Air fryers have become an incredibly popular kitchen appliance in recent years. Their ability to cook food quickly and with less oil than traditional frying makes them very appealing.
But there are some questions about what materials are safe to use in an air fryer. One common question is whether metal cookware, baking dishes, or utensils can be used in an air fryer.
How Do Air Fryers Work?
To understand whether metal is safe for air frying, it helps to know how air fryers work. Air fryers circulate very hot air around food at high speeds to cook it. This rapid air circulation mimics the results of deep frying, crisping the outside of foods while cooking the inside.
The heating mechanism in an air fryer is either a coil, a heating plate, or a heating element. This heats up the air inside the appliance to temperatures normally between 200°F and 400°F. The food cooks rapidly in this hot, circulating air.
Potential Issues With Metal in Air Fryers
There are some potential problems that can arise from putting metal in an air fryer:
- Metal can block air circulation – The metal sheets or pans may disrupt the smooth flow of hot air in the appliance. This can lead to uneven cooking.
- Metal may cause sparking – If metal comes into close contact with the heating element, it could cause dangerous sparking or arcing. This poses a safety risk.
- Metal may damage the appliance – Some air fryer manufacturers specifically warn against metal because it can damage the interior or heating mechanism over time.
- Metal conducts heat – Metal absorbs heat well. Some metal utensils or pans may get excessively hot in an air fryer and be difficult to handle safely.
Metal Materials to Avoid
To avoid potential issues, there are certain metal materials you should not put in an air fryer:
- Aluminum foil – Foil can easily blow around and make contact with heating elements. The thin foil could cause arcing. Foil also disrupts air flow.
- Metal baking pans – Any solid metal pan risks uneven cooking results. Most also contain aluminum, which poses risks.
- Metal plates or bowls – Solid metal dishes block air circulation, leading to uneven cooking.
- Silverware and cooking utensils – Metal forks, knives, spoons, tongs, etc.—should not be placed in an air fryer.
- Aluminum air fryer liners or inserts – Any insert or liner containing aluminum foil disrupts air flow and heating.
Safe Metal Materials
While you need to avoid large metal pans and aluminum foil, some small metal components are generally considered safe for air frying:
- Metal baking racks – Placing food on a metal rack suspended above the fryer basket allows air to circulate underneath.
- Metal skewers – Inserting metal skewers into meat or food for kabobs is fine as long as they don’t touch surfaces.
- Small metal tins – Ramekins or small tins containing food can be placed in the basket. Avoid large pans.
- Ceramic coated or stainless steel pots – Small oven-safe pots with ceramic or stainless steel coatings often pose no issues.
Best Materials for Air Frying
While limited metal may be safe, the best materials for air frying are:
- The included metal fryer basket – Specifically designed for the appliance. Leave it in place.
- Ceramic – Glazed ceramic dishes allow air flow and contain no metal.
- Oven-safe glass – Glass baking dishes or ramekins work well. Verify that they are oven-safe.
- Silicone – Silicone utensils, liners, and bakeware are ideal for air frying. Withstands heat.
- Oven-safe plastic – Durable plastic containers and trays made for baking are usually safe. Avoid soft plastics.
Air Fryer Manufacturer Guidance
It’s always best to consult your specific air fryer brand’s manual for their guidance on using metal:
- Some prohibit any aluminum or metal from being placed in the appliance.
- Others may indicate that small oven-safe metal pans are permissible.
- Most advise against aluminum foil or large metal dishes that can disrupt airflow.
Follow your air fryer’s recommendations closely to avoid potential damage. Instructions vary between models. When in doubt, stick to ceramic, glass, silicone, or oven-safe plastic alternatives.
FAQ About Using Metal in Air Fryers
Can you put aluminum foil in an air fryer?
No, aluminum foil should never be put inside an air fryer. The lightweight foil will blow around and potentially make contact with heating elements. This can cause arcing, sparks, or damage.
Are metal baking pans safe in air fryers?
Large metal baking sheets, casserole dishes, cake pans, etc. are not recommended. Solid metal blocks too much airflow for even cooking. Small ramekins or tins may be okay if your manual permits.
Can metal utensils be used in an air fryer?
Metal forks, knives, tongs, and other utensils should never be placed inside an operating air fryer. Not only will they disrupt airflow, but they pose a burn hazard when removed after cooking. Use silicone or wooden utensils instead.
Is it safe to cook food in aluminum pots and pans in an air fryer?
Most air fryer brands prohibit aluminum pots and pans. Aluminum is too lightweight and can interfere with heating elements, even if they are ceramic-coated. Stick to glass or ceramic cookware instead.
Can you use those metal air fryer inserts and liners?
No, any insert or liner with aluminum foil should never be used in an air fryer. These inserts often contain foil shielding that can cause electrical arcing and appliance damage.
Are stainless steel or cast iron pans okay in an air fryer?
It depends on the size. Small stainless steel tins or oven-safe pots with metal handles may be fine. But large pans that impede airflow are not recommended. Check your manual.
The Bottom Line
While you need to steer clear of foil, large baking pans, and most aluminum, small oven-safe stainless steel or ceramic coated pots may be permissible in some air fryer models.
Glass, ceramic, and silicone accessories are universally safe. When in doubt, avoid placing any metal in contact with air fryer heating elements and defer to your appliance manual’s guidance.
With the right accessories, you can safely cook hundreds of delicious meals in your air fryer!
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.