Have you been wondering about the viability of using aluminum foil in an air fryer – and with good reason. Aluminum foil (also known as tinfoil) can be a useful kitchen accessory for wrapping foods like potatoes prior to placing them in an oven or over a fire pit. It also works well as a cover for casseroles while baking and to prevent fish or meat from losing moisture during the cooking process. If you’re home chef who frequently relies on tinfoil for various cooking tasks, you’re probably wondering if you can put aluminum foil in an air fryer and just how effective it may or may not be.
Everybody knows that you cannot use aluminum foil in a microwave. That’s because the radiating heat generated in a microwave will cause any metal to spark, creating a hazardous situation. But air fryers work in a completely different way.
Table of Contents
- Check Your Owner’s Manual
- Use It the Correct Way
- How Not To Do It
- Keep Any Tinfoil to a Minimum
- Ensuring Proper Circulation of Heated Air
- How To Use Aluminum Foil in Easy Steps
- Why Would You Want To Use Aluminum Foil in an Air Fryer?
- When To Avoid Using Aluminum
- The Only Place Tinfoil Can Go
- Preheat Empty Only
- An Alternate Option
- Get To Know Your Air Fryer
- All Your Favorites
- Three Tips For Getting the Best Results using Aluminum Foil in your Air Fryer
A rule of thumb when cooking with air fryers is that anything suitable for a standard oven can also go in the air fryer. You’ve probably cooked with aluminum foil in your oven before and technically, you can do so in an air fryer as well. But before you jump right in, there are some preliminary steps.
Check Your Owner’s Manual
As a first step before using any product like aluminum foil in your air fryer, it’s a good idea to refer to your owner’s manual. If your air fryer shipped without a printed version, you can almost always find a manual in PDF format online.
Some manufacturers state that the use of aluminum foil may void the warranty. But in general – the simple answer is yes – you can use aluminum foil in an air fryer. But you need to do so in a proper and effective way to get the benefit of this added liner without causing any problems.
Use It the Correct Way
It is important to understand that with any air fryer – you need to allow for proper airflow inside. In essence, an air fryer is a compact convection oven. In that sense, it uses hot circulating air to cook whatever food is inside the basket at the time. This movement of heated air must be maintained in order for the air fryer to function as it is designed. This is fundamental to every air fryer out there since they all work in essentially the same manner.
As long as that airflow is not significantly impeded, you can go ahead and use tinfoil in your air fryer. Keep this in mind and it should be smooth sailing for you. Another key point to keep in mind is that any piece of aluminum foil you add to an air fryer can only be placed in the basket and nowhere else within the confines of the appliance.
How Not To Do It
Do not place foil under the basket at any time – however tempting it may be – to try to catch any dripping oil or grease. This could prevent the air fryer from operating properly by obstructing normal air flow leading to uneven cooking.
Keep Any Tinfoil to a Minimum
Avoid using an excessive amount of material. Whenever you choose to use aluminum foil in your air fryer, opt for the bare minimum that will get the job done. This means a single layer of foil positioned in the bottom of the basket. Since the foil is a solid piece of material, it acts as somewhat of a barrier. But if you don’t go up the sides of the basket and allow clearance all around the bottom, the air fryer should have adequate airflow to cook your food evenly and perfectly – exactly as it should.
If your layer of foil extends too far – the airflow is obstructed – and you’ll get uneven cooking. Some of the food will cook while other areas could remain cool or partially cooked.
Ensuring Proper Circulation of Heated Air
It’s important that all the holes on the basket or tray of your air fryer are not blocked. The more areas you can leave open and uncovered by aluminum foil – the more effectively the air fryer can operate by circulating plenty of heated air all around your food.
Not all air fryers are exactly the same and therefore it’s important to consider the design of your model before cooking with aluminum foil. Some are better suited to using a protective layer underneath than others. Reading through the manual will help you get familiar with what will likely become (if it isn’t already) – your favorite appliance.
How To Use Aluminum Foil in Easy Steps
The simplest way to use aluminum foil in an air fryer is to cut a small single piece of aluminum foil and lay it flat in the bottom of the basket. Do not allow the foil to go up the sides of the basket. That’s a definite no-no. Similarly, it’s important to not go right to the edge of the bottom but to allow a perimeter on the bottom surface to permit air to circulate.
If you cover the entire bottom the air can only get to the food on top of the foil from the other exposed areas and not from the bottom. Ideally, you want that air to be able to surround your food. In fact, for perfect crispy food like chicken wings, tofu, or cauliflower bites – you want to have air circulating around each piece of food as much as possible.
Why Would You Want To Use Aluminum Foil in an Air Fryer?
Well, there are at least a couple of reasons. One good reason is to help collect drippings that would otherwise land directly on the appliance. When sauces and marinades drip on a piece of tinfoil, you can simply toss it out at the end of the cooking process. But if those same drippings land on the bottom of the air fryer, you’ve got to clean it by hand – which can sometimes be a tedious process.
Another reason for using aluminum foil in the air fryer is to cook your dish within a sauce or marinade. This allows for maximum flavors to soak into your food – creating amazing dishes.
Tinfoil can help infuse maximum tastes like teriyaki or honey/garlic into your food. Yum!
Tinfoil is the best option to use in your air fryer when you want your food to cook in wet seasonings. If you’re cooking with a dry rub, aluminum foil probably isn’t needed.
Just remember to use any aluminum foil sparingly in your air fryer. Don’t overdo it or you’ll block that essential airflow. A little can go a long way. Although tinfoil may not prevent some sauces from dripping through, it will probably capture lots more than gets through.
