How to Defrost Chicken in Air Fryer?

Defrosting chicken can be a time-consuming process. Traditional methods, such as using the refrigerator or cold water, may take hours. 

However, there’s a more efficient solution: defrosting chicken in an air fryer. Using an air fryer to defrost chicken not only saves time but also ensures that your chicken is evenly defrosted. 

Allow me to show you how to defrost chicken in the air fryer quickly and safely. 

Benefits of Defrosting Chicken in the Air Fryer

Defrosting chicken in the air fryer offers many advantages over other methods, such as microwave or cold water thawing. The most important benefit is safety.

The air fryer defrosts food more evenly without the risk of bacterial growth due to partial cooking. 

Defrosting chicken in the air fryer improves the texture and flavor of the chicken.

Traditional thawing methods can break protein cell structures and create excess moisture, resulting in a bland taste and texture. In the air fryer, the chicken remains tender and succulent.

Another advantage of defrosting chicken in an air fryer is convenience. It is a fast method that saves you time and energy.

Unlike thawing in cold water, which can take hours, defrosting chicken in an air fryer can be done in a matter of minutes. 

Defrosting also eliminates the need for multiple tools and reduces the risk of cross-contamination.

Defrosting chicken in the air fryer allows for better heat circulation. By placing the chicken in single layers, the air fryer can defrost the chicken evenly.

How to Defrost Chicken in the Air Fryer?

Let me show you how to go about defrosting your kitchen right from the freezer into the air fryer.


Before defrosting the chicken, remove any packaging or plastic wrapping.

If the chicken is too frozen and you are unable to remove the packaging, thaw the entire packet in water for half an hour.

After removing the packaging, place the frozen chicken in a plate or bowl while you proceed to preheat the air fryer.

Here is a picture of my frozen chicken ready to go in the air fryer

Frozen Chicken that needs to be defrosted

Preheat Your Air Fryer

Preheat your air fryer for 5 minutes at the default temperature. Preheating ensures evenly defrosted chicken.

It also reduces the risk of overcooking. 

I own a Phillips air fryer. It has a default temperature of 180°C (350° F), and I preheated it at the same temperature for five minutes.

Also read: How Long Does it Take to Preheat an Oven?

Place the Frozen Chicken in the Air Fryer Basket

Place the frozen chicken pieces in a single layer in the air fryer basket. They should not overlap each other for even cooking.

Leave some space for good air circulation. Watch the pic below for visual clarity.

Place the Frozen Chicken in the Air Fryer Basket

Set the Temperature and Time Duration 

I set the temperature to 350°F (180°C) for four minutes. You can set the temperature to the default temperature of your air fryer for four minutes. 

If your air fryer has a preset program for defrosting, select the function and follow the manufacturing instructions from the booklet.

Here is the pic of my defrosted chicken in the air fryer.

Chicken defrosted in air fryer

What to Do After Defrosting the Chicken 

After defrosting the chicken in the air fryer, check for evenness. There should be no are no icy patches or cold spots remaining in the chicken. 

If there are, defrost for additional time until the pieces are completely thawed.

You should cook the chicken immediately after defrosting it in the air fryer. If you do not want to cook it immediately, store it in the refrigerator and cook it within a few hours. 

I wouldn’t recommend storing the defrosting chicken in the refrigerator for more than a day. It is best to be careful about raw chicken and the high risk of food-borne illnesses.

You also need to clean the air fryer basket that was in contact with the raw chicken to prevent cross-contamination. Use hot, soapy water to clean the basket thoroughly.

The next step would be to marinate the chicken or season it with spices and herbs. If you want to marinate, follow these steps:

  • Place your chicken in a resealable plastic bag or container.
  • Pour your chosen marinade over the chicken, coating all pieces evenly.
  • Seal the bag or container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to infuse.

If you wish to season your chicken, you can immediately cook it in the air fryer after following the steps below:

  • Dry the chicken with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  • Sprinkle herbs, spices, or seasoning blends.
  • Rub the seasonings evenly into the meat for an even flavor distribution.

With your chicken prepared, it’s now ready to be cooked in your air fryer.

Also read: Can You Freeze Olives?

Defrosting Chicken in the Air Fryer Vs. Microwave 

Defrosting chicken in an air fryer is a new method compared to defrosting in the microwave.

While you can defrost chicken in both, I would recommend you skip the microwave and defrost in the air fryer.

Let me tell you about the differences so you can figure out why the air fryer is the better option.

In an air fryer, the temperature is set to default or preset settings.

The time duration is 4-5 minutes after preheating the air fryer for five minutes. Microwaves use their built-in defrost setting to thaw the chicken, and it takes more time. 

The air fryer gives a uniform defrost result without the risk of partially cooked chicken.

Microwaves may cause uneven thawing, leading to partially cooked chicken.

The hot air flow is constant in an air fryer, so the inside temperature of the chicken does not sit in the danger zone of 40° F – 140° F for a long time.

This eliminates the chances for bacteria to grow.

In the microwave, as the thawing is slow and uneven, there is a danger of the chicken staying in the danger zone.

The inner surface may remain iced while the outer surface thaws quickly or vice versa.

When it comes to appearance and texture, the air fryer has more fresh and juicy results. The chicken in the microwave turns whitish and brittle. 

