The air fryer is a small convection oven that cooks food by circulating hot air around it. It is the hybrid of the oven and the deep fat fryer, cooking at an exceptionally fast rate.
It produces crispy, delicious food, without the mess or unnecessary added cooking fats.
The revolutionary cooking process has paved the way for healthier meals that are cooked evenly, quickly, and safely.
Air fryers have changed how one can prepare and fry food in the cooking space, and as popularity in air fryers has risen, so too has the variety of air fryers one can purchase.
But is it better to air fry and are there any health risks associated with doing so? If you want to buy a great air fryer, but have reservations around how to choose one, and the materials used to make them, then read on.
In this article, we’ll discuss the implications and concerns around air frying with Teflon. We’ll also take you through what Teflon is, whether you should be worried about its presence on your cookware, and what your options are when it comes to purchasing an air fryer with or without Teflon.
The Best Teflon-Free Air Fryers
- Top air fryer brand
- 11-in-1 functionality
- Quick one-touch cooking
- Quick and easy clean up: finger-print resistant, stainless-steel sides and dishwasher-safe lid
- Proven safety features: includes over 10 safety features, plus overheat protection
- Perfect for larger families: cook for up to 8 people perfect for larger families, or meal prepping
- Top air fryer brand
- High capacity family-sized 4 quart round ceramic coated nonstick basket
- Wide cooking range, from 105 to 400°F
- Under $100
- Teflon-free; PTFE-free; BPA-free
- Dishwasher safe parts: easy to clean basket, crisper plate, and multi-layer rack
- Streamlined user experience and has a simple one-touch control panel
- Innovative copper-infused duraceramic nonstick ceramic coating
- PFOA/BPA/PTFE-free for healthy cooking and eating without the use of Teflon
- Manual Controls: 30-minute timer and temperature up to 400°F, with an audible ready-to-eat alert
- Compact design
- Safety features include a cool-touch handle
- Under $100
What is Teflon?
Teflon is a synthetic material made of Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) that is used in the manufacture of a variety of items as a coating.
It is resistant to heat, chemicals, and wear, making it a popular choice in the creation of nonstick cookware, such as air fryers.
What products contain Teflon?
Teflon is not just used in the manufacture of the air fryer oven. It has been used for years to make other household products, including hair straighteners, sofas, carpets, and waterproof clothing.
Teflon is versatile and, due to its non-stick coating, can be used in a multitude of products for everyday use.
Teflon and Cookware
Teflon has been in widespread use since the 1940s and has been a preferred material when producing cookware.
The coating makes the utensils easier to clean, as it prevents food from sticking to pots and pans.
Many cookware items contain Teflon and benefit from the non-stick coating, such as sandwich makers, rice cookers, waffle makers, and more.
Teflon coating is dishwasher safe, but the properties of Teflon have taken away the need to soak, scrub and scrape leftover food debris from cookware, meaning it takes a lot less time to clean than older, conventional cooking utensils.
Cookware with Teflon nonstick coatings is generally deemed safe for intended use, and as the surface requires little to no oils to cook with, it can encourage a healthier way to cook meals.
Teflon and the Air Fryer
Teflon is a coating used in components of a lot of air fryers. The Teflon coating on the tray or basket on the interior of the air fryer allows food to cook evenly and prevents sticking.
There are some concerns that have been raised with the use of Teflon and whether it is preferential to purchase air fryer ovens without Teflon, but what is most effective?
Some have raised questions surrounding risks to using an air fryer that contains Teflon as a coating on its baskets.
So, is it better to use Teflon-free air fryers, or are they the best air fryer to use?
What is an air fryer basket?
Most air fryers come with a removable basket. These are typically made of wire mesh or perforated metal, with an attached handle.
Food is placed in the basket and is cooked with little to no need for oil.
How does it work?
During the cooking process, the food is prepared in a way that is very similar to deep-frying.
An air fryer basket allows for airflow to circulate within the fryer with more ease, contributing to consistent heating of food and ensuring even cooking.
The top part of an air fryer oven heats the air, and through rapid air technology, it then circulates down and around the basket, cooking the contents inside. The rapid air technology also means that one can have frozen food as well as fresh food cooked thoroughly.
