Using a crisper plate in your air fryer is not an absolute necessity, but it can provide some benefits for certain foods and cooking methods. Ultimately, whether you need one comes down to your own personal preferences and cooking style.
What is a Crisper Plate?
A crisper plate, sometimes called a grill plate, is an accessory that can be inserted into the basket of an air fryer. It usually sits at the bottom of the air fryer basket, creating a solid, flat surface. Crisper plates are made from perforated metal, often aluminum or stainless steel. The small holes allow air flow while the metal helps conduct heat evenly to the food.
Benefits of Using a Crisper Plate
Here are some of the potential benefits of using a crisper plate in your air fryer:
- Creates a flatter, more even cooking surface – Foods like burgers, bacon, or ham slices sit flatter on a solid plate than just the wire basket.
- Promotes browning and crisping – The direct contact with the hot metal plate accelerates maillard reactions for better browning.
- Allows oils and fats to drain away – The perforations allow excess grease and fat to drip through during cooking rather than pooling around the food.
- Prevents smaller foods from falling through basket – Small items like Brussels sprouts or french fries are less likely to slip through the broader holes in the wire basket if placed on a crisper plate.
- Easier cleanup – A crisper plate can be removed and washed easily after cooking rather than needing to clean the whole air fryer basket.
Foods That Benefit From a Crisper Plate
Here are some examples of foods that tend to cook up nicely using a crisper plate:
- Chicken breasts or cutlets
- Fish fillets
- Sausages or hot dogs
- Grilled sandwiches
- French fries
- Brussels sprouts
- Vegetables slices (like eggplant or zucchini)
In general, thinner meats, sandwiches, and anything you want to get really crisp and browned benefit from direct contact with the hot crisper plate. The perforations allow air flow all around for crisping while the grease drips away.
Foods That Don’t Require a Crisper Plate
On the other hand, there are some instances where a crisper plate may not be necessary or could even be undesirable:
- Bone-in chicken pieces or meat chops – The bones prevent even contact with the plate.
- Whole fish
- Foods cooked in sauce – Things like wings or meatballs braised in sauce will steam and simmer just fine in the basket alone.
- Whole vegetables – Brussels sprouts or broccoli florets will roast nicely in the basket without a plate.
- Baked goods – There’s no advantage to using a plate for cookies, muffins, etc.
For these foods, the open wire basket already allows for optimal air circulation all around the surface of the food. The crisper plate would not provide significant benefit.
Should You Use Parchment Paper on a Crisper Plate?
You can use parchment paper or aluminum foil liners on top of a crisper plate if you want. The liners can provide some advantages:
- Prevents sticking, especially with high sugar foods like bacon
- Easier cleanup – disposable liner removes instead of washing plate
- Allows you to add a small amount of oil to the liner to promote browning
However, liners may also reduce the direct heat conduction from the crisper plate to the food. And small holes may allow hot grease to penetrate the paper. Overall, liners are optional – try with and without to see which method you prefer.
Should You Buy a Crisper Plate?
Whether buying a separate crisper plate accessory is worthwhile for you will depend on a few factors:
- How you use your air fryer – If you mainly cook thinner meats, sandwiches, fries, etc. then a plate can be useful. If you mostly cook bone-in chicken or bake, it’s less essential.
- Convenience – Plates allow easier cleanup. If removing and washing just the plate sounds more convenient than cleaning the whole basket, it may be worth getting.
- Cost – Crisper plates are generally inexpensive, ranging from $10-$25 USD. So the cost is minor if you think it will improve your cooking.
At the end of the day, whether or not you need a crisper plate comes down to personal preference. They aren’t strictly necessary, but can provide some bonuses for cooking certain foods. If you cook a lot of bacon, burgers, fries, or other thin meats in your air fryer, a crisper plate is likely a useful investment. But you can certainly get by just fine without one as well. Try out a recipe that would benefit from a plate and see if you notice a major difference in outcome or convenience. That will tell you if buying a plate is worthwhile for your needs and cooking style.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does air fryer need oil with crisper plate?
No, you do not need to add oil when using a crisper plate in an air fryer. The main benefit of the plate is to promote browning and crisping through direct contact with the hot metal. The air fryer will still circulate hot air to crisp up the exterior of foods. However, you can brush a small amount of oil directly onto the plate or food if you want to enhance browning even further.
Do you put crisper plate on top or bottom?
