It seems like a new gadget is released by retailers every day, online or in person. Some solve problems that home cooks have never faced, while others do not. Some, such as the air fryer may appear to be a passing trend, but they will gradually become a part of your arsenal. With any new gadget, there are new rules on how to maintain them.

The first time microwaves were introduced, the consumer had to learn that foil can cause an explosion in a microwave. Air fryers can be mistaken for crisping microwaves at first glance. They can do everything a microwave does and more. Does that mean you shouldn’t use foil in an air fryer? What happens to food when you put foil in the air fryer, even if it’s not as bad as using foil in the microwave? We answer the questions below that are on the minds of home cooks and those who want to buy an air fryer.

What Is An Air Fryer And How Does It Work?

Air fryers make fried food crispier and less oily. They are also easier to prepare. If you’ve ever cleaned up after deep-frying sweet potato fries or mozzarella sticks, then you know how useful it can be to have the same results as a deep fryer, but without all the mess. Air fryers can do much more than cook frozen onion rings and chicken tenders. They allow you to bake everything from custardy breakfast toasts to garlicky baked salmon at the touch of a single button.

Air fryers have been around for quite some time. You may be familiar with air fryer’s ancestor, the convection-oven.

Convection ovens use a fan that circulates hot air inside the oven to produce a more even, faster cooking. Convection is also used by many toaster-ovens, which allows you to make grilled cheese sandwiches and bake pizzas within a small area. Air fryers are a smaller version of convection technology with a stronger fan to circulate hot air. This allows for quicker cooking times and crispier crusts, similar to deep-fried food.

What is the Difference Between an Air Fryer and a Microwave Oven?

The microwave oven is very different from the air fryer. An air fryer works very similarly to a conventional oven, using the convection setting or the fan. A microwave oven, however, uses a magnetron that creates microwaves which bounce off of the metal walls. These microwaves cause the water molecules to vibrate in food, creating heat. Microwaves are designed to heat food efficiently and safely.

Metals can interfere with the heating process of a microwave because the microwaves need to bounce back off the walls to do so. Metals also contain electrons, which conduct heat and electricity. This is not the case with foods or microwave-safe dishes. Magnetrons create microwaves which cause electrons to be moved at an accelerated rate. This can result in sparks, which could lead to a fire. Air fryers and convection ovens do not use microwaves to cook food. Therefore, putting metal into an air fryer won’t cause it to spark as it would in a microwavable oven.

Can You Use Foil In An Air Fryer?

It is possible to use foil in an Air Fryer without causing a fire or damaging the food. Air fryers are just small countertop convection-ovens with a stronger fan that makes food crispier. People have used foil in convection-ovens for many years. Remember that the microwave technology in microwave ovens is what makes foil spark and catch on fire. Air fryers don’t use this technology.

Use Foil In Your Air Fryer

Jared Bobo (the Air Fryer Papi), whose Instagram and TikTok pages are dedicated exclusively to air-fryer recipe, says that foil works “absolutely” in an air fryer, just as it does in an oven. Bobo says that he uses aluminum foil to make his air-fryer cheescakes. It works well to prevent the top of the cake from overcooking.

The foil also protects the basket of your air-fryer against getting greasy. If you don’t want melted cheese to stick to your air fryer, foil is a good option. Many air-fryer recipe calls for spraying the food lightly with healthy oil to help the browning process. When you spray, use foil to keep your air fryer cleaner.

How to Use Foil Properly in an Air Fryer

You should use foil only in the bottom basket of the air fryer, not the top. The “ceiling” or top portion of the air fryer circulates air and cooks food. Covering the top part of the airfryer with foil will stop the hot air reaching the food, and could make popcorn chicken soggy. It’s important to use oil to lubricate your foil so that it doesn’t stick. This is a precaution many home cooks take when using aluminum foil in the oven.

What To Use In An Air Fryer If You Don’t Have Foil Or Prefer Not To Use It

You can use parchment paper if you don’t have foil, or if you just don’t want to. Parchment used to be a thing that only pastry chefs would use to make delicate pastries. This baker’s essential is now widely available at affordable prices, making it a very useful kitchen supply.

The parchment paper is nonstick by nature, so you do not need to add flour or cornmeal or grease the paper before using it in an Air Fryer. This paper is great for pouches that you can use to delicately steam your fish in an air fryer. It won’t impart a metallic taste to delicately flavoured foods. This is also an excellent option for foods that are acidic, such as tomatoes, because they can react and stick to the foil.

Place the parchment into the air fryer only after it has been heated. Make sure it is well-weighed down by the food you are cooking. Otherwise, it could be blown around and touch the heating element, causing it to catch fire. It’s best to read the packaging to find out what the maximum temperature is that the manufacturer of the parchment recommends.

You can also reuse a variety of baking sheets, containers and silicone mats for your air-fryer. These include silicone bowls which fit into the air-fryer’s hopper, as well as tart pans.

Bottom Line

Air fryers can be used to make crispy fried food quickly, and without oil. Air fryers allow you to use parchment paper and foil together with your food. Remember that anything you can safely and effectively use in a traditional oven will also work in an air-fryer. Remember not to cover your air fryer’s heating element or fan with any material. This can damage the device and prevent food from being cooked.