Has your air fryer got a burning smell? It might be dangerously overheating. Here’s why, with fixes.

When was the last time you ate something on your air fryer and thought “I regret buying this appliance”? Exactly, never, they are incredible machines. Be it their ease of use, or the world of possibilities they open up for both fitness lovers and snack aficionados, they have something for everyone.

Between their versatility and their low price tags for the basic models, not having an air fryer in this day and age seems illogical. That is until they start failing and release an unpleasant burning smell. Has this happened to you? Is it happening right now? I’m really sorry to hear that.

There are many possible explanations that could be behind your unit’s burning smell, from a malfunctioning damaged power cord, to overheating and improper cleaning. The only way you can know for sure is by troubleshooting the situation in an orderly, detailed manner. Lucky for you, I’ve already taken care of the research.

Below, you’ll find a list of the most likely culprits responsible for your current plight. I promise that, once we’re done going through it, your appliance will be as good as new.

Are you ready? Let’s get rid of that burning smell!

Fixing an Air Fryer’s Burning Smell

I hate to break it to you, but there’s a chance that the reason behind the burning smell coming from your air fryer could be related to poor maintenance. I know you clean your unit daily so that clearly does not apply to you, but hey, I want to cover all bases!

Your air fryer might have a burning smell due to:

  • Its protective coating
  • A damaged cord
  • Poor cleaning
  • Overheating
  • Food on your heating element

As you can see, most of these possible causes won’t even require you to open your air fryer to address them, but for those that will, you’ll need:

  • A screwdriver
  • A multimeter
  • Running water
  • A brush
  • Dish soap
  • Vinegar (optional)

#1 It’s Just the Protective Coating

If your air fryer is the newest addition to your kitchen appliance collection, chances are the unpleasant smell is only its protective coating burning away.

As you can imagine, air fryers go through a long process of delivery from the factory they’re created, to the store you buy them from. This supply chain journey can potentially damage its internal components and the metal inside the chamber, which renders them unsellable.

To prevent this, the appliance’s insides are normally coated with a little food-grade oil that protects them from scratching and other kinds of minor damage, so they can arrive in pristine condition to you, the final user. This is something quite common in waffle irons too.

Solution: If your appliance is brand new, the unpleasant smell is probably being caused by a said protective film.  Just let your unit operate a couple of times, and it should go away, leaving no trace behind.

#2 Your Power Cord Is Damaged

broken power cord
Avoid using the air fryer when the broken power cord is broken

The burning smell in your air fryer could be coming from the power cord.

Nothing can resist the test of time, and power cords are no exception, as they can get damaged and start to slowly fail. Although they look strong and sturdy from the outside, breaking them is quite easy.

In fact, small bad practices like keeping them tangled, stored improperly in small spaces, or pressed in weird angles against other objects, could be enough to damage them.

If your air fryer still works, but there’s a burning smell coming from your power cord, this could be a sign of partial damage. I would recommend avoiding using your appliance until you get a replacement, as a short circuit could happen at any moment and fry your circuit board.

Solution: Buy a new power cord.

If you happen to have a spare one lying around, you can use it to test your appliance and confirm this as the issue, just make sure the new cord meets the same amperage and voltage requirements as the damaged one.

Alternatively, you can do a quick Google search online to find the right replacement for your specific make and model. You should be able to find a new cable for less than $20 at any online marketplace.

#3 You’re Not Cleaning It Properly

If you’re in the habit of not cleaning your air fryer after every use, chances are that’s the origin of the unpleasant burning smell.

Just as it would happen to any other appliance, pot, or pan, small food crumbs, can stick to the bottom of these utensils while cooking, and burn over time. Even the tiniest bread crumb can start causing a burning smell if left in your appliance for hours.

It’s extremely important that you make a habit of cleaning your air fryer’s basket and cooking chamber regularly to avoid this from happening. Doing so will not only get rid of the burning smell but also guarantee that the appliance is operating under adequate hygienic conditions.

Solution: Clean your basket regularly. If you find some pieces of food are hard to remove, you can leave the part soaking in warm water and dish soap for a couple of minutes, and then use a semi-soft brush to scrub it clean.

You can also add vinegar to your soaking mixture for further disinfection. Optional, but quite welcome.

#4 Overheating

If the burning smell has a strong hint of plastic, your appliance might be overheating.

This could be happening for a number of reasons, amongst which, the most common one is a failing heating element. This occurrence is not only inconvenient due to the smell it causes, but also dangerous, as it could result in a blown thermal fuse inside your appliance, and reduce the unit’s lifespan dramatically.

If you suspect this to be the culprit, stop using your air fryer immediately to prevent further damage.

Solution: You’ll have to go in. To do so, please follow these steps:

  1. Carefully unplug your air fryer and let it cool down
  1. Locate the screws at the top (or the bottom, depending on your model)
  1. Undo them with a screwdriver
  1. Remove the outer plastic lid and expose the unit’s internal wiring
  1. Find your heating element, it should look like a big metal spiral next to the fan
  1. Gain comfortable access to it
  1. Test it with a multimeter for continuity

Remember, no continuity means the component is toast and needs replacing.

#5 There’s Food on Your Heating Element

heating element for air fryer
Cleaning the air fryer’s heating element regularly can extend its lifespan

Even if your heating element turned out to be fine and with adequate continuity, the burning smell could still be coming from it.

As you use your air fryer, small particles of food fly all around your appliance’s  chamber, and stick to its components. This is not a problem for a month, or so, but eventually, that food residue starts building up around your heating element, and burns.

Now, I’m not saying you should disassemble your air fryer completely and clean your heating element every day, but a monthly maintenance session will do wonders to prevent the undesired smell from appearing, and extend your appliance’s lifespan significantly.

Failing to do this can also result in your heating element breaking down, causing the overheating issue from the previous point, and a myriad of other inconveniences.

Solution: Follow the steps from the previous point to expose your appliance’s guts and carefully remove your heating element,

Once you have done that, gently scrub off any food buildup and put it back in its place. It goes without saying that you should not use water to do this, as it could damage the component, and those around it.

Conclusion

Having your air fryer produce unpleasant burning smells can kill your appetite. After all, an appliance designed to cook delicious foods in a convenient way should be nothing, but pleasing to the senses.

There are many possible reasons behind this situation, and most of them can be solved by simply making sure that you routinely give your appliance a good cleaning and scrubbing. Doing so will guarantee hygienic cooking conditions, and a long-lasting appliance.

Remember to always check that your air fryer is unplugged and cool enough to handle before trying to do any repairs, and please do not hesitate to call a technician if you feel doubtful at any point. Doing your own repairs is commendable, but it should never put you at risk.

Thank you for sticking with me all the way to the end, if you enjoyed this article and learned something new, why not keep expanding your knowledge with our other wonderful resources below? There’s no such thing as knowing too much.

Happy DIY’s!