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Discover the Ultimate Secret to Perfect Frozen Fried Food!

My family knows that when the bag or box of frozen fried foods comes out of the freezer, something good is about to happen. That’s because I have become somewhat of an expert when it comes to cooking these foods. Thanks to a recent assignment where I cooked off multiple batches of French fries to find the best (and because I’ve lived long enough), I’ve discovered some tricks that work and I’ve stumbled upon some things that don’t. I’m happy to reveal my secrets to empower you to create crispy, fried foods straight from the freezer bag to the table. Because you deserve to have your family feel the same way as mine does about your frozen-fried-food cooking skills.

How to Cook Frozen Fried Food at Home

Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Tip 1: Read the Packaging

Not all foods are created equal. Especially when it comes to frozen, fried foods. That’s why I recommend reading the package directions before you start cooking. Pay attention specifically to the oven temperature, the recommendation for arranging the food on/in the pan/baking dish, and the cooking time.

Tip 2: Know Your Appliance

The package directions are where you start, but you also need to know and understand your appliance. Many ovens, for example, can run hot or cold. I suggest purchasing an oven thermometer so that you can confirm the temperature. Or, if you know your oven runs hot for example, consider knocking a few degrees off the recommended baking temperature to compensate.

Tip 3: Give Your Food Room

No matter what appliance you use to cook your frozen foods of any variety—from chicken wings and tenders to fries or fish sticks—you’ll need to make sure you’re providing ample space. If the food doesn’t have a bit of room around it, the moisture from cooking it will end up steaming everything instead. Moisture makes it impossible to get crispy results. Use the big pan and work in batches if things seem tight.

Tip 4: Set Your Timer

Life has a funny way of getting crazy right as you put something in the oven, air fryer, or pot. That’s why I always set a timer. Relying on my instincts is something I do often with cooking, but if I know something has a definitive start and end time, I always use a timer.

Tip 5: Toss or Flip

Many frozen, fried foods will benefit from a good stir or flip during cooking. That’s because each side benefits from some heat from the pan, but also a bit of air. Set your timer to go off at least once during the cooking time so that you don’t forget. As for the tool to use, I like long-handled tongs or a silicone hamburger-flipping spatula.

Tip 6: Use Visual Cues

You know what “golden brown” looks like. You also know what burnt and charred looks like. Use what you know about cooking to help yourself out when cooking fried foods. If your food looks pale, give it a toss or flip and keep cooking it. If you notice things are looking extra-crispy, or borderline burnt, then take them out. Visual cues will typically help you during cooking, so use them.

Tip 7: Preheat Your Pan When Using Your Oven

One way to save time is to preheat your pan in the oven. Why waste that precious preheating time when you can be efficient? Put your pan (with nothing on it) into the oven and preheat as directed. When the oven comes to temperature, remove the pan, cover it with foil or parchment, and add your food. This method will decrease your cook time slightly, so be sure to check on it sooner than package directions recommend.

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