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Can You Put Foil in an Air Fryer?

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Yes or no? It’s important to know if foil is okay for use in your air fryer. Let’s investigate the details!

Nachos with foil in the air fryer

If you’re reading this article, you’re most likely an air fryer owner. Way to go! Air fryers are amazing countertop appliances. 

They save time and energy and give foods a craveable, sought-after crispiness. Compared to deep fat frying, an air fryer can cut the fat content of cooked foods by over 50%.

Many cooks can’t imagine functioning in their kitchen without foil. It’s been around for a long time. Whether you refer to it as aluminum foil or tin foil, knowing if it’s okay for use in your air fryer is valuable information. 

So, can you put foil in an air fryer? The answer is yes, but some essential guidelines must be followed. 

If you choose to cook with tin foil in an air fryer, you need to learn how to use it effectively and safely. In this article, I’ll teach you the best how-tos for including foil in your air fryer cooking.

When asking the question, can you put foil in an air fryer, you’ll also want to know why you would. The biggest pluses to using foil in an air fryer mostly have to do with improved flavor and ease of clean-up. Aluminum foil in an air fryer can change your final cooking result in a good way.

Let’s jump right in and get your questions and concerns answered.

Roll of aluminum foil
close up of aa aluminum foil on white background with clipping path

Can I Put Foil in an Air Fryer?

Yes, you usually can, but please read the operating manual that came with your air fryer before using foil inside. Some models will tell you not to do it. 

Others will give you clear instructions for exact dos, don’ts, and preferred methods. This is a safety issue, so please pay attention.

Reasons to use foil in the air fryer:

  • It can help enhance the flavor of your food. A bit of foil wrap can allow your food to cook in its drippings and seasonings instead of those flavorful elements simply falling to the bottom.
  • Foil can act as a heat conductor, which distributes heat for faster, more even cooking.
  • It helps your food not stick to the bottom of the basket or cooking tray.
  • Aluminum foil makes cleaning up your air fryer easier. With foil, you get to throw most of the messy stuff in the trash.
Pork tenderloin wrapped in aluminum foil
Spiced pork tenderloin grilled in tin foil

Where Do You Put Aluminum Foil in an Air Fryer?

You only want to put foil in the bottom of the basket or tray. Be sure not to cover all of the holes. The holes in the basket are there to allow the circulation of hot air over and around food to cook it.

Never put foil underneath the basket or tray. As appealing as it may be to use foil to catch crumbs, debris, and drippings, this is not a good or safe practice. You may block a vital function such as the fan or heating element, depending on how your air fryer is configured. 

Cooking could be interfered with, resulting in unevenly cooked food or overheating your air fryer. Covering up all the holes can actually damage your appliance.

Hamburgers in air fryer

When Should You Avoid Using Aluminum Foil in the Air Fryer?

  • Avoid using foil if your appliance’s operating manual specifically instructs you not to
  • Avoid cooking acidic foods like limes, lemons, tomatoes, tomato sauce, or vinegar marinades. Extra salty or briny types of juices can be an issue as well. The problem with cooking these types of food in tin foil is the reaction that occurs when the food and foil heat up together.

    The foil actually breaks down under these conditions. As in, it sort of begins to disintegrate and particles of aluminum end up in your food. Yeah. Let’s not do this!

    Ingesting aluminum is considered unsafe by many health organizations and has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease. So, keep those acidic or super salty items away from the foil.
  • Avoid using foil when your food is very light in weight. The air circulation can cause the aluminum foil pieces to move and can fly up into the fan and that’s never a good thing!

    This is another reason your tin foil must be only slightly larger than the food being cooked.
  • Lastly, do not use aluminum foil in the air fryer when cooking fatty foods like hamburgers and bacon. The holes in the basket allow the excess grease to drip down in the holes of the basket.

    I recommend placing a piece of bread under the basket when cooking these kinds of foods so your air fryer does not smoke.
Air Fryer Corn on the Cob in foil inside the air fryer

Can You Wrap Food in Foil and Put It In an Air Fryer?

Yes, this is one of the best ways to use foil in an air fryer. For certain recipes, foil is an excellent way to go. Food wrapped in foil will retain moisture and juiciness. 

Foil can also preserve a lot of great flavors that otherwise might get lost as it drips through the holes into the underneath area of your air fryer. Many chicken and vegetable recipes work great cooked this way.

Just try my foil-wrapped Corn on the Cob recipe! You’re going to love it!

I even use them to reheat sauced wings in the air fryer!

Cooked air fryer corn on the cob in foil opened up

Can I Put a Paper Towel in the Air Fryer?

No! Please DO NOT do this dangerous thing.  Paper towels are not the same as parchment paper. 

They are great for cleaning up but can ignite and start a fire in your air fryer if you place them inside with all of that concentrated heat blowing around.

Speaking of parchment paper, here are some good practices about using parchment paper in the air fryer too!

Is it Okay to Mold a Foil Boat or Bowl Out Of Aluminum Foil For Use in an Air Fryer?

A small, handmade foil cooking vessel is a clever, useful, and fun way to place food inside of an air fryer. If you’re planning to do this, I’d recommend using heavy-duty aluminum foil. It will give you a sturdier container.

Foil “dishes” are good for when you’re cooking small pieces of food or foods that contain juices that you want to capture. As stated before, make sure you leave plenty of holes open for critical hot air circulation.

Please note the food may take longer to cook when wrapped in foil.

Fish wrapped in tin foil with fresh lemons and tomatoes
Tasty baked fish in foil on table close-up

Will My Food Taste Like Metal if I Use Foil to Cook in My Air Fryer?

As long as you don’t use foil for cooking acidic foods, you don’t have to worry about any metallic taste.

Tips for using tin foil in an air fryer:

  • Only use a small amount of foil. Never completely line the entire basket or you won’t get enough hot air circulation to evenly cook your food. 
  • Make sure you don’t block too many of the holes in your basket or tray. The holes are there to allow hot air to circulate and cook the food. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you want good, even cooking to happen, keep plenty of the holes uncovered.
  • For safe and proper cooking, the foil must be weighted down with food. Don’t use foil with lightweight foods. If the food is too light your piece of foil might get blown into the fan or heating element and cause damage to your air fryer. Worse, it could actually start a fire!
Sauced wings inside air fryer basket with aluminum foil underneath

Alternatives To Using Tin Foil in an Air Fryer

  • The Air Fryer Silicone Basket is a reusable option and is designed to keep clean-up to a minimum. I love using my basket as an easy way to clean up. Plus, it’s dishwasher-safe!

I also love this Extra Virgin Olive Oil Non-Aerosol Sprayer for those occasions when you want to spritz a bit of oil on the outside of food before cooking it in your air fryer. It’s a pretty vessel and lightly adds the right amount of healthy fat to recipes. Just a little oil helps foods get perfectly crispy in your air fryer.

You can read more about using oil in the air fryer here.

Raw crab cake patties inside the air fryer

Summing it Up! 

The good news is that foil is okay to use in most air fryers, but do check your manual. Make sure you don’t block air circulation and avoid those high acid foods.

You can get some nice flavor enhancement and juiciness when you properly use foil in the air fryer. Try it. It’s a great way to expand your air fryer cooking options. Send me an email and let me know how it works for you!

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