I know we all have asked ourselves this question at one point. So, can you put aluminum foil in an air fryer? Read more about how to use tin foil in the air fryer here.
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The air fryer has revolutionized cooking. It has enabled thousands, perhaps even millions of home and professional cooks to make traditionally baked and fried meals, without using a lot of oil, if any.
And before we even proceed, I realize that not everyone is an air fryer professional. So If you are looking for easy beginner-friendly recipes, or if you are an expert but seek simple meals that you can quickly put together, then I suggest starting with these air fryer hard-boiled eggs, air fryer breakfast sausage links and air fryer scrambled eggs recipes. These have all been made using my Ninja Foodi, but can easily be made using other air fryers, such as the Cosori.
How does an air fryer function?
Air fryers are countertop ovens. Unlike the conventional oven, they use rapid air technology to create heat instead of using heat from an element. They are smaller, which helps them distribute heat and cook food quicker, than a regular oven.
Conventional ovens, on the other hand, produce heat from a gas or electric element (such as a coil). This is then slowly distributed throughout the oven by a fan or thermodynamics.
Because of how the air fryer cooks, you only need to use a little oil, if any. Its unit heats up completely and circulates air to cook food. The heat circulation in the air fryer also helps crisp up food without producing hot spots.
So, why would you want to put aluminum foil in an air fryer? Well, for most people the answer is simple. We all want to avoid having a lot to clean up after cooking. Using tin foil helps catch drippings and fat. This also means the food cooks in its own juices, and therefore retains a lot of flavors.
Can you put tin foil in an air fryer?
The short answer is yes, you can. Because of the way the air fryer circulates heat to cook food, it does not create sparks as the microwave does. The key is not to cover the holes that circulate hot air in the air fryer. Otherwise, your food may not cook evenly.
The long answer is, always read the manual that comes with your fryer, for specific usage instructions. If you own an air fryer with two trays, use your aluminum foil on the bottom tray to catch drippings, that way, the air can still circulate on the top to cook food.
You also want to place the tin foil in the air fryer basket, as well weigh it down with food, and not place it directly at the bottom of your air fryer. Doing so helps keep the aluminum foil in place and prevents it from blowing about. It also assists the airflow, which means the food cooks evenly.
Can I put foil in a Ninja Air Fryer?
This question always pops up, mainly because the Ninja Foodi air fryer looks very different from most air fryer brands, which leads most people to believe that it cooks, and may work differently (the Ninja Foodi basically closes from the top).
Similar to the other air fryers, it is okay to use foil with the Ninja Foodi. Just make sure to use tin foil with holes poked in it, and to weigh it down with food, to prevent it from flying around during cooking or even worse, getting into contact with the heating element of your fryer.
Concerned that aluminum foil may be toxic or looking for other alternatives to use with your air fryer? Then the following options are definitely worth trying out.
- Regular silicon mat - silicon is safe to use, easy to clean, does not absorb food odors, is easy to store, and can be used over a wide range of temperatures. The biggest advantage of using silicon is that it reusable. Please bear in mind that you need to put holes in the mats if you do not purchase specific mats for air fryers. Once you have it, a good quality silicon form will keep for months.
- Parchment paper - this has the advantage of being readily available. Almost every kitchen has one. Again, you have to put holes in the parchment paper so it still allows the air to circulate. Want to go an extra mile? Then try out special air fryer parchment paper, which already comes with holes. However, one has to be specifically careful when using parchment paper! I can't stress enough how important it is to make sure that this is also weighed down by food, to prevent it from flying about and catching fire.
- Air fryer mats - these are made specifically for use in the air fryer, with holes poked on the surface to facilitate the flow of air. The main advantage of having these is that they are specifically made for the fryer, can be reused and are arguably more environmentally friendly.
Do not use aluminum foil to cook the following foods
Aluminum foil is absolutely versatile and can be used to cook a wide range of dishes. There are, however, certain foods that you should not use it with:-
- do not use it to bake cookies - as it can cause the bottom of the cookies to cook faster, before they are properly done in the middle or entirely cooked through. Parchment paper and silicon mats are better alternatives, in this case.
- do not use it for acidic foods - acidic foods, tart fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, foods marinated using acidic components such as lemon or lime juice are better off cooked using a silicon baking mat. This is because the acidic component reacts with tin foil, which in turn causes it to break down into small pieces and get into your food.
Useful takeaway points
- Always read the manual that comes with your air fryer. This will guide you on what you should and should not do with your air fryer.
- Do not cover the basket or tray completely with foil, to prevent cutting off the circulation of air. Basically, you want the air to be able to circulate top to bottom inside the basket and up on the sides of the air fryer for the food to cook properly and evenly.
- Always weigh down your aluminum or tin foil with food, to prevent it from flying about in the air fryer. Alternatively, you can wrap your food with foil and place it in the air fryer basket.
- If you have an air fryer with two trays, you can use your aluminum foil on the bottom tray to catch drippings. This way, the air can still circulate at the top to cook food.
- It is okay to use tin foil more than once, if it is clean enough after one use. This is not only cost effective, but also helps the environment.