The Reason You Need To Avoid Cooking Bacon In An Air Fryer

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Air fryers are known for being somewhat miraculous kitchen appliances. No matter what you make, it seems to always come out better, whether it's crispy chicken wings or gooey chocolate chip cookies. But as it turns out, not everything is better in your air fryer, and there are still a few things that it can't (or at least shouldn't) cook. There are some foods you shouldn't put in your air fryer that are obvious, like leafy greens, but bacon sounds like it could be cooked in an air fryer, right?

Well, not exactly. At first, cooking bacon in your air fryer might seem like a great idea; air fryers operate like a mini convection oven, circulating hot air around your food to cook it (via U.S. News & World Report). While bacon doesn't have batter that causes problems, it does have dripping grease that doesn't always agree with your air fryer.

According to Food Network, when they tested out cooking bacon in a single layer in an air fryer, the oil started pooling in the bottom and burning, causing white smoke to pour out of the appliance. Cooking Light reports almost exactly the same result for air-frying bacon — white smoke, a drawer overflowing with grease, and limp bacon. For bacon, it's probably best to just skip the air fryer and choose another cooking method altogether. However, if you're determined to try cooking bacon in your air fryer, you'll need to do something about that dripping grease, or things will get dangerous.

Is it possible to cook bacon in an air fryer?

Some bloggers recommend adding water to the tray below the basket to prevent the grease from burning and smoking. Keep in mind though, that while this may lessen the smoke, it's also not the safest countermeasure since mixing hot oil and water can be dangerous, as it causes the water to burst from the oil. If that comes in contact with your burner flame, you can have a fire on your hands at worst. 

You can also try working in small batches and draining the grease between each one — Food Network referred to a method from Ben Mims, the author of "Air Fry Everyday: 75 Recipes to Fry, Roast, and Bake Using Your Air Fryer," that consists of cooking just two strips of bacon at a time in an air fryer — but even then, you still might see some smoke. This will also slow the process down, and draining hot oil can also be a bit of a safety hazard.

Overall, it just doesn't seem worth the effort or the potential risk. Save the air fryer for the chicken nuggets and french fries. 

So, with the air fryer out of the running, you may feel like you've been resigned to grease splatters and smoke alarms going off while you fry up some bacon in a pan on your stovetop. But don't lose heart — we found another method that can get you great results without all of the fuss.

What cooking method for bacon should I use instead?

Ina Garten's preferred method featured on Food Network just requires a cookie sheet and your good old-fashioned oven. This method is also a favorite of ours because you can easily cook enough bacon for a crowd, making this method a must when you're hosting Saturday brunch. Just preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lay 8-10 slices of bacon on your baking sheet. Then pop the tray in the oven for 15-20 minutes, and there you have it: gorgeous, piping hot bacon without all the fuss. If you prefer super crispy bacon, try placing the bacon on a rack over the cookie sheet — this will prevent the grease from pooling and leave you with delicious, crispy bacon. And if you're looking for a way to make this hack even better, take a note from A Day In The Kitchen and line the sheet with aluminum foil; that way, when the grease has cooled, you can just peel the foil off and place it directly in the trash, making for far less cleanup and battling stuck-on grease when it's time to do dishes. Finally, even though you're cooking the bacon in the oven, be sure to have your stove fan on while the bacon is in the oven to prevent smoke buildup.

And while you shouldn't use the air fryer for your bacon needs, you can prepare a super simple, delicious air fryer frittata that will bring the brunch crowd to the yard.