Is It Safe To Put Aluminum Foil In An Air Fryer?

Anytime you get a new gadget for the kitchen, the next reasonable step is to figure out how to use it properly. If that gadget is an air fryer, one of the first things you might want to know is if it's safe to put aluminum foil in it. Considering the explosive results this material yields in microwaves, that is an entirely reasonable question and the answer is: yes — with some precautions.

Southern Living explains that you should only put the foil on the bottom of the fryer basket, not on the bottom of the air fryer itself and not over the food. This is because air fryers work by circulating (surprise, surprise) hot air, which is generated at the bottom of the machine. If the air vents (or the food) are blocked by foil then the air cannot circulate properly and the food will not cook the way it is supposed to.

Using a limited amount of foil in the fryer this way can make retrieving food from the basket easier when it's ready and can reduce the mess inside the basket when it's time to clean up.

Air fryer issues to avoid

While aluminum foil is generally safe to put inside the air fryer basket, there are a few safety issues to consider when starting your meal prep in this countertop cooker.

The first, fairly obvious precaution is to make sure you have enough food on top of the foil to weigh it down when you put it in the basket. As previously noted, air fryers cook food by blowing hot air around. If the foil is not properly weighted it can blow around inside the device, not only defeating its "less mess" purpose but also creating a potential fire hazard if the foil gets too close to the heating element (via Insider).

Another important thing to note when using foil — whether in an air fryer or an oven — is to be careful about using acidic foods on top of it. Using foil while cooking anything can allow small amounts of aluminum to seep into food (via USA Today). This is generally harmless by health standards as aluminum is naturally occurring in virtually everything. However, according to Food & Nutrition, acidic foods like tomato sauce and vinegar are so strong they can damage the foil and cause it to seep through in larger amounts, which can negatively impact the taste of a meal.

If your air fryer meal includes tomatoes or an acidic marinade, or you just want to use less foil for environmental reasons, Insider recommends using parchment paper as an alternative to avoid messes or potential metallic tastes.