The quick answer is that yes, you can use foil in an air fryer.
Now that air fryers have gained popularity, they’re being used to cook everything from fries to chicken. Air frying meats especially can be a messy affair, due to the fat and juices. It’d be nice to have something to make that cleanup just a bit easier.
Aluminum foil is a perfectly safe option to line your air fryer basket. But there are a few important steps to follow in order to do it safely.
How To Use Aluminum Foil in an Air Fryer
Cut Out Aluminum Foil
Cut out a piece of aluminum foil. You can measure the dimensions of the air fryer basket to get the exact size if you need to.
Shape Foil to Air Fryer Basket
Take the basket out of the air fryer. You’ll want to shape the foil over the outside. Make sure it’s nice and tight against the basket.
Poke Holes in Foil
Gently poke small holes all over the foil. This will allow airflow into the basket and help your food cook evenly. You can use a toothpick, sharp knife or a kebab skewer for this step.
This step is important, because without proper airflow, the air fryer may overheat.
Trim Any Excess
Insert the basket back into the air fryer properly. You shouldn’t see any excess tin foil hanging out the edges. If there is foil visible, tuck it into the basket or trim it off.
Tips On Using Aluminum Foil in an Air Fryer Safely
Place the Foil in the Basket Only
Air fryers use the flow of hot air to cook food. So it’s important that the placement of your aluminum foil doesn’t disrupt this airflow.
Foil should only be used in the basket of the air fryer unit. Do not place the foil in the bottom of the dish, as this will reduce airflow significantly. Tin foil in the dish may also get blown out of place.
If the foil is blowing around in the hot air, it might end up touching the heating element. This can cause the unit to overheat, and start a fire. It also won’t properly catch any cooking juices if it’s blowing around.
Weigh Down With Food
The issue of flyaway aluminum foil can be solved by weighing it down with food. Food keeps the foil secure in the basket, and prevents it from flying up towards the fan. The heating coil sits right in front of the fan, and can overheat if it touches anything.
Before you use your air fryer, ensure the aluminum foil is secure under the food. The foil should be molded to the basket, not loose. Foil that hangs over the edges can get snagged, so make sure to trim these bits off.
Don’t put aluminum foil in the air fryer while it is preheating, since there’s nothing to hold it down. If the recipe requires you to preheat the air fryer, consider wrapping your food in aluminum foil instead.
Avoid Acidic Food with Aluminum Foil
Acidic air fryer recipes should not be cooked in aluminum foil. Foods that are considered acidic include: tomatoes, lemons and limes. So if you’re roasting cherry tomatoes in the air fryer, don’t wrap them in foil.
Because acids are so corrosive, they can dissolve layers of the foil. So during the cooking process, aluminum foil actually begins to migrate into acidic foods. (1) This amount of aluminum in your food goes above the limit advised by the World Health Organization.
So if you’re air frying acidic foods, line the basket with a safer option, like parchment paper.
Opt for Parchment Paper, a Non Reactive Alternative
Though it doesn’t hold its shape as well as foil, parchment paper poses less risks in the air fryer. Parchment paper is cellulose-based, and therefore is not reactive like metal aluminum foil is.
I also like that food easily slides off of parchment paper. You don’t get all those little bits of foil stuck to the bottom. And it won’t tear the crispy skin off foods like chicken drumsticks.
You can even buy parchment paper already cut and sized to an air fryer basket. They also already have all the holes to allow for proper air flow.
Even with a foil or parchment paper liner, your air fryer will still get cooking juices in it. But if the idea is to have an easier clean up, they are a great solution.