Can You Use PAM in Air Fryer?


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As air fryers use little to no oil in order to cook your food, you may think that using an aerosol-based oil such as PAM would be a great way to be able to manage the oil that you put on your food. But, the question is: can you use PAM in air fryer?

The very short answer to this is no, you can’t. Although it might work for other cooking methods, PAM can very easily damage your air fryer, and as a result, is not recommended for use by the vast majority of air fryer manufacturers. 

Keep reading to learn the reasons why and other ways to use oil in your air fryer. 

Can You Use PAM in Air Fryer?

What is PAM?

PAM is an aerosol cooking spray that first came about in the late 1950s. The original recipe uses canola oil, although in recent years the company has developed various other PAM sprays using different oils or flavors. 

The core ingredients for PAM are pretty much the same for each variant. The sprays are made up of oil, lecithin (usually derived from soy or egg), and a propellant such as propane or butane. 

PAM is used to be able to lightly coat pans and food with oil, with a second’s worth of spray being the equivalent of 1 tablespoon of regular oil. 

Why is PAM so Bad for Air Fryers?

There is one ingredient in particular that makes it so that you shouldn’t use PAM in an air fryer: lecithin.

What is Lecithin?

Lecithin is a naturally occurring fatty substance found in plants and animals. Lecithin is commonly extracted from sources such as soybeans, eggs, sunflower seeds, and canola seeds. 

One of the main functions of lecithin is as an emulsifier, which means it helps to mix substances that normally can’t be bound together, such as oil and water. In food and cooking, lecithin is often used as an additive to improve the texture and stability of various products. 

What Does Lecithin Do to an Air Fryer?

When lecithin is heated up, it can become sticky and adhere to what it has been put onto. In the case of an air fryer, this will be the non-stick sides of your air fryer basket.

Over time, this residue will build up effectively removing the non-stick coating of your air fryer. The bad thing is that this residue is permanent, and can’t be removed by cleaning or other means. Once it’s on there, it’s on there. 

Propellant Problems

If that wasn’t enough, the propellant used in PAM can also have detrimental effects on your air fryer. The chemicals can break down the lining of your air fryer, leading to it flaking off and cracking. No one wants pieces of air fryer in their meal!

What is a Good Alternative to PAM?

Now that you have determined that the answer to the question “can you use PAM in air fryer” is no, and for good reason, you might be wondering what you could use instead that is safe and still has the same effect.

Pump Spray Bottles

One of the best alternatives out there to aerosol cans of oil is to use a pump spray bottle. These give the same effect of evenly dispersing the oil across a surface but without any of the nasty chemicals that wreak havoc on your air fryer. 

You can buy ready-filled versions at most grocery stores, but we recommend buying your own reusable spray bottle. The reason for this is that not only does it give you full control over what oil you add, but as they are refillable, you save more money than if you were just to buy a new spray bottle every time!

Pastry Brush

Another alternative is to use a pastry or basting brush to lightly coat the air fryer basket or the food being cooked with oil. Although this can be slightly messy, it only requires a tool that most people already have in their kitchen.

Kitchen Towel

If you are conscious of the amount of oil that you are using, wetting a paper towel, placing a small bit of oil on it, and run running this over the surface can help you to get a light coating. This is thanks to the way in which oil and water don’t mix, meaning not all of the oil is transferred over from the paper towel in one go. 

Not Use Oil At All

For some foods in your air fryer, you simply don’t need oil at all! This goes for things such as fries, chicken nuggets, onion rings, pizza, and any other foods that already have oil in them from the manufacturing process.

You may also find that just using the dry heat from the air fryer is enough to cook your food without needing extra oil, which makes things even healthier! 

Our Top Oil Picks for Air Frying

Although we have a full rundown on the best oils to use in your air fryer here, we thought we’d give you a quick recap on some of the best oils you can use instead of PAM. 

Best Oils with a High Smoke Point

  • Avocado
  • Soybean
  • Coconut
  • Sunflower
  • Ghee
  • Olive (not extra virgin)

Best Oils for Flavor

  • Ghee
  • Peanut
  • Sesame 
  • Coconut

So, Can You Use PAM in Air Fryer?

The answer to that question is undoubtedly no unless you want a broken air fryer! Instead, there are plenty of cost-effective, healthier, and tastier options both in terms of oil choice and application methods. 

If you thought of using PAM before, why not try out some of your suggestions and see which one is a winner in your kitchen?

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Rebecca P.

Hi there! I'm Rebecca, a dedicated foodie and a professional content writer specialising in the food niche. I blend my passion for gastronomy and the written word to create narratives that inspire and tantalise your tastebuds. Navigating the busy streets of the UK as a commuter, time is of the essence. But who says quick can't be delicious? My air fryer is my best companion, serving up piping hot, scrumptious meals with impressive speed and convenience. When I'm not writing or commuting, you'll find me indulging in one of my favourite pastimes - foraging. There's something exciting about discovering a bounty of nature's own produce and experimenting with it in my recipes. You'd be amazed what can be cooked up in an air fryer!