Can You Put Water In An Air Fryer – Yes and No


Last Updated: February 10th, 2023

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For new users, air fryers can be confusing, even intimidating. You probably have a lot of questions, including can you put water in an air fryer? No need to wonder! Read on and I will share some valuable insights.

In this quick guide, I will talk about what adding water to an air fryer can do, how to do it right, and how much water can you add, among other things.

Can You Put Water In An Air Fryer

Can You Put Water in an Air Fryer?

The short answer for ‘Can you put water in an air fryer’ is Yes and No. You can put water in an air fryer. Adding a few drops won’t hurt. However, putting more can be detrimental!

I have been getting a lot of questions about using air fryers. From parchment paper to aluminum foil, many are curious about what they can and cannot put in the appliance. Recently, someone asked – can you put water in an air fryer?

Whether it is for cooking food or cleaning the appliance, yes, you can add water to an air fryer. Nonetheless, it is best to err on the side of caution. I suggest reading the manual first and following the warnings from the manufacturer.

Remember, your air fryer is an electrical appliance. Hence, putting too much water can damage its components. From the circulation fan to the heating element, different parts can break if you do not use water properly.

Depending on the specific model of the air fryer, you must know where exactly to put water. In the case of most units, you can add water to the drawer or pan under the basket.

Can Water Damage the Air Fryer?

Yes, water can damage the air fryer. If it is just a few drops, then you should not be concerned. But if you are using a lot, such as when the basket is filled to the brim, then it is a disaster waiting to happen. It can damage not just the air fryer, but even the entire kitchen!

So, how exactly can water damage the air fryer? When water starts to boil as a result of the high temperature inside, droplets can reach the electric components. In turn, it will create a short circuit. This can cause irreparable damage to the appliance. It can even start a fire!

How Does Water Help in an Air Fryer?

By learning how does water help in an air fryer, you will know when and how to do it correctly. There are a couple of reasons why you might want to do so, including the following:

1.    To Reduce Smoke

Food has different types of fat, including those that are good for your body. These fats can also add a distinct flavor to whatever you are cooking in the air fryer. Nonetheless, they can also be a problem. For instance, it can make the air fryer smoke.

As fats from food heat up, they will melt. Once they turn liquid, they will spatter as a result of exposure to high temperatures. In turn, you can see smoke coming out of the air fryer. A quick solution to this is to add a few drops or splashes of water.

2.    To Rehydrate Food

This is especially the case for leftovers. A good thing about an air fryer is that it can work like a microwave in the sense that you can reheat leftovers. However, while it will make food hot, there is a tendency to end up being dry.

A quick remedy to this problem is to add water to the bottom of the basket. Do this before you start reheating. As the air fryer heats up, water will add the necessary moisture, making the reheated food more delicious. Nonetheless, watch out for how much you add. Adding more than necessary will make the food soggy.

3.    To Clean the Unit

Cleaning an air fryer can be tricky, especially for first-timers. One of the most effective ways to do so is to use water and soap. Proceed with caution as it can end up damaging the electronic components, making the air fryer inoperable.

Water helps in softening grease, grime, and dirt stuck in the air fryer. Oils dripping from food after cooking can harden and become more difficult to remove. By adding water, these particles are easier to get rid of.

When Do You Add Water to an Air Fryer?

So we have established that a few drops of water is allright but it is not very straightforward to add a lot of water to a basket-style air fryer. For example look at my air fryer. You can’t even add water because the side of the basket has holes (that imrpoves the air flow of the device):

Water is pouring out on the sideways from the basket

I’m not familiar if all the air fryer brands have these holes in the basket though. Although if you put a plate in the air fryer or a silicone pot that might hold the water in, but then you have the problem of damaging the device as I described above.

A few drops of water however is not a problem at all. It can even help your food to become less dry. For example when I cook fries I’m not waiting until the potatoes dry up after washing them.

If you want to air fry and steam at the same time I recommend getting an air fryer multicooker combo (PowerXL has a cool one).

How Much Water Do You Add to the Air Fryer?

Now that you know that a little liquid won’t hurt, you possibly want to learn how much water do you add to the air fryer. The answer – not much. In most instances, a few drops or one tablespoon of water is enough.

