You Can’t Put A Paper Plate In An Air Fryer but it has 8 Substitutes
Paper plates are designed to hold food cheaply and can be extremely helpful when partying. But can you use paper plates to heat food, like a plastic or glass plate? And can paper plates be put in an air fryer? The simple answer is NO! You can only use plates that are made of safe material.
You should only use paper plates in an air fryer if you want to end up with a gross mix of wax, paper, and food! Paper plates aren’t designed to handle the very high temperatures of air fryers, microwave ovens, or other food-warming appliances.
The last thing you want is a fire in your kitchen because you were too lazy to wash an extra plate! However, what if you only want to place the paper plate in an air fryer for a short time, just to reheat it a little bit?
Let’s explore whether you can put a paper plate in an air fryer (even for a little while), the dangers of doing so, and what you should actually use to warm food in an air fryer. Read till the end to check its 8 substitutes.
7 reasons Why you Shouldn’t Put Paper Plates in An Air Fryer
Apart from being a significant fire hazard, it’s not safe from a health perspective to use paper plates in an air fryer. Here are some of the most common problems when trying to do so. You can also have a look at the best 6 liners for air fryers.
1. Paper Plates are Fire Hazards
The worst thing that can happen when you put a paper plate in an air fryer is that it may catch on fire. Paper plates are made from flammable material which can easily combust when exposed to high temperatures. Even though the air fryer doesn’t use an open flame, it’s still going to heat the paper plate enough that it may ignite.
Consider that the burning temperature of a paper plate is around 420 degrees Fahrenheit. This is alarmingly close to the temperatures that air fryers generate to heat food. While your paper plates may not catch fire initially or if only placed in the fryer for a short while, it’s only a matter of time before they could burst into flames.
Imagine the horror and panic of having to deal with an electrical fire in your kitchen!
Also, some paper plates are thinner and are more likely to catch fire at lower temperatures. If you were hoping to put them in the air fryer only for a few minutes, think again.
2. Paper Plates May Soak Up Water
Paper plates are essentially made from the same material as tissue paper, albeit with a different structure. While they are designed to be slightly water-repellent, they inevitably soak up water after a while.
Placing a paper plate in an air fryer with food can easily cause the paper plate to become soft and soggy as it absorbs moisture from the food.
But how does this happen? Aren’t paper plates supposed to be waterproof?
It’s true that they are. But when you expose the paper plates to high temperatures, they lose their waterproof qualities.
It happens because the wax coating over the paper structure breaks down, due to the extreme heat of the air fryer, exposing the “paper” to the moisture inside the food.
The worst part of this process is having to deal with both dry food and possible damage to your air fryer!
3. Paper Plate Affect the Airflow Inside the Air Fryer
Air fryers use hot air to heat food thoroughly. Because paper plates are coated with a layer of wax, they restrict the airflow inside the air fryer, which may result in unevenly heated food.
While you may be able to avoid having the paper plate burst into flames or become a soggy mess, you’ll notice that the food doesn’t heat through properly. It can be frustrating to find that only the top part of your food has cooked, and you end up with cold food after only a few bites!
4. Paper Plates are Flimsy & Thin
There’s a reason why most paper plate manufacturers have warnings printed on them to specifically warn people against using them in microwave ovens or air fryers. If you use paper plates regularly, you probably know how easily they can tear.
The thin structure of a paper plate can’t withstand the heat of an air fryer, and your paper plate may end up mixed into the food, creating a mess in the air fryer.
The worst part is that as the outer wax and other chemicals break down, they may enter your food, causing contamination, possible cancer risks, and other health problems.
5. Potential Damage To The Air Fryer
Putting a paper plate in an air fryer will not only damage the food and plate, but it can cause permanent damage to your air fryer as well. Air fryers aren’t designed to heat flammable materials, and many chemicals are present in paper plates.
Much of the fryer’s heat will also be reflected off its synthetic surface, causing uneven heat distribution within the air fryer.
But that’s not the worst that can happen.
If the paper plate catches fire, it may permanently damage the air fryer’s critical components, as well as void manufacturer warranties. So, avoiding damaging your expensive air fryer for a paper plate worth only a few cents is really the best option.
