Air fryers have grown in popularity over the past few years because of their convenience and amazing ability to produce crispy food without grease or fat. Air fryers are great for cooking proteins, vegetables, and everything in between.
A common question that arises is whether aluminum foil can be used while cooking in an air fryer. The short answer is yes, aluminum foil can go in an air fryer, but some basic tips are necessary to ensure safety and proper heat distribution.
I often use foil with my air fryer recipes and have had no issues.
What Is An Air Fryer?
An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that works by circulating hot air around the food, similar to an oven. This convection style cooking ensures even heat distribution and crispy food that remains moist on the inside.
Air fryers are a healthy alternative to deep fryers because instead of using oil as the cooking medium, they use air. They are becoming increasingly popular among home cooks and are a staple on most kitchen countertops.
There are two types of air fryers: oven style and basket style. Both cook in the same manner but serve different purposes.
The basket model air fryer has a heating element on the bottom and tends to cook food faster. The oven model air fryer has a heating element on the top and works similarly to a traditional oven.
Air fryers are safer to use than deep fryers because there is no hot grease to contend with. The lack of grease also makes air fryers a healthier way to enjoy crisp, fried foods without additional fat or cholesterol.
What Is Aluminum Foil?
Aluminum foil, often called the tin foil, is a lightweight metal that has been pressed thin that is often used for wrapping, cooking, or covering food. The metal coating is great insulation for food and, when used in an air fryer, produces crispy food that stays moist on the inside.
Aluminum foil works in many capacities in the kitchen. You can steam vegetables by wrapping them in foil, wrap russet potatoes for delicious baked potatoes, and you can line pans with foil to catch any messy drippings, release sticky foods, and for no-fuss clean up.
Using Aluminum Foil In An Air Fryer
Aluminum foil can be safely used in an air fryer if a few precautions are taken. Not only is foil safe to use, but it will also make the cooking process and cleaning more efficient.
There are more advantages than disadvantages to using foil while air frying, and it is my go-to liner anytime I air fry chicken wings.
There are generally two ways to use aluminum foil in an air fryer: directly on the tray or by wrapping the food with foil before frying.
If you are wrapping the food, keep in mind that if you completely cover it in foil, it will produce a steaming effect. If you want crispness, leave the top open to allow steam to escape.
- Easier clean up: One of the main advantages to using aluminum foil is that there is virtually no cleanup after air frying sticky foods. Simply lift the foil from the tray and throw it away.
- Catches drippings: Wrapping the bottom tray in aluminum foil allows the foil to catch food drippings instead of the tray, which can be difficult to clean.
- Retains flavor: Wrapping food in aluminum foil ensures that no flavor is lost because the juices and seasonings are locked into the food by the foil.
- Aluminum foil can be a fire hazard:Improper use of aluminum foil in an air fryer can potentially cause a fire if loose aluminum foil gets caught in the heating element (see safety considerations below).
- Thinner-grade aluminum foil can tear:Make sure you use quality aluminum foil before frying to prevent ripping and tearing, resulting in it falling into your food.
- Acidic foods react to metal: Avoid cooking acidic foods like tomatoes because they can have a chemical reaction to the aluminum foil which causes the metal to leach into the food, causing off-flavors and potentially making people sick.
Air Fryer Safety
The first thing you should consider is how an air fryer works. Air fryers use convection heating to fry foods, similar to most home ovens. A heating element circulates hot air around the food to produce even heating and crispy results.
Because hot air needs to circulate around food, there are perforated holes in the bottom tray to allow proper air flow. So, if you cover these up with aluminum foil, hot air cannot circulate properly and can either cause a fire or damage your air fryer.
If you are wrapping the tray in tin foil, perforate the foil with a skewer to align with the holes in the tray.
The air circulating around an air fryer can tear aluminum foil loose and cause it to lodge in the heating elements, especially if they are at the top of the air fryer.
In order to prevent this, the foil needs to be weighed down. This can be done by the food itself, but the foil cannot be placed in the air fryer during preheating.
