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Recently, my little family discovered the joy of air fryers. So, when I had the money, I bought one for home, unboxed it, and set it up. My child (dubbed the Air Fryer Queen) got to work preparing home-cut fries and sticky buffalo wings. As you can imagine, our anticipation turned to confusion when we could smell and taste plastic. What’s the deal with that? And how do you get rid of it?
How To Get Rid Of The Air Fryer Taste in Your Foods
One of the most common concerns or complaints about air fryers is the chemical or plastic smell they produce when cooking. This smell and taste can be attributed to the protective coating inside the fryer heating up and “curing.” While the smell usually emanates during the first few cooking sessions before going away, sometimes it persists.
Of course, there are other reasons why your food tastes weird. For instance, it could be that old food is trapped in the fryer or that the oven wasn’t properly cleaned. So, before you abandon all hope for your beloved fryer, let’s look at the different things you can do to eliminate that icky taste.
Check, Clean, and Prepare It
When unboxing a new air fryer, it’s essential to detach all the removable film and packaging inside and outside the appliance. For instance, some pieces might be held together with plastic ties for transit. Or, there could be a protective layer between the base of the oven and the basket. Make sure you remove all of these and clean your air fryer before using it.
Remove All Packaging
Even though you think you removed all the packaging, read through the manual to be sure. The manual should tell you where all the little plastic ties, sheets, brackets, and other packaging materials are and which must be removed before cooking. You don’t want a cable tie melting inside your fryer, as it can ruin the taste of future meals and even be a fire hazard.
Clean Your Fryer Before Use
Before your air fryer ended up in your kitchen, it was manufactured, transported, stored, and handled. So, despite being in a relatively clean box, you should still clean and prepare it before its first use. (Side note: I think our mistake was not preparing the fryer appropriately before its first use.)
Read the manufacturer’s manual to see what detergents you should use when cleaning your fryer. Then, once you’ve washed it, consider one of the following methods to prepare your oven before its first use:
- Run the oven for 15 – 60 minutes on high with nothing inside it. Then open it up to ventilate. You might want to do this outside or in an open garage if the smell is too strong. Repeat if necessary.
- Steam the oven interior with vinegar and lime solution. Place a dish in the air fryer with the solution, and set the timer on high (up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 3 – 5 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave the dish in for 15 minutes. The vinegar and lime will coat the surface and remove some of the smell and taste.
- Wipe the interior with baking soda or vinegar to neutralize the smell. Mix some baking soda with water and wipe it on the interior. Or, soak a cloth in vinegar and do the same.
- Some people suggest cooking fatty meat in the air fryer to eliminate the plastic smell. It’s believed the grease lines or cures the oven’s interior surfaces. Obviously, this option isn’t ideal for vegetarians and vegans, so it would be better to try the vinegar option.
Clean Your Air Fryer Regularly
As with all cooking appliances, your fryer should be cleaned regularly so grease doesn’t accumulate and might end up giving weird flavors to your food. Take out and thoroughly wash all the removable parts, e.g., basket and tray, to eliminate old grease and food particles.
Remember to use an appropriate and food-safe detergent with a neutral smell. Also, remember to rinse off excess detergent so that the smell doesn’t infuse into your food, affecting the taste of your next meal.
Adjust Your Recipes and Cooking Method
Maybe it’s not a plastic taste that’s bothering you, but something else. Air fryers work differently from other cooking appliances, so you might need to adjust some of your recipes to make them compatible.
For instance, it’s easy to overcook something in these appliances as they cook the food quickly. Overcooked food will undoubtedly have a different texture and flavor. Additionally, check to see if your cookware is safe to use in a fryer. For instance, some microwave-safe plastic cookware might melt in the air fryer and leave a strange smell behind.
Try the following to get rid of undesirable flavors in your meals:
- Avoid strong-flavored ingredients. If you suspect certain ingredients contribute to an undesirable taste, consider milder alternatives. For example, if you’re cooking with heavily seasoned or strongly flavored sauces, try reducing the amount or switching to a different seasoning.
- Try seasoning or marinating your foods, like a chicken before cooking with herbs, sauces, and other flavors you like. Seasoning food in advance can intensify the flavors during cooking and mask the taste of the air fryer.
- Adjust cooking time and temperature. Experiment with adjusting the cooking time and temperature settings. For example, try reducing the cooking time or lowering the temperature slightly to see if that improves the taste.
- Allow for proper ventilation around your air fryer. Ensure that your fryer’s vents are not covered by other objects and that the kitchen is well-ventilated during the cooking process. If the fryer overheats, it could release a chemical or burnt plastic smell, affecting the taste of your meal. You may need to open a window or turn on the exhaust fan to help dissipate any lingering odors.
Other Ways to Get Rid of Unwanted Air Fryer Taste
What else can you do to eliminate the weird taste from your fryer? Here are some other suggestions you can try:
- Preheat the oven before putting in the ingredients. Like ovens, air fryers should be preheated before use, as it helps reduce any residual odors or flavors from previous cooking sessions. This is especially true if you used it as a dehydrator. Make sure you preheat your appliance according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use cooking spray, aluminum, or parchment paper. Another way to prevent flavor transfer from the appliance to food is to use a light coating of cooking spray or a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Doing this also helps prevent the food from sticking to the air fryer tray or basket. For instance, I lined the bottom of mine with aluminum foil so it’s easier to keep clean.
- Give it time. Sometimes, the taste issue may resolve over time as you continue to use and clean your fryer. Be patient and give it a few more cooking sessions to see if the taste diminishes. However, if the flavor worsens or doesn’t go away, it might be better to return the appliance.
If you have a healthy air fryer meal but still tastes weird after a few attempts and various checks, returning it or having someone look at it might be worthwhile. The plastic smell and resultant taste are common complaints with new cooking appliances, but they should disappear after a while. So, if it doesn’t improve, rather return or exchange the product while it’s still under warranty.
Air fryers are excellent cooking appliances, except when they make your food taste funny. This is often the case with new cooking appliances; thankfully, the problem usually goes away after a few uses. However, you can get rid of the unwanted taste by cleaning and preparing your fryer before use.
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.