Do Air Fryers Smoke? Common Causes + Fix!

Watching smoke billowing out from your air fryer can be a frightening experience.

When it happened to me, I thought I had been cheated with a defective piece as it was a new purchase.

While I was racking my brain on how to fix the problem, I thought about researching it (which I will share in this article).  

Read on to find out all about air fryer smoking and how to tackle the issue.

Do Air Fryers Smoke? 

Yes, Air fryers can smoke. The smoke that comes out from your machine has more to do with the way you use your Air fryer rather than some technical breakdown. 

Most of the time, an Airfryer can start giving out smoke when there is excess grease/oil during cooking

You will find smoke when cooking food that has high-fat content like meat, hamburger patties, etc. 

The grease drips down from such foods into the bottom compartment and the high temperature inside will cause the oil to smoke. 

The second most common cause of the smoke is food particles that are stuck on the element or in the bottom drawer due to previous cooking. When it burns, it causes smoke (and a burning smell). 

Allow me to break down the various plausible causes of smoking in detail and what to do when an air fryer starts to smoke 

What Causes the Air Fryer to Smoke? 

An easy way to find out the reason for the smoke is by the color of the smoke.  

You can have a situation with any of the three colors of smoke coming out from your air fryer.

Let us deal with them one by one :   

White Smoke Coming Out of Airfryer

This is good news and you do not have to worry much. Smell the smoke.

If it smells like food, it is steam. If it smells like burning, it is excess grease/oil that is giving off the white smoke.

Another reason an air fryer gives off white smoke is high-temperature cooking for a long time.

The continuous high heat makes the oil/grease burn, releasing fumes. 

Black Smoke Coming Out of Airfryer

Black smoke is mostly food or grease burning inside.

There are three reasons for this :

  1. It could be the excess oil you have added or the fat that drips down from the meat as oil. A way to find out if your food is fatty is to take a look at the bottom. If you tilt it to one side, you will be able to see the oil buildup. 
  2. The second reason can be food particles. They may be stuck on the heating element or the drawer below. Small pieces of crumbs of bread, dry batter like cornflakes, or dry seasonings, if not battered down to food, fly around and end up in the heating coil. When these food particles are exposed to high temperatures, they burn and that is why the black smoke. This smoke smells awful.  
  3. The third reason is overcrowding. If you make too much food at once,  there will be an excessive collection of oil and food particles and you may come back to see your kitchen full of smoke.  

Blue Smoke Coming Out of the Air Fryer 

Blue smoke is a red alert!  This means there has been an electrical malfunction. 

This is quite dangerous and your appliance may catch fire. Unplug immediately and contact your brand for repair service.

Do not attempt to use it again or try to fix it. You may end up damaging the appliance or cause fire. 

Let us move forward with troubleshooting and the different solutions to stop the air fryer from smoking 

What to Do When an Air Fryer Smokes? 

Now that you know what’s causing the smoke, you are wondering what to do.

Follow the steps below when you see your air fryer smoking:

  • First, stop whatever you are cooking. Take out the drawer and place it on the slab. 
  • Remove the basket and remove all oil/ grease from the bottom of the drawer. 
  • Check the heating element and once it has cooled down a bit, wipe the excess oil and crumbs of stuck food from it. Do not use sharp instruments to dislodge food. Use a paper towel or just your fingers.
  • Once all the oil and food gunk has come off, wipe clean with a dry towel and place the drawer with the basket inside your Airfryer.
  • Continue cooking till your food is cooked. Switch off. 

Let us talk about how you can refine your cooking experience to completely do away with the smoke.

Here are some simple remedies : 

  • Reduce the amount of oil in your recipes. Excessive oil will just drip down, create a mess ( which you will find difficult to clean later), start to burn under the high temperature, and release smoke. If you must use oil use ones with high smoking points. Air fryers operate under high heat so you would need to use oil that can withstand high temperatures without smoking. Some examples are avocado, peanut, rice bran, extra virgin olive oil, etc. 
  • If it is the grease from fatty food that is causing smoking, reduce the temperature or place a slice of bread or little water to soak up the oil at the bottom of the drawer.  Once the oil has soaked up or diluted with water, it will not burn and produce smoke.  Do not add a lot of water or your batter can turn a bit soggy. A few drops of water are sufficient in the drawer compartment. 
  • Cook in batches or get a large Airfryer for bulk cooking. 
  • Keep your kitchen well-ventilated when using the Airfryer. This way little smoke or steam will just go outdoors giving you less trouble.
  • Avoid cooking at high temperatures, opt for a medium temperature setting and increase the duration of cooking. 
  • Make sure the batter is not dry as it can fly around and burn due to the presence of a high-speed rotational fan inside.   
  • Clean up your Airfryer properly after every use. If you don’t clean, it will gradually collect grease and food particles giving out offensive odors and causing damage to your non-stick coating. It’s quite simple to clean an air fryer. Soak your drawer( and your basket) in warm soapy water solution for a couple of hours or minutes depending on the time you have. Scrub away the leftover grease and gunk with a soft sponge. Rinse and towel dry. 
  • If you do not want to put a lot of effort into cleaning, use parchment paper in your basket. All the oil and food residues will get collected on it while your drawer remains clean. 
  • Cook in short bursts, open your drawer, wipe away the excess oil, and place it back again to continue cooking. Take care and use oven mitts as your air fryer will be hot to touch in between cooking.

Summing Up 

Air fryers do smoke up and there are a lot of reasons for this to happen. The most common reason is the excessive grease/oil buildup during cooking. 

The next common reason is the food particles that fly around and get stuck on the heating element or in the compartment. 

Make sure you go through all the reasons I have mentioned above and try to troubleshoot it with the following remedies  

Use oil with a high smoking point, place a slice of bread or little water for cooking fatty foods, cook on medium temperature, forfeit bulk cooking, and keep your air fryer clean for a happy and smoke-free Air frying! 

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