air fryer frozen chicken wings, these are the main considerations we need to think about before we cook. By following these simple rules, we can get the best possible fried chicken out of an air fryer!
How long do you cook frozen chicken wings in an airfryer?
This is the million dollar question, as many frozen chicken wings don’t say anything about how to cook them in your air fryer.
What I would say at this point is invest in a good meat thermometer, preferably a digital one. We have highlighted a good one on our recommended products page! This will allow you to easily check whether your chicken wings are properly cooked. No one wants food poisoning!!
According to the US Departmant of Agriculture, you should be looking for the internal temperature of your wings to be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to test at least a couple of wings before deciding whether your frozen chicken wings are cooked or not. Especially with frozen wings, I would rather overcook them then under cook them!!!
When cooking ready marinated store bought frozen chicken wings, it is a lot easier because they will already have cooking instructions on them. What I do, is take the timings for a fan assisted oven and pretty much half them.
Do not over stack
This is mainly aimed at more traditional bucket style air fryers, as an oven style air fryer has racks and cant really be over stacked!
Make sure you do not pile up your chicken wings in your air fryer basket. To cook your chicken wings well in an air fryer, they must have some space around them to allow adequate air flow. After all, an air fryer cooks with hot air, if you cut this off you will get sub par results.
Make sure to flip half way
If you want to get perfectly crispy chicken wings on both sides, you will need to flip your chicken wings halfway into the cooking time. Your chicken will still cook OK if you don’t flip, but they won’t look appetizing as one side won’t be crispy. Again, this advice is more aimed at a traditional bucket style air fryer.
Misting oil or coating with a sauce is the way to go!
I am no genius chef with mad frozen chicken wing recipes! However, I can tell you that, when buying and cooking plain frozen chicken wings in your air fryer, some kind of coating on them works best. Even the simplest buffalo sauce or oil based dressing recipe will do!! It’s not only about helping to get a crispy texture on the chicken wing skin, but also to help the meat inside to stay moist.
Adapt cooking times
I am using a Philips Turbo star air fryer (which I LOVE by the way) to cook my frozen chicken wings. But I am sure many of you are using different air fryers. Cosori, Ninja or Power Air Fryer? I don’t know. But, different air fryers may cook in different ways, so be sure to check on your air fried food often during cooking. Especially the first time you attempt to cook something. This will help you make any adjustments for your specific brand and type of air fryer. We don’t want char-grilled chicken wings, right!! ha ha!!
To the Cooking Experiments!!
My idea was to buy a store bought pre-marinated chicken wing, as well as cooking a plain frozen chicken wing. To see what results I would get in my air fryer. Let’s see which are my favorite air fried chicken wings!!
The Store Bought Frozen Buffalo Wings
You may be asking “how do you cook Tyson frozen chicken wings in the air fryer?”, but unfortunately I don’t have access to Tyson….or Walmart….or even the Dollar Tree 🙂 Actually, I think I have seen Tyson frozen chicken where I live, but I would have to re-mortgage my house to afford them 🙂
EDIT: Don’t believe me, after finishing up this article, I managed to find the product below in my local supermarket! Tyson chicken tenderloins for 143 Hong Kong Dollars (around 18USD).
As you may or may not know, I live in Hong Kong. Thankfully, we have a supermarket here called USelect, which sells a pretty good range of Tesco branded products (a supermarket from the UK, where I am originally from). We also have Marks & Spencer’s here, but everything costs a literal arm and a leg in there!! Anyway, this is why you will often see me using Tesco products in these air fryer cooking experiments!
Today is no different, I was able to buy these pre-packed frozen buffalo chicken wings:
I am sure you can find something similar in the frozen sections of many supermarkets around the world!
Once taking these frozen buffalo wings out of the packing, I saw they came in a metal foil tray, and the cooking instructions said to leave the wings in the tray to cook in the oven.
Here are the cooking instructions in all their glory….
My problem with the metal tray, is that as the Air Fryer Bro, air flow is something I defend with my life!! OK, maybe not that seriously, but you get the idea. I am never keen on putting any food into a foil tray in my air fryer, especially not chicken wings that I want to be crispy all over. The chicken wings will still cook, but just not as evenly or quickly due to reduced air flow around them.
Therefore, I opted to take the chicken wings out of the foil tray, and place directly on my air fryer’s grill pan, as you can see below.
If your frozen buffalo wings come out in one block, a block which doesn’t fit into your air fryer, simply let them defrost a little first. You should then be able to break up into more manageable pieces.
