If you are brand new to owning an air fryer, you will be surprised to find that it gives off a “plastic-like” scent every time you use it. So here’s how to get rid of air fryer plastic smell:
As a general rule, to eliminate an air fryer’s plastic smell when cooking, run it at 400° F for 20 minutes empty before cooking food in it. This allows the protective coating on the basket to burn off without coming into contact with food.
But it may sometimes be necessary to repeat that process more than once.
Luckily, while the smell is definitely unpleasant, it’s not a cause for concern and will go away after just a few uses. So in this article, we’re diving deep into air fryers, which are becoming one of the most used kitchen appliances.
We’ll explore why they smell like plastic when you first use them.
But we’ll also look at how to get rid of that smell before you use it, and whether there is any cause for alarm if that smell continues. But if you want tips to avoid setting off the smoke detector with your air fryer, click here to read my complete guide on air fryer safety.
Let’s get into it!
Why does my air fryer smell like plastic?
Air fryers come with a protective coating. When the air fryer is used initially, this coating gets heated to high temperatures. This causes the coating to burn and give off a plastic smell. This coating typically burns completely away after a few uses and won’t smell after that.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to cook food those first few times to get rid of the smell.
Many air fryer brands specify to run the fryer at 400° F for 20 minutes empty before using it for cooking food. That way the plastic burns off and won’t simply melt onto what you’re cooking.
I will say though, that the more plastic parts a fryer has, the more it will smell and the longer it will smell.
Metal air fryers still have the coating on the air fryer basket, but with fewer plastic parts, the unpleasant odors aren’t as strong and will go away after that initial 20 minutes of heating.
So not all air fryers are created equal and it pays to look for one that’s more metal parts than plastic. After all, there’s nothing quite as unappetizing as plastic fumes. But the burning of that coating isn’t the only thing that can cause an air fryer to give off an unpleasant smell.
Here are some other possible reasons for a bad smell:
1. The heating element
Most air fryers have a heating element that is located on the top of the unit. Over a period of time, food particles can start to collect in this area. That can eventually release an unpleasant burning smell as the hot air circulates.
2. Not keeping it clean
Along those same lines, not cleaning your air fryer after every use can cause it to give off a bad odor when used.
Luckily, most air fryers’ removable parts are usually dishwasher safe. So I like to throw my basket in the dishwasher after every use, giving it a quick rinse and scrub first if there are any baked-on food particles.
Then with a wet sponge or a damp cloth and maybe a tiny bit of dish soap, wipe down the entire inside (once cool) and outside every time too.
DO YOU KNOW THE 3 SECRET WAYS OF MAINTAINING YOUR AIRFRYER?
All of the air fryers we tested have a pan and basket with a nonstick coating; you should avoid using metal cooking utensils or abrasive sponges, which could damage the surface. Washing the pieces by hand using hot water pic.twitter.com/n6EHrOuSYs
— fctMarketplace (@Zillions_Ecom) May 21, 2019
How do I get the plastic smell out of my air fryer?
On a new air fryer, remove all plastic wrap, and wash and dry all removable parts in a sink with warm water and dish soap. But you can also place a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and lemon juice in a glass bowl and heat inside the air fryer for 2 minutes at 400° F.
But let’s look at those things in a step-by-step just to eliminate any confusion:
First method to eliminate the plastic smell in a new air fryer
- The first thing is to remove all the plastic wrap that your new air fryer may come with. This is NOT designed to be kept on the fryer and will definitely create an unpleasant smell if left on
- Most parts of the air fryer are washable such as the pan, rack grill, and removable basket
- Place these parts in a sink full of warm soapy water and let sit for 15 minutes
- Gently scrub these parts with a soft sponge and then wipe out the inside of your air fryer
- Rinse the parts with clean water and wipe out the inside of the fryer with a wet sponge with clean water
- Wipe everything dry with a kitchen towel
- Now the air fryer is ready to be run
Remember, of course, as we talked about above, if the fryer is brand new, you’ll still want to run it for 20 minutes a 400° F empty the first time before using it to cook food. This will ensure any protective coating left gets burned off.
While those steps work great on new air fryers, they also work well on older fryers that may have baked-on grime creating off smells.
Second method to eliminate the plastic smell in a new air fryer
If the steps above do not work then this method will almost assuredly eliminate the bad odors.
- Use a small glass or ceramic air fryer-safe bowl
- Place 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup of lemon juice in the bowl
- Set the air fryer to 400° F
- Run the air fryer for 2 minutes
- Repeat as necessary or a few times per year to freshen it up
Don’t have lemons or vinegar?
You can just use one or the other if you don’t have both. I would not recommend other types of vinegar as some, such as balsamic or apple cider could leave a sticky residue. Also, avoid using harsh cleaners or bleach.
Ultimately, there are a lot of advantages of air fryers.
Click here to read my complete guide to air fryers and all their pros and cons. I cover all the different ways you can use them including the 1 really cool way most people never think of.
trying to get the “smoked plastic” smell out of this new air fryer by running it over & over again pic.twitter.com/gXAsyidE5N
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) December 6, 2020
Bonus tips on keeping your air fryer odor-free
1. Coat the basket and grease separator tray with oil
This is much like seasoning a cast-iron skillet.
