Skip to Content

Can You Put a Paper Towel in an Air Fryer? 

Do you wonder if you can put a paper towel in an air fryer? First, you have to understand the do’s and don’ts of air frying.

The air fryer has become a versatile kitchen appliance, a wonderful new time-saving addition to the modern kitchen. It also delivers delicious meals with a fraction of the oil used in a deep fryer. 

roll of paper towels next to an air fryer

With its ability to cook everything from crispy bacon to perfect chicken wings, it’s no wonder air fryers are getting great reviews and becoming favorite kitchen appliances. At least it’s one of my faves. However, a common question among new air fryer owners is: Can you put a paper towel in an air fryer? The short answer is no, and here’s why.

The Basics of Air Fryer Cooking

To understand why using a regular paper towel in an air fryer isn’t a good idea, let’s first look at how an air fryer works. Unlike a regular oven or toaster oven, an air fryer uses rapid circulation of hot air to cook food. 

air fryer with open basket

This method, often likened to countertop convection ovens, ensures a crispy exterior while keeping the inside moist. The cooking basket, which is placed inside the main unit of the air fryer, has small holes to allow for this air flow and circulation of hot air.

The Risk of Using Paper Towels in Air Fryers

The simple answer to whether you can use paper towels in an air fryer revolves around safety aspects. Regular paper towels, wax paper, and even parchment paper not designed for high heat can pose a fire risk. Even if you use oil to coat French fries or meat, it’s best to save the paper towels for later.

roll of paper towels next to an air fryer

The heating element in air fryers can reach high temperatures, often going beyond 400 degrees F (degrees Fahrenheit). A paper towel or any material not meant for high heat can ignite, creating a safety hazard.

Moreover, air fryers rely on the circulation of hot air for even cooking. Placing a paper towel in the air fryer’s basket can obstruct this air flow, leading to uneven cooking. It can also stick to the food, especially greasy food like bacon slices, ruining the texture and taste of your favorite things to cook.

Alternatives to Paper Towels in Air Fryers

For those concerned about excess oil or grease, there are safe alternatives. Follow these tips for the best results.

First, you can use parchment paper or aluminum foil specifically designed for high temperatures, ensuring they don’t cover the entire bottom of the air fryer basket to allow air circulation. However, the basic rule is to use them only for specific types of food and in a single layer to avoid blocking air flow.

In some cases, you can put plates in an air fryer. But you need to make sure it’s oven-safe to prevent a disaster from happening.

aluminum foil sheet and roll of foil

Cooking sprays with a nonstick coating or a small amount of cooking oils like olive oil or avocado oil can also help reduce the amount of excess fat, making your air fryer bacon or pork chops less greasy while still maintaining that delicious, crispy exterior.

Cleaning and Maintenance

After air frying, cleaning up is essential to maintain your appliance. Instead of attempting to catch excess grease with paper towels, it’s better to let the air fryer cool down and then clean the basket and bottom of the air fryer with warm soapy water and a damp cloth. 

This method is not only safe, but it’s also effective in removing food particles and excess grease. And really, I’ve found that it’s not difficult at all.

Cooking Safe and Delicious Food

When it comes to air fryer cooking, the charm of air frying lies in its ability to cook a variety of different foods, from tater tots to thick-cut bacon, using less oil and in a fraction of the time it would take in a deep fryer. 

It’s a testament to how versatile and efficient modern kitchen appliances can be. I’m a kitchen appliance junkie as well as a foodie, so I’m always on the lookout for anything that saves time and delivers great food.

If you have a favorite recipe that you’d like to try air frying, check out this article on converting oven-to-air-fryer cooking times. It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. For those new to air frying or considering a new kitchen gadget like an air fryer, understanding these safety aspects and cooking functions is key. 

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and remember that while air fryers are indeed a safer alternative to deep frying, they still require cautious use, especially concerning what you place inside them.

Delicious Air Fried Foods

I love the fact that the air fryer cooking process makes preparing a meal so easy. And clean up is a breeze.

Here are some of our favorite air fried foods:

French Fries – Of course, this is one of our faves. And it’s one that most people start with because it’s easy and delivers yummy, crispy fries.

plate of french fries with ketchup

Air Fryer Bacon – Cooking bacon in an air fryer is a wonderful thing! In addition to making the best bacon, you’ll cut your cooking time by quite a bit. If you’re concerned about all the grease in the bottom of the basket, just slip in a slice of bread. That soaks it right up. 

plate of air fried bacon

Air Fryer Jiffy Cornbread – Since this little convection oven can cook almost anything your oven can, try this delicious cornbread recipe from Back to My Southern Roots. The edges come out so crispy and delicious that you’ll wonder why you ever made it any other way!

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders – Trying to come up with a new appetizer that everyone will love? Then make this yummy bacon wrapped chicken. All you have to do is just a little bit of prep, and then you let the air fryer work for you.

plate of bacon wrapped chicken tenders

T-Bone Steak – If you’re a steak lover, here’s another method to try. I love my steak grilled, cooked in butter on top of the stove, and air fried. It’s super easy and so delicious!

air fryer t-bone steak on a plate

Final Thoughts on Paper Towels in Air Fryers

In conclusion, while air fryers are indeed a hot topic in the world of delicious and healthy cooking, using regular paper towels inside them is not advisable due to fire risk and the potential for uneven cooking. 

Stick to safe practices and enjoy the myriad of culinary possibilities this charming appliance offers, from air fryer bacon to reheating crispy chicken wings, all with a crispy exterior and a moist, flavorful interior.

Please feel free to share!