I decided to go for the same temperature as recommend for a fan assisted oven in the cooking instructions, and go for about half the cooking time. So 170 degrees Celsius (around 338F) for 25 minutes.
My end result (as you can see below) looked pretty amazing for a first attempt. The wings looked crispy and well cooked. A quick prod with my meat thermometer showed me that the wings were well cooked and ready to go. However, when I took the wings out of the air fryer, I noticed that they looked a bit pale on the other side. I ended up cooking on this side for another 4 minutes just to make them look more appetizing (especially as my wife was going to help me eat these!)
You see, even the Air Fryer Bro gets things wrong in his haste! What would I do next time? I would cook for a little less time and flip halfway through to ensure both sides were well cooked.
The taste of the wings was really good, if a little overcooked this time. With the adjustments mentioned above, I am sure they will be perfect next time. And an air fryer easily cooks them in half the time of even a fan assisted oven!
I would say that, if you want you wings more saucy, you might want to try using the foil tray. I believe the job of this tray is to keep more of the buffalo wing sauce on the finished product. Personally, I would rather have evenly cooked wings with a bit less sauce on them 🙂
The Plain Frozen Chicken Wings
To get a good idea about how different types of frozen chicken wings would perform in an air fryer, I decided that I would also try to cook plain chicken wings. I will cook some in a truly plain way. One batch without anything, and one with a misting on olive oil. Also, I will cook another batch after coating with a quick and easy chicken wing sauce or marinate.
By the end of this article, we should be literal masters at cooking all types of frozen chicken wings in our air fryers!
Plain Air Fried Frozen Chicken Wings
So, after buying my frozen chicken wings in the supermarket (probably a couple of pounds worth), I started with the first basic cooking test. Cooking the wing without any oil or marinate. I know that, defrosted, I would cook this type of chicken wing around 12 minutes in my Philips air fryer. Therefore, in the frozen state I decided to start with a time of 15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius (356 Fahrenheit). As recommended above, I made sure to flip the frozen chicken wings halfway.
This is the end result I got…..
As you can see, my timings were pretty decent. The chicken wings were frozen no more, and cooked to well above the recommended temperature of 165F or 74C. They tasted good for plain wings, but personally I would cook longer next time to get crispier skin on the chicken.
The oil spritzed frozen chicken wings!
The next step, would be to follow my own advice on getting crispier food in the air fryer, and spritz/ spray them with oil before cooking. Olive oil to be precise. For a consistent test, I used the exact same temperature and time settings as my first batch.
This made quite a difference to the color and texture of the chicken skin. I find these wings to be much more appetizing, as the skin is crispier! Yummy!
So, spritzing oil is definitely a step up from cooking totally bare frozen chicken wings. I enjoyed these way more (not saying that the first batch were bad though!)
The marinated frozen chicken wing
Finally, I knocked up a real simple marinate with the following ingredients. 1:1 ratio of olive oil and honey. Added some garlic, salt and pepper to taste. I would always recommend that you marinate overnight and let the wings thaw. However, the whole point of this article is to cook frozen chicken wings in an air fryer! Therefore, I coated the wings in the marinate and cooked using the same temperature and timings as the other tests straight away.
These results shocked me!
Look at the colour of these wings, almost barbecue style! And this is with the same timings as before. The marinate really helps put colour onto the chicken wings, even when they were only coated in it!
The taste was SO delicious and juicy, actually better than the store bought buffalo wings used in the very first part of the article!
The only thing I would say, is that you should be careful not to use too much oil in your marinate, as you will be likely to have the white smoke problem. If you don’t know what this is, read my article on it HERE.
What’s my takeaway from all this?
Well, I will put it this way. The Air Fryer Bro won’t be buying any more store bought frozen buffalo wings! ha ha! Why would you do that, when you can buy plain frozen wings and marinate them for seconds to get that barbecue style result. Wow, what an amazing result! Delicious and fast!
I always knew to marinate my fresh chicken wings, but never thought it could work so well on frozen chicken wings too. The marinate seems to seal in some of the juices of the chicken, as well as crisping up the skin perfectly! Success all round!
So, our household won’t ever worry when we need to rustle up a quick meal. Including marinating (with a few simple ingredients!), this whole dish will take me twenty minutes! My wife will be pleased!
If you don’t even have the time for the marinated wings recipe, then at least make sure to spray with a little oil for best results!
We would love to know what you think too! Have you tried any of these experiments? What was your take on frozen chicken wings in an air fryer??
We did another ultimate guide/experiment over HERE which is talking about how to cook the best frozen french fries in your air fryer.