Looking for an air fryer and wondering how tricky they are to clean? Let’s look at the choices for an easy to clean air fryer, what’s involved in cleaning air fryers and what or who makes the easiest air fryers to clean.
Let’s start with a common question about air fryers…
Are air fryers easy to clean?
With no added oil or fat, air fryers are much easier to clean than messy deep fryers. Plus, the nonstick options in these ease the cleanup and any air fryer is super simple to clean with foil or parchment piece placed under the food, or better still, by using special air fryer liners.
Air Fryer Disposable Paper Liner
available at Amazon
You might have seen photos of messy air fryers that have put you off buying one, thinking you don’t want the problem of cleaning the fan, the coil, or other internals.
There is the fat or oil from the food itself (even with none added, since air fryers use dry heat). Most of this residue ends up in the base of the pull-out basket drawer or captured in a well-placed liner, which is easy to remove and so the cleaning is not such a big deal…
5 Easy Peasy steps to cleaning an air fryer
It’s best to clean the air fryer after each use. It’s easier cleaning this way, rather than trying to clean off dried on residue that’s been left to sit. It’s also more hygienic and a clean machine is a more cost effective one. Here is my 5-step guide on how to clean an air fryer…
Step 1: Unplug the unit
Always play safe when you’re cleaning an electric appliance including your air fryer and unplug the appliance. Once the unit has cooled, start with the removable parts… Pull out the frying basket, tray, or pan.
Step 2: Cleaning the food containers
If you’ve used a disposable liner, simply discard it along with what remains after you’ve taken out the food. Give the basket/tray a quick wipe or wash and let dry. The same applies with a reusable liner, except don’t discard it. Instead, put it in the dishwasher or hand wash it ready for next time. Now proceed to step 3.
Otherwise, you’ll need to remove oil and any loose crumbs or any remaining food collected in the removable parts. Then use the dishwasher or hand-wash the basket and trays etc. with soapy water. You’ll find most removable parts are dishwasher safe. I recommend you check the user manual if unsure. For parts with nonstick coating, try hand washing, as dishwashers can be harsh and wearing on nonstick surfaces surfaces over time.
If food is stuck to the pan or crisper plate, let them soak for a while in warm soapy water. Use a skewer or toothpick to carefully rid any residue stuck between bits. Then, wash and dry as you would any of your essential kitchen tools.
Step 3: Wipe the main unit
I don’t think I need to warn you to never immerse the main unit of your air fryer and definitely don’t put it in the dishwasher. Just wipe over the unit to remove food spatters and grease residue that happens to accumulate on the outside. Using a damp cloth or paper towel will do the job. No harsh scourers here or you risk ruining the look. Tip: Use some soapy water for any hard to remove bits.
Step 4: Caring for the heating element
In the case of food stuck on the heating element (usually a coil at the top of the unit), grab a soft dish brush (or artist brush) and carefully remove the bits. It’s always good to check this heating element after each use. For any oil or residue on this coil, wipe over with a damp cloth or nylon dish scourer (no metal or abrasive scourers). Make sure the unit has cooled first.
Step 5: Dry and put back together
Dry with a cloth or paper towel or air dry the unit and its parts. Then simply put the clean pieces back to re-assemble the air fryer ready for use the next time. If your air fryer is noisy the next time, it might be because you didn’t clean it properly or it could be a loose part or one of the other reasons I wrote about in my article on the noise air fryers make.
Choices in air fryer liners
There are a number of ways you can line an air fryer to make cleaning that much easier.
Easy options for cleaning air fryers
How to make an air fryer easy to clean? Put a liner under the food before running the air fryer to capture and hold crumbs, oils, and fats released from the food during cooking.
Air fryer lining options:
- Sheet of parchment paper
- An aluminum foil layer
- A disposable air fryer liner
- A re-useable fryer liner
Air Fryer Silicone Reuseable Liner
available at Amazon
The trouble with parchment paper is you run the risk of it blackening and falling apart or catching fire when using very high heat after a certain length of time.
For all liners, it’s best to check their specifications for heat resistance. For example, the disposable ones at the beginning of this article have a heat resistance of up to 425ºF, which is higher than the 400ºF you’re likely to cook with.
And the manufacturers claim that the silicone one shown above is resistant up to 470℉. And, it’s an ecofriendly product to use with testing indicating silicone poses no known threat to humans or the environment (Chemical Safety Facts).
Air fried food is said to contain 75% less fat than the usual fried food. Apart from this dietary reason, we appreciate the convenience air fryers offer and wish for the easiest air fryer to use and clean for our kitchens. But at the present time there’s no special brand offering one that easiest to clean compared to another.
Nonstick is a good start to an easy cleanup and ceramic is a Teflon free nonstick coating option, available with a number of air fryers on the market, including the popular brand, Ninja. Placing a lining under the food helps with the cleanup even more and possibly the best available options are purpose-made liners, either disposable or reusable.