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Frozen Fries in Air Fryer: How to Get Crispy Golden French Fries from Frozen

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Frozen Fries in Air Fryer. The very best way to cook 5 types of frozen fries in your air fryer, for perfectly crispy, golden fries every time.

Here’s the deal. I’m a french fry fanatic.

I know this isn’t unique. A better line of investigation is who isn’t a french fry fanatic? It’s a legitimate question.

But I really do love fries.

My favorite fries come from a little pub in Taiwan called The Lighthouse – the pub I met my husband at way back in the mid-naughts.

The Lighthouse is owned by a Canadian guy and his Taiwanese wife. And it serves a mix of his mom’s Canadian recipes and her family’s Taiwanese ones.

The trick to the gloriousness that are Lighthouse fries is double cooking. We became friends with the owners, and he explained to us one day that the fries are double cooked in bubbling hot oil, leaving them soft on the inside and perfectly brown and crispy on the outside.

Don’t get me wrong. I find this perfectly acceptable and all good for a once in a while pub grub treat. But double dipped in piping hot oil doesn’t exactly make them heart healthy for a more regular thing, you know?

And while I love making homemade fries sometimes, I also have to be upfront about the reality of my life, which is … busy.

Sometimes (oftentimes) 5 o’clock hits, we’ve picked up our daughter from childcare, and we still have no idea what to make for dinner, and no energy to wander the supermarket for inspiration.

On days like these, my go to is picking up a cooked rotisserie chicken from the deli section of the supermarket, and pairing it with a quick caesar salad and frozen french fries. Or pairing air fryer chicken tenders with fries!

It’s one of my favorite quick weeknight dinners that also feels like a treat. It’s so good!

Pinterest pin with collage showing 6 different styles of french fries. Text on pin says Perfect Air Fryer French Fries. How to Cook Frozen Fries in Air Fryer.

The Problem with Frozen French Fries

In the Before Times (before air fryers became a thing), I’d do what any normal person did back then, spreading frozen fries on a baking sheet and letting them bake for however long I had until I got too hungry to wait any longer.

Every once in a while, a unicorn would appear: perfectly golden fries that were tender on the inside and somehow required a cook time I could live with at the moment.

But more often than not, there were problems.

Generally speaking, I find the cook time is too darn long when baking frozen fries.

Also the results are spotty.

I’m a fan of slightly browner and slightly crispier fries, and baking them in the oven always meant a fine balance between being too squishy and too crispy.

And then, of course, there was the “stuck to the pan” factor.

In my experience, unless you use enough oil to keep them loose, they’d stick to the baking sheet, and you’d have to really work to get the fries loose, and then clean them. This is both annoying (scrubbing the pan) and unhealthy (cooking frozen fries in more oil).

Air Fryer Frozen French Fries Are the Best Frozen French Fries

Waffle fries stacked in a tower formation

Recently, I figured I’d try to air fryer frozen french fries. It’s no secret I’ve recently gotten pretty into my air fryer (see: my frozen burrito in air fryer and frozen pot pie in air fryer).

Air fryer frozen french fry experimentation seemed like the next logical step.

But because I didn’t want to do anything half-heartedly, I decided I’d try to figure out how to do all the french fries in air fryer.

I’m talking about cooking frozen french fries in every form I could think of, air fried style.

5 types of frozen french fries cooked in air fryer. Steak fries, crinkle cut, curly, straight cut and waffle fries after being air fried

Yup – I tested out cooking frozen curly fries in the air fryer, frozen steak fries in the air fryer, frozen waffle fries in an air fryer, frozen straight cut fries in an air fryer, and frozen crinkle cut fries in air fryer.

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

How to Cook French Fries in an Air Fryer

Don’t Let Your Fries Thaw

Keep your french fries frozen and in the freezer until you’re ready to throw them in the oven. If you let them thaw, even just a little, there’s a greater chance of ending up with mushy fries.

Get Your Pre Heat On

One of the best tips to getting perfectly golden air fried french fries is to pre-heat your air fryer.

Most air fryers state they don’t require preheating, but in my experience you get far better results when you take the time to preheat. I use both a traditional air fryer (the fries pictured were cooked in a COSORI Air Fryer) and a convection toaster oven with air fry mode (I currently have the Breville, and have also used the Cuisinart. If you need a bigger one, there are plenty of large air fryers that work great).

