Can You Put Water In An Air Fryer? [Answer Explained & FAQ]

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When it comes to your own air fryer, you’ll often find yourself wondering about possibilities and mishaps. Thre are various scenarios that allow you to make great use of this versatile appliance, and some circumstances that pose a problem.

One such scenario is putting water inside your new air fryer.

This may seen a counterintuitive way of using your air fryer.  We’ve created this article for this very reason, so that any ambiguities around the topic can be finally put to rest. 

Have you been seen a video where someone adds water to the air fryer? If you’re wondering whether it was a trick or a useful hack, we have the answer for you. 

Can you add water inside the air fryer? 

Yes, you can put water in your air fryer! You only need to put in a few tablespoons at the bottom of your air fryer to keep it from smoking up when cooking. 

But there’s a catch. People sometimes make mistakes with water and other liquids that cost them a lot more than ruined food, like a potentially ruined air fryer. 

This question is more complicated than meets the eye. We will go into detail about how water and air fryer work together, items you must avoid placing inside your air fryer, and what happens when you do. 

Ready to learn more? Before that you need to know how an air fryer works.

What Is An Air Fryer? 

Air Fryers are currently America’s number one favorite kitchen appliance. It is a “must have” tool in the kitchen, but what exactly does an air fryer do? 

They are essentially smaller convection ovens that rapidly move hot air around food, cooking it to a golden, crispy perfection. 

The best thing about an air fryer is that you can cook all of your favorite foods: French fries, hamburgers, salmon, chicken, mozzarella cheese sticks, and potatoes without ever having to use a drop of oil. 

Did you know that each air fryer has its own characteristics? 

Most air fryers cook food in similar ways, but their technologies can be very different. Take for example the Philips air fryer (the air fryer I own). It has its own special patented technology. Although most air fryers do exactly the same things, you’ll find small variations within them. 

Moving on,

Can You Put Water Inside The Air Fryer Basket?

There’s no right or wrong answer. You can add water inside your air fryer and everything will be fine, but you should test this only in specific circumstances. 

You can put small amounts of water at the very bottom of your air fryer. If you own a Philips air fryer like me, then take out the basket and pour in a couple of tablespoons of water at the base. 

Does Putting Water In An Air Fryer Help? 

Air fryers are great kitchen appliances because you don’t need to add any oil to the food. But some foods are super messy and greasy. 

Have you ever air fried beef burgers? You will know from experience how messy that can be! 

Bear in mind that air fryers are not meant for steaming foods. It doesn’t make sense to place a lot of water inside the air fryer chamber. However, putting water at the bottom of the air fryer basket can help cook fattier foods like beef and burgers. 

Adding a bit of water or liquid to your food can also prevent it from drying out. A splash of oil, sauce, butter, or even water can add depth to your food rather than when you simply just stick it inside the air fryer. 

How To Safely Put Water In An Air Fryer 

Adding water inside your air fryer is super easy. 

  1. Remove the basket from the base. Set it aside as you will add it back into the air fryer when it’s time to cook. 
  1. Add two tablespoons of lukewarm water to the bottom of your air fryer. Water from the faucet is just fine to use. 
  1. Now, add your basket back into the base. You will hear a “clicking” or “locking” sound when you have done this. 
  1. Finally, place your food in the basket. You can start air frying and when the food has finished cooking… take it out and enjoy! 

What Not To Put Inside An Air Fryer 

As we have seen previously, you can place small amounts of water inside your air fryer. This way you prevent smoking or even avoid fattier foods from sticking to and ruining your air fryer basket. 

However, there is a list of items that you should never consider placing inside the chamber. The reasons for not placing these foods inside an air fryer vary, but generally these items are: 

  • Cheese blocks - cheese that isn’t held or contained by anything (mozzarella sticks are fine because they are breaded together and come frozen!). Free-standing cheese blocks when cooked inside the air fryer will just melt all over the place… not ideal.
  • Cookie batter (or anything similar that needs baking) - You should steer clear of any soupy batters when it comes to air frying. These foods will seep through your basket and may not even cook through properly. Cookies or brownies need proper baking and time, with a gradual increase in temperature, to get just right. 

Tip: Use a glass bowl or tray instead.

