Using cooking appliances is a tricky business; you have to be vigilant about several aspects to make the most out of them. One such aspect is the smell – or, more specifically, whether or not a cooking appliance is supposed to release a particular smell.
While toaster oven and crockpot smells are due for another day, today, we’ll focus on air fryer smells. Many new users feel concerned when their new air fryer gives off a strange smell, and they start thinking if this was a terrible purchase.
If your air fryer is also releasing a weird smell, here’s why it happens and how you can fix it: Air fryers have several plastic components and a protective coating that smell when overheated – mainly when they are new. However, with regular usage and proper cleaning, this smell dies down. So if your new air fryer smells like plastic, give it a few runs at 400F for 15-20 minute intervals, and this problem will disappear.
Using an air fryer isn’t always straightforward because it differs from our conventional deep fryers/cookers. If you want to cook some delicious meals in your air fryer without facing any smell, stay with me, and I’ll all answer your questions about air fryer smells.
So, let’s dig deeper and understand how air fryers work and what makes them smelly!
Why Do Air Fryers Smell Like Plastic?
Unless your air fryer is entirely metal, it’s supposed to smell like plastic. The problem arises when this smell doesn’t go away, even if you follow cleaning protocol and take care of this expensive appliance.
Most plastic appliances smell when they’re new, but this smell becomes problematic in air fryers because that’s where your food goes. You surely won’t enjoy smelly chicken nuggets.
Here are the top reasons which cause air fryers to smell:
Air fryer components come coated in a protective layer out of the box, which is thin plastic. When an air fryer is heated, this plastic layer starts to melt and releases some smell.
Now, if your air fryer is of good quality, this plastic coating would easily melt off after 2-3 uses. But this isn’t the case with all air fryers. So if an air fryer’s protective coating doesn’t burn with regular use, it causes your kitchen to smell like plastic.
The burning of this thin coating is why most air fryers stop smelling after a few cooking rounds.
Apart from the frying basket, most air fryer components are made from plastic. And like other plastic appliances, air fryer components can’t stand the heat either.
Even after the protective coating melts away, the plastic parts of an air fryer can release some smell upon exposure to high heat. Although a plastic frame doesn’t significantly contribute to the smell, it can still be problematic.
Residue in the Heating Element
An air fryer’s heating element is a coil located above the frying basket or below it. Wherever is your air fryer’s heating element, food particles can accumulate in it with time and contribute to the unpleasant smell.
The smell caused by food residue in the heating element is different from the usual plastic smell. It feels more like something is burning inside the air fryer. If your air fryer starts to smell after being in use for a while, food particles in the heating element can be the reason.
Dust on the Outside
When you cook in an air fryer, black smoke releases in the air from its backside ventilation. If dust is stuck around that vent, it can release a smokey smell in your kitchen.
Moreover, stuck-on grease around the air fryer’s vent can also contribute to the charring smell, you might be noticing Overcoming this smell is pretty easy – keep your air fryer clean from the inside out, and it won’t smell.
Poor Air Circulation
If you use your air fryer right out of a kitchen cabinet, it doesn’t have enough room to breathe. This suffocating environment can trap plastic fumes inside different components of your air fryer and result in unpleasant odor over time.
No worries if you cannot empty some counter space for the air fryer; simply leave the cabinet door and kitchen window open while cooking in an air fryer.
How To Get Rid Of Air Fryer Plastic Smell?
You excitedly cook something in your new air fryer to see how the meal turns out and get weird-smelling food as a result. This happens to the best of us. If your air fryer smells like plastic, it’s not broken or low quality; it’s just new.
And you have to mold new machines according to your requirements to ensure they offer optimal performance; air fryers are no exception.
Whether you’re dealing with a brand new air fryer or your oldie has started causing some smelly trouble, here are some tested ways to deal with it:
Run the Empty Air Fryer
Don’t jump straight to cooking after you unbox the air fryer, hold your excitement for a while and check the user manual that came with it.
Most manufacturers recommend you give your air fryer an empty run before cooking a meal in it to ensure there are no toxic fumes.
Here’s how you should conduct an empty round with your air fryer:
- Take your air fryer out of the box and remove any bubble wrap or plastic covering it came with.
- Take the frying basket out and ensure none of the components is broken.
- Plug it in the wall socket and set it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit from the LCD or display buttons.
- Once your air fryer starts its first cycle, let it be for 20 minutes.
- Ideally, these 20 minutes will melt the thin plastic coating from your air fryer’s cooking surfaces and mark it safe for your next meal.
- Turn off the fryer and let it cool down at room temperature. Take a clean damp cloth and thoroughly wipe it to remove any remaining plastic particles from the cooking surface.
If everything else is fine with your air fryer, following these steps before you cook the first meal will ensure you don’t face any unpleasant smell later on.