A great tip is to use a pie weight on top of the aluminum foil. Pie weights are small metal or ceramic balls that are used in prebaking a pie crust to prevent it from rising too soon.
Pie weights work well in an air fryer because of their compact size and can be placed in the corners of the tray to prevent the foil from ripping and going into the heating element while leaving plenty of room for the food.
- Read the manufacturer's recommendations first before using aluminum foil. Though it is rare, there are some brands who advise against using foil in their particular air fryer.
- Only use aluminum foil in the air fryer basket or wrapped around food. Do not wrap the sides of the air fryer with foil.
- Do not spread the aluminum foil to the basket's edge because this prevents air flow in and around the air fryer basket.
How To Use Aluminum Foil in an Air Fryer
First, decide if you want to wrap the food or the air fryer basket or tray. If you're wrapping the food, make sure you don't cover the entire area, or you will miss out on the crispiness that an air fryer produces.
Make sure you are using quality aluminum foil to prevent tearing. Aluminum foil is relatively inexpensive and the quality foil doesn't cost much more than the cheaper variations. Always tear off more than you need and trim the edges to ensure that the entire area is covered.
If you are wrapping the tray or the fryer basket, preheat the air fryer without the aluminum foil, unless you are using a pie weight. If you are wrapping a basket, poke small holes in the foil after it is wrapped to ensure proper air flow and to prevent uneven cooking.
Once the food is cooked, let the air fryer cool, and then remove the aluminum foil and throw it away.
Different Ways To Use Aluminum Foil
There are other unique ways to use foil to enhance your cooking in an air fryer. What if you want to cook a delicate protein like salmon, but don't want to wrap it because of the steam effect? An aluminum sling is your answer.
An aluminum sling is a great trick to add to your culinary toolbox. Take a rectangular-shaped piece of aluminum foil and fold the long side edges over and place it in the air fryer with the sides coming up the sides like in the photo below.
Place your food on the center of the sling and, once it's cooked, use the two side pieces like a handle to remove your protein from the air fryer basket.
Another great trick is to ball up the aluminum foil and place the foil under your food to bring it closer to the heating element. This produces a brown and toasty top on proteins or vegetables.
There is a heated debate in the culinary world concerning the health factors of cooking with aluminum foil.
Some contend that cooking with aluminum foil can be toxic. This has never been proven but trace amounts of aluminum can be ingested if aluminum foil is used too much.
To limit this potential hazard, avoid overusing aluminum foil. Only use it occasionally for sticky foods or potatoes. If you're concerned about toxicity levels, there are alternatives to using foil in an air fryer.
Parchment paper is the most common alternative air fryer liner. Parchment paper is a food-safe coated paper used for baking. It has a heat-safe and heat-resistant coating that prevents food from sticking to the pan during cooking.
There are pre-made parchment sheets for air fryers that come with perforated holes for air circulation. These liners produce a crisp and juicy final product with little to no cleanup. Check your user guide to see which style best fits your air fryer unit.
The downside to parchment paper is that it is lightweight and if a piece of it tears off and lodges in the heating elements, it can catch fire. If you choose to use this alternative, make sure it is held down by a weight.
Parchment Paper vs Wax Paper
Parchment paper is often confused with wax paper. Although both hold a significant value in the kitchen, they are used for different purposes. When heat is not involved, they can be used interchangeably. You cannot use wax paper with any heat source because the wax will melt.
Foil liners come in packs of 50 and are relatively inexpensive. They keep your air fryer clean by isolating food juices and seasonings in the bottom of the liner.
When you're done cooking, simply remove the liner and dispose of. They are designed to allow air flow around the sides to ensure there is proper air circulation for convection heating.
Using Aluminum Foil In An Air Fryer
Aluminum foil can be used in an air fryer if a couple of precautionary measures are taken. There are many benefits including better flavor, even heating, and easy cleanup. As long as the foil is perforated and does not block the heating elements, you will have great results.
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