Can You Use Aluminum Foil in an Air Fryer? (Here’s How)

By Autumn Ellenson

Have you accidentally put aluminum foil in the microwave and turned it on? If so, you know it sent sparks flying and you flailing for the cancel button.

While that might feel festive on the 4th of July, it’s scary in the kitchen. It can ruin your microwave, and can cause a fire that threatens the safety of you and your family.

But what about using aluminum foil in an air fryer? Whether you are new to air frying, or a novice fryer, you might ask this question. You know, given the whole foil-in-microwave fiasco.

The simple answer is yes, you can use aluminum foil in an air fryer. But you shouldn’t stop you’re questioning there, because there is a right way and “better way” to do it. I’ll tell you how.

What Can You NOT Put in an Air Fryer?

wax paper and plastic wrap by air fryer

Aluminum foil, parchment paper, plastic wrap, and wax paper are powerhouses in the kitchen! However, only two of these products are safe to use in an air fryer: aluminum foil and parchment paper. Based on the following, you’ll likely prefer to use one more than the other…

Can You Put Plastic Wrap in an Air Fryer?

When it comes to cooking in a microwave, plastic wrap is a clear winner. However, you cannot put plastic wrap in an air fryer. If you use plastic wrap in an air fryer, it can melt into your food or damage your air fryer.

Can You Put Wax Paper in an Air Fryer?

No, you cannot put wax paper in your air fryer. Wax is heat sensitive and will not stay hardened when exposed to high heat. Once hot air starts circulating, the wax can melt and lodge in essential components of your air fryer kitchen appliance.

Wax paper is a wonderful tool in the kitchen when dealing with doughs and other food items that you don’t want to stick to surfaces. It has a great purpose for all types of kitchen jobs. But wax paper is essentially parchment paper with a thin layer of wax covering it.

The wax can cause your device to melt or, even worse, cause a kitchen fire. So, steer clear of using wax paper in your air fryer.

Can You Use Aluminum Foil in an Air Fryer?

foil and parchment paper with thumbs up on air fryer

Yes, you can use aluminum foil in an air fryer. It will not spark like it does in the microwave, nor cause damage to your air fryer. Aluminum foil is safe to use in your air fryer and can make cooking with your air fryer even easier.

However, aluminum foil is a reactive material. This means that it can react with certain foods, especially highly acidic food like tomatoes, vinegar, and citrus juice. It’s not toxic, but some say it leaves a slight metallic taste in the food.

So, if you’re air frying acidic food, like something with marina or spaghetti sauce, parchment paper is a better option. Just make sure you use it safely (as explained next).

Can You Use Parchment Paper in an Air Fryer?

You can use parchment paper in an air fryer because it is made with a heat-resistant silicone coating. So, it works well in the high-heat environment of the air fryer. But, be sure to weigh it down with food to keep it away from blowing into the heat element.

Remember, air fryers work by circulating hot air. So, when it’s blowing air around, it’s possible for loose parchment paper to blow into the heating element. Since it’s paper, it can catch fire.

That’s why it’s a good idea to NOT place parchment paper loosely into your air fryer. However, it’s perfectly safe to use parchment paper if you weigh it down with the food you’re cooking.

Just like when you’re baking your favorite recipes in a conventional oven, parchment paper means easy clean-up. It prevents foods from sticking to the air fryer components, so cleanup is a breeze or even unnecessary.

You can just pull out the parchment paper and toss it in the trash.

Are Air Fryer Liners Worth It?

air fryer liners

Yes, air fryer liners are worth it. When you compare prices, they’re almost equal (if using liner sheets). Liners with raised edges, however, are a bit more expensive. In that case (& every case), it’s well worth buying reusable air fryer liners with raised edges.

Air fryer liners are pre-cut paper liners that sit at the bottom of the air fryer to catch crumbs and adsorb grease. Some also have pre-cut holes that allow air to circulate better.

Air fryer liners are made from material similar to parchment paper. But, air fryer liners are considered better than parchment paper for two reasons…

One, they’re pre-cut to size. So, you just pull one out and pop it in. Two, some have pre-cut holes. These holes allow for a more even cook.

Cost of Air Fryer Liners vs. Parchment Paper

Air Fryer liner sheets with holes are about $0.04 each. That translates to about $0.086 per square foot. A roll of Reynold’s parchment paper is about $0.088. So, they’re basically the same price.