  • Raw grains - Another “no-no” to put inside an air fryer. Raw grains will have an extremely hard time cooking inside an air fryer as there is no steaming function. If you want a quick and hassle-free way to cook your rice, we have the perfect article about how to cook rice without it sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Roast chicken - While theoretically this is “allowed” in bigger models, a whole roast chicken would overcrowd smallish air frying baskets .
  • Popcorn - Another of my favorite foods. Popcorn is commonly cooked inside a bag and placed inside a microwave for cooking. Just for reference, temperatures inside the air fryer get to about 400F. For popcorn to pop, the heat needs to get to about 400°F to 460°F.

Important Tip:

Remember that you cannot put water in a deep fryer. The drastic change in temperature will cause a strong reaction and you may get hurt.

Read more about this dangerous reaction in our article, What Happens When You Put Ice In A Deep Fryer? [Quick Answer & Top Tips].

Open air fryer with water jug next to it

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Whether or not you’re allowed to put water inside an air fryer is not as simple as a “yes” or “no.” We have tackled the most frequently asked questions around this topic and provided you with some answers below.


Can You Put Water In An Air Fryer To Clean It?

You can put in a few big drops of water in the outer chamber to prevent smoking and smelling, but anything more than a few drops is not advised. Placing water inside the larger part of the air fryer and turning it on to clean the appliance doesn’t work either.

The best way to clean an air fryer is to wait until after you have finished cooking. Once the air fryer is turned off and unplugged, then you can clean it either in the dishwasher or by handwashing. 

Interested in learning more?

Check out our handy article on whether or not it is safe to put wax paper inside your air fryer.


Can you Put Liquid in An Air Fryer? 

You can put a few tablespoons of water at the bottom of your air fryer, but adding liquid over foods or to “stew” a dish in the air fryer will not work. Sauces, however, are an exception. They can be added to an air fryer over foods like chicken wings. 

You can read more about how we have added sauced chicken wings in an air fryer in our article, Can You Reheat Wings in an Air Fryer? [Simple Steps & FAQ].

Sauce technically isn’t considered a liquid, but rather a semi-solid as it only moves in a direction when the correct amount of force is placed on it. In this context, it won’t act like a liquid but still adds flavor to foods. 

Can You Put Water In An Air Fryer To Steam? 

Yes, you can add a small amount of water inside the larger chamber of your air fryer. Adding water to the air fryer will not cook your vegetables or steam them. Adding water will simply prevent your air fryer from getting damaged, especially when cooking fatty foods. 

If you’re looking for a multipurpose appliance to steam, boil, and maybe more, then perhaps purchasing an Instant Pot is a good idea for you. 

Read our article, How To Use The Instant Pot Duo Mini For The First Time [Complete Guide], for pointers! 

Can You Boil Water In An Air Fryer? 

Yes, you can boil water in an air fryer. It isn’t the most efficient way of boiling your water, but if you pour water into an oven-proof bowl and then pop it into the air fryer for two minutes then it should heat up. 

But this is not a good idea. There are more effective ways to boil your water like in a kettle, on the stove, or even in the microwave

Can You Put Soapy Water In An Air Fryer?

You can most certainly put soap and water inside an air fryer, but only when it is turned off! Don’t want to dishwash your air fryer, but want more control over how it is cleaned? Opt for the simple soap and water method. 

Safety Tip:

Avoid putting soap and water into the motor or the electrical elements of the air fryer to prevent irreversible damage.

Can You Put Oil Inside An Air Fryer?

Yes, you can absolutely put oil inside an air fryer! You don’t need to as the air fryer is meant to to work with little to no oil involved.  

Read our article, Can You Put Oil In An Air Fryer? [How To Do It & FAQ] to learn tips and tricks when adding oil inside your air fryer. 

Final Thoughts 

Adding the smallest amount of water at the bottom of your air fryer can help prevent it from smoking and can potentially minimize cleaning time. This is the biggest advantage of putting water inside your air fryer.

By adding a couple of droplets, you keep the grease that drips to the bottom cool and less likely to smoke up. 

Using your air fryer to steam or boil is never a good idea. This is not effective and it may even mess up your air fryer.. It is best to use your appliance for what it does best: air frying foods to crispy and golden perfection, with minimal oil! 

Have you put water in your air fryer to prevent it from smoking? Let us know how you did this in the comments below!

Jennifer Ulloa

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