Can You Put a Pan In An Air Fryer?

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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 revolutionary.

But there’s still some confusion around what you can and can’t cook with these handy devices. One common question is: can you put a pan in an air fryer?

The short answer is yes; you can use pans in an air fryer. However, there are some guidelines to follow to ensure safe and proper cooking. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using pans in air fryers.

How Do Air Fryers Work?

Before we dive into pans, let’s first understand how air fryers work.

Air fryers use rapid air circulation technology to “fry” foods. A heating element and fan circulate hot air around the food at high speed, cooking the food and creating a crispy texture. The food cooks evenly and quickly, using little to no oil.

This rapid air circulation is the key to using pans in an air fryer successfully. The pan can’t block too much airflow, or else the food won’t cook properly.

What Types of Pans Work Best?

You’ll want to choose pans that maximize airflow for the best results. Here are the best options:

  • Mesh pans or baskets: These allow for full airflow circulation and are designed specifically for air frying.
  • Oven-safe pans with low sides: Standard pans work if they have short sides (1-2 inches). This prevents too much obstruction.
  • Cake pans or pie tins: These tend to be shallow, so they don’t restrict air circulation much.

Avoid any pans with steep sides, as they will block too much hot air from reaching your food.

Tips for Cooking with Pans in an Air Fryer

Follow these tips to safely and effectively use pans in your air fryer:

  • Don’t overfill the pan. Leave space around the food for air circulation. Overfilling can lead to improperly cooked food.
  • Brush or spray oil. Lightly coat the pan and food with oil to prevent sticking. Air fryers use little oil, but you’ll still need a bit.
  • Shake or flip food mid-cook. Move food around to ensure even browning and cooking.
  • Add a cooking rack. A rack under the pan allows more air circulation underneath.
  • Adjust cook times: pans may retain heat slightly differently than cooking directly in the basket. Adjust cooking times as needed.
  • Use oven mitts; pans get very hot! Always use mitts to remove pans after cooking.

Benefits of Using Pans

Using pans provides a few advantages:

  • Easier cooking: delicate or small foods may be easier to cook in a pan than directly in the air fryer basket.
  • Contain messes: Baking dishes like casseroles contain ingredients for less mess.
  • Customize cooking: Use pans to cook multiple foods simultaneously at different temperatures.
  • Make cleanup easier. Pans keep food contained, so there’s less mess in the appliance.
  • Modify shape: Pans allow you to mold ingredients a certain way, like meatloaf in a loaf pan.

What Foods Work Best in Pans?

You can get creative with the pans in your air fryer! All types of foods bake, roast, and fry up nicely. Here are some of the best options:

  • Baked goods: muffins, brownies, cakes, breads
  • Casseroles: mac and cheese, lasagna, pot pies
  • Vegetables: roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and butternut squash
  • Proteins: chicken breasts, fish fillets, meatloaf
  • Snacks: fries, tater tots, popcorn shrimp
  • Side dishes: risotto, quinoa, roasted veggies

The possibilities are endless! Just keep airflow in mind when choosing pans and filling them with food.

FAQ About Using Pans in Air Fryers

Can any pan be used in an air fryer?

No, pans with high sides that block airflow won’t work well. Opt for mesh, oven-safe, or low-sided pans.

What about metal pans? Are they safe?

Yes, metal pans are safe as long as they’re designed for high heat, like cast iron or stainless steel. Don’t use pans with plastic handles.

Should I use cooking spray on the pans?

Yes, lightly coat pans with oil or cooking spray to prevent food from sticking. Air fryers use minimal oil, but you’ll still need a small amount.

How much space should be between the food and the top of the pan?

Leave at least 1-2 inches of headspace for proper airflow. Overfilling pans can lead to uneven cooking.

Can I cook more than one food at a time using pans?

Yes, using multiple pans allows you to cook different foods simultaneously at various temperatures. Just leave room for air circulation.

Is it okay if my pan touches the sides or doesn’t lay totally flat?

It’s fine if pans tilt or touch the sides, as long as there’s still room for air to flow around and under them. Avoid overfilling.


Pans are a great accessory for air fryers, as long as you follow a few guidelines. Stick to mesh or oven-safe pans with low sides; avoid overfilling them; lightly oil; and adjust cook times if needed. Using pans opens up more possibilities for air-frying all kinds of delicious foods!


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