However, there are also air fryer liners with raised edges, so they help contain the food. These don’t usually have holes in them. They’re priced higher than perforated air fryer sheets at about $0.08 each instead of $0.04.

So, it really comes down to convenience when deciding if air liners are worth it. If you only use parchment paper for air frying, then yes, air fryer liners are worth it. It’s much easier to just grab one and pop it in.

Are Reusable Air Fryer Liners Worth It?

reusable symbol on air fryer

Yes! Reusable silicone air fryer liners are more eco-friendly and budget friendly in the long run. These come in reusable sheets with holes, reusable round liners, and reusable square liners. Unlike parchment paper and disposable liners, these are not flammable!

Silicone is also very easy to clean. The ones I linked to above are also dishwasher safe. If you use your air fryer often, they are well worth the cost. You can get a set between $10-$20.

So, I say the best way to line your air fryer is with a reusable liner.

Is It Safe to Use Foil With Salty or Acidic Foods?

The short answer is “Yes.” Research shows it does not cause any health effects in healthy adults. When using foil with salty or acidic foods, a harmless chemical reaction occurs. It can create small pinholes or cause discoloration to occur in the foil. This is harmless and will not affect the safety of the foods being eaten.

Aluminum foil is considered safe to use in food preparation. While it is not considered dangerous, it can cause a slight increase in aluminum content in your diet if you use foil. The amount, however, is deemed insignificant.

Is It Safe to Use Aluminum Foil in the Air Fryer?

safety check mark on aluminum foil and air fryer

As I touched upon above, it is absolutely safe to use aluminum foil in your air fryer. Research shows it does not cause any health effects in healthy adults. It’s a great tool to use in your air fryer because it will not melt or stick to a heating element. That also means easy cleanup!

Putting aluminum foil in the microwave is a different story. Unlike air fryers, microwaves use electric fields to cook food. A piece of metal (like aluminum foil) in the microwave while cooking can cause a spark that turns into a fire. The sparking and fire can damage your microwave, ruin your food and, worse, spread in your home.

Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against using foil in a microwave oven.

Why is Aluminum Foil OK in an Air Fryer but Not a Microwave?

Air fryers use hot air, not electric fields to cook food. An air fryer cooks your food a little differently than heating coils found in traditional ovens or a toaster oven. It is more closely related to a convection oven since it uses rapid air technology, or hot air flow circulation.

How does an air fryer work? The rapid air circulation cooks the food, making it crispy without added oil. You get the delicious crispness of fried food, like crispy french fries, without the added calories of deep frying in oil!

You place food in a traditional-looking fry basket and lower it into the machine. Then when you turn it on, hot air rapidly circulates the food to cook it.

Placing foil at the bottom of the air fryer or bottom of the basket is a great way to help keep it clean. You can also use tin foil to wrap food before placing it in the air fryer.

How to Use Aluminum Foil in Your Air Fryer

hands unrolling aluminum foil by air fryer

The best thing about this air fryer hack is that it will save you lots of clean-up time! All you need to do is line the bottom of your cooking basket with a sheet of aluminum foil before placing your food in the basket.

Make sure you mold the foil to fit snugly in the bottom of the air fryer basket and use the weight of the food to keep it securely in place. Otherwise, the vigorous air flow can cause the loose aluminum foil to fly around the appliance.

Only secure the foil inside the basket and not to the bottom of the air fryer, since that could disrupt the air fryer’s high heat flow and cause uneven cooking.

PRO TIP: For best results, use as little foil as possible, but still allow it to come up the sides of the basket just to the top of the food items. That way, it can catch a mess that falls from the food as it cooks.

Then air fry as you usually would, and voila!

Difference Between Air Fryer and Instant Pot

The main difference between an air fryer and an instant pot is how they cook food. Air fryers use hot air circulation for the cooking process. And instant pot uses pressure to cook food. Air fryers cook crispy, delicious food that feels deep fried without all of that excess oil.

What Air Fryer Model Should I Buy?

Some air fryers come with only a square or round cooking basket, while others are combination machines with things like toaster ovens. You can even find air fryers attached to outdoor cooktops (which is fun to take camping!).

There are many excellent models of air fryers on the market, including:

Ready to Air Fry?!

Air fryers are excellent kitchen appliances that can be super helpful in the kitchen. They can cook up delicious, crispy food without the unhealthy side effects of consuming too much oil.

They can also be a bear to clean. Using aluminum foil or parchment paper in the air fryer basket is a great way to use an air fryer with minimal clean up. Happy “frying”!

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