Air Fryers have become a popular alternative to traditional deep fat fryers thanks to their ability to cook traditionally fatty foods in a much healthier way. But some may wonder whether this cooking method leads to dried out foods with less flavor.
Many people love to cook with aluminum foil because it helps food retain moisture and flavor - particularly meats. But, can you put aluminum foil in an air fryer without burning your kitchen or harming your health? Continue reading for the answer and some basic facts to keep you safe.
Key air fryer mechanics.
Rather than crisping the outside of the food with the heat provided by oil, air fryers instead create a similar effect to traditional frying by forcing hot air around the food creating a convection effect like a supercharged fan oven which browns and cooks the food.
This method reduces the fat content of the resulting ‘fried’ food by up to 80 percent against using a traditional deep fat fryer. However, since this cooking method closely resembles the way you would "fry" foods in a convection oven, it yield food that's less crispy and juicy.
Can you put aluminum foil in an air fryer?
Many people love to cook with aluminum foil because it helps food retain moisture and flavor - particularly meats. And this may seem even more important when you're thinking about an air fryer which could have a tendency to dry out some foods.
But there are some things to consider when using it in your air fryer.
Aluminum foil can be wrapped around most solid foods and put in the air fryer just fine so long as you remember to make sure it is properly sealed.
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The one exception is acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits like lemons and limes, and dishes made with a lot of vinegar.
This is because the acid found in the food can decompose the aluminum in the foil which can result in scraps of foil peeling off and ending up in your food.
This results in black spots on the food once it has finished cooking. Though these specks are edible, they can ruin how the food tastes and give it a charred or metallic taste. This is true of both air fryers and normal convection ovens.
It is also possible for food coated with spicy herbs, chilies, or a lot of salt to react with aluminum foil
It is very important to remember not to put aluminum foil or baking paper in an air fryer on its own as it can be sucked into the fryer’s heating fan and cause a fire.
It is very important to check whether your air fryer is heated from a coil in its base or its top before using foil with it.
If the coil is at the top of the fryer you should not have any problems so long as you follow the advice above.
However, if your air fryer is heated with a coil in its base you need to make sure not to cover it as this could damage your air fryer, or even worse, start a fire.
If you follow the above rules you can cook food in aluminum foil in your air fryer safely and easily.
Is cooking with aluminum foil bad for your health?
Many people are wary of using aluminum foil because small fragments of it can flake off into the food and end up being consumed.
According to a report on Aluminum from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), an average adult in the United States consumes about 7-10 mg of aluminum per day through processed food.
Although the ATSDR concluded that oral exposure to aluminum is not normally harmful, some studies have shown a link between exposure to high levels of aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease. But most relevant experts say that typical amounts of aluminum exposure seen in regular living doesn't cause the disease. And, the Alzheimer's Association lists this alleged link on its page of "myths" about the disease.
But if you are still worried about the potential health risks of using aluminum foil...
Use Parchment Paper Instead
A potentially safer alternative to aluminum foil is parchment paper.
Though you do need to follow the same safety advice given above for using aluminum foil, parchment paper is a great alternative as there is no danger of any metal leaching into your food even when cooking with acidic ingredients.
Another alternative to foil is to simply use parchment paper liners. You can find some perforated ones that are specifically designed to work with your air fryer.
These liners fit snugly in the bottom of your basket while the holes in the paper make sure air flows around the fryer as it should do.
They also make it a lot easier to clean your fryer after use as you simply take the liner out and give the inside of the basket a quick wipe rather than having to scrub the basket or put it in the dishwasher where the basket will take up a lot of space.
It’s a Wrap
It is safe to use aluminum foil in your air fryer if you are careful and follow the advice above.
For simple meat and vegetable dishes so long as you don’t block the vents foil is fine, but we wouldn’t recommend using it with anything acidic as it will likely ruin the taste of the food, regardless of any other potential side effects.
However, you are probably better off using parchment sheet liners because you can cook whatever kind of food you like with them without fear of anything leaching into it, and they are specifically designed for use with air fryers and aluminum foil isn’t.
Regardless of whether you decide to use aluminum foil parchment paper, or a liner in your air fryer just make sure it is weighted down with food or it could be sucked into the fryer’s heating element with disastrous results.