Air fryers are relatively new phenomenon for many chefs — amateurs and pros alike. So it’s no wonder that questions about how to use them come up pretty often, and one of the most common questions is whether you can put glass in an air fryer.
You can put oven-safe glass like Pyrex in an air fryer, but make sure the glass isn’t too cold or thermal stress could cause it to break. As a precaution, preheat the glass with slightly warm water before you use it. Safe alternatives to glass include ceramic, aluminum foil, and silicone.
So, if you’re wondering if you can put that glass container with yesterday’s leftovers directly in the air fryer, you’re in luck. Let’s take a closer look at how an air fryer works, how to keep your glass containers from breaking, and glass alternatives that you can safely use in the fryer.
How Does an Air Fryer Work?
An air fryers like the Ninja AF101 for example (on Amazon) utilizes convection heat to achieve a similar affect to that of the hot oil used in a traditional fryer.
In an air fryer, you basically put the food in a basket. Over the basket is a heating element that generates heat, and a fan forces the heat towards your food to crisp it up evenly and nicely.
However, there are some potential downsides to using an air fryer. For instance, it heats up quicker than your traditional oven, putting your bowls and plates at risk. In addition, it doesn’t let the air flow around the food freely, which is why food takes longer to cook.
How to Keep Your Glass From Breaking in an Air Fryer
With some precautions, you can prevent your glass from breaking in the air fryer. Let’s take a look:
Avoid Sudden Temperature Changes
One major cause of glass breakage is rapid and sudden changes in temperatures. Glass expands when it’s heated, and if one part of the bowl heats up faster than the other, it can make the glassware expand unevenly. As a result, the glass can tear itself apart.
So, for instance, if you put a glass bowl with frozen leftover food in an air fryer, it’ll probably shatter.
Instead of doing that, it’s better if you wait a bit for the glass to come down to room temperature and then put it in the air fryer at the lowest temperature setting possible. Also, make sure you never put cold glass from the freezer directly into the air fryer.
Look Out for Weak Glass
Structural weakness in glass can cause it to break in a fryer, even if it’s oven-safe. Hold your glass container or bowl under the light and look out for things like color changes, uneven surfaces, and small cracks. All of these indicate weak glass.
Use Tempered Glass Only
Glass serving bowls and drink bowls typically can’t handle oven temperatures, which is why you should never put them in the air fryer unless they’re clearly labeled as over safe.
It’s better if you use tempered glass in the air fryer since it can withstand higher temperatures. In comparison, non-tempered glass has small pockets of air that contract and expand when subjected to high temperatures, causing the glass to break.
Don’t Test the Glass Too Much
You shouldn’t subject oven-safe glass to temperatures over 350-450 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you thoroughly read the label on the glass to determine its limits. Never test the limits too much because, at high temperatures, the glass starts losing its shape, and may even crack or explode.
So, just to stay on the safer side of things, keep it below the maximum temperature limit.
Don’t Overheat Your Air Fryer
Fryers can reach really hot temperatures. In fact, even small ones can exceed 500 degrees Fahrenheit. And while such a high temperature can really give your vegetables and meat a certain kind of crispiness, it might end up damaging your glassware.
Even if you’re using oven-safe dishes, it’s best to stay below 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, cooking at a lower temperature can reduce thermal shock when you take it out of the air fryer.
Which Materials Aren’t Safe for an Air Fryer?
Generally, if there’s a material that you can use in your traditional oven, then you can also use it in your air fryer. This means things like oven-safe cookware, parchment paper, and aluminum foil are safe to put in the fryer.
However, you should avoid putting cardboard and plastic containers in the air fryer. Similarly, don’t put glass in the oven if it isn’t oven safe. The heat of the fryer will shatter ordinary glass. This isn’t only dangerous, but will also spoil a nice meal.
Other things you shouldn’t put in the oven include:
Never place cold glass in the fryer, even if it’s oven-safe. Doing so will put thermal stress on the glass, causing it to shatter.
Don’t put paper towels in the air fryer at any cost. When subjected to high temperatures, they can catch fire.
Plus, the smoke will get trapped inside the fryer and circulate indefinitely. While it won’t necessarily make your food taste terrible, it’ll significantly damage your appliance, especially since it’s not designed for filtering out intense smoke.
Additionally, the fan in the air fryer can blow paper towels around the cooking chamber. As a result, hot air won’t be able to enter the chamber, causing lasting damage to your fryer.
Microwaveable Plastic Containers
Never put microwaveable plastic containers in an air fryer since they can melt and stick to the air fryer. The same goes for frozen food packs from supermarkets and convenience stores.
Styrofoam takeout cartons and other similar foam materials shouldn’t be used in the air fryer. They can also catch fire, harm the machine, and release harmful chemicals into your food that can put your health at risk.
Plastic Hot Bag
Despite their name, there are types of heat the hot bag can’t withstand — and that includes the heat from an air fryer. If you do heat hot bags in an air fryer, your appliance will start to smell like plastic.
Safe Alternatives to Glass Cookware
While certain glass containers are safe to use in an air fryer, there are safe alternatives you can also opt for. These include:
Ceramic cookware (on Amazon) is easy to clean and maintain and is generally a low-hassle alternative. Plus, it’s less likely to break as long as you use oven-safe ceramic. However, it’s less durable and, since it uses nonstick coatings, you should avoid denting or scratching them.
Metal pans are another cost-effective and practical glass alternative since they’re highly durable and inexpensive. They can last you for years, even if you don’t do a lot to maintain them.
However, food sticks to these metal pans quite easily, making them harder to wash compared to ceramic and glass, so cleaning is a little hassle.
Silicone is the best option when you want to make baked treats in the air fryer. It’s not only durable, but also easy to clean and inexpensive. However, silicone can only be used for certain items, and the containers are quite small, so you’ll probably need to purchase a set if you want to use it often.
You can wrap your food in aluminum foil (on Amazon) and put that in the air fryer without worrying about it catching fire.
In fact, foil is a pretty good heat conductor so if you don’t want to expose the food to the heat directly or if you want to just trap the heat and let it circulate to cook the food evenly, foil is a good option.
When using foil, make sure you seal it correctly to keep it from flying around. In most cases, foil is pretty delicate and the force provided by the circulating heat can rip it into pieces.
Pyrex (on Amazon) is a heat-resistant dish that works well in both the microwave and the air fryer. It also helps cut down on the cleaning you need to do after you’re done cooking.
Another alternative to glass is iron skillets if you have one that’s small enough. Iron is also a good heat conductor and can help to evenly distribute heat. It can also help contain all those foods that end up creating a mess, like fresh cheeses or any food that contains sauces.
Another good heat conductor is steel bowls. In fact, they can mimic an oven’s effect, particularly if you seal the lid with foil. This will trap the heat inside to thoroughly cook the food instead of just frying it from the outside.