The specific volume of water to use depends on the specific reason why you are doing so. The earlier recommendation of using a few drops is best for cooking. Adding too much will end up on the food, which can make it wet and soggy. As a result, the air fryer won’t be able to cook it as it should, preventing the food from turning crunchy or crispy.

Nonetheless, if you are using water to clean the air fryer, then you will need more than a couple of drops. Still, it does not have to be full to the brim as it can harm the appliance.

Can You Put Water in an Air Fryer to Steam?

An air fryer is a multifunctional kitchen appliance. Some models are versatile enough to be useful as well for broiling, roasting, and dehydrating, among others. With its many capabilities, you might be asking – can you put water in an air fryer to steam?

In most instances, no, you cannot put water in an air fryer for steaming. The way air fryers work is different from steamers. In the case of a steamer, the water heats to create steam for cooking. On the other hand, air fryers circulate hot air for cooking.

If you want to steam, then it is best to settle with a kitchen appliance that is made specifically for such a function. While you can buy a dedicated steamer, appliances like an Instant Pot can also be great if you want something multifunctional.

The only time that you can steam in an air fryer is when you are using a model designed with such a specific function. A good example of this is the PowerXL 10-in-1 Air Fryer, which comes with a built-in vegetable steamer. It is also worth looking at Tefal Easy Fry & Steam.

Best Practices for Cleaning Air Fryer With Water

Even the easiest-to-clean air fryers require regular maintenance. Good thing, doing so is a breeze.

1.    Clean in the Dishwasher

One of the best practices for cleaning an air fryer with water is to do it in the dishwasher. And no, I am not talking about stuffing the entire unit in the dishwasher. Instead, you should remove the individual components and look for those that are marked dishwasher-safe. You can consult the manual to be sure!

2.    Soak in Water

Soaking the components will also work. In a small bowl, mix warm water and soap until suds form. Dip a clean cloth, squeeze, and wipe the air fryer. Do not use abrasives, especially if your air fryer has a non-stick coating!

3.    Add Water to the Bottom of the Basket

Another good thing to do is to put a bit of water in the bottom and add a dash of mild soap. Mix until bubbles show. Run the air fryer for a few minutes at low heat. Turn the unit off, remove the water, and wipe the interior of the air fryer.

While you can use soapy water while running the air fryer, be careful! Using too much can result in excessive steam formation. It can reach the heating element and electrical components, resulting in serious damage.

Can I Put Soapy Water in My Air Fryer to Clean It?

Food particles get stuck in the air fryer. Dirt and debris will accumulate over time, which can compromise safety and performance. Hence, regular cleaning is necessary. Before grabbing your cleaning essentials, ask yourself – can I put soapy water in my air fryer to clean it?

Yes, you can use soapy water for cleaning an air fryer. The suds and powerful cleaning action of the soap will help loosen up the dirt, making them easy to remove.

Can You Use Oil in An Air Fryer?

From cooking chicken drumsticks to frozen potato skins, you are probably wondering – can you use oil in an air fryer?

Yes you can use oil in an air fryer! However, you should not use a lot. In most cases, one spray or at least a tablespoon will suffice.

Brushing food with a bit of oil or spraying oil on the cooking rack won’t hurt. Using more than necessary will defeat the purpose of an air fryer – to cook healthy foods quickly using no or minimal oil.

One of the main reasons why you should use oil is that it helps the seasonings to bind with meat, making the dish more flavorful. It can also enhance crispness and juiciness.

Related article: Best Oil For Air Fryer – Which One Should You Use?


At this point, I hope that you are no longer wondering about this question – can you put water in an air fryer?

As I earlier highlighted, yes, you can put water in an air fryer. It all boils down to how much you add, which will depend on the specific purpose. For cooking, a few drops or one tablespoon is enough. Nonetheless, you will need more for cleaning, but that still does not mean you should use a lot.

Adding more water than necessary can make your food soggy or leave it uncooked. It can also damage the internal components and even be a fire hazard.

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Thomas S.

Hey there! I've been cooking for myself and loved ones since the age of 18. In our busy world I've always looked for ways to be more time efficient when it comes to preparing food but also creating tasty and healthy dishes. That's when I came accross air fryers a few years ago and eversince I am trying to spread the word of the benefits of these wonderful machines.