Can You Put Aluminum Foil In An Air Fryer? (silver kitchen foil, tin foil trays & more)

The short answer is yes, you can put aluminum foil in an air fryer but there are certain conditions that need to be met first. Keep reading for the full story and the safe way to use kitchen foil in your air fryer.

Before Putting Aluminum Foil In An Air Fryer…

Before we go any further, we need to urge you to check the user manual that came with your particular air fryer. There are a few reasons for this;

  • There are different types of air fryers
  • There are a few companies that advise against using aluminum foil in their appliances
  • Certain foods cause a health threatening reaction when exposed to aluminum foil and heat

So let’s now take a look at how they work to make this more clear.

How Does An Air Fryer Work?

It’s important to understand how an air fryer works as this will give you a clearer understanding on issues of safety.

An air fryer is basically a mini convection oven, because air fryers circulate hot air around the food as it cooks. It’s this constant circulation of hot air that gets the food crispy on all sides.

Inside every air fryer is a heating element just like you would find in a convection oven. Depending on the type of air fryer you have, that heating element will either be at the top or the bottom of the air fryer.

The two different types of air fryer are;

  1. Oven type air fryer
    These models have the heating element at the top of the air fryer.
  2. Basket type air fryer
    These models typically have the heating element at the bottom of the air fryer, below the basket.

It’s really important you know which type of air fryer you own because how you can use silver foil in it is dictated by the type of appliance you are using.

You must never block the flow of heat that’s circulating around the air fryer. To do so could prevent it from working as effectively as it should.

This means using tin foil in a basket type air fryer is slightly more complicated than in an oven type.

Using Silver Foil In An Oven Type Air Fryer

To prevent any of the juices from your food or any breadcrumbs from falling into the grease tray of the air fryer, and make it far easier to clean, simply line the grease tray with tin foil.

This means any fat, meat juices, breadcrumbs, melted cheese, etc will land on the aluminum foil which can be removed after cooking. Leaving the grease tray clean and food free.

If you want to cook the item in foil, like many fish dishes, it’s OK to do so but be sure to not cover the whole tray with foil.

All types of air fryers need air to circulate all around the food for it to cook properly. If the tray is completely covered with kitchen foil, it will prevent that steady flow of air and cause the food to not be fully cooked.

The best way to prevent food from sticking to the tray in an oven type air fryer is to lightly grease the tray before placing the food on it.

Food cooked in an air fryer is supposed to be crispy and the use of too much foil will prevent the food from crisping up as it should.

However it is possible to create an even crisper skin on chicken etc by crumpling kitchen foil and putting it in the basket and placing your chicken thighs on top.

Using Aluminum Foil In A Basket Type Air Fryer

Using tin foil in a basket type air fryer can be slightly different than using foil in an oven type model, depending on your specific air fryer. 

Heating Element On The Bottom

The heating element on some basket type air fryers is located at the bottom of the air fryer (under the basket).

This means that for those ones, there is no absolute way to use silver foil to catch all of the grease, breadcrumbs, etc.  

However, it is possible to use foil in these types of air fryer as long as you don’t cover all of the holes in the basket with foil.

The holes are there to allow the hot air to flow all around the food that’s being cooked in the basket. If tin foil blocks all of those holes, the food will not get crispy and you run the risk of damaging your air fryer.

Heating Element On Top

With that being said, not all basket type air fryers have the heating element at the bottom, there are some that have the heating element at the top (and these are becoming more popular). 

On these models it is possible to place tin foil on the bottom to catch any spillage.

This is why it is important to consult your user manual before applying any kitchen foil to your air fryer.

Keep The Kitchen Foil Weighed Down

Due to the way hot air is circulated in an air fryer and in particular a basket type air fryer, you’ll need to stop the foil from coming loose and flying around in the oven.

This could be dangerous and seriously damage the air fryer. The easiest way to prevent this is to weigh the foil down. Either with the actual food that’s being cooked or by using pastry weights.

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You should always leave as many holes in the basket clear as possible to allow the hot air to flow.

Is It Safe To Use Aluminum Foil In An Air Fryer?

Unlike a microwave oven, it is safe to use aluminum foil in an air fryer. The foil will not spark and burst into flames like it would in the microwave.

However, there is some debate about whether it is safe to cook food directly on aluminum foil. Aluminum is a heavy metal that’s toxic and should not be allowed to accumulate in the human body.

There have been some studies[1] that show there is evidence that an accumulation of aluminum can be linked to Alzheimer’s. 

As air fryers are a new type of appliance there have been no studies published as to whether using aluminum foil when air frying increases the risk of toxicity.

So while it is safe from a fire risk point of view, it might be worth considering a different way to cook certain foods. It might also be worth limiting just how many times per week you cook using aluminum foil.

Don’t Use Aluminum Foil With Acidic Foods

Acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus and vinegars have been known to cause a chemical reaction which allows aluminum to get into the food.

