There’s a good reason why air fryers are becoming popular. They offer a delicious and healthy alternative to deep-frying things like french fries, chicken, and even pastries.
Air fryers are convenient, easy to clean, and have a wide range of versatile uses. But, if you’re new to using them, you might have some questions about what you can use inside of them and how they work.
Is it okay to put aluminum in an air fryer?
Aluminum is widely known to withstand temperatures way above 350°F and only begins to melt at around 1,221°F. Since most air fryers can only get as hot as 325 to 400°F. This means that aluminum will do fine within an air fryer.
On a molecular level, the bonds shared between aluminum molecules are known as metallic bonds which attribute to their strong attraction to themselves. Thanks to this property, typical aluminum (like foils and tin) are dense, have low volatility, and have high melting and boiling points.
Aluminum in an air fryer is acceptable. Place a small piece at the bottom of the basket without covering food. You don’t want to use too much to ensure airflow.
How does an air fryer work?
Air fryers cook food via hot circulated air from the top with a heating element and a fan. This heat flows down and distributes throughout the area to cook food evenly while providing a crisp texture.
Air frying creates a texture that most people would describe as similar to deep frying, but without the cooking oil.
How can you use aluminum foil in the air fryer safely?
Although it’s fine to use aluminum foil, there are some precautions that do exist. Keeping some things in mind will ensure safety, thorough cooking, and proper operation of the fryer.
1. Ensure proper hot airflow
Make sure the food and foil don’t block the heating function of the fryer. This will guarantee everything cooks thoroughly.
Keep in mind that air fryers work by circulating air using a fan that circulates heat inside of a sealed chamber. Blocking any such circulation will likely cause cold spots or uneven cooking.
2. Use foods heavy enough to weigh down the foil
Avoid using foil with lightweight foods. Potatoes, chicken, and vegetables will be good.
We say this because if the food isn’t heavy enough to hold down the foil, chances are, the foil will end up circling around with the heat and air.
You might even hear it rattle throughout the cooking process. A single sheet of aluminum foil weighs approximately 3.6 grams. A standard 8.5 x 11-inch sheet of paper weighs about 4.5 grams.
3. Don’t use with acidic foods
Avoid using aluminum with acidic foods because it will cause a chemical reaction. This means you’ll get foil embedded within the food. Things you shouldn’t use with aluminum foil are:
- All fruit, particularly citrus
- Vinegar or Lemon Juice based marinades
Cooking with these ingredients on aluminum can change the food’s flavor.
In chemistry, strong acids have been found to react with the aluminum to form a hydrogen atom and an aluminum acid molecule. Even though most food ingredients can be considered mildly acidic, the heating element can become a strong catalyst to jump-start the reaction.
4. Don’t cover anything outside of the basket
Remember, only place a bit of foil on the bottom of the basket. Don’t cover the fryer itself or the inside.
The key function of an air fryer is to circulate hot air throughout the entire chamber. Fortunately, this chamber doesn’t have to be airtight.
Completely covering the basket whether it be inside or out can add a lot of pressure from the circulating air and build up even more heat than the device was manufactured for.
Aluminum is also considered to be a good conductor of heat. This means that covering the basket may inadvertently increase the temperature over the normal cooking process.
5. Avoid stuffing excess food in the fryer
In order for the heated air to move through the food in an even and balanced way, don’t crowd the food. You may have to do several batches if there’s a lot to cook.
6. Consider poking holes in the foil
Poking a few holes in the foil will ensure proper airflow through the food.
What are the benefits of cooking in an air fryer with aluminum foil?
Using aluminum foil in an air fryer can help with pulling food out when finished cooking, easier cleanup later on, and elevating food closer to the heating element.
What are the possible dangers of using aluminum foil in an air fryer?
Aluminum foil in an air fryer is generally safe. However, particles from the aluminum do tend to stick to food. There are many recent studies showing the negative health effects aluminum has on the body, particularly in promoting Alzheimer’s disease.
Does aluminum foil have a side that’s toxic?
Neither side of aluminum foil is toxic, but it’s better to put food on the dull side. This means putting the shiny part against the basket.
Can you put aluminum foil on the bottom underneath the tray?
Don’t put foil at the bottom of the fryer, just inside the basket.
Are aluminum foil trays good to use in an air fryer?
You can use foil trays in an air fryer, but you want to poke holes in the bottom to guarantee airflow.
Foil Methods; Ways in the Air Fryer
There are many possibilities of ways to use aluminum foil in an air fryer. Here is a list of some of the most common methods people use.
Method 1: On the air fryer’s bottom
Don’t put foil on the bottom of the air fryer to ensure the food heats evenly and that air circulates well.
Method 2: Wrapped around the basket
You can put foil around the inner circumference of the basket, but like the bottom, you want to leave enough room for airflow. Be sure to only put it inside and not outside.
Method 3: Wrapped around food
Folding the foil and then wrapping it around food makes it easier to pull the food out when finished. You can also use bits of foil to keep food separated and prevent things from sticking together.
What can you use instead of aluminum foil and are they safer?
Of course, healthy eating means avoiding aluminum foil to prevent contamination of food and your body. So, you can use other things instead.
Don’t use any baking sheets or pans in an air fryer if it will cover the holes too much. As long as enough of the heated air can get to and through the food, using a pan or baking sheet will be fine.
Baking sheets can stay at temperatures well over 400°F with no issues.
Parchment paper may be the best alternative to using foil.
However, be aware that parchment paper is rated to be used at temperatures no higher than 450°F with some brands providing durability as high as 500°F. Parchment paper can burn.
However, it’s a popular choice for baking and ultimately will do just fine inside an air fryer. The porous nature of the paper will allow for better airflow and you can use more of it if you have to.
Even still, consider poking a few holes to guarantee well-cooked food.
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