10 Reasons and 8 Solutions To Stop Air Fryer From Smoking
A smoking air fryer is a frightening experience that will make you panic even if you are the most experienced home cook. First, there is always the fear of a kitchen fire; secondly, a smoking air fryer likely means you will end up with burnt food.
The first time I saw smoke coming from my air fryer, my first thought was that I had been ripped off and the company had probably sold me a faulty device. But now that I have been using air fryers for many years, I know this is not always the case.
I have had to deal with smoking air fryers several times, so it was only natural to do comprehensive research to understand what causes the problem and the solutions. Also, I have talked to experts and contacted a few manufacturers for insights on the problem.
In this post, I will use my experiences and research to explain the main causes of air fryer smoking and provide different solutions to the problem.
What are the differences between different colors of smoke, and how to distinguish smoke and steam? Reading till the end!
What’s the main reason for air fryer smoking?
Several things can cause an air fryer to smoke when cooking, but cooking fatty foods or adding too much oil to the food is the main reason why your air fryer is smoking.
Cooking fatty foods means the fat will melt and pool at the bottom of the air fryer, where it burns and starts smoking. Using excess oil also means some of it will overheat when cooking and release smoke from the appliance.
We will talk about the 10 detailed reasons later!
What should you do when an air fryer is smoking?
If you notice smoke coming from your air fryer, you should follow the steps below. And this is regardless of the smoke color.
- Step 1: Stop cooking
The first step should be to stop cooking to prevent further smoking. Press the stop button on the air fryer, if it has one, and then unplug it from the power outlet.
- Step 2: Remove the basket
Next, you need to take out the food from the air fryer. Remove the drawer and then take out the basket to stop the cooking.
- Step 3: Allow the appliance to cool down
You should then allow the appliance to cool down before cleaning off the excess fat. Remember that air fryers cook at high temperatures and can be dangerous to handle when hot.
- Step 4: Remove the excess oil
Once the air fryer is cool enough, you can remove the excess oil. A simple wipe with a paper towel or clean cloth should be enough to remove all the grease from the bottom of the appliance and heating element.
- Step 5: Continue cooking
You can continue cooking when you confirm there is no surplus oil in the appliance. There should be no smoke. Sometimes you might need to repeat the process several times when cooking very fatty foods as more fat keeps melting.
10 reasons why air fryer is smoking
Cooking fatty foods is the main reason your air fryer smokes, but there are still several others. Here is an overview of 10 of the man ones:
1. Greasy residues from previous cooking
Greasy residue from your previous cooking sessions is a common cause of smoke when cooking with an air fryer. When this residue overheats, it will burn and start smoking.
The greasy residue is typically at the bottom of the air fryer, where it drains as the fat melts from the greasy foods you are cooking. However, it can sometimes splatter to other air fryer surfaces or the heating element.
Because of this, many manufacturers will always recommend that you clean your air fryer after every use.
2. Burning food particles
Sometimes the smoke emanating from your air fryer comes from food particles burning. Like grease, any food particles left in the air fryer that is not cleaned after use are likely to burn and smoke during your next cooking session.
In some cases, the food particles can come from the current food you are cooking. If the food is not secured properly in the basket or tray, it is easy for the powerful fan to blow some of the particles into the heating element, where it burns and starts smoking.
Some food particles also end up at the bottom of the air fryer, mixing with grease and burning when cooking at high temperatures, leading to smoking.
3. Using too much oil
An air fryer allows you to cook with little oil to reduce caloric intake. Some dishes, such as those that require roasting, like corn on the cob, may not even require you to use any oil.
Some people still put too much oil on the food to make it crispier or as close to deep-fried food as possible.
Regardless of the reason for using too much oil, a lot of it ends up at the bottom of the air fryer basket, where it burns and starts smoking.
4. Use oil with a low smoke point
Besides using excess oil, using an oil with a low smoke point also leads to smoking when cooking.
Low smoke point oils like walnut and flaxseed cannot withstand the high cooking temperature in an air fryer, so they are likely to burn and smoke if you use them.
An air fryer can cook at upwards of 400°F, but some of these oils can only withstand around 200°F.
For example, the smoke point for flaxseed oil is 225°F, much lower than olive oil, which can withstand upwards of 380°F depending on the quality.
5. Putting excess food in the basket
Overfilling the basket when air frying also increases the likelihood of the appliance smoking when cooking. If the basket is overcrowded, it is easy for some of the food or ingredients to get sucked into the heating coil, where it burns and starts smoking.
A crowded basket also affects air circulation and can lead to burnt food that is still raw in the middle as it will cook unevenly. As the food burns, it will likely fill your kitchen with a cloud of back smoke.
