It’s a great way to eat healthier, but how healthy is it for you if your air fryer keeps smoking up your kitchen? Breathing smoke is supposed to be bad for you, right?
Your air fryer could create smoke for a variety of reasons. You could be cooking with too much oil, there could be a buildup of residue in the basket or heating element, the temperature is too high, there are old food particles in the basket, and a few more reasons.
And because yes, cooking smoke can be bad for you, so it’s a good idea to figure out why your air fryer is smoking. Fortunately for you, we’re here to help!
What You’ll Need
There’s a good chance you’ll need to clean your air fryer if it’s smoking — you should be cleaned regularly regardless — so here are the supplies you’ll need.
- Warm soapy water
- Soft damp cloth or paper towel
- Sponge or soft bristle brush
6 Reasons Why Your Air Fryer is Smoking
For the most part, your air fryer is smoking because of something you’re doing or not doing. Let’s start with the things you’re doing.
#1 Too Much Oil
I’m sure you’ve seen all the images of people spraying oil all over whatever is in their cooking basket or tray. Sometimes from an aerosol can and sometimes real oil from a pump bottle.
Typically, your air fryer will require only a small amount of oil, or sometimes no oil at all, depending on the recipe. When you use too much oil, it can drip or splatter against the heating element and start to smoke.
Remember, your air fryer is constantly circulating air, so it doesn’t matter if your element is on top, it can still get hit with oil.
Go Easy on the Oil
If you’re already cooking something fatty or oily, you don’t need to add more oil. If you do need to use oil, a light spray is all you need.
Read the Manual
There’s a good chance your user’s manual will have recommendations on the right amount of oil to use.
#2 The Wrong Type of Oil
Using the wrong type of oil is probably worse than using too much of the right type.
Wait! The wrong type of oil?
Yes. You need to use oil with a high smoke point. This is the temperature at which the oil starts to break down and produce smoke. If you use an oil with a low smoke point, you’ll get smoke fairly fast, but use an oil with a high smoke point, and you may get none at all, depending on the temperature you’re cooking at.
Choose the Right Oil
You want to choose an oil with a high smoke point but also something with a mild flavor—anything with a strong flavor could alter the taste of your food.
Some good options are:
- Avocado oil – 520°F / 271°C smoke point
- Light olive oil – 465 – 470°F / 240 – 243°C smoke point
- Clarified butter (ghee) – 482°F / 250°C smoke point
- Sunflower oil – 450°F / 232°C smoke point
- Peanut oil – 450°F / 232°C smoke point
#3 Residue Buildup
Over time, whether you’re using the correct amount of oil or not, oil and residue can build up on the heating element. And just like a greasy mess on your oven’s heating element will cause smoke, the same will happen in your air fryer.
Keep it Clean!
The cleaner you keep your air fryer, the less smoke you’ll need to worry about.
If you have a basket type air fryer, remove the baskets, and look up inside for the heating element. Only use a soft cloth, sponge, or soft brush, nothing abrasive. You can use warm, soapy water if necessary—dish soap is great at cutting through grease.
#4 Burning Food Particles
Are the ghosts of meals past still lying around on the bottom of your baskets or trays? Eventually, small crumbs and food particles will start to burn and produce smoke.
Keep Your Air Fryer Clean
It’s not as bad as cleaning your oven every time you use it would be, I promise! But since—in many cases—you’re cooking your food right on the racks or trays, the best way to avoid old, burning food is to clean them after every use.
#5 Your Food is too Small
This one is only applicable if you have an air fryer that has a heating element on the bottom. Most air fryers only have a top heating element but there are some on the market that have dual heating elements.
If your food is small enough to escape the basket, it could land on the heating element and cause smoke.
Consider Using a Liner
Depending on the style of your air fryer, you can usually buy either silicone or parchment paper liners for your baskets.
Liners will help to absorb oil, help keep your basket clean, but in this case, they’ll also stop food from landing on the element below.
#6 You’ve Overloaded the Basket
Overcrowding the basket by putting too much food in it will likely restrict airflow. This can lead to several problems, including an increased potential for smoke.
Don’t Fill up the Basket
If you only have a small, single compartment air fryer you may be tempted to cram as much food as possible in it. Don’t.
Check your owner’s manual to see if the manufacturer provides any guidelines on how much food you can put in your air fryer basket.
Typically, a smoking air fryer is due to something you’re doing or not doing. The good news is that means it’s often simple to fix the problem.
To recap, here are the potential issues:
- Too much oil
- The wrong type of oil
- Residue buildup
- Burning food particles
- Food that’s too small
- An overloaded basket
If you go through that list and address each potential problem, you should be able to move forward without filling your kitchen with smoke when using your air fryer.
Hopefully, one of these has helped you in your situation. While you’re here, why not check out our related posts below? Perhaps we can help you with something else.