Air fryers have become a must-have appliance in most kitchens for their ability to make deliciously crispy foods without all the oil of traditional frying. But can you use metal cookware in your air fryer? Is it safe to put metal pans, bowls, and utensils in there?
The short answer is yes, you can use certain types of metal safely in an air fryer. However, not all metals are created equal when it comes to high heat performance. Read on for a complete guide to cooking with metal in your air fryer without any worries.
How Do Air Fryers Work?
Before diving into specifics on metal, it’s helpful to understand what makes an air fryer tick. Air fryers operate a lot like a mini convection oven. Key features include:
Powerful heating element at the top
Built-in fans to circulate hot air
Enclosed cooking chamber
Temperatures between 200°F to 400°F
The rapid flow of hot air all around the food is what gives that crisp, golden exterior you’d expect from deep frying but without submerging food in oil. This convection effect means air fryers can handle any oven-safe cookware.
Is Metal Cookware Safe to Use in an Air Fryer?
Metal pans and dishes that are deemed oven-safe are also safe for air frying. Air fryers don’t get hot enough to be a concern for quality metal cookware designed for high heat cooking.
Look for the manufacturers’ oven-safe rating before using any metal in your air fryer. Avoid metals not rated for oven use.
What Types of Metal Can Be Used in an Air Fryer?
Several types of metal cookware do very well in air fryers. Always verify the manufacturer has rated them as oven-safe before using.
- Excellent heat conductor
- Distributes heat evenly
- Affordable and lightweight
- Durable and long lasting
- Resists corrosion
- Easy to clean
- Naturally non-stick properties
- Retains heat beautifully
- Can withstand extremely high temperatures
- Heats up rapidly
- Naturally non-stick when seasoned
- Inexpensive alternative to cast iron
Quality pots, pans, baking sheets, and other accessories made from these oven-safe metals will serve you well in your air frying endeavors.
What Metal Should Not Go Into an Air Fryer?
While the list of air fryer safe metals is fairly extensive, some types of metal cookware should be avoided:
Metals With Plastic or Wood Handles
The metal pan may be oven-safe but plastic/wood handles can melt or burn. Go handle-free.
Metals With Non-Oven-Safe Coatings
Enamel or colored exterior paints could leach chemicals at air fryer temperatures.
Heats unevenly and poses toxicity risks when exposed to certain foods.
Pans with lead, zinc, or pewter may leak dangerous chemicals and fumes.
Metal With Unknown Oven Rating
Don’t risk it if there’s no manufacturer assurance of oven safety.
Stick to quality pans and materials made for high heat cooking when selecting metal for air frying.
Are Metal Baking Sheets and Pans Okay in an Air Fryer?
Yes, sturdy aluminum and stainless steel baking sheets and pans do very well in an air fryer. The increased airflow helps food cook and brown evenly across the large surface area.
Metal baking pans conduct heat efficiently for excellent crisping and browning. Just confirm they are oven rated to 450°F or higher before using.
Can You Put a Metal Bowl in an Air Fryer?
Again, oven-safe metals like stainless steel, aluminum, and cast iron bowls can all be used safely. However, extra large bowls that restrict airflow should be avoided.
Choose a smallish bowl that will hold ingredients without crowding and allows for maximum air circulation. Never use a bowl that touches the heating element when inserted.
Is Aluminum Foil Safe for Air Frying?
Aluminum foil works great to line air fryer baskets or wrap foods like baked potatoes. The foil conducts heat evenly and makes cleanup a breeze.
Secure foil sheets weighted down so they don’t blow around near the heating element and cause issues. Don’t let foil cover food completely or it will steam, not fry.
What Metal Utensils Can Be Used in an Air Fryer?
Metal tongs, skewers, cooking thermometers, steamer baskets, and other accessories are handy air fryer tools. Opt for stainless steel, aluminum or other oven-safe metals. Avoid plastics that could melt.
Metal utensils like grilling skewers allow you to flip and maneuver foods easily within the cooking chamber. Their high heat durability makes them ideal.
Is It Okay to Season Cast Iron in an Air Fryer?
It’s not recommended. Seasoning cast iron takes sustained high heat, around 1 hour usually. This extended heating time can damage an air fryer not designed for it.
Stick to traditional oven seasoning at 400-450°F to be safe. A well-seasoned cast iron pan still works beautifully in an air fryer.
What About a Stainless Steel Air Fryer Basket?
Some air fryer models come with stainless steel mesh baskets. Stainless steel is durable, oven-safe, and conducts heat evenly for crisp results. It won’t flake off like non-stick coatings can over time.
The downside is stainless steel baskets are harder to clean. Non-stick coated wire baskets make cleanup easier but have a shorter lifespan. Both perform well.
Can I Use a Metal Wok in My Air Fryer?
A round-bottomed wok won’t sit right in an air fryer. However, flat-bottomed carbon steel or stainless steel woks designed for stove top use can work if they fit inside your model with room for air flow.
Beware woks with wooden handles. And very large woks may restrict air circulation. But an appropriately sized metal wok without plastic handles can absolutely air fry.
Tips for Safely Using Metal in an Air Fryer
Follow these tips for safely unlocking the potential of metal cookware in your air fryer:
Double check for an oven-safe rating before using any metal item.
Avoid metals with plastic handles that could melt.
Don’t let metal touch the heating element.
Give enough clearance for air flow.
Use properly sized pans and bowls to prevent overcrowding.
Don’t try to season cast iron in your air fryer.
Allow metal to fully cool before touching to prevent burns.
With proper care and caution, metal pots, pans, tins, utensils and more can help you get the most out of this versatile kitchen appliance.
Recommended Metal Accessories for Air Fryers
Here are some of my go-to metal accessories to expand your air frying possibilities:
- Stainless steel mesh air fryer basket
- Set of aluminum air fryer pans and baking sheets
- Small oven-safe stainless steel bowl
- Set of stainless steel skewers
- Metal tongs or spatula for maneuvering foods
- Digital instant read thermometer with metal probe
Investing in some quality metal accessories opens a whole new realm of air frying potential.
Air Fryer Safety Reminders
While most oven-safe metals are perfectly fine, don’t forget these general safety tips:
- Never put any metal in the microwave
- Avoid metals with plastic handles
- Don’t use metals that appear damaged or warped
- No metal lids or foil pouches that fully seal food
And always closely follow your air fryer manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation. With care and common sense, metal and air fryers can live in harmony in your kitchen!
The Takeaway on Metal in Air Fryers
At the end of the day, air fryers create a hot cooking environment similar to a standard oven. Therefore, any high quality metal cookware deemed oven-safe at temperatures at least 50-75°F higher than your air fryer should be perfectly fine to use.
Stick to reputable metals like stainless steel, aluminum, carbon steel, and cast iron with no plastic components or questionable coatings. Select sizes that allow for air circulation. And avoid metals of unknown oven safety.
Follow basic safety precautions, and your metal cookware will unlock all kinds of delicious air fried foods to enjoy!