Steam Coming Out of Air Fryer – What it Means?

Air fryers are all the rage these days. I got mine a few months ago, and I have been absolutely loving it.

We have been going crazy with our experiments with the air fryer, and I must say that I am pretty happy with the results so far (and our food has become less oily and more healthy).

One day, I saw steam coming out of the air fryer and I got scared a bit.

Well, in most cases, this is normal and there is nothing to worry about (but you also need to know some important things).

Steam Coming Out of Air Fryer – Should I Worry?

What you are witnessing is the water evaporating inside the food that is getting cooked inside an air fryer.

It is a normal thing and you do not have to be concerned. 

The heat inside the air fryer turns the liquid present inside the raw food into steam. The air fryer then vents it out from the back of the Airfryer with the help of a vent hole. 

The steam will not damage or harm your air fryer. It will stop coming out once your food is cooked.

However, make sure it is steam and not white smoke that is coming out of your air fryer.

And how do you differentiate? Let me tell you how.

How to Differentiate if It Is Steam or White Smoke? 

You can do this easily just by smelling. If the white fume smells like food, it is just steam that is coming out. 

If it smells like something is burning, it is smoke

White smoke is a common phenomenon when you cook fatty food at high temperatures. The grease splatters on the bottom of your Airfryer and begins to smoke (just like with food on a hot pan). 

Sometimes, smoke could also be due to the burning of leftover food particles from your last cook.

Clean your basket from all leftovers and keep a slice of bread or add a few drops of water at the bottom to catch the grease that splatters down. 

Now that you have seen the steam coming out of the air fryer, you might be wondering if you can steam food in an Airfryer.

Allow me to tell you all about steaming in an Airfryer. 

You Can Not Steam Food Inside an Airfryer 

While you can heat the water inside an Airfryer in an oven-safe bowl. But you will not be able to steam food as the steam escapes from the appliance with the help of a vent. 

Secondly, to properly cook food by steaming, you would need a good amount of water.

An air fryer is a small appliance that cooks food by placing it underneath a heating element. There is no space for holding liquids. 

Thirdly, the Air fryer cooks food by rotating hot air with the help of a high-speed fan. If water gets inside the heating element or the fan it can damage your Airfryer.

Also read: Can You Add Water to Air Fryer? Do’s and Dont’s!

Difference Between an Air Fryer and a Steamer 

To understand the difference clearly, allow me to tell you about the parts and the operating mechanism of both an air fryer and a steamer. 

Components of an Air Fryer

An Air fryer consists of a heating element located on top in most models. A high-speed fan is located on top that helps to circulate the heat produced by the heating element.

The hot air blasts downwards and all around the raw food kept inside the air fryer basket.

The bottom compartment is a drawer on top of which a basket is kept.

Operating Mechanism of an Air Fryer 

As soon as the air fryer is powered on and set to a particular setting, the heating element beings to make the air hot inside the chamber 

This hot air production takes about half or one minute.  

This heat is blasted rapidly with the help of a high-speed rotational fan.

Food gets cooked with the help of a Maillard reaction. It is a chemical reaction that occurs inside food when sugars and amino acids are exposed to heat. 

The result is crispy, golden brown, and crunchy food that gets cooked quickly giving the same results as deep-fried food. The calorie is cut by 80% due to almost zero oil intake. 

Air-fried food is also healthy due to the reduction in acrylamide content in fatty food. Acrylamide is a chemical that is produced when food is exposed to high temperatures. 

Components of a Steamer 

A steamer mostly has trays or chambers one on top of the other in two or three tiers.

It also has a water reservoir which is used to place water that will steam. 

A heating element is present inside to heat water. 

The steamer also has an air-tight lid or capsule to avoid leakage of steam.  

Operating Mechanism of a Steamer

Steamers are quite simple and basic in their operation. 

A sufficient amount of water is placed inside the reservoir. A steamer should never boil dry as that can scorch and damage your pot.

The electrical switch is plugged in and the heating element starts to heat the water inside the reservoir. 

Steam is created that rises and cooks the raw food present in the trays on top of the water reservoir. 

The result is well-cooked soft food that may have water vapor droplets on top making it slightly soggy. 

A steamer is slower than an Airfryer as the water needs time to boil and produce sufficient vapors and the steam takes time to rise and cook food thoroughly. 

Also read: How Long Do Air Fryers Last?

The Difference Between Steamed and Air Fried Food

Air-fried food has been cooked in a dry heat atmosphere. The food becomes crispy inside an Airfryer. 

Food cooked in a steamer is soft and soggy due to the presence of water vapors while cooking. 

As the food is cooked in water, the flavors of the food become diluted, and the cooked food may even taste bland.  

Food retains its original taste and flavor when cooked inside an air fryer.

Steamed food is soft and mushy, while air-fried food is crunchy and crispy. You also have the option to dehydrate food inside an Airfryer. 

Also read: Air Fryer Error Code E1 | Air Fryer Error Code E2


It is completely normal for steam to come out of your air fryer while cooking. 

It is the water content that becomes steam and escapes from the vent hole of the Airfryer. It is not a defect or malfunction and the steam will stop once the food is cooked. 

Just make sure to differentiate steam from white smoke (which usually occurs when either the food or the food/grease splatters from the last cook is burning).

Again, this won’t damage anything, but best to keep your air fryer clean to not get that smoke coming out.

I hope you enjoy cooking with an air fryer as much as I do.

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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!