Should You Put Aluminum Foil In Your Air Fryer?

Air fryers are the new kids on the block when it comes to preparing your foods quickly and healthily.

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They have quickly grown in popularity, using half as much of the oil that a normal frying pan would, and half as much electricity as a full cooker does.

The kitchen appliance is also incredibly versatile, perfect for cooking a whole range of meats, vegetables and other foods.

But one question that a lot of users of this device have found themselves scratching their heads over: can you actually put aluminum foil in an air fryer?

The short answer is yes, but there are many things that you need to consider before doing so. There are a few risks that you need to be aware of before embarking upon this endeavor.

You can air fry a baked potato in aluminum foil. An air fryer baked potato is quite good. There are several great air fryer recipes that I'll share shorty including onion rings, bacon, french fries, and chicken wings.

You’ll have to consider the acidity of this food, as well as whether or not there’ll need to be holes poked in your foil beforehand.

But don’t worry air-fryer freaks, we’ve got an article that covers everything that you need to know about putting tin foil in your air-fryer.

We’ll discuss whether or not you should put foil in your air fryer in the first place, how to do it correctly and a step-by-step guide that will help outline the risks and keep you safe from burning.

The Air Fryer - How Does It Work?

Understanding how an air fryer works is the first step in knowing how to use it with aluminum foil. This will make our reasoning a lot easier to understand as the article goes on.

Air fryers simply work by allowing hot air to circulate in the main body of the machine. The food is cooked using a process called convection, which often results in very thorough heating throughout the whole process. Essentially you’re encouraging the food to cook in its own juice.

Most air fryers have heating coils and fans on the inside to maintain the temperature and stop everything inside from overheating. In this way, it operates very much like a scaled-down oven or griller. You’ll often find your heating coils stored in the inside ‘roof’ of your oven, above the top shelf.

An air fryer is designed to simplify the process of cooking, giving you more heat distributed a lot more evenly throughout the body of your fryer. This is a halfway house between an air fryer and a regular convection oven. A lot of these fryers come with a basket that you can place your food in.

One of the main downsides of having an air fryer is the fact that a lot of crumbs, vegetable shards, juices and other food detritus will gather in the bottom of your air fryer, causing a lot of mess which might later affect the functionality of your air fryer.

Aside from this, an air fryer is a very useful asset to have in your kitchen, especially if you have a smaller cooking surface and need to save on space.

Should You Put Foil In An Air Fryer?

Before asking yourself if you should use foil in an air fryer, you might want to start by asking the question about why you’d want to put foil in an air fryer. One of the reasons that you might want to do this has already been mentioned above: the mess.

For example, if you are air frying fish in breadcrumbs, then the chances are a lot of these crumbs will collect at the bottom of your device as you cook.

However, wrapping it in tin foil will be a great way of reducing this mess. You can also reduce the amount of fat that might run off certain meats, which could burn every time you use your fryer.

Another reason to use foil would be the increased heat retention. Now, the air fryer already circulates heat very well, but if you are in a hurry adding a layer of tin foil will speed the cooking up drastically.

Using foil will optimize the flavor of your food also, promoting better heat distribution and keeping your food cooking in its own natural oils or juices. This will save you having to add any additional oils that would increase the overall calorie count of your final meal.

So if you want to enjoy a healthy meal that is high on flavor but not high on calories, combining an air fryer with a sheet of aluminum foil is probably the best way to go about it.

How To Use Foil In Your Air Fryer Safely

Now we’re going to look at a step-by-step method of cooking your food with an air fryer and foil. This method will give you the best flavors and cooking time and will also, most importantly, keep you safe.

The last thing you’ll want is to have an undercooked meal or damage the inside of your air fryer.

Make Sure That The Heat Is Constantly Moving

This is one of the most important things that you should bear in mind when using your air fryer - that is to ensure that your heat circulates properly on the inside of your air fryer. This will reduce the chances of the heat concentrating in one area or damaging the inside.