Whichever method you select, it is important to make sure the chicken is thawed safely and evenly before cooking.

Here is a quick table summarising the difference between the two clearly: 

Characteristic feature Air fryer Microwave 
Temperature & TimeDefault or preset temperature settings. The preheating time is five minutes, and the defrosting time is 4-5 minutes.It uses a built-in defrost setting and takes more time.
Defrosting ResultEvenly defrosted chickenThe chicken may be partially defrosted
Bacteria GrowthEliminates the chances for bacterial growth.There is a high chance of the chicken staying in the danger zone as the thawing is slow and uneven.
Appearance & TextureThe chicken appears fresh and juicyThe chicken appears whitish and is brittle
Also read: Can an Air Fryer Replace a Microwave?

Note: A lot of new air fryer owners wonder if they can defrost chicken in ‘Cosori’ Air fryer or defrost chicken in ‘Ninja’ Air fryer. No matter what brand air fryer you have, you can use it as long as it is functional.

Other Traditional Methods of Defrosting

The Traditional methods of defrosting chicken include submerging the meat in cold water or using the refrigerator.

Let us have a look at them.

Refrigerator Defrosting

This involves placing the frozen chicken in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Refrigerator defrosting is a safe method that allows the chicken to thaw slowly, reducing the risk of bacterial growth.

It ensures that chicken is thawed evenly, without any hot or cold spots.

However, refrigerator defrosting can take several hours or overnight, making it a slow method compared to other methods.

 It also requires planning ahead of time, which may be a setback for busy individuals.

Cold Water Defrosting

Cold water defrosting involves placing the frozen chicken in a bowl of cold water for several hours. 

Cold water defrosting can take only a couple of hours, making it a fast method compared to refrigerator defrosting. The chicken is thawed evenly, without any hot or cold spots.

However, cold water defrosting can increase the risk of bacterial growth if the water is not changed every 30 minutes.

It can also be messy and requires a lot of attention to ensure the chicken is fully submerged.

Tips for Defrosting Chicken in the Air Fryer

To ensure that your chicken defrosts evenly and safely in the air fryer, follow these simple tips:

  • Always store raw chicken in a leak-proof container in the refrigerator to prevent juices from dripping onto other foods.
  • It is a good idea to cut larger pieces of chicken into smaller portions before freezing for defrosting evenly in the air fryer.
  • Remove any plastic covering or packaging from your frozen chicken before placing it in the air fryer.
  • Preheat your air fryer to a temperature of 350°F(180°C) for five minutes.
  • Place pieces that fit inside the air fryer while leaving some space for good air circulation 
  • Set the air fryer to the appropriate temperature and time duration for defrosting. 
  • Never refreeze thawed raw chicken. Cook it and then store cooked leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.

Two Common Mistakes to Avoid When Defrosting Chicken in the Air Fryer

Defrosting chicken in the air fryer is an easy method and does not require any special tools.

However, it is important to follow the correct method of defrosting the chicken in an air fryer.

Here are two common mistakes that mess up the defrosting process:

Not Removing the Plastic Wrap

This is the most common mistake when defrosting chicken in the air fryer.

The plastic wrap can melt and stick to the chicken, affecting the taste and texture. It can also release harmful chemicals that can be dangerous to health.

Always remove the plastic wrap before placing the chicken in the air fryer. If the plastic wrap is frozen, defrost it in the microwave for a few minutes.

You can also submerge in cold water in the sink for some time until the plastic wrap can be removed.

Overcrowding the Basket

Another mistake people make is overcrowding the air fryer basket. Overcrowding blocks the airflow and temperature distribution.

This leads to uneven cooking and longer cooking times.

Always place the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket, leaving some space between the pieces.

If you have a large amount of chicken to defrost, do it in batches.

Safety Precautions While Handling Raw Chicken

When working with raw chicken, follow safety precautions to prevent food poisoning and cross-contamination. 

One important safety measure is washing your hands for 20 seconds after handling raw chicken (as advised by the CDC).

Clean the air fryer basket and other cookware that was in contact with the raw chicken to prevent cross-contamination. Use hot, soapy water to clean.

If you choose to wash your chicken in the sink, clean the sink and surrounding area thoroughly with hot soapy water afterward. 


Defrosting chicken in an air fryer is a healthy and quick method compared to all other methods like microwaving or thawing in water.

It takes only about four minutes to defrost the chicken safely and evenly in the air fryer. Follow the steps above for excellent results.

Remember to remove the packaging, preheat the air fryer, and place the chicken pieces in a single layer for even thawing. Leave some gaps in the basket to allow hot air to circulate evenly.

Set the temperature to 350°F (180°C) and defrost for four minutes. Check for evenness. If needed, air fry for an additional 1-2 minutes until done.

Go through the tips mentioned above for a perfectly defrosted chicken. Also, go through the safety precautions while handling raw chicken to reduce any chances of cross-contamination.

Choosing to defrost chicken in an air fryer is a revolutionary approach offering speed, safety, and efficiency like no other. Do try it out to Up your cooking game. All the best!

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I’m Jueria and I am a regular contributor on In my articles, I share time-saving techniques, appliance wizardry, and health-friendly recipes to bring taste and wellness to your table. So raise a glass (or a spatula) with me, to good health and good food, made easy!