6. Food Intoxication
Warming food using a paper plate in an air fryer is so dangerous that it can kill you! Yes, that’s right. As the paper plate heats up, the chemicals on its surface can leech into the food, causing food contamination.
The worst part of this is that you won’t even know that you’re eating poisoned food in most cases!
Most paper plates contain styrene, a chemical that can cause cancer and various health issues. Paper plates have an active form of styrene that can easily enter food when the plate is heated to high temperatures.
Studies have shown that styrene is present in the majority of Americans’ blood and has the potential to cause a range of health issues, including cancer.
So, while you may not know it, you may be eating several chemicals with your food when you heat it on a paper plate. Sometimes, the paper plate won’t heat up so much as to show visible signs of burning or melting. Still, the chemicals will seep into the food nonetheless.
7. Not All Paper Plates Are High Temperature Safe
While you can get paper plates designed for holding hot food, not all are heat tolerant. Most paper plates will catch fire at around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, but even this will depend on the type of paper plate.
Paper plates that most people use at parties are only designed to be heated at around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Beyond 140 degrees Fahrenheit, they will start to warp if you use them for burning-hot foods, for example.
When paper plates are heated beyond this, they start to warp and may even melt. However, they may also burst into flames and damage your food. Most paper plates don’t have enough heat tolerance for being placed in a microwave oven, so avoid placing them in air fryers.
8 Paper Plate Alternatives To Use In An Air Fryer
While paper plates are a big no-no for air fryers, what can you use to heat food in an air fryer? Let’s explore 8 alternative safe paper plate alternatives to heat food in an air fryer.
I’ll also discuss why each option is ideal and when to use it.
Glass is one of the safest materials to use in an air fryer. You can use the Glass in the air fryer even in higher settings. Glass has a high boiling point, doesn’t burst into flames, and is less likely to poison food even when heated.
The best part of using Glass to heat food is that you can serve it directly in the plate or bowl you use to heat it.
- Glass is heat resistant
- Glass can be used to heat all types of foods.
- It’s not flammable.
- Safe from a health perspective.
- Glass can break easily, especially if you bump it by mistake.
- You can only use “oven-safe” Glass in an air fryer.
- Glass can crack due to sudden temperature changes.
You can also use metal containers to warm food in an air fryer. Metal is durable, can handle high temperatures, and won’t crack like Glass. It’s also perfect for all types of foods and warms food evenly.
- Metal can handle temperatures over 500 degrees.
- Metal won’t crack and isn’t susceptible to sudden temperature changes.
- Ideal for baking and warming foods for extended periods.
- Heats foods more evenly than many other materials.
- Metal is heavy and takes longer to heat food.
- Not all types of metal containers are oven safe.
3. Aluminium Foil
Aluminum foil is also safe for air fryers and can be used in microwave ovens. It’s highly durable, won’t catch fire easily, and can heat food directly or cover plates and other containers.
- Aluminum foil reflects heat, which helps heat food more thoroughly.
- Aluminum is heat tolerant and can be placed in an air fryer for longer.
- Aluminum is cheap and readily available.
- Aluminum foil isn’t a container and can only heat certain foods.
- It doesn’t work without a supporting container.
Silicone is ideal if you’re looking for a cheap alternative to paper plates. It has better heat resistance, can heat most food, and won’t cause food contamination. You can even get disposable silicone paper plates specifically designed for use in an air fryer.
- Lightweight and easy to use.
- Has better heat tolerance than paper plates.
- Doesn’t damage or cause food contamination.
- Silicone is a poor heat conductor and won’t warm the food thoroughly.
- It’s slightly more expensive than paper plates and still disposable.
5. Parchment Paper
If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to paper plates that are safe for use in an air fryer, try parchment paper. This paper wrap is designed for baking cookies, bread, and other foods. You can easily wrap any food in this paper and use it in an air fryer.
- Lightweight and can be used to wrap foods.
- Better at absorbing grease than aluminum foil.
- It can be used for a range of cooking applications.
- Parchment Paper isn’t designed for overly wet foods and may get soggy quickly.
- It’s less durable than glass or metal containers.