Take regular cooking oil (vegetable oil, canola oil, or any oil with a mild flavor and high smoke point) and a paper towel.
Pour a little oil on the towel. Then run the paper towel inside and then coat the basket and separator tray with a light coating of oil.
Turn on the air fryer and run it at 400° F and run it for 10 minutes.
Then let the air fryer cool down for 15 minutes. Once it has cooled down, just remove the tray and wipe it down with oil again. Then place it inside again and repeat the process.
Wipe clean with a damp sponge afterward. Also, make sure to avoid using spray oil for this process as some of the additives in that can damage the non-stick coating.
2. Use aluminum foil inserts
This is a bonus tip for you to keep the air fryer clean and mess-free.
But it will also keep your basket’s non-stick coating in better shape and help it last longer. Use aluminum foil and cover the bottom of the basket.
This will allow all the extra grease or melted cheese to be collected in the aluminum foil rather than spilling into the fryer and getting baked on.
Twist the 4 corners of the foil to make it easier to pick up when it’s time to throw it away.
3. Preheat the air fryer
This tip is good not only for newer air fryers that might still have some unpleasant smells but it will actually help the food cook better and come out better too.
It’s especially good for air frying chicken breast or steaks.
Simply set the air fryer to the temperature the recipe calls for. Then run it empty for 5 minutes. Now everything is heated up inside of the air fryer and ready for the food and any lingering bad smells have likely dissipated.
Air fryers are indispensable for those with small kitchens or those whose hectic schedules demand convenience.
So in this article, we examined why air fryers can sometimes have a strong odor, especially when brand new. But more importantly, we looked at how to get rid of that new air fryer smell. Then we looked at some great tips for ongoing maintenance to keep the air fryer odor-free.
If you take good care of your air fryer from the beginning, and then keep it clean after every use, it will last you for a very long time.
The smell of burning plastic coatings is not something you want coming from your kitchen. But the good news is that the smell is only temporary and will go away quickly.
Want a top-notch air fryer that also doubles as an Instant-Pot?
Believe it or not, there are some air fryer/pressure cooker combos. Click this link to read my complete guide to them. I get into how they work, what the pros and cons are, and which brands make the best ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all air fryers have a plastic smell?
All air fryers will come with a plastic coating on the basket which will need to be burned off before cooking food to eliminate the smell of plastic.
However, air fryers that are primarily made of metal will not have the strong plastic smell that many less expensive air fryers have which are made with more plastic than metal.
So look for higher-end air fryers with more metal parts than plastic; especially the frying basket.
Is air fryer plastic smell safe?
Air fryers can release plastic fumes when first used as they come with a coating that needs to be burned off before cooking food.
While these fumes are unpleasant to smell, they are considered safe.
Do be aware, however, that air fryer baskets are often coated in Teflon (Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a synthetic fluoropolymer). It is considered to be potentially harmful if heated to over 572º F. But air fryers are not designed to go to that temperature.
So for most health experts and food safety experts, air fryers are considered to be completely safe. Just follow the steps outlined in my article to burn off the plastic coating before cooking food in it for the first time.
Why does my food taste like plastic after air frying?
If your food tastes like plastic after air frying, it can be frustrating and concerning. This issue can result from various factors, but there are solutions to help you enjoy your air-fried meals without that unwanted plastic flavor.
- Preheating and Cleaning: Before using your air fryer, always preheat it as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Sometimes, plastic residues from packaging or previous use may have melted onto the heating element or other components. Cleaning your air fryer thoroughly, especially if it’s brand new, can prevent these residues from affecting the taste of your food.
- Cookware Choice: Ensure you’re using air fryer-safe cookware and accessories. Some containers or utensils that are not designed for air frying can release plastic odors when exposed to high temperatures. Stick to cookware made from heat-resistant materials like stainless steel, ceramic, or silicone.
- Temperature Settings: Pay attention to the temperature settings. Cooking at excessively high temperatures can cause the plastic parts inside the air fryer to emit undesirable odors. Follow recommended temperature guidelines for different types of food.
- Plastic Wrap: Avoid using plastic wrap or plastic containers directly in the air fryer. If you need to cover your food, opt for heat-resistant materials like parchment paper. Plastic wrap can melt and release unwanted flavors into your meal.
- Food Packaging: Be cautious with pre-packaged frozen foods. Some of them come in plastic containers or wrappers that may not be suitable for air frying. Always check the packaging instructions for recommended cooking methods.
- Cooking Time: Overcooking or burning your food can sometimes produce unpleasant flavors that might resemble plastic. Keep an eye on your food as it cooks, and adjust the cooking time as needed.
- Air Fryer Quality: If you consistently experience a plastic taste despite following these tips, it might be worth considering the quality of your air fryer. Some cheaper models might have components that emit unwanted odors when heated. Upgrading to a higher-quality air fryer could resolve the issue.
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