Wondering if you can put aluminum foil in your air fryer and what to know when doing so? Here’s all you need to know to safely and effectively use an air fryer with foil.
Air fryers have gained so much popularity in the last several years. It’s easy to understand why—this appliance is a convenient and healthier way to make delicious foods like fries, roasted veggies, steak, bacon, and pizza.
With the increased use of air fryers and the creation of so many air fryer recipes comes more questions about using these machines properly. Many people have asked this question: Can you use foil in an air fryer?
Can you use aluminum foil in an air fryer?
The short answer is yes. You can put aluminum foil (also known as tin foil) in an air fryer. In fact, many air fryer recipes call for using foil, like hobo ground beef or salmon foil packets.
But there are many things to keep in mind when doing so. This article will discuss what you need to know when using aluminum foil in your air fryer. Plus, we’ll provide some tips for using this handy kitchen appliance safely and effectively while using foil.
So, read on whether you are just getting started with air frying or looking for ways to improve your results.
How does an air fryer work?
Before diving into using foil in air fryers, it’s important to understand what an air fryer is and how it works.
An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that cooks food by circulating hot air around it, making it crisp and delicious. The most common type of air fryer is a countertop model that includes a basket, heating element, and fan.
A popular air fryer model – the PowerXL 5qt Single Basket Air Fryer is shown below. As you can see, the top area houses the heating element with a fan, and the bottom portion is where the air fryer basket slides in.
Food is placed in a basket and the basket is inserted into the appliance. The air fryer circulates the hot air (at a high temperature) with a powerful fan around the food, cooking it evenly.
As we talk about using aluminum foil in an air fryer, the need for air circulation is essential.
Benefits of using aluminum foil in an air fryer
So why would you use foil in an air fryer? Here are a few of the top reasons:
- Easy clean up: perhaps the most popular reason to use foil in your air fryer is to make for easier clean up, catching drips, grease splatters, or food particles. Simply gather the foil and dispose of it, creating less to clean inside the air fryer basket.
- Shield food: foil can shield delicate items like fish and vegetables from direct heat. Keeping foods moist and flavorful.
- Better flavor: tin foil can create better flavor, allowing the food to cook in the juices and drippings.
- Use as a sling for easy removal: you can use a piece of foil as a sling to help easily remove food such as fish or baked goods like cookies that can be more delicate and fall apart.
How do you make an aluminum foil sling?
Tear off a piece of aluminum foil long enough to fit the diameter of the air fryer basket + several inches on each side, and then fold the foil in half the long way so it will fit in and across the air fryer basket. Place your food on top of the foil on the bottom of the basket. This will give you ‘foil handles’ to easily lift your food out of the air fryer.
Potential drawbacks of using foil in an air fryer
There are, however, things to be mindful of when using foil in your air fryer. Here are a few potential drawbacks to note:
- Foil can block airflow: when using foil in your air fryer, make sure you are not blocking airflow. It’s designed to cook with hot air flowing up and around your food. If the foil blocks the air from circulating, your food will not cook as intended.
- Foods will be less crispy: be aware that your food will be less crispy if you cover it with foil. This appliance is an alternative to the deep fryer and the hot air circulation is meant to crisp foods similar to frying. Foil can prevent this from happening, especially if the foil completely surrounds the food you are cooking.
Can aluminum foil catch fire?
At cooking temperatures (max of 500 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit), aluminum foil will not catch fire, but it may get discolored, leading you to believe it has. And for your information, if it’s exposed to high enough temperatures, it can catch fire at an ignition point of 1220 degrees Fahrenheit.
Certain circumstances will cause the foil to spark and start a fire, such as using it in the microwave. Read more from Firefighters Insider here.
Dos and Don’ts of Using Foil in an Air Fryer
Here are important dos and don’ts to remember when using aluminum foil in the air fryer.
Check your air fryer manual first
First and foremost, when you have questions about your air fryer, you should always reference the appliance manual for safety information and guidelines first. Instructions may be different if you have a PowerXL Air Fryer vs. a Ninja, for example. If you can’t find your manual, simply google the brand + model + ‘manual’ and you should find it online easily.
Make sure air can circulate properly
Be sure not to cover the basket or tray entirely with foil. The air needs room to circulate the food so the unit can work as designed. It’s tempting to place foil covering the interior to catch any and all drippings and mess, but this can make the unit less effective and lead to uneven cooking or damage.
