How to stop an air fryer smoking

Ever tried cooking bacon, sausages, burgers or fried chicken only to watch plumes of grease smoke billow out of your fryer? Eurgh, what a mess. We’ve all been there, frantically trying to stop the smoke detector from bleeping away. There’s actually a few things you can do to stop greasy food from smoking up in the fryer. First lets start with the basics.

1 – Make sure your air fryer is clean

It might sound obvious, but before we dig into the next two air fryer hacks, lets start with the simplest solution to a smoky fryer. You’ll want to clean your fryer as often as you can. A dirty fryer is a smoky fryer. I’ve been to known to clean mine after every use – especially if I’ve cooked something that leaves behind a greasy or oily residue. That oil when heated up the next time will smoke, and more than likely affect the food you’re cooking in a negative way.

With these next two tips, please use common sense and be safe at all times. Be sure you understand how your fryer works and the safety implications of both of these techniques. If in doubt call your air fryer manufacturer. And never leave your fryer unattended when trying out a new cooking method. Always be close by to keep an eye on things.

2 – Using slices of bread to catch grease

This next trick is versatile in a number of air fryer designs, units with baskets, units with shelves. Simply place some bread at the bottom of your fryer and hey presto, it will soak up all the dripping grease. When the grease is absorbed by the bread it won’t bubble up and smoke. I’ve used this trick to cook burgers, fried chicken and more. All items that cause an air fryer to smoke up, and all solved by this simple trick.

I use the Cosori 5.8QT fryer, which has a double basket design. I put the bread in the outer basket and then load in the inner fry basket with the food. The grease from the food drips down and is soaked up by the bread, not a single puff of smoke. I find that there’s barely a 5-8mm gap between the two baskets so a regular slice of white bread is too thick and prevents the baskets from being loaded into the fryer correctly. I either have to press the bread tightly or use some deft knife skills to slice it in half.

With the above in mind, be sure to test the bread in your fryer before you turn it on. Does it fit, does it cause issues with the operation? You’ll want to be sure how everything fits and works normally before you activate the machine and it gets hot and hard to work with.

3 – Using water to diffuse grease drips

Again, please be very careful. Obviously water and electrical devices should be taken very carefully. Understand how your fryer works and what you’re doing.

This trick is mainly for basket design fryers. If and when your fryer starts to smoke, I find a tablespoon or two of water added to the outer basket helps prevent smoking. I first used this method when cooking bacon in the air fryer, which is prone to smoke terribly. Sausages and bratwurst too. A little water added to the bottom basket (where the grease is caught) essentially diffuses the dripping grease, preventing it from burning and smoking. Again, caution and common sense need to be used here. This trick probably won’t work in non-basket design fryers.

Another caveat is that too much water added to the basket can cause a steaming effect. This will steam your food and create a mushy finish. I learned this the hard way air frying some breaded cod fillets that started to smoke.

Other considerations

Let me say one last time – be safe. Be careful. Understand how your fryer works and the safety implications of the above.