Can You Put a Paper Towel in Air Fryer?

Paper towels are a blessing for the kitchen. I use them to season the cookware and remove excess grease.

I also wrap them around rolls for my kids. It keeps their hands dry and fingers non-greasy. 

The other day I had a tough time removing grease from the air fryer basket. This made me wonder if I could put a paper towel in the air fryer.

It would be so good not to clean up the basket after cooking and just throw away the paper towel. 

Let us dig in and find out if paper towels can be put inside an Airfryer.

Can You Put a Paper Towel in an Air Fryer?

You should never place a paper towel inside an air fryer when cooking food. 

Airflow gets blocked in the air fryer when you place paper towels. The food will be unevenly cooked.

Apart from this, paper towels are flammable. They can cause a fire or damage your air fryer.

The paper towel starts burning at a relatively low temperature of 425-450F (218° C-232° C), making it unsuitable for air fryers. 

I can’t stress the importance of reading the instruction manual and reaching out to the manufacturer before placing anything inside the air fryer during cooking,

Also read: Can You Put a Paper Plate in an Air Fryer?

Why You Should Not Place a Paper Towel Inside an Air Fryer

As I mentioned earlier, there are two reasons why you should forfeit placing a paper towel inside the air fryer

Unevenly Cooked Food 

We know that food gets cooked with the help of hot air circulation inside the air fryer.

The holes in the basket play an important role by circulating the air freely both above and below the food. 

When you place a paper towel, the holes will get blocked. This obstructs the freely flowing hot air.

This will result in unevenly cooked food. The food just above the paper towel will be undercooked. This inconsistent cooking will give bad cooking results. 

High Risk of Fire

Recently, I read a news article in The Sun where Brits were issued air fryer safety warnings.

The reason was that there was a double increase in the number of fires caused by the Airfryer in a year. 

According to the Sunday Mirror newspaper, air fryers ignited 37 fires in 2022 due to multiple/unknown reasons. The figure stood at 18 in 2021. 

The Manchester Evening News reported that a mother with multiple sclerosis was shocked when her air fryer burst into flames for unknown reasons. 

When you place a paper towel inside the air fryer for cooking, it will reach the burning temperature very quickly.

Once it ignites and burns up, it will vanish into the air, making it difficult to find the exact cause of the fire.

It is better to stay safe and err on the side of caution and not use a paper towel or anything not recommended in the operating manual by the manufacturer. 

If you want to place a liner to reduce the after-cleaning, you can opt for alternatives like parchment paper, silicone liners, or aluminum foil.  

Also read: 10 Air Fryer Mistakes to Avoid

How to Use Paper Towels in an Air Fryer? 

Apart from using paper towels while cooking, here are some ways where a paper towel can be used in the air fryer : 

  • Just before cooking, use paper towels to wipe away any moisture droplets
  • You can use paper towels to grease or line the basket with oil
  • After cooking, use paper towels to remove excess grease and debris.
Also read: Can You Put Paper Towels in the Microwave?

Can You Use a Wet Paper Towel in the Air Fryer?

I wouldn’t advise it. A paper towel can catch fire at a pretty low temperature.

Even if you wish to reheat food at a low temperature, the wet paper towel will end up sticking to your food and creating a mess.

You can use the wet paper towel to sanitize your air fryer or remove gunk, but not for cooking.

Also read: Can You Microwave Paper Plates?

What Can be Used as a Liner in the Air Fryer? 

The first thing is to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully/ contact customer care for your particular brand.

I always say the maker knows best his creation. Here are some tips to help you get clarity on what can or cannot be used : 

  • Dont put anything flammable in the air fryer 
  • If a material can melt when exposed to heat, don’t place it inside the hot environment of the air fryer.
  • The material should be smaller in dimension compared to the basket. It should also allow for good airflow, not obstructing a lot of holes. Never use large bowls or dishes that obstruct the holes. 
  • A liner is a better alternative compared to cookware accessories like bowls and dishes.
  • Make holes in the liner or buy perforated liners for excellent results. 

Let us now look at some of the other alternatives you can use to line the  air fryer basket 

Parchment Paper Liners 

Parchment paper liners are the best alternatives to paper towels in the air fryer.

Air Fryer Parchment Paper Liners: 200PCS 8.5 inch Air Fryer disposable paper liner - Square Perforated parchment paper for Air Fryer, Premium Bamboo Steamer Liner for Air Fryers Baking Cooking Oven

They are non-flammable and non-greasy. You can easily find them online. Depending on your air fryer model, you can choose the shapes and inches.

If you can’t find one that fits, don’t worry. Simply cut it out to fit the basket dimensions. 

Parchment paper liners come perforated and non-perforated. You can easily poke holes in the non-perforated liners with a pencil/sharp object.

Parchment papers are made up of a food-grade silicone coating. They will never dye/color/stick to your food. 

Watch a demonstrative video below.

Aluminum Foil Liners 

An aluminum foil liner is another good alternative to a paper towel. It is non-stick and catches all liquids, oils, and grease from the food easily. 

100 PCS Aluminum Foil Air Fryer Liners, Non-stick Air Fryer Disposable Paper Liner, Oil-proof Water-proof Air Fryer Sheets, Food Grade Aluminum Foil for Baking, Frying, Grilling, Roasting Microwave

The best thing is that it makes the air fryer easy to clean afterward.  

For a free flow of air, it is essential to poke some holes corresponding to the holes in the basket.

This is because the aluminum foil liners can obstruct the basket holes. This can lead to uneven/uncooked food. 

Foil liners are oilproof and waterproof, making them excellent options for baking. However, do not poke holes if you are baking in the air fryer.

Watch a demo of aluminum foil liners in the air fryer basket below:

Also read: Can You Wash and Reuse Aluminum Foil?

Silicone Liners 

Silicone liners are also an excellent alternative to paper towels. Depending on your basket shape and size, you can buy one that fits your basket dimensions.

2 Pack Air Fryer Silicone Liners Pot for 3 to 5 QT, Air Fryer Silicone Basket Bowl, Replacement of Flammable Parchment Paper, Reusable Baking Tray Oven Accessories, Red+Blue, (Top 8in, Bottom 6.75in)

Make sure to leave a few vacant holes for good airflow movement. 

You no longer have to worry about cleaning the air fryer basket. They collect food grime and grease, leaving the basket spotless. 

Silicone liners are dishwasher safe, and you can reuse them. The silicone liners are BPA-free and made from food-grade silicone.

You can lift it easily as it is flexible. Use silicone liners for baking, reheating, or just a bunch of air-fried snacks. 

Watch a visual demonstration of silicone liner below:

Also read: Can You Put Plastic in the Oven?

Summing Up 

A paper towel should not be used in the air fryer. It is highly flammable and blocks holes leading to uneven cooking.

It can even cause a fire in the air fryer if left for a long duration.

You can use a paper towel before or after cooking in the air fryer.

You can use it before to dry the basket, remove debris, or season the basket with oil. You can also use it after cooking to remove the grease, grime, and excess oil. 

Instead of a paper towel, you can use parchment paper liner, aluminum foil liner, or silicone liners in the air fryer.

I have written about each one above and inserted a visual demo with each liner. 

Use paper towels to clean or season, not to cook or bake in the air fryer. Stay safe!

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I’m Jueria and I am a regular contributor on In my articles, I share time-saving techniques, appliance wizardry, and health-friendly recipes to bring taste and wellness to your table. So raise a glass (or a spatula) with me, to good health and good food, made easy!