Welcome back to Air Fryer Bro! Today, we are looking at our ultimate guide to cooking frozen french fries in your air fryer. Although a lot of us have grand ideas as to what we want to use our air fryer for, many of us end up cooking ready made frozen food a lot of the time! Yes, I love to make complex recipes in my air fryer, but it is also handy to toss a handful of frozen french fries in there from time to time. We all need an easy side dish from time to time 🙂 Perfect for sharing too!!
Air fryer frozen french fries…..can it be done? What’s the best way? Let’s find out together!!
A disclaimer to start: I am not the latest Pinterest or Instagram famous fancy chef. You won’t see any Instagram worthy photos here 🙂 However, what you will find is a whole host of real advice and tips that I (the Air Fryer Bro) use myself 🙂
Setting the Scene!
Before we get into the nitty gritty of cooking frozen french fries with air, let’s go over some background information first!
What air fryer did I use to cook my frozen french fries?
I am currently using a Philips Turbostar digital air fryer. If you are using a ‘Ninja Foodi’ (or whatever model is currently trending) air fryer, you may get slightly different results. Although it should be minimal.
What type of frozen french fries should I buy for my air fryer?
There are many different types of fries, so which did I use? Any french fries which are labelled as oven cooked french fries are fine. As you will see below, I went with two varieties from Tesco, a supermarket from the United Kingdom. The curly fries were to show how thinner french fries would cook, whereas the more British chip style was to see how thicker varieties would perform in an air fryer.
I am sure that, no matter where you live, you can find something similar!
Any special tips for cooking frozen french fries in an air fryer?
Don’t Use Oil!
Any of you that are regulars to Air Fryer Bro will know that I often talk about the importance of spraying or spritzing a little oil onto your food before cooking. However, please note that frozen french fries usually don’t need this. As they were designed to be cooked in an oven, they already have some kind of oil built into the coating of the french fry. Adding more oil is just adding unnecessary calories!
Don’t Shake your Booty, Shake your French fries!
Also, remember to shake your frozen french fries at least once, halfway through the cooking process. This will help give an even cooking to your air fried french fries! Otherwise, you may get some under cooked and pale sections to your finished product.
Don’t Over Stack
Make sure not to overfill your air fryer with french fries. Remember that best cooking results are achieved when enough air is able to circulate around your food. The more you stack, the harder it is for the hot air to circulate around your food.
Why cook frozen french fries in an air fryer?
You may be wondering why the Air Fryer Bro would ever cook frozen french fries in an air fryer? Well, for me, there are two main reasons.
Compared with a traditional oven, an air fryer will cook french fries faster. OK, not as fast as a deep-fat fryer, but much healthier!
Too many people heat up a massive oven just to cook a batch of frozen french fries. An air fryer is a much more compact cooking device, and therefore will save you energy when only cooking relatively small batches.
Maybe you have different reasons! If so, we would love to hear all about them in the comments section below.
The End Results!
Now that we got the basics down of cooking frozen french fries in an air fryer, let’s get down to brass tacks! What actual end results can you expect?
The Curly Fries
I decided to start with the curly fries, as most of my readers are American and this is the thickness of fries they would likely want to cook.
Looking at the cooking instructions on the back of the pack, they suggested 200 degrees Celsius (or 392F) for at least 18 minutes (for a fan assisted oven).
I knew straight away that 18 minutes would be way too long for an air fryer. I decided to almost half the timing and cook these fries for 10 minutes! The results amazed me……
I am sure you agree that this result is amazing. The curly fries were golden brown and very crispy, even though they only spent ten minutes in the air fryer. This is why air fryers can make sense for so many people, as they can cook frozen french fries much faster than even a fan assisted oven. Also, energy is not being wasted heating up a massive oven (and your kitchen too probably).
Actually, this result made me wonder if I could even lower the times, and still get a good result! So, for the second attempt, I will only cook them for 5 minutes. To be honest, I was expecting half cooked fries at such a short time, but they were actually pretty close. In the photos below, it probably looks similar to the first batch. But this time, the larger fries weren’t totally crisped all the way.
My takeaway here is that the sweet spot for these particular curly fries in my air fryer is around 6-8 minutes! Pretty fast when compared with the 18 minutes for a fan assisted oven! Finally, we have found something that the air fryer can do better than an instant pot!! 🙂
As I am originally from the UK, chips are a subject close to my heart. What makes a chip great is that crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside texture. Can an air fryer cook frozen chips too? Let’s find out!
I will follow the same logic for these as I did for the curly fries, and roughly half the initial cooking time and see what happens! As you can see below, that left me with a cook time of only ten minutes.
Did I end up with half cooked chips? Actually, this time using half the time (of what is stated for ovens) worked a charm. Whereas with the curly fries I felt like I had left time on the table, with these it seemed about perfect. So first time a charm!
Although not documented in this article, I have also been able to cook waffle fries and shoestring fries in my air fryer with similar results using the method described here.
To sum up, here is the perfect way to air fry frozen french fries…
The Perfect Air Fried Frozen French Fries Method
- Place the frozen french fries into your air fryer. Do not overfill and do not add extra oil.
- Look at the cooking instructions. Use the same temperature as the oven cooking instructions but half the cook time.
- Shake your air fryer basket halfway through the cook time to help even cooking.
- Add your seasoning and enjoy perfectly air fried frozen french fries!
So there you have it, frozen french fries and chips can be cooked well in an air fryer! But, before leaving, I wanted to cover one more thing!
The Healthier Alternative
When I first started my air fryer journey, I used to buy and make quite a lot of frozen french fries and chips as a side dish. But I quickly realised how quick and easy it is to cook a fresh version instead.
I would literally chop up a potato into chip like form and put in the air fryer. Spray with some oil and some black pepper (or Cajun seasoning if I am feeling adventurous). As it is hard to cut the same size every time, I usually cook 5 minutes at a time until cooked through and crispy, making sure to shake them each time too.
As you can see above, the results are amazing. This particular batch cooked in ten minutes, so very similar to the frozen french fries. They are much healthier, as you know exactly what ingredients went into them. This method also works with sweet potato and sweet potato fries.
Of course, pro chef types will tell you to soak the chopped potato slices first and all that. But, for pure speed, I just whack them in the air fryer straight after chopping up. The time taken is pretty much the same as with frozen fries, so this is why I never buy frozen any more! You should give the homemade method of air fried fries a try if you haven’t already!
The only thing is that it is hard to hand cut french fries, you will always end up with chips. This problem is easily solved by buying a relatively cheap french fry cutter. Click the image below to see this excellent example on Amazon.
What’s your experience?
There you have it, the Air Fryer Bro ultimate guide to cooking frozen french fries in an air fryer. It is incredibly quick and simple. If you have any of your own experiences, we would love to hear all about them in the comments section below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you cook store bought frozen French fries in an air fryer?
Yes, you can. Just follow the oven cooking instructions and half the cook time. You would be surprised how many brands are now putting air fryer specific cooking instructions on their frozen french fries these days 🙂
Should I preheat my air fryer for frozen French fries?
The rapid air technology found in air fryers will give you instant heat, so no need to preheat an air fryer prior to cooking frozen french fries. I have a full article talking about air fryer preheating, if you want all the details as to why 🙂
Will Air Frying Frozen French fries affect the Nutrition Values?
If you buy frozen french fries that are designed for oven use, you will get the exact same nutritional values when cooked in an air fryer. And air frying french fries are much healthier than the oil laden deep-fat fryer method.
I have a full article comparing the deep fryer and air fryer cooking methods, if you are interested.