Using an air fryer is a great way to make delicious fried foods with less oil than traditional deep frying. Air fryers rapidly circulate extremely hot air around food to produce a crispy, fried finish using little to no oil. But what types of products and materials can safely go in an air fryer?
The short answer is no, you should not put paper products like paper towels, parchment paper, butcher paper, or other paper materials in an air fryer. Air fryers generate intense heat and airflow which can easily ignite paper products, creating a dangerous fire hazard.
Why You Should Not Use Paper in an Air Fryer
There are a few key reasons why paper products should be avoided when using an air fryer:
- Fire hazard – Paper ignites rapidly at high temperatures. With air fryers reaching around 400°F, paper could easily catch fire.
- Mess – Paper may disintegrate, shred, or stick to food, creating debris in the fryer.
- Chemicals – Printed paper may contain inks, dyes, or coatings unsafe for high heat.
- Insulation – Paper insulates heat instead of conducting it, leading to uneven cooking.
Air fryers are designed for foods only. Any paper products placed inside can pose serious risks to safety and proper cooking results. The intense convected heat can cause paper to smolder, ignite, or break down into fragments circulating in the hot air.
Alternatives to Use Instead of Paper
While paper is not safe for air frying, there are many paper alternatives better suited for high heat. Here are some options:
Parchment paper is a lightly coated and treated paper made specifically for oven cooking up to around 420°F. The coating prevents sticking and allows high heat tolerance. Parchment withstands air frying better than regular paper but the airflow may still shred it.
Heavy duty aluminum foil is heat conductive, strong, and impervious to oil and airfryer conditions. It can be shaped into packets or liners to hold food. The reflective surface helps reflect heat around food for quick, even cooking.
Flexible silicone mats withstand temperatures up to about 480°F. They provide a nonstick cooking surface and protect the air fryer basket. Mats come in handy shapes and sizes perfect for lining baskets.
Small oven-safe metal tins, cups, or trays can hold foods like appetizers or baked goods. The metal conducts heat well. Foil liners can be added for easier removal if needed.
High-temperature nylon or polyester oven bags are useful for steaming foods like vegetables. The bags allow rapid airflow for convection cooking.
Tips for Cooking with Paper Alternatives
When using parchment, foil, silicone, and other paper replacements in an air fryer, follow these tips:
- Cut parchment and foil to fit basket dimensions to prevent overhang.
- Avoid large air gaps or overlapping seams in foil packets.
- Monitor cooking closely to prevent burning.
- Open packets, liners or bags carefully to avoid steam burns.
- Use silicone brush or plastic utensils to avoid scratching nonstick surfaces.
Best Uses for Parchment and Foil
Here are some of the best and safest ways to use parchment paper or aluminum foil liners in an air fryer:
|Use||Parchment Paper||Aluminum Foil|
|Packet for fish||✓||✓|
|Packet for vegetables||✓||✓|
|Liner for cups or tins||✓||✓|
|Slings for removing foods||✓||✓|
Both parchment and foil work well to prevent sticking, contain messy foods, and facilitate removal. Foil is better for high-fat foods or foods requiring a tighter seal.
Should You Use Parchment Paper on Air Fryer Racks?
Some air fryer models come with a flat metal rack insert for layering or elevating foods. You can place parchment paper on top of air fryer racks to prevent sticking. However, there are a few cautions:
- Use parchment sized exactly to the rack dimensions to prevent overhanging paper from burning.
- Avoid overlapping seams which can separate.
- Secure parchment well under rack edges so it does not blow around.
- Monitor cooking closely and remove parchment promptly after cooking before it scorches.
Parchment is handy for air frying battered or sticky foods on racks. But use with care as intense airflow across racks can make paper shred or dislodge. Silicone baking mats specifically made for racks are a reusable option.
How to Make Foil Packets for Air Frying
Foil packets allow you to air fry foods in portion-sized containers. Here is how to make foil packets for the air fryer:
- Cut a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil double the size needed for your packet.
- Place food in center of foil.
- Bring together foil edges and fold several times to seal well, pressing tightly.
- Fold or roll ends to fully enclose packet contents.
- Air fry packet seam-side up on flat basket or rack.
- Cook 3-5 minutes less than recipe time and check for doneness.
Foil packet tips:
- Avoid large air gaps in folding by pressing foil tight to food.
- For even browning, flatten to a uniform thickness before sealing.
- Open packets away from face and body to avoid steam burns.
Is It Safe to Use Parchment Paper in a Convection Oven?
Convection ovens also rely on a fan to circulate hot air for fast, even cooking. Like air fryers, they reach temperatures of around 400°F. Parchment paper can generally be used safely in convection ovens with some precautions:
- Use only parchment paper, not other types of paper.
- Avoid large overhangs or billowing paper.
- Press down edges firmly if lining pans.
- Reduce temperature 25°F from recipe if lining pans or covering racks.
- Remove immediately after cooking as convection fan can scorch paper.
The intense airflow of convection ovens demands securely positioned parchment trimmed neatly to size. Always watch closely while using parchment at high heat.
Air fryers and standard paper products are not a safe combination due to fire risks. However, using alternative paper-like materials specifically designed for high heat cooking provides safer options. Parchment paper, aluminum foil, silicone mats, oven bags, and metal containers can all be used in air fryers as liners, packets, slings, and more. Follow proper safety precautions based on the type of material when cooking with these items. With the right tools, you can still achieve great air fried results without paper.