6. Intense heat
A typical air fryer can cook at temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it is important to match the temperature setting to the specific food you are cooking. Otherwise, the food can easily burn and produce a lot of smoke.
Besides burning food, exposing your air fryer to intense heat consistently can also degrade or melt plastic and metal components in the appliance, which is also a common cause of smoking.
And so, any smoke coming from the air fryer is not always a result of burning food or grease but can also come from burning parts and components.
7. Too much sauce
If you use too much sauce when cooking in an air fryer, some of it will likely end up at the bottom, where it will get overheated and start smoking. Also, it can spew into the heating element, where it burns and smokes.
Cooking foods that produce a lot of fluid, such as vegetables with high water content, can also lead to smoking. The liquid pools at the bottom of the basket, where it can overheat as you cook and smoke.
8. Long cooking times
Air fryers are designed to cook faster than most conventional cooking appliances. But, if you are unfamiliar with air frying, it is easy to cook food too long, which ruins it and can also cause smoking.
If you leave food in the air fryer too long, you can burn it unintentionally and end up with smoke all over the kitchen. While the actual cooking time depends on the specific food type and cooking mode, you will hardly ever need to air fry anything for more than 30 minutes.
9. Clogged vents
Air fryers have a built-in exhaust fan with vents that help vent out air from the appliance. However, the exhaust fan cannot do the job properly if the vents are clogged.
If the vents cannot clear out any smoke coming from the appliance, whether food is burning or not, you will likely end up with a lot of smoke in the kitchen and even trigger the smoke alarm.
10. Using aluminum foil or parchment paper
Sometimes using aluminum foil or parchment paper in your air fryer can lead to smoking. While the two are very effective at ensuring proper heat circulation, they can also catch fire if they get too close to the heating element, which then fills up the room with smoke.
Also, using low-quality aluminum foil or parchment paper that cannot handle the high cooking temperatures means it will ignite easily and cause smoking.
Different kinds of air fryer smoke and what the colors mean
There are different smoke colors that your air fryer can produce. Knowing them and their causes makes it easier to solve the underlying issue. There are three main air fryer smoke types: black, white, and blue smoke.
1. Black smoke
Black smoke from an air fryer should worry you even if it does not set your smoke alarm. The smoke almost certainly indicates that your food is burning, and you should stop cooking immediately.
Sometimes you can also get black smoke if you do not clean your air fryer. When the high heat burns the leftover grease and food particles, it produces black smoke.
2. White smoke
There is no need to panic if you see white smoke coming from your air fryer because, in most instances, it might just be steam. If the smoke smells like the food you are cooking, it is nothing to worry about.
Sometimes the white steam can also have a burning smell. In such cases, the chances are that it is the excess grease burning because of the high temperatures. Exposing grease to high heat for long periods burns it and releases fumes in the form of white smoke.
3. Blue smoke
Air fryers will hardly produce blue smoke, but when they do, it should be a red alert for you as it means there is a serious problem with the appliance.
In most cases, an air fryer will produce blue smoke if an electrical malfunction occurs. And so you should unplug the appliance immediately and have it repaired before using it again.
8 solutions to stop and prevent your air fryer from smoking
How you deal with a smoking air fryer largely depends on what you are cooking, but one or a combination of a few of the 8 solutions below should work for you in most cases.
1. Clean the air fryer, remove the oil and leftover
The best way to deal with a smoking air fryer is to give it to clean it thoroughly. If you are in the middle of cooking, a quick fix would be to soak up the surplus oil from the bottom using a paper towel or dry kitchen cloth.
Also, make sure you give the appliance a thorough clean after cooking. You should clean all the accessories in the sink or dishwasher and wipe the surfaces and heating coil with a damp cloth.
Most manufacturers provide clear directions on how to clean your air fryer, so you only need to check the manual to know what to do.
2. Use oil with a high smoke point
If you have to use oil to make your air-fried foods, it is important to ensure you only use oil with a high smoking point to prevent burning.
Olive oil is one of the best options as it can withstand up to 380°F. Others like sunflower, avocado, and sesame oil can withstand up to 400°F but might not always be readily available or be a little pricier.
3. Preheat the air fryer
The longer the food stays in an air fryer, the more likely the grease that pools at the bottom of the drawer to will burn and smoke.
And so, to ensure that the food will not stay in the air fryer for long, you should always preheat it before you start cooking. Preheating for 5 to 10 minutes should be enough to get most air fryers to the optimal cooking temperature.
Additionally, preheating will also help ensure you get more even crisping, which is what you want when air frying.
4. Set a lower temperature
It is hard for your air fryer to smoke when cooking at low temperatures as you are less likely to burn the food or the surplus grease.
If what you want to cook does not require high heat, you are always better off setting a lower cooking temperature to prevent smoking. However, it is still important to match the temperature to what the recipe recommends.