Wherever the heating coil of your air fryer is, you should place your foil-wrapped food as far away from it as possible. If your heating coil is at the top of your air fryer, then you should place your food on the bottom shelf and vice versa.

If you have your foil-wrapped food near to the heating coil, then this could lead your food to become more cooked in one area than another, resulting in burning and undercooked elements.

You also don’t want your food to block the airflow, as this will cause certain components of your air fryer to overheat.

Keep Everything Outside The Basket Uncovered

As mentioned above, we would recommend that you don’t cover up the lower portion of your air fryer’s basket, as this will also restrict the airflow in your air fryer.

Having the heat circulate well is very important for ensuring that all portions of your food get cooked evenly. If you block certain portions of your oven, then you could find that your food is undercooked or possibly burnt on the one side.

Place Your Foil In Your Basket

Make sure that your foil-wrapped food is in the basket throughout the duration of your cooking. Do not cover up the mesh holes in the basket as once again this will disrupt the airflow and cause you some serious problems in the cooking process.

Make sure that your basket is only partially covered with foil. This will give you enough to heat your food adequately, but also not restrict the airflow and heat circulation in your air fryer.

However, probably the best method of cooking the food is by wrapping it in foil, rather than placing the foil in the basket. This will ensure that all the drippings stay contained and preserve all the delicious flavors of your food. This will also help to keep your air fryer very clean.

Weigh The Foil Down

Making sure that the foil is properly weighed down is very important to prevent any loose ends from coming into contact with your heating coils, as this might lead to them burning to cause you a catastrophic fire that might soon get way too out-of-control.

The last thing you’ll want to do is to damage the internal workings of your air fryer. If you are choosing to wrap your food with foil, then make sure it is done as tightly as possible.

As the heat affects the foil, then it can cause it to move, once again coming into contact with the heating system and potentially burning your food or your fryer.

Wrap The Food

As we have already mentioned, making sure that your food is tightly wrapped is important not only for preserving the flavors but also for making sure that the foil does connect with the heating elements of your air fryer.

Wrapping the food also ensures that you have the maximum amount of heat coverage, which will really help to cook foods such as sweet potatoes and large hunks of chicken a lot quicker.

Do Not Overwhelm The Fryer

When you are cooking with foil, it will be very important to keep your food levels to a minimum, as this will overload the basket and take the food longer to cook or even result in your food being undercooked.

This is because the more surface area that you create, then the more food that you’ll have to cook and the longer the whole process will take - the science is simple!

You’ll want to create an environment inside your air fryer that has as much space as possible. If you need to cook more than one food in your fryer, then we would suggest that you wrap them individually and doing them in batches.

A good way to tell if your air fryer is overloaded is by checking whether the food goes over the lip of the basket, if this is the case, then you’ve probably filled it too high. You might want to take a few things out and organize your foods in order of cooking preference.

Poking Holes

Poking holes in your foil might alleviate some of the buildups and help distribute it across the entire surface of your food.

However, be careful about the dripping leaking through the bottom, as this will stick and potentially burn at the bottom of your air fryer, defying the point of you using it in the first place.

Foods To Avoid Putting In An Air Fryer

There are definitely a few foods that you should avoid putting in the air fryer altogether, as they are basically unsuitable in terms of their consistency and how they can retain heat.

Here are some of the following that you should keep away from your air fryer at all costs:

  • Tomatoes - put simply, this delicate fruit will burst when you put it in an intense fryer.
  • Oranges - in much the same way as tomatoes, these are delicate and will explode when subjected to intense heat.
  • Vinegar-based dishes - this is because the chemicals in the tin foil will react badly to acidic chemicals that you can find in foods such as lemons, tomatoes and tomato sauces.

Foods with high acidity will accelerate the breakdown of your foil, causing it to burn and leave black specks of foil on your food.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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