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

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. Some foods you shouldn't put in your air fryer 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; after all, air fryers operate like a mini convection oven, circulating hot air around your food to cook it (via The Spruce Eats). However, that means that certain foods aren't ideal for your air fryer, including anything with a liquid batter, like onion rings. 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.

Is it possible to cook bacon in an air fryer?

For bacon, it's probably best to just skip the air fryer and choose another cooking method altogether, such as baking it in your oven or frying it up in a skillet. However, if you're determined to try cooking bacon in your air fryer, you'll need to do something about that dripping grease.

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 Food Network found. You can also try working in small batches and draining the grease between each one, but this will slow the process down, and draining hot oil can also be a bit of a safety hazard.

Food Network also 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. Overall, it just doesn't seem worth the effort or the potential hazard. If you want crispy bacon, make it on the stove or in the oven and save your air fryer for chicken tenders and french fries.