Air fryer liners have long been a hot debate topic in the world of air fryers – to use them or not. They promise to make the process of cleaning up easier while still allowing you to revel in the benefits of achieving quick, delicious meals. However, did you know there’s a chance you might actually be using them wrong?
It’s 2024, but it’s clear that the virality surrounding the best air fryers is not going anywhere anytime soon. Whether you’re a long-time user or are only just snapping up the kitchen appliance now, there’s a chance you might’ve gone down the rabbit hole of researching various air fryer accessories and wondered whether air fryer liners are worth investing in.
It seems pretty straightforward that air fryer liners would sit above your air fryer’s crisper tray, right? However, while scrolling through Facebook I spotted a post where an owner of a dual-zone air fryer placed the paper liner underneath the tray instead and my mind was blown.
Needless to say, when I saw the post I started questioning everything I knew about using air fryer liners. I personally don’t use paper liners often but rather a silicone liner (and steer clear of using foil trays in an air fryer where possible), so I admit I’m not too well-versed in paper liners, but this is not how I imagined to use them – and Facebook fans agree.
The top comment from the post says, ‘Oh maybe that’s where I was going wrong I put it on top of the tray 😂 I’ll try again,’ with other fans chiming in agreement saying, ‘Me, too!’
Other fans queried the reason why you would even use paper liners underneath the tray in the first place, and if you were wondering the same thing, this is why: it ensures that the liners don’t move upwards towards the heat element in the appliance, minimising chances of a fire hazard. Believe me when I say this is an air fryer mistake you want to avoid at all costs.
Unsurprisingly, there were still a handful of comments debating the use of air fryer liners for being infamous for blocking airflow with others claiming that cleaning an air fryer is easy enough to ditch the use of them altogether. But, what do the experts say?
‘Air fryer liners both have pros and cons,’ begins Thea Whyte, AO‘s air fryer expert. ‘Single-use air fryer liners are convenient, easy to use, and will absorb any excess oil making your meals healthier.’ However, the cost of these can eventually add up. Therefore, opting for a silicone air fryer liner is likely your best bet for an eco-friendly (and in the long run, cheaper) option.
But, Thea does extend a word of warning to keep in mind. ‘Air fryers work by blowing hot air around the basket to cook food. Having a liner at the bottom of the basket can obstruct airflow and as a result, your food may not cook as you want it.’
However, should you struggle with cleaning your air fryer regularly for whatever reason, air fryer liners are certainly a good pickup – irrespective of whether you use them above or below your crisper tray.
Of course, there’s no problem with still using air fryer liners on top of the tray as you would with silicone counterparts and ramekins to help you cook a handful of surprising foods in an air fryer (like lasagne and pasta bakes, for example) so long as you consider and practice the proper safety measures.
‘When using any paper liners in the air fryer, never preheat the air fryer with them in,’ urges Sam Milner, air fryer expert and co-author of The Complete Air Fryer Cookbook. ‘They will fly about and get stuck in the air circulation and cause a fire risk. The paper liners can then melt if this happens.’ So, be wary to keep this in mind the next time you opt to use liners in your air fryer.
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But, if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that I was pleasantly surprised to have come across this air fryer liner hack, nonetheless. Perhaps it’s time for me to reach for a couple of paper liners and see the effects for myself.