Use materials suitable for an oven
As a general rule, materials suitable for an oven are also materials you can use in an air fryer. Keep in mind how an air fryer works and avoid blocking the hot airflow.
Material safe for the oven and air fryer:
- Aluminum foil
- Parchment paper (with or without holes)
- Cupcake liners
- Silicone molds
- Oven safe dishes—glass, ceramic, metal, cast iron
- Ramekins or small cake pans
Don’t use materials that aren’t oven safe
Avoid using any materials or dishes in air fryers that are unsafe for a standard oven, because of flammability or melting points.
Materials not safe for the oven and air fryer:
- Paper towels or other paper products
- Wax paper
- Dishes not designed for oven use or high temperatures
Don’t block airflow
Note the particular brand and model of air fryer you have and where the critical components are. Where is the heating element? And where does the air need to flow for heat distribution? The airflow needs to flow up and around the basket to cook evenly. Be sure not to block important areas of your air fryer when using tin foil.
Don’t cover the entire basket
This goes along with not blocking airflow. Make sure you cover only the bottom of the basket with foil and don’t block holes needed for hot air to circulate around your food and cook properly.
Don’t use foil by itself
Important! Make sure your food is weighing down the aluminum foil. You don’t want the foil to blow around in the air fryer and get sucked into the heating unit, as this may cause damage to the appliance, or worse, become a safety hazard.
Don’t use acidic foods (or at least be aware)
Acidic foods, like tomatoes and lemons, can cause a chemical reaction with aluminum foil which can cause the metal to leach into the foods you’re cooking.
While aluminum is a common metal naturally occurring in many foods, and ingesting a small amount daily is considered safe, high levels of aluminum have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. It’s an important factor to make a note of when using aluminum foil while cooking. As we are not medical professionals and this finding is not fully proven, we recommend consulting your doctor for specific information regarding your health and levels of aluminum.
Frequently Asked Questions
So what exactly can and can’t you use in an air fryer? Here are answers to common questions about what materials are ok to use while cooking with air fryers.
Can you use parchment paper in an air fryer?
Yes, you can absolutely use parchment paper in an air fryer. Parchment paper is a great way to prevent sticking and make cleanup a breeze. Parchment paper is specially treated to withstand high heat and prevent sticking. It’s safe to use up to 420 degrees Fahrenheit and perfect for cooking delicate foods like fish and shrimp, as it prevents them from sticking to the basket and falling through the cracks. Simply remove the parchment paper and dispose of it when you’re finished.
Now, you can also find perforated parchment paper made specifically for air fryers to help with air circulation. Look for parchment with holes to fit your brand and model of the air fryer.
Are toothpicks safe in an air fryer?
Cooks often wonder if it’s safe to use toothpicks in an air fryer. Toothpicks can be used in an air fryer to help to secure foods and hold them down. Just be sure to keep them away from the heating element. And make sure that the toothpicks you are using are made of wood, as some are made of other materials that can be unsafe in an air fryer.
A quick reminder: the golden rule is to always consult the manual for your specific air fryer unit by brand and model first with questions you may have about how to operate it and what is safe to use in it.
Can I use paper towels in an air fryer?
Paper towels should not be used in an air fryer for several reasons. First, paper towels are not heat resistant and can catch fire if they come into contact with the heating element. Additionally, paper towels can absorb grease and oil from the food, causing them to catch fire more easily. So, while paper towels may be convenient for cleaning up spills in and around the air fryer, they are not suitable for use in the air fryer during the cooking process.
Can I use wax paper in an air fryer?
Wax paper is not designed to withstand the high temperatures of an air fryer. When wax paper is exposed to heat, it can melt and transfer to your food. In addition, wax paper is not as durable as other types of cooking paper, so it is more likely to tear or disintegrate when exposed to the hot air of an air fryer. For these reasons, wax paper should not be used in an air fryer. If you need to line an air fryer pan, use parchment paper or aluminum foil instead.
So is aluminum foil ok to use in the air fryer? Yes, it’s a material that is safe to use, and remember that materials safe for the oven are usually safe in the air fryer as well. Just be sure to leave plenty of room for air circulation, and don’t forget that the foods may not come out as crispy as they would without the foil.
Have you tried cooking with aluminum foil in your air fryer? What are some of your favorite recipes?
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