Crisper plates are designed to sit at the bottom of the air fryer basket, providing a flat surface for food to cook on top of. Do not try to balance a crisper plate precariously on top of food. Let the food make direct contact with the plate by placing the plate on the bottom.
Can you use foil instead of crisper plate?
Yes, aluminum foil can be used as a substitute for a crisper plate in an air fryer. Ball up a piece of foil and flatten it into the bottom of the air fryer basket to create an even cooking surface. This allows grease to drip away while letting air flow around the food. The foil may need to be replaced several times as it gets dirty. And it won’t conduct heat quite as evenly as a solid metal plate. But foil can work in a pinch if you don’t have an actual crisper plate.
What happens if you don’t use crisper plate?
Not using a crisper plate may result in some differences when cooking certain foods in an air fryer:
- Foods may cook less evenly since they are suspended on the wire rack rather than flush against a hot surface.
- Some items like vegetables or small pieces of meat could fall through the broader openings in the basket.
- Foods may brown and crisp up slightly less without direct heat conduction from a plate.
- Meats and oily foods will release more grease directly into the basket without a drip tray.
However, the air fryer will still function fine without a crisper plate. You’ll just lose some benefits like better browning and easier cleanup in certain scenarios.
Can you put food directly in basket without crisper plate?
Yes, you can cook food directly in the air fryer basket without using a crisper plate. The hot circulating air will still crisp and cook the food. However, your results may vary depending on the food:
- Thin foods like burgers or bacon may curl up more without the flat crisper plate.
- Breading and batters may detach more easily without something for them to adhere to.
- Food may brown and crisp slightly less without the direct heat conduction from the plate.
- Delicate foods may slip through the openings in the basket.
For best results, use a crisper plate when cooking thinner meats, sandwiches, vegetables, or anything that needs to lie flat. Thicker foods will still cook fine directly in the basket.
Alternative Uses for a Crisper Plate
While crisper plates are primarily designed to fit inside an air fryer, they do have some other potential uses as well:
- Use as a small baking sheet – Place the plate in your conventional oven when baking cookies or other small batch treats.
- Use on the stovetop – Place on a burner as a flat cooking surface for things like pancakes or grilling a single portion.
- Use as a cooling rack – The perforations allow air flow under baked goods for cooling cookies, breads, etc.
- Use as a drip tray – Place under foods on a broiler pan or oven rack to catch drips.
- Protect your microwave – Use as a surface for messy foods to prevent spills and splatters inside the microwave.
The compact size, durability, and ability to conduct heat make crisper plates handy for all sorts of uses beyond just air frying!
Crisper Plate Cooking Chart
Here is a cooking chart with approximate times and temperatures for common foods when using a crisper plate in the air fryer:
|Burger patties||370°F||10-14 minutes|
|Chicken breast||380°F||15-18 minutes|
|Pork chops||380°F||15-20 minutes|
|Fish fillets||400°F||10-15 minutes|
|Potato wedges||400°F||18-22 minutes|
|Brussels sprouts||380°F||10-15 minutes|
Cooking times may vary based on size and thickness of foods. Flip or shake halfway through for even cooking. Add 3-5 minutes for frozen items.
Cleaning Your Crisper Plate
Crisper plates should be cleaned periodically to prevent food buildup and grease residue. Here are some tips for cleaning them effectively:
- Allow the plate to cool completely before cleaning. Hot grease can cause burns.
- Wash with hot soapy water using a sponge or brush to remove stuck on bits.
- For stubborn grease stains, let the plate soak for 15-30 minutes in hot water and degreasing dish soap.
- Use a bottle brush, pipe cleaner, or small brush to clean the perforations.
- Avoid abrasive scouring pads as they can damage the finish.
- For removable plates, wash separately from basket to prevent food scraps getting caught between them.
- Dry thoroughly to prevent moisture damage.
Avoid placing crisper plates in the dishwasher, as high heat and pressure can warp them over time. With regular cleaning, your crisper plate should provide great performance for the life of your air fryer.
When to Replace a Crisper Plate
With proper care and cleaning, a quality crisper plate can last for years. But there are a few signs that indicate it may be time to replace your crisper plate:
- Holes have become deformed or warped
- Plate is badly scratched, dented, or showing rust
- Grease residue and staining won’t come clean even with soaking and scrubbing
- Food is sticking severely when cooking
- Plate has become bent out of shape and doesn’t lay flush
If your crisper plate shows any of these signs of excessive wear, it’s best to replace it. Crisper plates are inexpensive and replacing a worn out plate can help improve cooking performance and convenience.