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Why Is My Air Fryer Smoking?

If your air fryer is smoking, you’re probably looking for a solution fast. Read on for information about what to do to stop the fumes.

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Pork Steaks in Air Fryer covered with BBQ sauce
Pork Steaks in the Air Fryer

Let’s be clear here. This article is NOT about how to use your beloved air fryer as a meat smoker. Sorry. That’s not a real thing. 

Smoke coming from your beloved kitchen appliance is alarming and needs to be dealt with quickly. A smoking air fryer generally indicates that something inside of the unit is too hot or is actually burning.

If it’s cleaned regularly and used primarily for heating snack foods like french fries, egg rolls, or frozen pizza rolls, you may have never seen smoke before.

However, with other kinds of cooking that involve greasier foods, smoke can happen. If your air fryer is setting off your smoke alarm regularly, there are a few things you can do to put a stop to it. 

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This helpful guide will teach you what to look for when your unit is smoking up your kitchen and how to troubleshoot the situation.

Smoke coming from your air fryer can be attributed to excess grease, food buildup, food being too crowded, or it possibly needs a thorough cleaning. If you experience abnormal smoke, you should unplug your appliance right away and then inspect it to determine the source.

To help you troubleshoot what is going on, here is a bit more on finding the culprit!

What kinds of things can cause my air fryer to smoke?

Grease Buildup

Excess grease is one of the primary reasons for a smoky air fryer. Meats with a higher fat content can put out a lot of greases as they cook at 360F or above.

When this grease splatters and circulates onto the hot heating element, it begins to burn and emit fumes. The more grease, the more fumes. 

If you’ve ever cooked bacon in your air fryer, you know what I mean. Chicken legs and chicken thighs put off generous amounts of grease and juice that can create smoke.

Be aware also that sausage, hamburger patties, and fattier pork chops can potentially cause it to smoke as they cook at high temperatures.

But there is a way to still cook those beloved foods without all the air fryer smoke. Keep reading to see how to prevent it.

Burning Food

When the culprit isn’t grease, then there’s a good chance it’s burning food particles. If you’re cooking breaded or battered foods and the breading or batter is loose, then pieces of these coatings can circulate with the superheated air flowing through the air fryer.

Those crumbs end up landing on the heating element and burning. These scorched bits can lead to lots of smoke.

It’s also possible that your food is sitting so high it’s physically touching the burner.

Too Much Sauce

Sauces, especially the ones that contain a generous amount of sugar, like barbeque sauce can create problems.

If they’re placed on food too early in the cooking process, they can drip and burn.

It’s best to wait until the food is already partially cooked to add on these types of sauces.

Too Much in the Basket

Another reason is that your basket is crowded. If you have too much food in your basket, the hot air can’t circulate properly. Food won’t cook evenly and can burn. Burning equals smoke.

If your model cooks extra hot, you may need to lower the temperature setting to avoid smoke. Recipes for air fryers are only guides.

They don’t know your specific unit and the temperatures it cooks at. So you may need to make adjustments if the temperature is so high that it’s causing your food to burn.

If this is the case, lower the setting and cook the dish for a longer time.

Let it Breathe

Make sure your air fryer can breathe. It’s important to set it up in an area where it has adequate ventilation.

Avoid cramming it into a tight space where air can’t circulate around the vents. A well-ventilated kitchen is also important.

What should I do if my air fryer is smoking?

Step 1: Turn off the power. If you’re getting an intolerable amount of smoke, the first thing to do is unplug that machine!  For safety reasons, remove the power and then determine what is causing the issue.

Step 2: Ventilate your kitchen. Open a window or door. Turn on your vent hood. If it’s very bad, you may need to reset your screeching smoke alarm.

Just do not put your air fryer on your stove. Ever. It always ends badly.

Step 3: Remove excess grease.  Spattering grease can cause problems. If you have a grease issue, try putting a slice of bread or two in the bottom of the drawer (under the basket) to soak up some of the greases. This can cut down on excess splattering and will often solve many problems.

Step 4: Place food correctly. Check to make sure none of the food is actually in direct contact with the heating element. If it is, move it so that it can’t burn or scorch.

