Can You Make Air Fryer Bacon?

We learned the answer the hard way.

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Bacon slice being cooked in frying pan

Bacon slice being cooked in frying pan

Bacon slice being cooked in frying pan. Close up.

The air fryer has quickly become a kitchen stalwart — a go-to for crispy chicken tenders, wings, hard-boiled eggs and even the Thanksgiving turkey.

Contrary to its name, the air fryer is not, in fact, a fryer at all. It's essentially a countertop convection oven. It uses a powerful fan to circulate hot air, so that the food inside cooks evenly and quickly without the need for plunging it into a vat of bubbling oil. A home cook can achieve satisfying crispy effects with just a light brushing of oil.

However, there are some foods the air fryer does not excel at making. Foods with a wet batter should be avoided, since cooking with dry heat means the batter won't crisp up the way it does with a deep fry. In these cases, more likely, the powerful fan will just blow the batter all over the cooking basket. Foods with loose seasoning may also do poorly because of the fan. And in our search for the perfect extra-crispy bacon, we learned the hard way that items with a high fat content should also be avoided.

We turned on the air fryer, placed our bacon in a single layer in the basket (no more than five pieces) and waited. Alarmingly, white smoke began streaming out of the machine, signifying that oil was pooling in the bottom and burning. Many bloggers recommend adding water to the tray below the basket to counter the smoke. We spooned in a tablespoon, which slightly lessened the smoke. Removing the fat that collected in the tray at the bottom of the air fryer after each batch also helped reduce the amount of smoke. But both fixes felt risky — adding water to hot oil can be a safety hazard, and repeatedly pouring off hot bacon grease is a good way to get a bad burn.

If you absolutely must cook bacon in your air fryer, Ben Mims, author of Air Fry Everyday: 75 Recipes to Fry, Roast, and Bake Using Your Air Fryer, recommends doing only two slices at a time at 400 degrees F for eight minutes. But after conducting our own tests, we at Food Network Kitchen feel that it's too smoky to recommend as a safe practice. So, when we're really craving bacon, we stick with our tried-and-true cooking methods — the oven, a skillet or even your microwave!

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