Why You Shouldn't Thaw Frozen French Fries Before Air Frying

When you're hungry, especially for something as delicious and indulgent as french fries, the quicker you can get them hot and on a plate in front of you, the better. Some might even be tempted to thaw their frozen fries ahead of time to reduce their cooking time in the air fryer. As eager as you might be to start popping those spuds in your mouth, resist the urge to do so. Will thawing them reduce the cooking time? Yes — but it will also compromise the texture you love in your fries.

Perfect fries are crispy and hot on the outside, while soft and fluffy on the inside. Thawing your frozen fries before cooking will make them soggy, which is the antithesis of fluffy. Keeping the fries frozen creates a sort of seal, ensuring that the outside will become nice and crisp while protecting the inside from turning to mush.

Preheat your air fryer for the best results

An air fryer uses both radiation and convection power to heat food; in other words, it generates high heat and employs a fan to circulate that heat throughout the fryer chamber, thoroughly cooking whatever is inside. When the heat interacts with the moisture in frozen fries, steam is produced, making the interior of the potato light and soft. Meanwhile, the outsides of the fries are exposed to direct heat, causing them to become crispy and browned.

For perfect results, preheat your air fryer to the recommended cooking temperature for a few minutes. That way, when you add the frozen fries to the chamber, it's already hot. Halfway through the cooking process, flip the fries or give the chamber a good shake to ensure every fry has the opportunity to brown evenly. Thicker cuts like wedges, crinkle-cut, and steak fries will take longer to cook than regular or thin-cut fries. When in doubt, simply open the chamber and take a peek at the fries' color. Of course, air fryers are so popular these days that most frozen fry packages include specific air fryer instructions.

How to enjoy your perfectly crispy fries

French fries are the classic accompaniment to burgers — and to steak, if you're in France — but fries hot from the air fryer aren't limited to being just a side dish. Let your frozen french fries play a starring role by using them to create a delicious breakfast skillet topped with cheese, sausage, ham, bacon, and a sunny-side up egg. Alternatively, incorporate some fries into a breakfast burrito instead of hash browns or home fries.

For lunch, try a Pittsburgh-style salad, which starts with your favorite salad base — such as greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions — and is then topped with warm fries and creamy dressing.

Come dinner time, elevate your french fries by topping them with last night's leftover chili, pot roast and cheese, or shredded barbecue rib meat. For a twist on classic nachos, replace the tortilla chips with french fries. Your crispy, air-fried potatoes will add satisfying texture and a whole new flavor dimension to the traditional Mexican dish.