The air fryer is a relatively new kitchen appliance and there is really not a lot of information about cooking with aluminum foil inside an air fryer. You should be cautious nevertheless and it may not be the best option in some circumstances. For example, you should avoid cooking with aluminum foil whenever you’re using acidic foods. That’s because those foods can react with the aluminum breaking it down and possibly leach aluminum into your food.
When To Avoid Using Aluminum
You can prevent this from happening for the most part by avoiding such acidic foods as:
Citrus fruits (like lemons and limes)
Sauces and marinades containing acids (lemon juice or vinegar)
Cheese or cheese sauces
Foods with high salt content
Keep in mind what your air fryer is designed to do and that is to cook certain foods perfectly to a crispy, golden brown – giving it a delicious crunchy coating and tender taste inside.
It’s important to understand that an air fryer it is equipped with a heating element, like a regular oven. But it also has a high-powered fan next to the element that propels hot air throughout the appliance to cook the food inside the basket. So with this powerful fan the heat generated is intense and more direct than in a conventional oven.
The Only Place Tinfoil Can Go
It’s crucial that tinfoil only be deployed inside the basket of your air fryer. Under no circumstances should you place foil under the basket as this will impair the air fryer’s functionality.
Another option is to wrap your food in tinfoil. Perhaps you’ve baked potatoes this way in a conventional oven. Fact is – you can do the same in an air fryer. When food is wrapped tightly with aluminum foil, air can flow freely around the food and cook it evenly and thoroughly.
Preheat Empty Only
With some air fryers, preheating is recommended. But with other models you don’t have to preheat the oven in order to begin cooking. You simply load your food in, turn the oven on and you’re good to go.
If you do decide to preheat your air fryer before cooking – be sure to do it with an empty basket – rather than one lined with any kind of paper liner like tinfoil. Without food sitting on top of the aluminum foil, it could easily blow around in the fryer, which means it could come in contact with the heating element and start a fire.
Rather than have the drippings of any sauce, dressing, or marinade fall to the bottom of the fryer, the foil underneath can capture most of it and as the food sits in those seasonings create more flavor.
When you cook on a stove top using aluminum cookware, you’ll notice how quickly your pans heat up. That’s because aluminum provides fast and even heat distribution and this quality transfers to aluminum foil as well. It also makes cleanup that much easier.
An Alternate Option
If simplifying cleanup is your primary objective, consider using parchment paper instead. It works well at protecting the air fryer basket from getting coated with sticky substances that would otherwise drip through – and food particles too. Parchment paper is completely safe to use since there’s no risk of anything getting into your food.
Get To Know Your Air Fryer
How effective aluminum foil will be for you depends on the style of your air fryer and the interior finish. Some basket and tray designs are better suited to be used with out anything added, while others can accommodate the addition of tinfoil more easily.
It’s important to get familiar with your air fryer by trying different foods and varying your approach. For example, if your cooked food lacks the crispy coating you’re looking for, consider how you cooked it. It may require cooking for a slightly longer period of time, or spraying a little more oil on the food at the halfway point.
Pull out the tray and basket from your air fryer and locate the heating coil. If it’s on the top of the air fryer (as is most often the case) you can certainly use aluminum foil in the bottom of the tray or basket as long as you do so the right way. But if your heating element happens to be on the bottom of your appliance, having foil on the bottom may act as a significant barrier to essential flowing warm air that is necessary to evenly cook your food.
All Your Favorites
Whatever foods you enjoy most are the foods you should try cooking in your air fryer. You may be astounded at how good things can taste. This might include: chicken fingers, pizza bites, onion rings, fries, tater tots – and crispy tofu too. Foil wrapped corn on the cob is a must-try. Any food wrapped in foil tends to retain its moisture and juiciness. It just doesn’t get any better.
If you want to add more vegetables to your diet, an air fryer can make an excellent addition to your kitchen. Try air fried broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, zucchini, peppers and squash. These firm veggies can easily handle the heat of an air fryer. And chances are – you’ll enjoy your air fried vegetables more than when prepared any other way.
Aluminum foil in your air fryer adds an extra degree of capability. When you can cook those foods with flavorful marinades – it can come out tasting even better.
Some say parchment paper is a better option to tinfoil. Both are easy to use. With parchment, you don’t have to worry about any reaction when using certain foods or ingredients. Parchment paper itself is non-reflective, so it won’t likely have much of an impact on cooking times.
Three Tips For Getting the Best Results using Aluminum Foil in your Air Fryer
- Spray a little oil on the aluminum foil. This helps make it nonstick. On your food, use as little oil as possible for best results.
- Always place your foil inside the basket on the bottom and do not cover the entire surface.
- Lay the food in the basket in a single layer. You’ll get the best results when food is well spaced and not overcrowded. This allows the air to get to more of the surface area, crisping up foods to give you that perfect taste every time.
The downside is that you might have to cook your food in multiple batches. But cooking with an air fryer is generally a faster way to go anyway – so it may not be a problem to cook several loads of one dish at a time.
Bonus Tip: It’s important to flip your food halfway through the cooking cycle (especially when you’re using aluminum foil) since all surfaces of the food are not exposed to the hot air inside.
A Safe Option… Usually
Air fryers produce exceptionally tasting foods that satisfy cravings. It gives you that wonderful crispiness on many foods. Air fryers save time and are more cost-effective to operate than traditional ovens.
Cooking with aluminum foil in an air fryer is safe (in most cases) as long – as you do so the right way. Just remember to never place foil at the bottom of the air fryer (below the basket).
Tinfoil really comes in handy when you’re cooking any kind of fatty food – like meats for example. When cooking these foods, you don’t need to add any oil. But grease from the fatty meat spews out and can really make a mess inside your air fryer. That’s where the value and usefulness of aluminum foil in an air fryer shines through.