Why is Teflon used in air fryer baskets?
The baskets in air fryers typically use Teflon as a non-stick coating, making it easier to remove grease or residue accumulated during cooking.
The nonstick surface makes it easier to create delicious, crispy food, such as chicken wings or French fries, without them getting stuck to the basket.
Some air fryers use alternative materials to Teflon, such as stainless steel baskets, ceramic coated baskets, and other non-stick coatings.
Modern air fryers are all about convenience and efficiency when needing to fry, and Teflon fryer baskets are commonly used to achieve fast results in cooking food evenly and frying food without losing half of it to a baking pan.
Non-stick alternatives to Teflon
There are many types of air fryers, and they are certainly more preferential than a deep fryer, including air fryers without Teflon.
These include air fryers with stainless steel or ceramic coated baskets, as well as air fryer toaster ovens or air fryers with copper baskets.
There are a few considerations to be made when ensuring you get the best air fryer possible.
One of the most important considerations is to ensure the air fryer you choose has a non-stick interior. This is vital, as you risk compromising the quality of your food.
Are there any Teflon Free Air Fryers?
There are air fryers that do not use Teflon in their components, but they are not as common as those that do.
The demand for non-stick cookware has increased and as air fryers gain popularity, so too have the debates around whether Teflon air fryers are the safest option or whether it is beneficial to go with Teflon-free air fryers.
Here are some of our favorite teflon-free air fryers (click an image below for our full review):
A healthier way to cook: Are air fryers toxic?
Air fryers reduce (but do not eliminate) the risk of toxic acrylamide formation, which is the risk caused by frying foods in oil.
Oven-style air fryers were created as a healthier way to prepare typically deep-fat fried foods, such as French fries or fried chicken.
The air fryer oven uses a fraction of the oil that conventional deep fat fryers need, so moving to air-fried food eliminates a lot of unnecessary added fat.
Concerns around BPA
There have been some debates on whether using an air fryer is safe, and whether air fryers are BPA-free (bisphenol A, present in most plastics). Air fryers are not made from plastic, so there is no risk associated with BPA.
However, if you are worried about whether the non-stick coating on some fry baskets could contribute to toxins in food, you can always purchase stainless steel baskets, ceramic coated baskets, or other alternatives for your air fryer.
Food preparation with air frying
Burnt food when cooking at very high temperatures can be a source of toxic compounds, but this is not directly associated with how air fryers work.
You can avoid this by ensuring not to overcook food.
There are risks associated with food preparation when using any appliance. Air fryers are not toxic, but one should still be mindful of food preparation and avoid potentially harmful practices.
What is the least toxic air fryer and what is meant by non-toxic air fryers?
There are some air fryers deemed safer than others, and many are considered to be ‘non-toxic air fryers’.
When describing a non-toxic air fryer, what this refers to is whether they are PTFE and PFOA free.
PFOA is a chemical that is man-made (Perfluorooctanoic acid) and was used to assist Teflon or PTFE binding to cookware and other household products.
PFOA has been deemed potentially harmful to the environment and people and has started to be phased out of its inclusion in production.
Popular Alternatives to Teflon
A lot of air fryer models, such as the Philips air fryer, are highly esteemed. They use stainless steel or stainless mesh baskets, rather than Teflon-coated baskets.
Another brand that is regarded to be a non-toxic air fryer is the range of Ninja Foodi air fryers.
If you have concerns about air fryers that contain Teflon or want to seek out the best non-toxic air fryer, stick to air fryers that have fry baskets or grills that are coated in or made from alternate materials, such as a stainless steel basket.
There are plenty of non-stick alternatives, and as demand for air fryers just increases, so too will the variety of air fryers available.
Is Teflon safe to cook with?
There is no one opinion when it comes to whether Teflon is safe to cook with. Some say that the fumes released from Teflon can be harmful, while others claim that there is very little evidence to support this.
Teflon has been widely used in the manufacture of cookware for many years.
Products such as non-stick pans, waffle makers, and many more contain Teflon as a coating, to produce foods that do not stick when cooking.