Ceramic plates and containers are the go-to solutions for most people when heating foods in an air fryer, microwave oven, or other appliance. Ceramic plates can withstand high temperatures and are entirely safe for your health, unlike plastics. However, like glass, they may break easily.
- Ceramics can withstand high temperatures.
- It’s safe and won’t cause food poisoning.
- Ceramic containers come in a range of shapes and can be used to heat all types of food.
- Ceramic is easily breakable.
- Glazed ceramic plates cannot be used in air fryers.
7. Stainless Steel
While metal is excellent for cooking, stainless steel is much better as it’s easy to clean and doesn’t rust. If you’re heating greasy foods in an air fryer, you can safely do so in a stainless steel container. The best part of using stainless steel is that you won’t have to worry about the temperature you’re warming the food at.
- Stainless steel can handle high temperatures.
- It’s safe for food and won’t cause contamination.
- Stainless steel is easy to clean.
- Stainless steel is heavy and will take time to heat the food.
- It’s not suitable if you want to heat food quickly in an air fryer.
8. Foil Pan
Nowadays, foil pans are becoming quite famous for heating food. You can safely use them in an air fryer, and they heat food more thoroughly than metal or stainless steel pans.
- Heats food more thoroughly than many alternatives.
- It can withstand high temperatures.
- It’s safe for the food.
- Foil pans are limited in the types of food they can heat.
- They are slightly more challenging to clean.
Other Things To Avoid Putting In An Air Fryer
Air fryers are accommodating and can be used with many typical food heating materials. However, besides paper plates, there are a few things that you should avoid putting in air fryers.
Avoid using wet plates or placing water directly in an air fryer. Yes, an air fryer can heat water within a container, but direct water contact damages it.
It’s an electric appliance, after all!
Some plastics can handle the high temperatures of an air fryer, and you may be tempted to use them when heating food. However, plastics release harmful chemicals into the food, and you may be eating poisoned food without knowing it.
These chemicals can accumulate and affect your health over the years, so definitely avoid using plastic containers.
There are a handful of foods you shouldn’t heat in an air fryer, and sauces are one of them. Most sauces do not fare well when being heated and could lose their original texture. Sauces can also boil or sputter, causing potential skin burns.
First, heat your food and then use the sauces on top of it.
Like paper plates, paper towels aren’t designed to withstand the high temperatures of an air fryer and can be a potential fire hazard. Paper towels also absorb moisture from food and can damage the texture of your food.
And like paper plates, they can cause food contamination when heated.
Can you put dishes in an air fryer? Why?
You can put dishes in an air fryer, but only if they’re tagged as “oven safe.” Most ceramic or glass dishes are designed to withstand the high temperatures of air fryers and won’t cause food poisoning.
If you’re using metal, aluminum, or stainless steel dishes, you’ll also have to check that they’re oven safe.
The general rule is that anything safe for a microwave oven is also safe for an air dryer. However, it’s best to check for an oven-safe tag, even when using everyday dishes to heat food in an air fryer.
Can I put cardboard in the air fryer? Why?
You can’t put cardboard in an air fryer, or it may catch fire. Cardboard cannot withstand the high temperatures of an air fryer. It may eventually burst into flames if heated for long enough.
Besides, it’s never a good idea to use cardboard to heat food since toxins in the cardboard can leak and cause food contamination. Worst, cardboard isn’t designed to hold water and will easily get soggy in an air fryer.
Can I put toothpicks in the air fryer? Why?
You shouldn’t put toothpicks in the air fryer, and it’s best to remove them from your food before heating it. While it’s unlikely that wooden toothpicks will burst into flames in an air fryer, there’s still a slight risk.
Also, the wood may get soggy when you’re eating the food, and the toothpicks may easily break when you try to use them.
So, avoid putting toothpicks in an air fryer unless you’re in a hurry and only need to heat the food slightly.
Using paper plates in an air fryer is a big no-no unless you enjoy looking at soggy or burnt paper plates. Depending on the type of paper plate, you may even have to deal with a kitchen fire.
Better alternatives for heating food in an air fryer include glass, ceramic, aluminum foil, stainless steel, and metal. Most common dishes can also go in an air fryer. Just avoid anything as advised in this article, and you should be safe.
After all, your kitchen isn’t a science lab!
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!