Air fryers have become one of the most popular kitchen appliances in recent years. Their ability to make crispy “fried” foods using little to no oil is convenient and healthy.
But can you line the basket of your air fryer with paper towels? Let’s dive into the details.
How An Air Fryer Works
An air fryer cooks food by rapidly circulating hot air around it. A heating element and fan are used to move air up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit around the food at high speeds, cooking the food and producing a crispy texture.
This rapid air circulation system means oil is not required to cook the food evenly, unlike traditional deep frying. Only a small amount of oil is needed to coat the food and make it crispy.
The basket of an air fryer allows for maximum air flow while protecting the heating element and fan from any mess.
The Purpose of The Air Fryer Basket
The basket in an air fryer serves some important functions:
- It allows air to freely circulate around the food for even cooking.
- It prevents food from dripping onto the bottom of the appliance.
- It keeps small foods like fries contained, so they don’t blow around.
- It is dishwasher-safe and easy to clean after cooking greasy foods.
The holes in the bottom and sides of the basket allow hot air to reach all surfaces of the food for crisping.
Is It Safe To Line an Air Fryer Basket with Paper Towels?
Lining the air fryer basket with paper towels may seem like a good idea to absorb excess grease and make cleanup easier.
However, it is generally not recommended for a few important reasons:
Paper towels can easily catch fire in the intense heat of an air fryer, which can reach temperatures up to 400°F. A paper towel could ignite, damaging your air fryer and putting your home at risk.
Air Flow Obstruction
Lining the basket with paper towels blocks the air flow, preventing the hot air from circulating properly around your food. This can lead to uneven cooking.
Some paper towels contain chemicals like BPA that you do not want leaching into your food when heated to high temperatures.
Grease and crumbs can still drip through small holes in the paper towel lining, leaving you with a mess to clean up anyway. The paper towels are also likely to tear.
Recommended Alternatives To Paper Towels
While paper towels are not ideal, there are a few better solutions to keeping your air fryer clean:
Use a Liner Made for Air fryers.
There are liners made specifically for air fryer baskets that are safer and don’t obstruct air flow. These are made from food-safe, high-heat materials like silicone or perforated parchment.
Coat the basket with Cooking spray.
Giving the basket a light coat of cooking spray before adding your food can help prevent sticking and make cleanup easier.
Use a Baking sheet.
For very messy foods like bacon, placing a small oven-safe baking sheet or pan into the bottom of the basket can catch drips.
Empty Frequent Smaller Batches
Cook in smaller batches and empty the basket frequently so crumbs don’t accumulate.
Hand Wash Basket
Allow the basket to soak after cooking for easy hand washing. Avoid running the dishwasher repeatedly, as it can damage the coating.
Tips For Using Paper Towels With an Air Fryer
If you do still wish to use paper towels in your air fryer, follow these tips to reduce the risks:
- Use parchment paper rather than regular paper towels, which have a higher burn risk.
- Only line the bottom of the basket, not the sides, to allow air flow.
- Cut holes in the paper towel with scissors to allow more air circulation.
- Cook at lower temperatures of 300°F or less to prevent burning.
- Never leave the air fryer unattended with paper towels inside.
- Change out paper towels between smaller batches to prevent the buildup of crumbs.
It’s best to avoid paper towels when possible, but these tips can reduce the risks if you choose to use them. Monitor cooking closely and stop using paper towels if you notice any burning.
FAQ About Using Paper Towels in an Air Fryer
Can I use paper towels to clean my air fryer?
Yes, you can use paper towels to wipe down and clean the outside and inside of your air fryer. Just make sure to unplug the appliance first and allow it to cool completely before cleaning.
Parchment paper is safer than regular paper towels but still risks obstructing air flow. Use sparingly on the bottom only, and cut holes to allow air circulation if trying this method.
What about aluminum foil? Can I line the basket with that?
It’s not recommended. Like paper towels, aluminum foil can obstruct airflow. It can also potentially melt from the high heat or leach into foods.
Is it okay to use wax paper in my air fryer?
No, wax paper should be avoided for the same reasons as paper towels and aluminum foil. The wax could melt at high temperatures.
Are silicone air fryer liners safe?
Yes, liners made specifically for air fryers are a good choice. Look for liners made from food-grade silicone that are perforated to allow air flow. These provide mess protection without fire risk.
Can I put food directly in the metal basket?
Yes, you can cook foods directly in the basket without any liner. The metal wire allows for maximum airflow. Using a light cooking spray can prevent sticking.
The Bottom Line
While using paper towels in your air fryer may seem convenient, it comes with substantial risks to your safety and the appliance.
It’s best to avoid paper towels and use alternate methods to keep your air fryer clean and your food crispy. Silicone liners, cooking sprays, and baking sheets can all get the job done without obstructing air flow.
Always monitor your air fryer closely and take precautions if attempting to use paper products inside.
With some small adjustments to your process, you can keep your air fryer running in tip-top shape for healthier, oil-free cooking.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.