Clean it Regularly
I have seen people cleaning only the air fryer’s basket and leaving other components, which is a mistake. Even if there are no food spills or mishaps, your air fryer’s lower rack and pan can house an ample amount of grease build-up with time.
If this residue is left unattended, it causes an air fryer to smell. This smell is different than the plastic one; it’s smokey in nature. If you’re facing this problem, follow these steps to overcome it:
- When you’re done cooking in the air fryer, let it cool down for half an hour.
- Remove all of its loose parts, i.e., tray, basket, pan, and grill one by one.
- Mix liquid dish soap with warm water and submerge these air fryer parts in that mixture for 30-60 minutes.
- Take another wet cloth, pour a drop of liquid soap over it, and clean your air fryer’s interiors with it. Don’t put too much water or soap inside the fryer, though.
- If there is stuck-on food particulate, use some elbow grease to take it out, but don’t go overboard with it. Don’t use harsh cleaners with an air fryer, either.
- After soaking and rinsing the loose components of your air fryer, leave them to dry for a while.
This extensive cleaning procedure will surely remove all grease and residue build-up from your air fryer.
Use Lemon Juice
My mother’s air fryer is quite old, and the last time I visited her, I noticed it leaves a tangy in everything she cooks. I decided to fix it and succeeded in doing that after a few attempts.
Here are the steps I followed to get rid of the tangy smell from an air fryer:
- Soak a kitchen towel in some lemon juice and coat the air fryer’s surface with it.
- Don’t rush for washing and leave the lemon juice on for an hour.
- Wash the air fryer components like usual, and wipe them dry.
The citric acid in lemon juice will control smelly fumes, and dish soap will remove the grease from your air fryer, leaving it clean and fresh.
Season with Oil
After you follow any of the above cleaning regimes, top it off with a seasoning layer, and your air fryer will be good for a longer period.
Here’s how you can season your air fryer:
- Take the air fryer basket and separator tray out.
- Dip a kitchen towel in regular cooking oil and wipe the separator tray and frying basket with it.
- Put both things back and turn on the air fryer at 350-400F for 10-12 minutes.
- Turn off the fryer and set it aside to cool down.
You can either wash the separator and basket after seasoning or let them be; I’d recommend you not wash the oil off because it’s good for food release.
How To Stop Air Fryer From Smelling?
Cleaning the air fryer once or twice a month doesn’t keep the odors away; you need a proper upkeep schedule for that. If your air fryer is clean and the smell is still there, fret not because I have a solution for that.
Follow these steps and stop your air fryer from smelling for a considerable time:
- First of all, you’ll need an air fryer-safe dish.
- Next, pour one tablespoon vinegar and one tablespoon lime juice into this dish and put it inside the air fryer.
- Run the fryer at 350-400 degrees for 5 minutes, and turn it off; don’t remove the dish yet.
- Take the dish out after everything is cool and check the smell that was causing trouble earlier.
The vinegar-lime solution is an excellent way of removing lingering smells from cookware, appliances, and containers.
Why Some Air Fryers Smell Like Grease?
Apart from the plastic-like and burning smells, air fryers can also emit a greasy odor. Although a rare sight, this greasy smell is more pungent and doesn’t disappear unless you remedy its root cause.
If your air fryer emits a greasy odor, check below its drippings rack and inside its heat element; you’ll most probably find food particulate there.
When oil droplets emit from your food, they accumulate in either one of these places, making them messy over time.
And when you cook in such an air fryer, it releases a grease-like smell, which can be extremely unpleasant.
Here’s what you can do to get over this smell:
- Soak a soft cloth in lemon juice and wipe the air fryer clean with it.
- Repeat this step a few times if the grease is stubborn.
- Complete the process by rinsing the air fryer components, and that should do.
Make sure your air fryer is always clean to avoid this smell in the future.
Are There Air Fryers That Don’t Smell?
Yes, not all air fryers smell every time you cook in them. However, you reach this level after regularly using the air fryer for some time.
Even the best quality air fryers release some smell the first 2-3 times you use them – this number varies according to the model in question.
When you start cooking in an air fryer regularly and keep it clean from the inside out, it doesn’t smell anymore. Regular maintenance and cleanliness will ensure you don’t face the unpleasant, tangy smell.
Air fryers are gaining immense popularity across the globe, thanks to the healthier meals you can make with them. However, maintaining a clean and safe air fryer may take some extra effort.
Most air fryers smell like plastic during the first 2-3 rounds of cooking, or they might start emitting smokey or greasy smells once they are old. These two problems call for careful cleaning and upkeep.
I have listed some tested methods to control and remove smells from air fryers in the above sections. Try one depending upon your air fryer’s condition, and get rid of the lingering smells once and for all!