If you’re like most people, you probably have a few disposable aluminum foil pans and containers kicking around your kitchen. Disposable aluminum pans are inexpensive and light and are not only great for cooking and baking but also easy-to-clean options for reheating and warming food.
Although there are many unusual things you can put in an air fryer, you might be wondering if you can use aluminum pans in an air fryer as well.
If It’s Good For Oven, You Can Also Use It In An Air Fryer
Despite being named “air fryer,” this useful little kitchen device does not really fry anything. If anything, it is much closer to a fan-assisted convection oven than a deep fryer. Consider it a convection oven that is small enough to fit on your kitchen counter.
The air fryer has a heating mechanism at the top accompanied by a powerful fan. In the lower section, you have a basket or a rack where you can place your food.
Once activated, the heating element warms up the air, which can reach up to 450°F (232°C), while the fan makes it circulates around the food repeatedly.
The hot air circulation cooks the food, creating a crispy exterior without any or very little or no oil.
Disposable aluminum pans can tolerate temperatures of up to 500°F (260°C)—much higher than any temperature used in regular cooking, which means they can withstand high heat inside ovens as well as in air fryers.
As you can see, it is essentially the same concept as that of fan-assisted convection ovens. However, its small size allows for a more significant heat concentration and, subsequently, a more efficient cooking and crisping process.
But the most important takeaway is, if the aluminum pan is oven safe, you can safely use aluminum pans in an air fryer also because both appliances use similar cooking methods. An air fryer circulates hot air around the food, while most oven uses radiant heat as well as fans.
The main difference is that air fryers are smaller and use rapid air technology for more intense heat, and are better at creating a crispy layer.
But both methods cook food evenly, so using an aluminum pan in an air fryer is a good and safe option as long as the container is small enough to comfortably fit into the air fryer basket.
Aluminum cookware used for cooking—that is, aluminum foil, aluminum cookware, and disposable aluminum pans—makes use of food-grade aluminum that has been certified as non-toxic, therefore, carries no toxicity or contamination risk.
NOTE! If you have an Air Fryer Microwave Combo, be extra careful when using foil or any metal cookware so that you don’t set it accidentally to microwave instead of air frying.
How To Use Aluminum Pans In An Air Fryer?
As a rule of thumb, if your aluminum pan, tray, and container are small in size and are good to use in the oven, these are also good enough for the air fryer.
But while you technically can use aluminum cookware in an air fryer, that doesn’t mean it is an entirely risk-free choice, as most air fryer baskets are designed to cook the food straight in the basket, and placing a pot or a pan there could obstruct the airflow.
Tips For Safley Using Disposable Aluminum Pans In An Air Fryer.
1. Don’t Obstruct The Airflow
It is a general rule that the basket or cooking space of your air fryer should have enough room for the air to flow as intended so the food can cook evenly.
However, that need increases when you’re using disposable aluminum pans or any other cookware in your air fryer—if the container is too big, you risk completely obstructing the airflow and leaving your food raw or, worse, damaging your device.
So, make sure that the pan or container you are using comfortably fits into the air fryer basket, and if it does, DO NOT fill it to the brim so that circulating air can’t reach all the food.
If you do reheat or cook food in an aluminum pan that is quite full, stir the food in every few minutes so that it can cook evenly and get an even crisp.
2. Make Sure There Is Enough Weight On The Aluminum Pan
Remember—air fryers work by circulating hot air at a fast speed, so as I covered in the previous point, you don’t want to overfill the aluminum container; you also don’t want to underfill it.
As you know, disposable aluminum pans are very light, and if there is not enough weight to hold it down, you risk the air flow blowing it around the basket and can cause a mess or maybe even some damage to your device.
Naturally, this means it’s a good idea to use the aluminum pan only if the food has enough weight and volume to keep it in place.
3. Keep The Heating Device Away From The Aluminum Pan
Since the position of the heating coil varies on each air fryer, you’ll need to resort to your specific model to figure out where it is and what you can do to prevent contact.
However, a general rule is to prevent the aluminum pan from touching any part of the air other than the basket or the tray.
So, repeating the first point again, make sure that the aluminum pan is small and low enough to fit comfortably into the air fryer.
4. Flip Your Food Regularly
Remember, even with a small disposable aluminum pan, you would inevitably obstruct some airflow, plus shiny foil reflects heat and creates uneven heat distribution. Naturally, this means that food inside a disposable container may not cook evenly in an air fryer, which can lead to burned bits or raw food.
Solution? Make sure or mix or flip the food while cooking. You can switch the position of the disposable aluminum pan as you see fit to prevent any section from receiving more heat than others.
If you are baking a cake in an air fryer, check the top of the cake after half of the cooking time has passed, and if there is uneven browning, change the position of the container.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Poke Holes
Feel free to skip this advice if you’re baking a cake or cooking food with liquid content. However, if you use disposable aluminum pans or aluminum foil and your food is not liquid, feel free to poke a few holes.
Why? It will allow the hot air inside the air fryer to flow more freely and create a more even heat distribution.
6. Avoid Cooking Acidic Foods
The aluminum pans may react to food when cooking or baking with acidic ingredients like vinegar, lemon, rhubarb, or tomato. The aluminum may cause the food to become discolored and have a metallic taste. The reaction is more likely to occur with highly acidic foods and long cooking times.
When cooking acidic food, use glass or ceramic baking dishes instead of aluminum.
Read Also: 9 Tips For Baking In Disposable Aluminum Pans.
Conclusion? Worth A Shot!
Cooking with tinfoil or aluminum foil itself or disposable aluminum pans is an excellent way to make your life easier—it’s quick and simple, reduces cleaning times, and prevents a mess. Quite often, ready-made TV dinners and takeaways come in these little aluminum containers.
Although you can use aluminum pans in an air fryer, remember that not all air fryers are made equal, and some have their own peculiar quirks, traits, and safety recommendations. For instance, some Philips air fryers’ user manuals don’t recommend using foil at all, while other appliance manufacturers like Frigidaire say it is okay to line the basket with foil.
Make sure to read the user manual before using any aluminum cookware or any other cookware materials, for that matter, and follow the safety instructions of your air fryer.