Food on wax paper

Cooking in an air fryer allows for the various possibilities of having a rich and nutritious meal with your family! Though it is technically not an oven or frying pan, it has the properties that let you bake fresh crispy-like food.

When we bake, we can use tools like baking paper. But air fryers are another story. One example is paper. Some recipes would ask you to place your hamburger patties or french fries on paper for frying or baking in an oven. But when it comes to an air fryer, you’ll need to skip some types of cooking paper.

Why use an air fryer?

An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that cooks food by circulating hot air around it. It works by using a fan to circulate hot air around the food, which cooks it evenly and keeps it from drying out. Air fryers can be used to cook a variety of foods, including chicken, fish, and vegetables. One of the benefits of using an air fryer is that it requires less oil than traditional frying methods, which makes it healthier. Additionally, air fryers can cook food faster than other methods, making them ideal for busy families or weeknight dinners. If you’re looking for a healthy and convenient way to cook your food, an air fryer may be the perfect solution.

What is wax paper?

Wax paper

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Wax paper is a temperature sensitive cooking paper made of soybean or paraffin wax to prevent stickiness and moisture. It’s used for packing food like sandwiches and prevents food from being frozen together.

According to CNET, the wax paper also works best for lining tables when rolling dough and kneading bread. It helps keep your kitchen tidy, cool down your food, and can keep liquid-like food together in place. Martha Stewart noted that you can use it to cover your counter when measuring dry ingredients like sugar, flour, and cocoa, making it a great way to set your kitchen table. You can also use wax paper for short-term storing frozen food items to refrain from sticking with other food.

While it’s a fair substitute for parchment paper when wrapping and cooling food from sticking, it does not have the same heat-resistant properties. You cannot use it in an air fryer as wax can melt or stick to the air fryer basket. Using it can cause a fire hazard as it is heat sensitive and won’t sit properly on your air fryer basket. 

Another issue is that if cooking paper is not correctly placed on the air fryer basket, it can be blown away by the fan. If it hits the heating element while flying around, it can cause a fire.

What kinds of paper can I use in an air fryer:

Using paper in your air fryer can be tricky, but not impossible. Finding the correct paper that is heat safe for cooking in an air fryer can be tough to find. So to guide you, I’ve listed down a quick guide answering what cooking paper you can place in an air fryer!

Parchment paper

Parchment paper

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Also known as “baking paper”, parchment paper is a versatile type of kitchen paper that comes in bleached white and unbleached brown, coated with silicone which contributes to its non-stick properties. Parchment is best for baking dishes and supporting breading from fried dishes from falling. This technique of cooking is also known as “cooked en papillote”.

Though it is great for baking: baking is still greatly different from air frying. But, yes, you can use it in an air fryer! It is also safe for deep frying food but you’ll need to be careful as parchment has a heat resistance limit of only 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Purchasing it comes at an extra cost compared to wax paper but it’s safer and allows better air circulation.

Readers Digest also noted that another reason why people avoid using parchment paper in air fryers is due to the risk of a fire hazard, but this can be avoided by properly placing it after preheating when you’re ready to cook. 

Aside from a heat resistant surface, make sure the parchment paper is specifically made for air fryers like perforated parchment paper. This type of parchment paper has perforated holes so that air can flow continuously. It also helps hot air circulate to the food and basket, making it better than regular parchment paper. 

But there are still limits to using it in an air fryer. Placing parchment paper, even if it has holes, can reduce the air fryer’s efficiency by blocking its airflow. The food can end up being cooked unevenly or not as crispy as you hoped for.

Parchment paper may be heat safe to use in an air fryer, but it’s best to read your air fryer’s manual for further instructions. Here’s a quick guide according to Insider:

  1. One to prevent air blockage is to measure your parchment paper and see how much you will need to support food. Do not line the entire cooking basket with parchment paper. According to Merrideth Laurence, measure and cut your parchment paper to be as large as your food for more space for airflow.
  2. Check the brand of your parchment paper’s heat limit may vary along with the recipe you are going to cook as it instructs what temperature you will be cooking the food in. 
  3. Preheat your air fryer and ensure you are ready to cook before adding your parchment inside. Ensure the parchment paper is weighed by the food to prevent it from flying around the air fryer, which can make it catch fire.
  4. Avoid reusing parchment paper no matter how clean it may look after cooking. Its heat resistance has already been reduced and it is dirty.

Remember that the smallest piece of Parchment goes a long way, do not maximize it as air needs space to circulate to cook food. Don’t forget to flip your food while cooking as well.

Air fryers work in a different way compared to baking trays as heat also comes from underneath the air fryer basket which can cause a dilemma of flying paper in the air. Be extra careful that while you flip your food, it does not fly up.

Aluminum foil

Aluminum foil

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Unlike Parchment’s non-stickiness, Aluminum foil can highly attach to food and is a good insulator for heat which is a big no for air fryers. It is great for wrapping food but using it in cooking can risk bits of aluminum sticking to your food and the air fryer when heated. Studies found that the amount of aluminum leaching creates high volumes of acid solutions in our food which can cause health issues. 

Too much aluminum intake in the body can cause a lower growth rate of brain cells and increase the chances of Alzheimer’s. 

It can also block hot air flow from circulating, preventing food from being cooked properly. Aluminum foil is best used to keep food warm in packaging. You can also place it around the stove to keep your kitchen clean.

Paper towels

Paper towel and french fries

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Using paper towels in an air-fryer is a big no. It is best for absorbing oil from food but cannot be placed inside an air fryer. Paper towels are not heat resistant and can cause a fire.

Additionally, you will be left with unevenly cooked food since paper towels are too thick and can block airflow. There may be parts that remain uncooked due to uneven air circulation.

A Paper towel is best for placing your food after deep frying. It is most suitable for absorbing grease from fried food on a plate rather than during cooking itself.

Final thoughts

The bottom line is: no, you cannot use wax paper for cooking in an air fryer. But Parchment paper is a better alternative and the most optimal cooking paper to withstand heat and support your food. Just make sure it does not block heat and touch the heating element.

Most importantly, refrain from using parchment paper when cooking food that exceeds its heat limit. Always double-check the instructions on both ends to prevent a possible fire hazard.

Though it may not have the same results as cooking in an air fryer without parchment paper, unless you’re using a recipe that requires parchment paper, the clean-up process will be incredibly easy which can still save the day!

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