Why You Shouldn't Use Cooking Spray In Your Air Fryer

The air fryer might be a go-to kitchen appliance in most American homes, but it's actually relatively new. It's only been 12 years since its debut, making it the new kid on the block (via Exnovate). Yet, an entire community has formed around the appliance. The Facebook group, Easy Air Fryer Recipes, has more than 1.4 million members and continues growing every day due to the appliance's versatility and ease of operation. Despite this ease, air fryers still require a certain level of culinary and technical knowledge to maintain and operate.

One of the things that most folks might not understand is how to use oil in their air fryers. The main draw of an air fryer is to have that crispy skin that usually comes courtesy of a deep fryer without the hassle or calories. Having some oil is still helpful, though. La Tourangell notes that adding some oil to your air fryer's basket can help keep foods from sticking and help maintain moisture. But although using oils can be beneficial, many don't know that some cooking sprays can damage the basket and ruin any nonstick properties that are already present.

Cooking spray can ruin nonstick coatings

Using most common cooking oils in your air fryer is safe and can save you time trying to scrape your food off later. Kitchen Snitches notes that nonstick cooking sprays like Pam can actually damage the surface of the air fryer's basket the same way they do other nonstick cookware. Cooking sprays like Pam and even artisanal ones may contain lecithin. According to Real Simple, lecithin is an emulsifier that can actually build up over time onto your cookware. It covers up the nonstick surfaces, and over time will make foods cooked on them clingy and difficult to work with. The best way to avoid this is to avoid using any sprays that contain lecithin, or other artificial materials such as dimethyl silicone, propane, or butane.

Instead, simply trust the nonstick surface of your air fryer, and only add simple cooking oils to add moisture. You can distribute a small amount of cooking oil like vegetable, canola, peanut, avocado, or sunflower oils with a paper towel or specialty spray mister. It might also be helpful to add some water under the air fryer basket to keep any of that oil from contacting the heating element and smoking. These options will allow you to maintain the quality of your air fryer basket with all of the benefits of a cooking spray.