Can you put foil in an air fryer?

The short answer is yes, but there are some things that you need to keep in mind.

Whether you’ve just snapped up an air fryer or have been using one for a while, there are lots of air frying tips that can make your cooking experience easier. 

While the best air fryers are becoming increasingly popular, they can be quite messy to clean – especially if you’ve cooked meat, or added oil during cooking.  

There are lots of options that can help make cleaning easier, one of which is foil.  

Crispy roasted chicken with potatoes in an air fryer to illustrate can you use tin foil in an air fryer?Credit: Shutterstock
Tin foil can help keep your air fryer clean, but be careful of how much you use

Why use tin foil?

A great way to reduce the mess

“Foil can be such a great tool to keep your air fryer clean,” says Clare Andrews, air frying expert and author of The Ultimate Air Fryer Cookbook.  

The foil also prevents food sticking to the bottom of the basket, making sure you get the whole of your delicious dish on your plate and not at the bottom of the air fryer. In addition, it makes removing food from the basket a lot easier – especially if it’s likely to break up as you take it out. 

 Finally, there’s a school of thought that says the foil helps food cook more evenly. It works as a distributor, sending heat across the basket and not in just in one, literal, hot spot. The foil will also boost any flavours. Without a barrier, marinades or natural juices will drip through the holes in your basket, potentially leaving your food a bit tasteless. 


Is tin foil safe to use?

Be careful and you should be OK

It all depends on who you ask. While many air fryer experts, like Andrews, agree it’s a great way to reduce mess, many manufacturers advise against using tin foil in an air fryer.  

Philips, for example, says it’s not recommended to use tin foil in their air fryers as it will reduce performance and could even start to burn if the foil gets pulled into the heater. 

The air flows through the bottom of the basket to distribute the heat, so if these are covered then Philips says the air fryer can’t do its job.  

On the other hand, Ninja says that foil is fine to use with their roasting tray option.  

Philips Essential XL Connected HD9280 sat on the a kitchen counter top surrounded by food itemsCredit: Philips
Some manufacturers like Philips don’t recommend using tin foil in their air fryers

How to use tin foil in an air fryer?

Make sure to weigh it down

If you are going to use tin foil, there are some things to consider. 

  1. First up, don’t use lots. The air does need to flow through the basket and if you cover all the holes, you’ll not get the benefits of air frying. Ideally, cut the foil to the correct size of the basket. 
  2. Don’t enclose the food totally with tin foil. Instead of creating a deliciously crispy meal, you’ll end up with a soggy mess. 
  3. You also need to weigh down the tin foil with the food. The air in the basket could make the foil move around and it may even get sucked into the heater and burn. For this reason, never put foil in during the pre-heat stage. 
  4. Finally, be careful of what you use it with. A study has shown that some foods, such as fish and tomatoes can actually dissolve the aluminium in the foil, which then ends up in the food. Cooking at a high temperature can also cause this, and the study concluded that those most at risk from using tin foil in cooking were small children and those with certain illnesses, such as renal failure. It would be extremely difficult they noted for an average person to consume enough trace aluminium to cause any major risks to health.  

What are the alternatives to tin foil?

Other methods to use in your air fryer

Silicone moulds 

Clare Andrews really rates silicone moulds, as they are heatproof, available in different sizes and most importantly, are easy to wash up. She uses cupcake silicone moulds for cooking smaller items, while she chooses bigger silicone moulds for cooking sauce-based dishes, as these are not advisable to do straight in the basket.   

Try CNMTCCO’s silicone air fryer liners (£6.99, Amazon), which are not only a great price but they’re also a good sustainable buy as they can be used time and time again, unlike tin foil. 

Ovenproof dishes 

Any cookware you use in your oven can, in theory, be used in your air fryer, so that includes metal roasters, ceramic plates or glass dishes. Copper containers and cast-iron skillets are also safe to use.  

You’re unlikely to be able to use the ones from your oven, though, as they will probably be too large, but you can pick up cookware sized for air fryers easily enough. This kit includes a cake barrel and pizza pan (£15.99, Amazon), which will add lots of cooking options to your air fryer repertoire. 


EXPERT TIP: Using a cupcake silicone mould or a ceramic ramekin is a great way to poach eggs in the air fryer says Andrews.

Add some boiling water to the dish, crack the egg in and away you go. Cook for around five minutes – although timings will vary with each air fryer. It’s ready to eat once the egg white looks done and doesn’t fall apart when you poke it. 

Baking paper 

If you don’t want to use tin foil, baking paper does the same job. Again, ensure you’ve cut it to size and weighed it down. You can also buy pre-made liners (£7.99, Amazon), which save having to cut the baking paper to fit each time.

Disposable greaseproof paper being used in an air fryer to illustrate can i use tin foil in an air fryerCredit: Shutterstock
Disposable baking paper liners are a great alternative to tin foil when it comes to keeping your air fryer clean

What can’t I use in the air fryer?

Step away from the plastic!

As well as some foods that should never be cooked in an air fryer, there are some utensils that you need to swerve with this particular kitchen gadget. 

Anything made from plastic is a no-no, as it will just melt. Double check that any pans or pots that you use in the air fryer don’t have plastic handles.   

It’s also best to avoid cookware that has a non-stick coating. Even though air fryers use convection heat to cook, some oil is needed to get the best results, and unfortunately, that can break down the non-stick coating. 

Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her


Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 23 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars.

A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

Jayne lives in Kent with a shepsky, her husband and her son, who is attempting to teach her the ways of TikTok, Aston Villa and anime. A keen neurodivergent ally after her son was diagnosed as autistic five years ago, when Jayne does have some rare downtime she enjoys yoga, reading, going to musicals and attempting to emulate Beyonce (poorly) in street dance classes.

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