In my experience with all three, you get better results if you let them pre-heat for 3 or 4 minutes. In this case, that means your air fryer frozen fries will come out evenly golden and crispy on the outside, and evenly heated on the inside.

If you have a digital air fryer, pre-heating is fairly easy. Turn it on and wait until the screen tells you you’ve reached your desired temperature. With a manual air fryer, I recommend pre-heating for 3 to 4 minutes.

Use a Bit of Oil

Of course, one of the allures when you decide to cook frozen french fries in an air fryer basket vs a deep fryer basket is the fact that the air fryer is healthier.

However, you’ll still need a bit of oil. We have a stainless steel oil mister that we fill up with pure cooking oil, and just spritz a bit on the basket. The EVO Oil Sprayer is really popular for this purpose.

If you don’t have an oil sprayer, you can use a bit of paper towel to lightly “grease” the air fryer basket with a bit of pure cooking oil.

Never use a cooking spray or oil that isn’t 100% pure cooking oil on your air fryer, as it could damage the basket (soy lecithin, in particular, is to be avoided).

Don’t Crowd Your Fries

One of the tricks to getting even crispiness is ensuring each fry has enough air flow around it. To accomplish this, you need to make sure you don’t crowd the fries too much. While a bit of overlap is fine, what you don’t want to do is overstuff your air fryer. If you’re cooking for a larger group, make them in batches.

Frozen crinkle cut fries in air fryer basket before cooking

Get Agitated Midway Through

About half way through the recommended cooking time, flip, turn and agitate the french fries in air frying basket, before returning them to the air fryer to complete the recommend cook time. This will help them brown evenly across the surface.

If you plan to salt your fries, this is a good time to do it!

One good trick is to very lightly spray them with cooking oil, and then sprinkle a really high end salt on them (although plain old supermarket kosher salt works, too!). The spray will help the salt stick on. If you don’t salt your fries mid-way through, do it right when they come out of the air fryer, and are piping hot.

Toward the end of the cook time, keep your eyes on the fries so they don’t get overdone. Everyone’s air fryer is different, unfortunately. And while I’ve shared what works with my air fryer here, yours might need a little less or a little more air fried goodness!

Cook Time for Different Types of Frozen Fries in Air Fryer

5 plates containing 5 different types of frozen fries after being cooked in an air fryer.

Frozen Curly Fries in Air Fryer

Preheat your air fryer to 400F. Add frozen curly fries, straight from the freezer, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, flipping/shaking half way through.

A woman's hand holds up a frozen curly fry cooked in air fryer with a plate of curly fries in the background
Cooked curly fries on a plate
A plate of curly fries

Frozen Steak Fries in Air Fryer

Preheat your air fryer to 350F. Add frozen steak fries, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping/shaking half way through.

I think steak fries are especially good Belgian/Dutch style. So serve ’em up with some mayo or chipotle mayo and pretend you’re on a Euro vacation!

A paper plate piled with steak cut fries
A woman's hand holding a steak cut fry in the foreground with a plate of the fries in the background
A plate of steak cut fries with chipotle  mayo

Frozen Waffle Fries in Air Fryer

Preheat your air fryer to 400F. Add frozen waffle fries, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, flipping/shaking half way through.

Waffle fries make a great base for loaded potato nachos. They’re really great for any kind of loaded fry, because they are able to hold a lot of toppings.

A close up of golden and crispy waffle fries piled on a plate
A woman's hand holds a waffle fry up close
A plate of perfectly cooked waffle fries

Frozen Straight Cut Fries in Air Fryer

Preheat your air fryer to 350F. Add frozen fries to air fryer basket, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping/shaking half way through.

Straight cut fries are always a classic. I love to eat them as is, salted, and loaded up as Greek Feta Fries!

A plate of cooked french fries
A woman's hand holds a french fry up with a plate of fries in the background
A plate of french fries and small dish of chipotle mayo

Frozen Crinkle Cut Fries in Air Fryer

Preheat your air fryer to 350F. Add frozen fries to air fryer basket, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping/shaking half way through.

A close up of crinkle cut fries on a plate
A crinkle cut fry dipped in ketchup, held up to the camera with a plate of fries in the background
A plate of crinkle cut fries and a small dish of ketchup

What About Frozen Shoe String Fries in Air Fryer?

