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Can You Put Paper Towels In An Air Fryer?

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Air fryers are still relatively new in the market with quite a lot of confusion surrounding their use and benefits. What can you cook in it? Will food turn out crispy? Do you need to use oil? Is air-fried food healthier?

In order to prepare delicious meals, in a safe manner of course, and to reap the benefits of this incredibly versatile kitchen gadget, you need to make sure that you use it properly. 

From knowing how it works to the best foods cooked in it and how to clean it, there are simple tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your air fryer.

One very common question regarding air fryer use is whether you can put paper towels in it.

Paper towels are used in kitchens for cleaning, wiping, lining, blotting, and so much more, but there are certain applications where using paper towels is a big no.

So, can you put paper towels in an air fryer? No, it is not recommended to put paper towels in an air fryer, especially while it is operating. They will prevent the air from circulating properly and may potentially start a fire. You can, however, use them to season the surface to prevent the food from sticking to the air fryer basket.

Read on to find out why you must never use paper towels when using an air fryer, why you shouldn’t do it, and what you can use instead.

How Does An Air Fryer Work?

Before we discuss why it isn’t recommended to use paper towels in an air fryer, you need to understand how this kitchen appliance works.

Air fryers are a popular and economical machine that you can use to cook different types of foods.

In addition to being used for fried items, you can use an air fryer to cook or grill beef, chicken breasts, vegetables, and even bake delicious desserts!

It uses rapid air technology that involves hot air being circulated around the food inside the air fryer cooking basket.

It features a heating element that heats the air being blown inside using a fan. This extreme air movement at a very high temperature causes the food to heat up and start cooking.

The cooking basket is removable and where you place all the ingredients to cook. Under it, there is a pan with ample room to allow rapid air circulation, where all the grease, dirt, and food residue settle during the cooking process.

Just as you would avoid using certain materials on the stove, in the oven, or the microwave, there are similar things that you must never put in an air fryer when it is operating, including paper towels.

These materials include those that are affected by extreme temperatures, that might melt when heated, aren’t good heat conductors, and those that obstruct the natural airflow within an air fryer.

What Happens When You Put Paper Towels In An Air Fryer?

Most people, when using air fryers, might think about using paper towels to soak up the excess fat or oil that comes out of the food while cooking for easy cleanup.

Others may use them to soak up the oil from foods to make them less oily or to prevent food from sticking to the surface.

Whether you put paper towels in the bottom of the cooking compartment or directly under the food, both instances are a hard no and here’s why:

Fire Risk

Paper towels are highly flammable and can easily catch fire when placed inside an air fryer, which is why you must be extremely careful when using them near any source of heat or fire.

Air fryers have a heating element inside them that gets very hot, making the air extremely hot as well when the appliance is turned on.

Since paper towels are lightweight, they can start moving around the cooking compartment and may get lodged in the machine’s heating element. Even if they are secured in place, you never know when they might come loose and catch fire.

Uneven Cooking

While it may seem like a good idea to place a few sheets of paper towels to keep your air fryer clean and absorb the excess oil from the food, it will block the airflow and result in uneven distribution of air.

If the air is prevented from flowing freely inside the machine, the food will be unevenly cooked. Not only will this result in losing the right consistency but may also be a serious health hazard, especially when cooking meat.

Using Paper Towels For Seasoning

Although it is not recommended to use paper towels in an air fryer when the machine is turned on, there are certain ways you can utilize them.

Paper towels can be used to season the air fryer basket to prevent food from sticking on the basket’s surface, to prevent grease formation, and to make the cleaning process easier.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to use paper towels in an air fryer for seasoning purposes:

  • With the basket placed inside, turn the air fryer on for about 3 minutes.
  • Open the air fryer and take out the basket.
  • Using a paper towel, rub oil on the walls of the basket to prevent the ingredients from sticking to it.
  • Put the basket back inside and turn on the air fryer for another 2 minutes.

Doing this frequently will ensure that your air fryer stays in good condition for a long time. It will also prevent the basket from peeling, which is an issue with many air fryer models.

What To Use Instead Of Paper Towels

Since paper towels are a big no when it comes to using them in an air fryer, what can you use instead?

Parchment paper, also known as baking paper, can be safely used in an air fryer without the risk of uneven cooking or it turning into a fire hazard.

As opposed to paper towels, parchment paper is perforated and allows proper circulation of air in the air fryer. It serves the purpose of a paper towel without disrupting the airflow inside the machine.

Good quality parchment paper can handle the heat inside an air fryer; however, steer clear of fixtures that can encourage higher temperatures.

Here are a few useful tips for using parchment paper in an air fryer:

  • Line the air fryer basket with parchment paper using exact measurements to prevent it from overlapping the edges of the basket.
  • Place the parchment paper after preheating the frying basket. Make sure to wear oven mitts to avoid burning or scalding.
  • Do not completely cover the bottom surface of the air fryer since it may hinder the airflow. Make sure to cover it only partially to allow free flow of air within the basket.
  • Never put empty parchment paper in the air fryer without any food on it as it may catch fire.

Related Questions

Now that you know whether or not you can put paper towels in an air fryer and what can happen if you do, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have.

Can you put aluminum foil in an air fryer?

Yes, you can put aluminum foil in an air fryer, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind when doing so, such as your air fryer model and the type of food you are cooking.

Therefore, before attempting to do so, make sure to read the user manual that came with your air fryer to check whether it is safe to use aluminum foil in it.

Since all air fryers work on the same principle of rapid airflow, you must make sure the air is allowed to flow freely without any hindrances.

Make sure to place the foil only in the bottom of the air fryer basket and not in the bottom of the pan where oil and grease tend to fall.

Similar to using parchment paper, make sure the foil doesn’t cover the entirety of the basket and the edges. To be extra safe, you could make a few small holes in the aluminum foil to ensure the right amount of air is flowing through.

Can you use a glass bowl in an air fryer?

You can use a glass bowl in an air fryer if it is oven-safe. However, since the internal temperature of an air fryer can rise considerably within a matter of minutes, you need to be sure that your cookware can withstand it.

With that being said, placing a glass bowl inside an air fryer might not be the best idea since it doesn’t have holes in it, blocking the air from reaching the food.

Not only will this take much longer to cook the food but may also result in uneven cooking.

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