If you’ve just seen smoke coming out of your air fryer and quickly Googled “why is my air fryer smoking,” don’t freak out.
There are several explanations for why this might be happening, but the first thing you need to do is unplug the machine.
And relax, you’ve come to the right place.
Most of the time, smoke emerges when food or oil accidentally splatters onto the heating coil, which is probably what’s causing the burning smell too.
In this guide, we’ll help you troubleshoot the problem and give you tips on how to avoid it happening again in the future.
Let us start with the basics...
An air fryer heats food using convection currents that are generated by heating the central coil and circulating hot air throughout the inside via a fan.
It takes a while for the fryer to reach the optimal cooking temperature, but once it does, it can fry, roast, or bake anything almost as well as an oven would.
Air fryers are commonly used for cooking foods such as meats, fried items like chips, and in some cases even toasting bread.
Convection heating as a cooking technique offers a lot of versatility when it comes to heating different types of foods.
Reasons Why is My Air Fryer Smoking
The most common reason for this is bits of food or grease getting caught on the coil, or if you’re cooking something rich in fat.
When grease starts to overheat, it releases an opaque, steam-like smoke.
Let’s take a look at the different causes of why your air fryer is smoking, as well as what to do next to fix it.
Foods that are high in fat content have an excessive amount of grease that either collects at the bottom of the air fryer or burns once the temperature crosses the oil’s smoking point.
Remember, different types of oils have different smoking points.
The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which it starts to burn and produces white smoke.
Specific foods may have their own smoke points as well.
You want to make sure the oil you’re using can handle a temperature of at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which is typically the highest temperature you can set on an air fryer.
For instance, virgin olive oil starts to smoke under 400 ℉, but extra light olive oil can handle at least 425 ℉ so it’s better to use extra light olive oil.
If the smoke you see is white, don’t worry. It won’t damage the mechanisms of the air fryer.
How To Fix It?
Step #1. Switch off or unplug the air fryer and wait for it to cool down a bit.
Step #2. Remove the drawer and take out the basket from the drawer.
Step #3. Take out all the food and examine the bottom of the drawer. Use a paper towel to wipe all the excess grease at the bottom.
Step #4. Put the basket back into the drawer and re-insert the drawer.
Step #5. Try cooking it again. Change the oil if necessary. This time, there should be no smoke.
The next time you’re cooking, you can line the bottom of the drawer with parchment paper to catch any oil residue that falls. This makes cleaning up much easier.
You could also add a little bit of water underneath. This will prevent the oil from getting too hot the next time.
Say you aren’t cooking fatty foods but still see smoke emanating from the device.
This may be caused by leftover residue from the previous cook that you have yet to clean.
Each cooking session leaves behind small deposits of grease and residue that accumulate over time.
That’s why you need to clean the components of your air fryer regularly.
How To Fix It?
Step #1. Place all the removable components of your air fryer in a bath of water and soap.
Step #2. Use a cleaning sponge to scrub the parts clean and dry them off with a paper towel.
Step #3. Use a paper towel to sweep the inside of the air fryer to remove any grease and food debris.
Make sure you get all the grease on the non-stick coating of the bottom of the basket.
You’ve cleaned your air fryer and you’re using an oil with a high smoking point, but you still see smoke coming out?
This may be because of the food bits falling off and coming in contact with the heating element in the fryer.
Unlike smoke from grease, this smoke might be thicker and more pungent.
Bread crumbs or bits of oregano, for instance, will likely get pushed by the convection currents and fly around inside the fryer.
How To Fix It?
Step #1. Unplug or switch off the appliance at the sight of smoke and wait for it to cool down before you clean it.
Step #2. Use a damp cleaning rag to try and scrape off any bits of burnt food stuck to the coil.
Step #3. Let the air dryer dry before you switch it on again.
To avoid these problems in the future, you can purchase splatter lids or snack covers that are designed to catch food residue in an air fryer.
Additionally, if you’re baking bread, apply butter or sauce to moisten the surface, which will help prevent bits from falling off.
If you see thick or blue smoke emanating from the air fryer, it might be a sign that something is wrong with the electrical components of the air fryer.
For your safety, you should unplug the device immediately, and if you have an air exhaust system, switch that on.
Steam-like smoke is common but if the smoke’s thick and colored, there’s a small chance your air fryer is about to catch fire.
How To Fix It
Thick-colored smoke is out of the ordinary for an air fryer, and beyond your depths to resolve at home.
We recommend contacting your manufacturer or customer service agent to figure out what the next steps should be.
Here are some tips to help you troubleshoot what’s wrong and to avoid encountering more problems with your air fryer.
1. Is the smoke white or colored?
If it’s white and transparent, that’s probably just steam, and releasing steam is a part of the cooking process.
If the smoke is colored or thick, unplug the device immediately and stand back.
2. Avoid using excess grease in an air fryer.
When grease is cooked at high temperatures, it can splatter. The more grease you have, the more smoke emerges when it burns.
Air fryers are praised for the short amount of oil they require for cooking. If you want a better idea of how much oil to add, it’s best to revisit the recipe.
3. Is your basket large enough to cook at high temperatures?
If not, try either cooking less or purchasing a larger basket for the fryer.
4. Use Additional Resources
Parchment paper, bread, or water at the bottom of the pan can help catch grease and food particles that splatter off so they don’t burn. Creating some kind of base is how a professional cook does it.
5. Higher Temeperature
Another reason why you might be seeing smoke is if you’ve set the temperature higher than the recipe requires.
Like we said earlier, different foods also have different smoking points.
6. How well ventilated is your cooking area?
In a small, closed space, even a little bit of steam can be overwhelming.
Open up the windows or switch on your exhaust fan to help minimize this and definitely don’t stand around inhaling the smoke.
Generally, this happens either because your air fryer hasn’t been cleaned regularly and there’s a big build-up of grease.
It may also be because something has come into contact with the heating coil.
If the smoke is thick and/or dark, however, unplug the machine and step back.
This depends on how sensitive your smoke detectors are. Some detectors, such as the ones found in hotels or dorms, are typically sensitive to steam too.
This case you should place the air fryer away from the detector or in a different room. Preferably close to a fan or a window for ventilation.
This is common with new air fryers because the hot convection air coming into contact with the interior for the first time can produce a chemical-like smell, akin to plastic.
It’s nothing to worry about. But if you’re still smelling plastic after months of usage, this might be an indication of damage.
Hopefully, the next time you or anyone you know is wondering “why is my air fryer smoking,” this article can help you troubleshoot the problem more precisely and fix it safely.
Air dryers are generally safe and easy to use, but remember, they need to be cleaned and maintained regularly. Not doing so could also risk damage to the appliance.