What You Shouldn’t Put in an Air Fryer: Keep Your Food and Appliance Safe

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If you’ve recently purchased an air fryer, you might be excited to try it out and experiment with different foods. However, there are certain things you should never put in an air fryer. While air fryers are a great kitchen appliance for cooking a variety of foods, they are not suitable for everything. If you are wondering what you shouldn’t put in an air fryer then we are here to help.

One of the things you should avoid putting in an air fryer is wet batter. Foods with a wet batter, such as fish, corn dogs, and wings, will not cook properly in an air fryer. The hot air circulating in the fryer will not set the wet outer layer, resulting in a soggy mess. Instead, stick to dry batters or coatings when using an air fryer.

What You Shouldnt Put in an Air Fryer Keep Your Food and Appliance Safe

Another food you should avoid cooking in an air fryer is sugary items. The high heat of the air fryer will cause sugary foods to melt and burn, leaving a sticky and messy residue. Stick to savory foods when using an air fryer and avoid anything with high sugar content.

Understanding Air Fryers

Air fryers are a relatively new kitchen appliance that has become increasingly popular in recent years. They are a healthier alternative to deep frying, as they use hot air to cook food instead of oil. This means that you can enjoy crispy, fried foods without all the added fat and calories.

Air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food, which is cooked by a heating element. The hot air is generated by a fan, which blows the air around the food. This creates a convection effect, which cooks the food evenly and quickly.

One of the benefits of air fryers is that they are very versatile. You can use them to cook a wide variety of foods, including chicken, fish, vegetables, and even desserts. Some air fryers even come with additional accessories, such as baking pans and grill racks, which allow you to cook even more types of food.

It’s important to note that not all air fryers are created equal. Some are more powerful than others, and some have more features. When choosing an air fryer, it’s important to consider your needs and preferences, as well as your budget.

ninja double air fryer

Ninja® Foodi®XL 2-Basket Air Fryer

  • 2 independent XL air fryer baskets
  • Integrated Foodi® Smart Thermometer
  • Cook 2 foods 2 ways that finish at the same time

Items Not Suitable for the Air Fryer

Air fryers are a great kitchen appliance that can help you prepare crispy and delicious meals without the need for excess oil. However, there are some things, both food and non-food items, that are not suitable for use in the air fryer. Let’s talk about what you shouldn’t put in there.

Wet Batter

Wet batter is not suitable for air frying since it tends to drip and make a mess in the air fryer. The batter can also stick to the air fryer basket, making it very difficult to clean, especially if it burns on, which it most likely will.

If you must air fry wet-battered foods, use previously frozen battered foods, as the freezing process sets the batter. Anything that you’ve just wet battered will need to put put in a deep fryer instead.


One of the foods you just can’t cook well in an air fryer is rice. Air fryers use hot air to cook food quickly, and the circulating air gives the food a crispy exterior that mimics the effects of deep-frying. Rice needs to absorb water to cook properly. In an air fryer, there’s not enough moisture or pressure to cook the rice correctly. The high heat and circulating air will likely dry out and harden the rice, rather than soften it as intended.

However, you can use an air fryer to reheat already cooked rice or to make dishes like fried rice, where the rice is already cooked before it goes into the air fryer. The air fryer can add a nice, crispy texture to the rice in these cases.

Wax Paper

There are some types of baking paper that you can use in an air fryer, such as parchment paper and tin foil, but you can’t use wax paper. Wax paper is not heat-resistant. It’s designed for use in low-temperature cooking methods like storing food or lining baking pans when making goods like cookies or brownies that don’t require high temperatures.

When exposed to the high heat of an air fryer (which typically ranges from 350°F to 400°F), the wax on the paper can melt, creating a mess and potentially releasing chemicals into your food. If it comes into direct contact with the heating elements of the air fryer, it could ignite.


water in the air fryer basket

In most cases, you cannot put water in your air fryer since it can cause a short circuit and damage the appliance. There are a few exceptions, such as putting a small amount of water in the base of the basket to prevent smoking, but otherwise it’s not a good idea to use water. If you do put liquidy foods in the air fryer, you’ll want to put them in an air-fryer safe dish in the basket, not directly on the basket.


Grains such as quinoa and couscous are not suitable for air frying since they will not cook evenly. Grains need to absorb water to cook properly. In an air fryer, there’s not enough moisture to cook the grains correctly. The high heat and circulating air will likely dry out and harden the grains, rather than soften them as intended.

Small grains can potentially slip through the holes of the air fryer’s basket. Even if they don’t, the circulating air can cause the grains to scatter, leading to a potential mess and inefficient cooking.


While it’s possible to cook some dishes with cheese in an air fryer, you generally don’t want to put just cheese directly in the basket without any additional preparation. Cheese, especially softer varieties, tends to melt and get sticky when heated. It could melt and seep through the holes of the air fryer’s basket, making a mess that is hard to clean.

Cheese can also burn easily if not monitored closely. The high heat and circulating air of an air fryer can lead to cheese burning quickly, creating an unpleasant taste and possibly harmful substances.

Melted cheese that drips onto the hot elements of the air fryer can smoke and create a fire hazard. When I first got my air fryer I put a slice of cheese on top of a hamburger and it flew off into the heating element and burned. Not good!

On the other hand, we’ve very successfully cooked grilled cheese sandwiches and grilled halloumi in the air fryer. The grilled cheese is protected by the bread, and the halloumi is firm enough not to melt through the basket.