Concerns Around Teflon and Cooking
Health agencies previously spoke of some concerns around PFOA and the way in which Teflon was manufactured.
However, since 2013 this process has changed. So, with the current air fryer and other nonstick cooking appliances, one can cook without worrying about toxicity for everyday cooking, as long as the temperatures do not exceed 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Pros and Cons
Pros of using products that contain Teflon include:
- It is non-stick and easy to clean
- It is both heat and cold-resistant
- It is chemical resistant and does not absorb materials it is in contact with
- It has a long service life and maintains effectiveness for an extended period of time
- Dishwasher safe
Cons of using products that contain Teflon include:
- Despite it being a protective coating, it can be easily scratched if misused
- Teflon can flake after continued use
- Overheating can cause damage and fumes from coating
If you are still worried about the safety of air fryers that do contain Teflon, bear in mind that there are many alternatives that do not.
You can find a good air fryer that can cook foods effectively that does not contain Teflon.
So, if you do want to avoid Teflon completely and reduce fear around potentially toxic chemicals, there are many air fryers from which to choose.
Can Teflon cause cancer?
There is a lot of confusion around legitimate concerns when it comes to cooking with Teflon, and whether it causes lasting health conditions.
As the air fryer has become more popular, more questions surrounding its safety have been raised.
It has previously been thought that PFOA can contribute to long-term health conditions, such as cancer.
PFOA is thought to stay in the environment and in humans for extended periods of time, which has been the foundation of many worries when weighing up with Teflon is a contributor to cancer.
Teflon and PFOA
Perfluorooctanoic acid is man-made and has been used to make Teflon. There have been concerns around the long-term effects of PFOA, but these are still widely unknown.
PFOA and similar chemicals are no longer made in the U.S. However, this is not to say that products from other countries can not reach the U.S and pose an issue.
Whether cooking with Teflon and other products made with a non-stick coating directly impacts the causes of cancer is unproven.
Some studies have looked at the rates of cancer in those exposed to PFOA and those not. However, these are hard to substantiate as so many external factors are at play.
PFOA Around Us
People can be exposed to PFOA in a lot of ways. There are some studies that show that in the past, PFOA has been present in contaminated water supplies, or in certain workplaces.
Some compounds with a likeness to PFOA have been found in very low levels in some foods.
Exposure can also come in the form of stain-resistant carpets, water-resistant clothing, cardboard or paper packaging, and many more.
Cookware made with non-stick coating is not a notable or concerning source of PFOA.
Should I avoid Teflon when looking for an air fryer?
There are no proven long-term, negative effects from cooking with Teflon.
However, it is advisable not to let a Teflon pan or air fryer overheat, as the fumes could contain toxins that could contribute to flu-like symptoms.
PFOA is no longer used in the creation of Teflon. So, any concerns surrounding PFOA do not apply when considering whether you want to air fry, even if it does contain Teflon.
There is a wide variety of Teflon-free air fryers available to purchase if you are concerned and want to avoid those with Teflon.
Many other air fryers use different materials to create a non-stick environment for your food.
Is Chipped Teflon a Health Concern?
Teflon (Polytetrafluoroethylene) is very effective in creating a slick surface in which to cook a variety of foods, which is why it is such a popular material to use.
It prevents food products, especially those that are predominantly liquid, like pancake batter or eggs, from sticking to the surface of pans or pots.
Although durable, if misused, the Teflon coating can become scratched or chipped. To avoid this, one should not use sharp or rough-edged kitchen instruments on its surface, especially when cleaning.
Is Teflon a Health Hazard?
If Teflon does become scratched from misuse or wear, and the coating starts to chip off, worries have been raised that ingesting these small particles could cause health issues.
This is due to the presence of PFOA and Teflon. However the Environmental Protection Agency reports that Teflon does not contain PFOA anymore, so if one were to accidentally ingest chipped Teflon, it would not cause adverse health conditions.
If you do want to purchase an air fryer, with or without Teflon, there are many options to suit what you are comfortable with.
