Can You Put Aluminum Foil In the Air Fryer?

Learn what you can and can't use in your machine.

August 22, 2023
Mamak fried chicken made from air flyer.

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Mamak fried chicken made from air flyer.

Photo by: i'am/Getty Images

i'am/Getty Images

By Dana Beninati and Alice K. Thompson for Food Network Kitchen

Dana is a host, chef and sommelier. Alice is a contributing writer and editor at Food Network.

Think of your air fryer as a miniature oven. Would you hesitate to put aluminum foil in an oven? Of course not, and you can feel comfortable putting foil in an air fryer, too. Using an air fryer already means minimal cleanup – goodbye, big pots of hot oil – and lining the basket with foil seems like a shortcut to even less mess.

However, there are a few keys to using foil safely and successfully. Read on to learn how to use foil in an air fryer, plus when to skip it to prevent waste and let foods cook more evenly.

Tasty sausages freshly cooked wrapped in foil in an electric oven. Cooking in foil

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Tasty sausages freshly cooked wrapped in foil in an electric oven. Cooking in foil

Photo by: Dzurag/Getty Images

Dzurag/Getty Images

Is It Safe to Use Aluminum Foil in an Air Fryer?

Foil is safe to use in an air fryer so long as you follow three basic rules: never let foil touch the heating element; make sure the foil is weighted so it doesn't blow around the basket; and avoid contact with acidic ingredients, which can cause the foil to leach onto your food.

An air fryer is simply a small countertop oven that runs on convection heat. The heat is circulated around a tight space by a powerful fan that lies just below or behind the heating element depending on what model you have. Basket air fryers have a removable basket that sits in the belly of the appliance. If that's the sort of model you have, only use foil in the basket. Meanwhile, air fryer ovens have racks to put foods on, usually in a basket as well, and can be a combination air fryer and toaster oven. If you’re using an oven-style fryer you can use foil either in the basket or on the drip pan as long as you follow the rules above.

Wondering which style of air fryer is better for you? We road-tested several models to determine our 7 Best Air Fryers for 2023, Tested by Food Network Kitchen.

Food Network Kitchen’s Air Fryer Chicken Wings, as seen on Food Network.

Food Network Kitchen’s Air Fryer Chicken Wings, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: KATE MATHIS

KATE MATHIS

When and How to Put Aluminum Foil in an Air Fryer

Reaching for foil can sometimes speed cleanup and/or increase the numbers of food you can cook conveniently. When properly secured, in instances like those below, foil can protect sticky sauces and rogue crumbs from burning onto the appliance’s surface. It can also help you cook difficult foods.

Saucy foods: We love to use aluminum foil with wet foods like our Air Fryer Chicken Wings because it nearly eliminates the need to scrub off any burnt sauce after cooking. Line the basket with foil; or, in oven-style fryers, line the drip pan.

Foods that might roll around: Aluminum foil is great to secure items that may roll around or drip through the basket while cooking, like eggs. It's also a great way to multiple ingredients together, as in foil pack meals favored by campers.

Leftovers already wrapped in foil: Perhaps you have leftovers stored in foil? They will reheat beautifully in the air fryer. You can also meal prep items like breakfast burritos, individually freeze them in aluminum foil, then reheat directly in your appliance.

Foods cooked in batches: An inconvenient truth about air fryers? Most are on the small side. If you’re forced to cook in batches, lining the basket with foil will save you having to clean it between each batch.

Delicate foods: Some foods are difficult to turn or remove from the fryer, so a foil “sling” is recommended. To make one, fold two strips of foil in half to make them sturdier. Make a cross with the strips in the basket and place the food in the center. The ends of the strips will be “handles” for moving the food, but make sure they’re tucked during cooking so they won’t flap around and touch the heating element.

Putting sliced and frozen potatoes in the Airfryer for frying. Making healthy food without frying using oil.

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Can you put aluminum foil in the air fryer?

Photo by: Marcio Binow Da Silva/Getty Images

Marcio Binow Da Silva/Getty Images

When Not to Use Aluminum Foil in the Air Fryer

Always save yourself a step and don't waste foil in these instances.

Don’t Use Foil When It’s Not Necessary

One of the reasons air fryers cook foods so quickly and crisply is that they allow air to circulate all around the food. That’s why they employ a mesh or perforated basket for foods to sit in. If you line the basket with foil you’re preventing the air from circulating over the bottom; foods won’t cook as speedily and the bottom may be soggier. Cook directly on the basket when you can for best results and to avoid wasting foil.

Don’t Use Foil With Acidic Foods

There are certain foods that don't play nice with aluminum foil, no matter the sandbox. Acidic ingredients like citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers or anything marinated in vinegar or citrus juice react poorly to foil. Their high acid content breaks down the aluminum, causing it to leach into food. While the amount of aluminum you would ingest is minimal, it’s best to avoid it. Instead, read below about how to use parchment paper as an alternative and reach for that in dishes like this Air Fryer Eggplant Parm.

Tasty cooked salmon steak with lemon. Healthy and easy meals from air fryer.

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Tasty cooked salmon steak with lemon. Healthy and easy meals from air fryer.

Photo by: PJjaruwan/Getty Images

PJjaruwan/Getty Images

Can You Put Parchment Paper in the Air Fryer?

You can use parchment paper in the air fryer if it is evenly weighed down with food. Otherwise, because it’s lightweight, it can blow around and burn like regular paper if it touches the heating element. You can buy any number of specially designed parchment liners for air fryers if you don’t want to cut your own. You can even find parchment circles for lining the basket that have holes punched in them to allow heat to circulate around the food — an important benefit of air frying.

When won’t parchment work? It’s not sturdy enough for liquid items like eggs or sauces; in these instances reach for foil, or invest in silicone molds or a silicone basket liner designed for an air fryer. One common kitchen paper not to use in the fryer is wax paper because it’s not sufficiently heatproof.

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