For the same reason you can’t easily cook rice in an air fryer, you also can’t cook pasta. Pasta needs to be boiled in water to rehydrate, which it cannot do in the air fryer. However, there are a few types of pasta that you can put in the air fryer after they are rehydrated, such as ravioli and tortellini, which are cheese-filled pastas. if you spray them with a little bit of cooking oil then put them in the air fryer, they will get a crispy exterior that’s super tasty.

ravioli in a single layer

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach don’t do well in the air fryer because they are too wispy and have very little water content, so the circulating air will dry them out almost immediately. One type of green that you can put in the air fryer is kale, because it’s much firmer and can withstand the heat. We like to make air fryer kale chips that turn out perfectly crispy in the air fryer.


Sugary foods should not be air fried since they will melt and burn. Avoid putting cotton candy, sour gummy candies, or any other sugary foods in your air fryer. Additionally, it’s not a great idea to cook foods that have a dry rub that contains a lot of brown sugar. The sugar caramelizes quickly on the food and quickly leads to a burned exterior, even when the meat isn’t yet cooked on the inside. If you want to add a rub with sugar in it, do it near the end of cooking, so it doesn’t burn on.

Nonstick Cooking Spray

While it may be tempting to use nonstick cooking spray in your air fryer, it is not recommended. Nonstick cooking spray can damage the nonstick coating of the air fryer basket and cause it to peel off over time. Instead, use a small amount of oil or cooking spray to coat your food before placing it in the air fryer.

Maintaining and Cleaning an Air Fryer

air fryer basket with soapy water

Keeping your air fryer clean is essential for its longevity and optimal performance. Fortunately, cleaning an air fryer is a relatively simple process. Here are some tips for maintaining and cleaning your air fryer:

How to Clean an Air Fryer

  1. Always unplug your air fryer before cleaning it.
  2. Allow the air fryer to cool down completely before cleaning it.
  3. Remove the cooking basket and any other removable parts and wash them with warm soapy water. You can also put them in the dishwasher if they are dishwasher-safe.
  4. Wipe down the interior of the air fryer with a damp cloth or sponge. Do not use abrasive cleaners or scrubbers as they can damage the non-stick coating.
  5. Clean the heating element with a soft brush or cloth to remove any food debris or grease buildup.
  6. Wipe down the exterior of the air fryer with a damp cloth and dry it with a clean towel.

Super Useful Air Fryer Accessories

Once you’ve started using your air fryer more regularly, you’ll find there are so many other ways you *could* be using it, if you had a few extra useful accessories. Here are a few favorites that we use almost every day.

Pros and Cons of Using an Air Fryer

cooked filet mignon on the air fryer plate

Air fryers have become increasingly popular in recent years as a healthier alternative to deep frying. They work by circulating hot air around the food to create a crispy exterior without the need for excessive oil. However, before you start using your air fryer, it’s important to understand the pros and cons.


  • Less oil: One of the biggest advantages of using an air fryer is that it requires less oil than traditional deep frying. This means you can enjoy your favorite fried foods with fewer calories and less fat.
  • Money: Over time, an air fryer can save you money on oil and electricity bills. While the initial cost of an air fryer may be more expensive than a deep fryer, the long-term savings can be significant.
  • Energy: Air fryers use less energy than deep fryers, which can help reduce your carbon footprint and save you money on your energy bill.
  • Texture: Air fryers can create a crispy texture on foods that would typically be deep-fried. This means you can enjoy the same great taste and texture without the added calories and fat.
  • Crispy and crunchy: Air fryers can create a crispy and crunchy exterior on foods, which can be especially satisfying for those who love the texture of fried foods.
reheat fried chicken


  • Limited capacity: Air fryers typically have a smaller capacity than deep fryers, which means you may need to cook food in batches or choose smaller portions.
  • Difficult to clean: Air fryers can be difficult to clean, especially if food is stuck to the basket or tray. Some models may have dishwasher-safe parts, but others may require hand washing.
  • Bulky: Air fryers can be bulky and take up a lot of counter space. If you have a small kitchen, this may be a concern.
  • Limited cooking options: While air fryers can be used to cook a variety of foods, they may not be suitable for all recipes. For example, some recipes may require a specific cooking temperature or time that an air fryer cannot provide.
  • Not suitable for all foods: While air fryers can create a crispy texture on many foods, they may not be suitable for all foods. For example, foods that are already high in fat may not benefit from air frying and could become dry or overcooked.


While air fryers are a great tool for cooking a variety of foods, there are some things you should avoid putting in them. Remember that air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food, so anything that is too delicate or too wet may not cook properly. Additionally, anything that can melt or drip may cause a mess or even damage your air fryer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put aluminum foil in an air fryer?

Yes, you can put aluminum foil in an air fryer. However, it is important to use it correctly to avoid any damage to the air fryer or your food. Make sure the aluminum foil is not crumpled or covering the air fryer’s heating element. Also, avoid using it to wrap food tightly as it can prevent the hot air from circulating, resulting in unevenly cooked food.

What should not be cooked in an air fryer?

While air fryers are versatile kitchen appliances, there are some foods that should not be cooked in them. Wet batters, such as those used for battered fish, will not cook properly in an air fryer. Avoid putting in foods that are too greasy or have a high-fat content, as they can cause smoke and unpleasant odors.

What can damage an air fryer?

There are some things that can damage an air fryer if not used correctly. Using metal utensils or abrasive sponges to clean the air fryer’s non-stick coating can cause scratches and damage. Putting water directly into the air fryer’s heating element can also cause damage and is not recommended. Additionally, overfilling the air fryer’s basket can cause the food to cook unevenly or not at all.

What are air fryers not good for?

Air fryers are not good for cooking foods that require a lot of liquid, such as soups or stews. They are also not recommended for cooking delicate foods, such as fish or soft vegetables, as they can easily become overcooked or dry. Finally, air fryers are not the best choice for cooking large quantities of food, as they have a limited capacity and can take longer to cook than a traditional oven.

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