Can You Put a Paper Towel in an Air Fryer?

In recent years, air fryers have become a popular kitchen appliance because they can cook tasty food with less oil. However, as with any new technology, questions often arise regarding their safe and proper usage. One such question that frequently arises is: Can you put a paper towel in an air fryer?

In this article, we’ll explore why it’s not a good idea to use paper towels in air fryers and suggest safer options you can use instead.

What Is an Air Fryer and How Does It Work?

An air fryer is like a small oven that cooks food by circulating hot air around it. It gives food a crispy texture, similar to frying, but without using as much oil.

Air fryers have a cooking chamber, heating element, and fan. The heating element heats the air inside the cooking chamber. The powerful fan then circulates this hot air around the food at high speed, cooking it evenly on all sides.

This rapid air circulation cooks foods similarly to deep frying. The food gets crispy and browned on the outside while remaining moist on the inside.

Picture of an air fryer with the basket pulled out to illustrate what it looks like.

Is It Safe to Put Paper Towels in an Air Fryer?

The short answer is no, it is generally not recommended to put paper towels in an air fryer. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Fire Hazard

Paper towels can easily catch fire in the very high heat of an air fryer, which typically cooks at temperatures between 350-400°F. The material in paper towels dries out fast, making them very flammable when exposed to high temperatures.

2. Toxic Fumes

When paper burns, it releases toxic fumes that you do not want in your food. The chemicals used in paper towels can release chemicals like dioxins and biphenyls when burned, which can be harmful if breathed in or swallowed.

3. Messy Cleanup

Paper towels can break apart inside the air fryer basket. This can be extremely difficult to clean up. Pieces of towels could also get stuck in heating elements or fans and cause damage over time. Using liners like parchment paper designed for oven use would be a much safer option.

4. Poor Cooking Results

Using paper towels in the air fryer can make the food cook poorly. The air fryer needs to circulate hot air freely to cook food properly. Paper towels can block this airflow and affect the cooking process.

Alternatives to Using Paper Towels

Parchment Paper

The good news is there are several safe, simple alternatives to using paper towels:

1. Air fryer Basket

The basket in your air fryer lets hot air flow around the food evenly, making it crispy and cooked evenly. Just put your food in the basket without using extra paper towels.

2. Parchment Paper

Parchment paper is a handy choice for lining the air fryer basket because it stops food from sticking and lets air move around easily. Cut parchment paper to fit your basket size. Place it under your food for easy cleanup and even cooking.

3. Silicone Mats

Silicone mats are heatproof and don’t stick to food, which means they’re great for use instead of paper towels. You can just put them in the air fryer basket to catch any drips or spills, and they won’t mess up your cooking. Plus, you can use them again and again, which makes them handy for air fryers.

4. Metal Containers

You can use metal containers like trays or steel bowls in air fryers without any worries. These containers are durable and can handle high temperatures, so they’re perfect for cooking various foods without using paper towels.

Additional Safety Tips

In addition to avoiding the use of paper towels, here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind when using your air fryer:

  • Never leave your air fryer unattended while cooking.
  • Use only utensils designed for safe use in air fryers.
  • Clean the fryer basket and components regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


Paper towels may seem convenient, but they should never be used inside hot air fryers. They can easily catch fire, release harmful chemicals into your food, and damage the appliance. Instead, use parchment paper, silicone mats, or small metal trays to get crispy food without any risk.

Follow the recommended safety guidelines for your air fryer, and you will enjoy perfectly fried dishes every time.

Additional Resources

Frequent Asked Questions:

Can I put aluminum foil in the air fryer?

Yes, you can put aluminum foil in the air fryer, but make sure it’s not covering the entire basket or blocking the air vents. It’s safe to use as long as it doesn’t interfere with the airflow.

Can you put a glass dish in an air fryer?

No, you should not put a glass dish in an air fryer. While some glass dishes might seem safe, the sudden change in temperature from the hot air can cause the glass to crack or shatter. This could lead to injuries or damage to your air fryer.

Can I put plastic in an air fryer?

No, you should never put any type of plastic in your air fryer. Plastic is not designed to withstand the high temperatures of air frying and could melt or warp, releasing harmful chemicals into your food.


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