Is it normal for an air fryer to smoke?

A very small amount of smoke is okay. But a lot of it is not normal. When grease from fatty food gets very hot, it can create white smoke. In an air fryer, it’s not uncommon for grease from cooking foods to splatter and circulate onto the heating element and result in fumes. 

If something is overcooking, to the point of burning, you’ll end up with a white haze too. Check your temperature and cooking times to avoid burning.

It can also smoke if the basket or any other interior area contains a lot of leftover oils, grease, or crumbs from previous cooking. Sometimes simply cleaning the unit will solve the problem.

How do I stop my air fryer from setting off my smoke alarm?

If your air fryer is setting off your smoke alarm, you can easily remedy the issue by giving it a good cleaning. They operate best when they are clean and free from grease from past uses. Leftover grease residue can overheat when you’re cooking and release white smoke from the kitchen appliance. 

A similar thing can happen when you’re cooking fatty foods. Grease from these foods can burn and start smoking. If they smoke a lot, your alarm will go off.

As you know, some alarms are pretty sensitive and it doesn’t take much to set them off. The best way to prevent smoke from releasing is to keep it clean and make sure you have a well-ventilated kitchen. This is the most efficient way to keep your smoke alarm from going off.

What kinds of food can cause smoke?

Most issues come from fatty meats that are being cooked. Watch out for chicken thighs, sausages, bacon, hamburgers, and other grease-producing foods.

Sometimes, you can fix the problem by wrapping the food in foil or parchment paper. Just don’t preheat your air fryer with parchment paper in it or that will definitely cause your air fryer to smoke from it burning!

Battered foods or foods with dry breading that are loose can cause problems when particles from the breading or batter blow onto the heating element. 

You can prevent this from happening by spraying a little olive oil or other cooking oil over the outside of these foods before cooking them. You can learn more about how to use oil in the air fryer here.

How can I tell if I’m seeing smoke or steam?

Steam is generally odorless and is a normal part of the cooking process, especially with high moisture foods. This is nothing to worry about.

Smoke, on the other hand, is caused by some sort of grease or other food particles on the heating element or fan. A buildup of stuff on the heating element or fan can cause smoke too.

Why does my air fryer have a burning smell?

Most likely, the heating element has collected a buildup of grease, juices, and food particles. When the air fryer heats up and this buildup gets hot, it can give off a burnt smell.

Something may have hit the top burner. I’ve accidentally had an Air Fryer Roast Beef touch the heating element, and it caused the unit to smell like it was burning until I was able to do a good cleaning.

How do I prevent my air fryer from smoking?

A good method to stop the white haze coming from your device when you’re cooking greasy foods is to place one or two slices of bread under the basket

You may need to press it down so the basket will fit in. The bread acts like a sponge and will absorb the grease and prevent it from circulating with the hot cooking air. 

Another effective way to stop your air fryer from smoking is to pour two tablespoons of water underneath the basket before you begin cooking. You can also do this to put an end to smoke that appears in the middle of cooking as well.

Keeping the appliance clean and free of food buildup will help a great deal too.

What should I do to keep it clean?

Check your operating manual first. Some appliances have dishwasher-safe parts. 

Most instructions say to use a warm soapy cloth to loosen and clean off debris and grease from inside of the unit and the basket. When the unit is completely cooled and empty, you can flip it upside down to access the heating coils easier, but be gentle!

I love to soak my basket in some Dawn soap while eating and then wash it right afterward to help get some stuck-on grease and food off the basket.

It’s always important to unplug your unit before cleaning and to clean it after each use.

Summing it Up!

Smoke coming from your air fryer is kind of annoying, but fairly normal. You now know some effective ways to control, prevent, and manage air fryer smoking. Please let me know if you found this article helpful. Good luck and happy air frying!

Other Air Fryer Tips:


About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

2 thoughts on “Why Is My Air Fryer Smoking?”

  1. Thank you so much! I was googling if my air fryer is supposed to smoke so much! We’re cooking burgers as our first dish ever using our new air fryer! MAYBE NOT the best choice for the 1st time! But your article was SO HELPFUL! I loved the ideas and will try them next time! As well as your recipes! I’m saving your info!


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