Proper Use of Teflon Cookware
It is essential to use your Teflon cookware correctly and safely. As Teflon is a coating, it can emit a smell when first used. However, if used correctly there is little to no evidence that this releases toxic fumes.
Teflon products are best used at low to medium heat. It has been said that Teflon can release fumes if overheated.
Avoid Chipping in Future
Ensure you are cooking at the correct temperature. To avoid your Teflon-coated cookware chipping, it is best to use wooden or rubber utensils, especially with air fryer components. Furthermore, do not scrub your cookware with abrasive scouring brushes or pads.
Teflon-coated products tend to have a long life. So, if you look after your cookware, it will last a lot longer.
Why does my air fryer smell like chemicals?
The reason a new air fryer can smell like chemicals when used could be due to the protective coating of the interior being exposed to high temperatures.
This is a common issue and is not something to cause alarm. Even the best air fryers can have this problem.
Heating these materials for the first time can emit fumes that smell unpleasant.
There are ways in which to prepare your air fryer to lessen the intensity of these aromas and to better equip your air fryer for cooking.
How to treat the smell
One way is to apply a small amount of cooking oil to the fryer basket. This means that when your air fryer is turned on and the temperatures begin to climb, the oil will serve as a protective layer between the product’s materials and the heat.
If your air fryer starts to smell like it is burning, then it is best to let it run, but without any food inside.
The smell of plastic or chemicals will always be more potent when first using your new air fryer. So, if you leave the tray or basket inside without food when it comes to making your first batch of French fries or frying some chicken, you will get better results.
It is also important to ensure that you are cleaning your fryer basket, tray, or grill pan consistently. Your air fryer, although easy to clean, still requires attention.
Dirt can accumulate either outside or inside your air fryer, so it is imperative to keep all components of the air fryer clean.
Air Fryers with Teflon
The emergence of the compact air fryer has changed the way we cook.
As they gain more and more popularity, new models, materials, and components are created.
The convection oven has indeed taken the world by storm, and as demand increases, so do questions surrounding what type of air fryer is the best.
One of the main questions that arise around purchasing a convection oven is whether to go with a Teflon-free air fryer or not.
A lot of air fryers do use Teflon as a coating in their components, which begs the question; considering everything, do you purchase an air fryer without Teflon?
Teflon is widely used in the manufacture of non-stick cookware and while there are a lot of air fryers that have components coated in Teflon, there are many other air fryers that do not.
Teflon is undoubtedly useful when it comes to cookware. Its ability to withstand the test of time, while also maintaining its integrity, has made it a popular choice of material for cookware manufacturers.
The air fryer is no different. It is extremely fit for purpose when cooking, is dishwasher safe, easy to clean, and creates the perfect nonstick environment for your food.
You have options
There are a vast array of convection ovens available nowadays, from the Ninja air fryer to the Philips air fryer and slow cooker.
There is a multitude of substitutions to Teflon, in the form of the stainless steel basket and the ceramic coated basket.
As the popularity of the air fryer grows, so do your options.
So, what now?
Despite a lot of conversation surrounding the potential toxicity of Teflon, it should be noted that air fryers are BPA-free, are safe as long as you do not let them overheat, and there are many options for those who want to opt for a PTFE free fryer.
Furthermore, Teflon is no longer produced using potentially harmful PFOA. So, any of the risks thought to surround that are now eliminated.
Summing Up: Air Frying with Teflon
- We have covered a lot in this article. Let’s look at some of the key takeaways.
- There are many air fryers available to purchase with and without the use of Teflon
- Teflon is now considered completely safe and is no longer manufactured using PFOA
You should check the materials and components of each model if you are concerned about safety or health risks
Ultimately, if you are ready to cook french fries without all the added fats, to eliminate strenuous washing up, and to trust that your food is getting cooked evenly and all the way through, then the air fryer is for you.
Whether you settle on an air fryer without Teflon, with a stainless steel exterior, or a fryer that also serves as a pressure cooker, you will see the benefits of using an air fryer oven.
If you are ready to embrace the ease and enjoy crispy, delicious fried favorites without all the fuss, it’s time to switch. Happy air frying.