An interesting, but slightly out of the ordinary question I found in a recent email from my friend:
“Can you put paper plates in an air fryer?”
The problem with this question is that it’s been asked way too many times. Let’s say you had a party the other evening and you have a bunch of paper plates with leftover food on them in your fridge. If you want to go and warm it in the air fryer, can you leave it on paper plates? It would be so much easier than putting it on your kitchenware dishes, right?
In this article, we tackle the question and try it out ourselves. Here are the results.
Can you put paper plates in the air fryer?
No, you should never use paper plates in an air fryer. After testing this theory out, we noticed that the paper plate’s structural integrity began to fail; it began soaking up the food’s juices, and there were some signs of burnt edges beginning to occur. Introducing paper to extreme heat gives the potential for a fire hazard. Paper is highly susceptible to catching a flame if it is introduced at the right temperature.
What did we experience? After air-frying some leftover chicken from last night’s party on a paper plate, it resulted in the paper plate shriveling up a bit. The paper plate came out a bit extra dry and slightly discolored with a tint of brown. The juices and liquids produced during the fine process had been soaked up towards the middle of the paper plate. Ultimately, the paper plate was nearly destroyed, and the bottom of it was wet due to all the food juices soaking through.
Another question we’ve been asked is if there’s a way to make paper plates safe for your air fryer. The answer is still no, it’s just not safe to use paper plates in an air fryer. You should never risk taking a chance when you know the worst-case scenario could happen. Paper is highly susceptible to burning and causing fires. It’s just not worth the risk I’ve saved yourself a dish compared to getting your house burned down.
Why should you not use paper plates in an air fryer?
Paper plates are not meant to be used for cooking. They don’t offer the structural integrity or enough weight that is required, in most cases, to handle the heat that can be produced when cooking.
Paper plates in an air fryer are a fire hazard.
You’ve been camping or grilling before, right? After we’ve prepared the grill, in order to start the fire, we would usually crumple up paper like newspapers or paper towels, light up the edges, and then we would have an open flame at the end of our roll.
The temperature used to burn paper can often vary depending on the material, the moisture, and the thickness of the paper. The very lowest temperature that paper can ignite is usually around 424 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some air fryers can produce temperatures well over the threshold. On average, the typical air fryer can cook up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which may be well over to the point of potentially burning paper. New remodels today also come with features that allow you to sear steaks at alarmingly high temperatures that go well over 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Paper plates are thin and flimsy
Paper plates are built very thinly. They’re usually no more than 1 to 1 and 1/2 mm thick. Because of how thinly they are produced, they’re also very frail and flimsy.
If you have a lot of food on your paper plate, then you will have to hold the plates on opposite ends to make sure one side doesn’t bend. Putting this into the air fryer and introducing heat to an already flimsy paper plate may compromise its structural integrity even further.
Paper plates are usually built to be used only once, so there was really no need to make them extra thick.
Paper plates may soak up water
At the molecular level, paper is actually made of cellulose. This material strongly clings and absorbs water. This is why paper towels are used to dry our hands. With paper plates, it’s often no different. Some paper plates will actually have a thin waxy layer coating on top to repel water absorption. However, this doesn’t do much when it comes to air frying.
The thin layer of wax isn’t enough to keep water away when pressured under high temperatures. Eventually, the thin wax layer would fail, and water would begin soaking up inside the paper plate.
This is pretty much what happened in our scenario. The heat, along with the moisture dripping from the food we were cooking, eventually made its way through the waxy layer and began soaking up inside the paper plate.
What can you use in your air fryer instead of a paper plate?
As a result of this experiment, we would never recommend using paper plates in an air fryer. However, there are plenty of types of plates that can be used instead of paper plates.
Some of the plates listed below are excellent when it comes to cooking in an air fryer.
- Cast iron
These materials are structurally intact and extremely durable. They are considered heat resistant to several hundred degrees beyond what an air fryer can throw at them.
In many cases, if you are unsure of whether what you have is air-fryer-safe, then look around on your plate for a symbol that represents heat resistance.
Also, if it says it’s oven-safe, then it also means that it’s air fryer safe as well.
Why do we recommend parchment paper over paper plates
If the reason why you were using a paper plate is that you don’t want to clean up or even damage your kitchenware, then we recommend that you use parchment paper. You can place parchment paper on top of your plate and then put your food on top of the parchment paper.
Most parchment paper can handle air fryer temperatures up to around 428 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure you don’t use any more parchment paper than needed. You want to minimize the extra flap of parchment paper that is not being used by your food. Parchment paper is usually made with a much thicker layer of wax than your typical paper plate, so it has a little bit of extra protection when it comes to heat.
Weighing down the parchment paper will also prevent it from flying around inside your air fryer. Remember, the inside of your air fryer is like a tornado of air movement. If your air fryer happens to get loose from your food, it could end up flying around and maybe even blocking some ventilation. It might even get caught in the heating coil and burn.
When using parchment paper in an air fryer, we highly recommend that you check up on your air fryer regularly to make sure there aren’t any problems that might arise.
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