(Yes, I did forget to do frozen shoe string fries in the air fryer. I’ll try to update this next time I cook frozen french fries.)

How Can You Make Frozen French Fries Better?

These days, I am all about making small, affordable life upgrades so things feel a bit more fun and luxurious.

These days, we are spending so much time at home. Sometimes I want to feel like I’m in a greasy spoon, chowing down on a burger, fries, and a beer.

Or pretend I’m back in Greece eating Greek feta fries with friends on vacation.

Or in Old Montreal eating poutine.

Which brings me to the final step of my perfectly crispy air fryer frozen fries: Jazzing up your fries.

  • The Greasy Spoon Upgrade. Get some cheap red plastic burger and fry baskets and red and white checked paper liners. I saw this hack on Twitter, and I’m in love with it. You can pretend you’re in a roadside diner somewhere, not at home!
  • The Vacation Upgrade. Top your fries with herbs, cheese, veggies, and meat in a fit of international inspiration. I’m talking Greek Feta Fries, Belgian-style Frites and Mayonnaise, Kenyan Masala Chips…let your imagination run wild, friends!
  • Cheesy Fries Are Always a Good Idea. Pile high with cheddar and chives, gruyere and bacon, or whatever combo you can think of. Cheese seems to always make fries tase even better!
Loaded greek feta fries with feta, tzatziki, parsley, red onion and tomato

Sauce and Topping Ideas

  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Vinegar
  • Hot Sauce
  • Truffle Oil
  • Gourmet Salt
  • Fresh herbs, such as oregano, rosemary, parsley, or chives

Final Thoughts About My Perfect Air Fryer French Fries

Wondering why air fryer frozen French fries are so good?

It really comes down to getting the perfect balance of goodness! Crispy and golden on the outside, soft and piping hot on the inside. Definitely not the healthiest, but healthier when air fried than some alternative methods!

I hope this how to helps you make crispy, fast, and healthier frozen french fries at home!

If you know a french fry fanatic, please share this post with them!

Yield: 1

Perfect Frozen Fries in Air Fryer

5 plates containing 5 different types of frozen fries after being cooked in an air fryer.

How to Get Perfect Frozen Fries in your Air Fryer. The very best way to cook 5 types of frozen fries in your air fryer, for perfectly crispy, golden fries every time. This recipe frozen curly fries in the air fryer, frozen steak fries in the air fryer, frozen waffle fries in an air fryer, frozen straight cut fries in an air fryer, and frozen crinkle cut fries in air fryer.

Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of frozen french fries, any style or cut
  • Pure cooking oil in a spray bottle

Instructions

  1. Preheat air fryer according to the cook time and temperature guide below.
  2. Lightly spray air fryer basket with pure cooking oil.
  3. Cook frozen french fries in air fryer basket for half the suggested time, and then stir/flip/shake. If you want, you can salt the fries at this point. Simply spray them with a light mist of pure cooking oil and then sprinkle the salt onto the piping hot fries before continuing to cook for the remaining time,
  4. Check fries 1 to 2 minutes before the end of the set cooking time, and adjust as necessary.

Cook Time for Different Types of Frozen Fries in Air Fryer

Curly Fries: 400F for 10 to 12 minutes

Steak Fries: 350F for 12 to 15 minutes

Waffle Fries: 400F for 10 to 12 minutes

Straight Cut Fries: 350F for 12 to 15 minutes

Crinkle Cut Fries: 350F for 12 to 15 minutes

Notes

My Tips for Air Fryer Frozen French Fries

  • Adjust cooking time depending on how crisy or brwon you prefer your fries, or what style of frozen french fry you're using. Shoestring fries will take less time than thick cut, of course!
  • Be sure to agitate your fries about half way through. Many dedicated air fryers rotate, and you can do it that way. My air fryer is a flat basket style, so I need to toss the fries well about halfway through cooking. While doing so, make sure anything that's on the bottom is flipped up onto the top
  • Don't overcrowd your air fryer. The whole thing about air frying is it uses hot air - so you need to give the fries room around them for the air to circulate. Better to cook in batches than to overfill.

An aerial image of a golden brown pot pie sitting on a white dinner plate with a bite out of it. A woman's hand is holding a spoon filled with the pot pie contents over the cooked pie below.
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