5. Don’t cook for a long time
Avoid cooking foods for a long time to reduce the likelihood of smoking. Instead of putting large portions that take long to cook, you should cook in smaller batches that require less time.
Sometimes cooking for a long time might be inevitable, for example, when you are slow cooking. However, you can ensure there will not be much smoke by reducing the temperature
6. Turn on an exhaust fan
If your air fryer has an exhaust fan, you should turn it on as it helps dissipate any smoke in the air.
This remedy is best when dealing with white smoke and can tell nothing is burning from the smell of the smoke. For the other smoke types, an exhaust fan might not be very effective as it will not fix the underlying source of the smoke.
7. Wrap them with parchment paper
Parchment paper can help contain your foods and any grease they release as they cook. This way, it will be hard for the food to burn or to end up with oil at the bottom that can overheat to produce smoke.
Also, covering the food when cooking makes it hard for the air fryer fan to blow food particles into the heating element, which can also cause smoke as they burn.
8. Replace it with a new one from the merchant
If you try all the remedies above and nothing seems to work, the problem might be that the air fryer is faulty. And so the best way to deal with the issue is to replace it with a new unit.
Many manufacturers will provide warranties, so if it is within the coverage period, you can replace the air fryer with a new one for free.
What kinds of food will make air fryers smoke easily
High fat or greasy foods like bacon and those with high water content, like some vegetable types, are more likely to smoke in an air fryer.
The grease from the food collects at the bottom of the air fryer, where it is easily overheated since it cannot withstand very high temperatures, leading to smoking.
Also, any liquid from the food with a lot of water will mix with the spices and collect at the bottom, where it burns and smokes.
Ways of preventing an air fryer from smoking
Here are some tips that can help prevent your air fryer from smoking:
- Always cook in a well-ventilated room to allow any smoke produced to dissipate quickly.
- Remember to clean up the air fryer and all its accessories after every use and also give it a quick wipe before the next use.
- Use the least amount of oil possible when air frying.
- Go for an air fryer with a non-stick basket and surfaces.
- Place a slice of bread at the bottom to absorb excess grease when cooking high-fat foods.
Smoke vs steam
Sometimes what you see coming from the air fryer is just steam and not smoke, so there is nothing to worry about as it dissipates easily.
You can also tell whether you see steam or smoke from the smell. Steam is usually odorless, but smoke smells like the food you are cooking or whatever is burning in the air fryer.
How to prevent the air fryer from smelling like burning plastic
Many air fryers will have a strong burning plastic smell when new, but you can easily eliminate it by cleaning the appliance before use.
Cleaning all the accessories with mild soap and warm water and wiping the surfaces with a damp cloth should eliminate most of the smell.
Also, preheating the air fryer before cooking can prevent the plastic smell. But even if you do nothing to the air fryer, the plastic smell will typically dissipate after the first few uses.
Why do air fryers smoke when cooking chicken, bacon, and burgers? What should you do?
The smoke is usually because of these foods’ grease or excess sauce when cooking chicken.
When these liquids collect at the bottom of the basket or tray, they are overheated as they cannot withstand very high temperatures. They will then smoke as they burn.
The easiest way to deal with the problem is to stop cooking and remove the excess oil with a paper towel. Also, putting a slice of bread at the bottom of your air fryer basket can soak up the surplus fat and liquids to prevent burning.
Smoking solutions for specific air fryer brands
1. Philips air fryers
Phillips provides simple solutions for a smoking air fryer, depending on the causes. For example, their troubleshooting guide recommends using a fat reducer accessory if the smoking is because of cooking fatty ingredients. Their solutions are also similar to what most other popular brands like Ninja and Cuisinart recommend.
2. Samsung air fryers
Samsung’s smoke troubleshooting guide explains what to do if you get smoke when using their air fryers for the first time, during self-cleaning, and also when it happens for normal use. For smoking during the normal cooking process, the brand recommends cleaning any spills that might still be on the air fryer, and if the appliance smokes when clean, their advice is to request service through their support center.
That should be all you need to know about air fryer smoking. This post clearly shows that this common air fryer problem often occurs when cooking fatty foods and when you use the air fryer without cleaning the grease and food residue from your previous cooking.
The good news is that there are several ways of dealing with the problems depending on the underlying cause but overall, keeping your air fryer clean is often enough.
Have you encountered a smoking air fryer? Please share your experiences dealing with the problem in the comments section below, and remember to share this post to help others facing the same air fryer troubles.
My love for food was influenced by my brother, a chef at a 2-star Michelin restaurant, and we often exchange food knowledge together. It’s been 12 years since I first stepped into the kitchen, and with my vast experience and expertise, I will share many ideas on how to make dishes more delicious!