It’s fine to use foil to catch grease at the bottom of an oven-type air fryer, but you should never use aluminum foil if it will directly touch any acidic foods which includes many sauces and marinades.

Are There Any Alternatives To Foil That Can Be Used In An Air Fryer?

Air Fryer

Let’s look at some of the alternatives to aluminum foil that can be used in an air fryer.

Foil Trays

Before we leave aluminum foil behind, we must mention foil trays. These aluminum foil trays are convenient as they are shaped in many cases to fit in the basket of the air fryer without the need to reshape etc.

However the same guidance should be followed when using foil trays. Which is that foil trays should not be used with any acidic foods. This includes lemons and other citrus, vinegars, Tomatoes, peppers, or any marinade or sauce containing any of the above.This doesn’t only go for when air frying – it also applies to oven baking too.

Baking Paper

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Baking paper is a great alternative to using aluminum foil. It can be used for baking, roasting and air frying. 

From a safety point of view, baking paper has none of the risks associated with aluminum foil. It can be used with acidic foods as well as meats, vegetables etc.

Baking paper is also far more environmentally friendly than aluminum foil and works as a natural non-stick agent.

However, it is more likely to fly around unless it is weighted down properly. This is where those pastry weights offer a great, safe solution.

As with foil, be sure to leave as many holes in the basket unblocked as possible.

Air Fryer Liners

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As air fryers have gained in popularity, many companies have started to provide air fryer liners. These are made from the same or a similar material to baking paper (only reinforced to keep their shape).

They can be used for roasting, baking and air frying in the air fryer. But their usefulness doesn’t end there, they can also safely be used in microwave ovens as well.

Silicone Air Fryer Liners

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Much like the paper liners in design, only made from reusable silicone, these liners also come in various sizes to fit many air fryers.

They can be used for baking, roasting and air frying in the air fryer and are also useful in the microwave oven and steamer.

As they are washable and reusable, silicone air fryer liners offer an environmentally friendly and safe alternative to using kitchen foil.

The Best Ways to Safely Use Aluminum Foil In The Air Fryer

We’ve covered so much in this article so let’s recap on the best ways to use tin foil in your air fryer.

  • Never put foil directly on the element
    Whichever type of air fryer you own you should never cover the element with anything. This could lead to fire or the breakdown of your appliance.
  • Allow the hot air to flow freely
    In basket type air fryers you should never block all of the holes in the basket as this will lead to the food not cooking properly.
  • Never use aluminum foil with anything acidic
    This includes; tomatoes, peppers, lemon juice (or any citrus fruit or juice), vinegars, wine or marinade and sauce containing anything acidic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I wrap chicken in foil in an air fryer?

You can wrap chicken in foil and cook it in an air fryer, however, the chicken will not cook crispy unless it is exposed to the hot air. So cooking chicken wrapped in foil in an air fryer is possible (as long as you don’t block all of the holes in the basket) but it will not crisp up unless it is exposed to the hot air.

Can I use tin foil in an air fryer?

You can use tin foil in an air fryer as long as you don’t block too many holes in the basket. It is also not a good idea to use tin foil when cooking any acidic foods like tomatoes, peppers or citrus fruit, as well as vinegar, wine or any sauces or marinade containing any acidic items.

What can I use instead of foil in my air fryer?

Instead of foil you could use baking paper or air fryer liners which are available in paper or silicone in your air fryer.

Can I use foil trays in an air fryer?

It is possible to use foil trays in an air fryer as long as you don’t block too many holes in the basket. The air fryer relies on a constant flow of hot air to cook food.

Can I use aluminum foil in an air fryer?

You can use aluminum foil in an air fryer as long as you don’t block too many holes in the basket. Plus you should never allow aluminum foil to come into contact with anything acidic while cooking. This includes, peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruit or juice, vinegar, wine or any sauce or marinade containing any acidic foods. There is evidence to suggest that the chemical reaction that is created when aluminum comes into contact with acidic foods leads to aluminum being leached into the food which has been linked to Alzheimer’s.

What foods should you never cook in an air fryer using aluminum foil?

You should never cook any acidic foods using aluminum foil in an air fryer. That’s foods like tomatoes, peppers or any type of citrus fruit or juice, as well as vinegar, wine, or any marinade or sauce containing any acidic ingredients.

Can I use silver foil in an air fryer?

You can use silver foil in an air fryer in most cases. You should always consult your user manual and never block too many holes in the basket as the air fryer relies on a constant stream of hot air passing over the food to cook it properly.

Can you put plastic containers in the air fryer?

You should never put plastic containers in an air fryer as the heat will melt them. Although many air fryers look like microwave ovens, they cook in a totally different way. The only items that resemble plastic that can be safely used in an air fryer are silicone air fryer liners.

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