Air fryers are great for a multitude of reasons, but one of their most prominent selling points is their compact size. They’re small enough to fit on top of any kitchen counter, but what can you put underneath the air fryer to prevent its heat from damaging your countertop?
You can protect your kitchen counter from the heat of an air fryer by placing it on an insulated mat made of silicone or another heat-resistant material. The surface should be flat and rigid enough in order to not block the air fryer’s vents.
In this guide, I’ll why you should add a layer of protection between an air fryer and your kitchen counter, as well as the various kitchen counter protection alternatives.
Why You Should Protect Your Counter from an Air Fryer
Air fryers are magnificent pieces of kitchen technology. They crisp up foods with little to no oil, and they can even be used to dehydrate meat, fruits, and veggies. However, there’s one thing air fryers can do, which isn’t so lovely—damage your kitchen counters.
If you inspect the exterior of your air fryer, you’ll most likely discover that the device’s vents are located on its underside. There will be 3 or 4 feet propping up the air fryer to allow heated air to escape the machine. Now, imagine what 400°F air can do to your counters.
You’re probably wondering to yourself, “Will my air fryer damage my granite kitchen counters? Granite can withstand temperatures of up to 1,650°F, after all!” Indeed, granite is one of the toughest natural stones on the planet, but the sealant you used to mask any imperfections in the stone isn’t as durable to heat. The same applies to any kitchen countertop material, including wood, concrete, quartz, marble, laminate, and resin.
As the air fryer releases super-heated air downward, it may tear away at the counter’s finish, exposing its inner materials to excess heat and moisture. And as you probably already know, a warm, moist environment is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
So, to prevent your air fryer from causing costly damage, you should think about adding a protective mat between the device and your counters.
What to Put Under an Air Fryer
The barrier between the air fryer and your kitchen countertop should meet the following criteria:
Heat-resistant—The mat should be able to withstand the maximum cooking temperature of your air fryer. Some models can reach up to 450°F while others can cook at 500°F and beyond. The more resistant to heat the barrier is, the better off you’ll be.
Flat—If you take a look at the paperwork that came with your air fryer, you’ll see how important it is to place the device on a flat, sturdy surface. While the air fryer’s fan spins, it can cause the base and food basket to rock back and forth. Placing the device on an angled surface may cause it to slip off and land on the floor.
Rigid—The steam vents on most air fryers will almost always be located on the underside of the appliance. Although the air fryer’s legs prop it up around half an inch or so, it might not be able to do so when standing on a cushioned surface. You should never block the air fryer’s vents under any circumstance to prevent the machine from succumbing to heat exhaustion.
So, now that we know what to look for in a protective mat for our air fryers, what are our options? Believe it or not, there are several alternatives to choose from, which I’ll briefly cover down below.
One of the most obvious materials for protecting your countertop from heat damage is a silicone mat. Silicone isn’t just heat-resistant (usually up to 450°F), but it’s also nonstick. So, if anything comes out of your air fryer and lands on the silicone mat, a simple wipe with a microfiber cloth will get rid of it in a jiffy.
Although silicone is not rigid like any of the other alternatives, placing it on a countertop will keep it flat and sturdy enough to support your air fryer. Best of all, silicone mats don’t slip and slide around like plastic cutting boards.
Speaking of cutting boards, you might be interested to learn that your cutting board (not plastic, mind you) could make for the perfect barrier between your countertop and the bottom of the air fryer. Cutting boards come in all sorts of materials, including wood, glass, stainless steel, and bamboo.
The problem with wood and bamboo cutting boards, as opposed to stainless steel and glass, is that the air fryer’s heat might ruin the oil or stain the finish. So, you’ll have to clean them more frequently than you would with bare cutting boards.
If you purchased an air fryer, you probably don’t have much need for the pizza stone sitting inside your oven. But don’t toss it out just yet! You can turn a large pizza stone into a protective “mat” for your air fryer!
Pizza stones are usually made of ceramic or cast iron, which retains heat to crisp up the bottoms of your pizzas. If you don’t have a pizza stone, take a look at this cast-iron model with easy-grip handles.
A stove cover, a.k.a. a noodle board, is a board that, well, covers your stove. Its purpose is to turn the top of your stove into a flat surface for storing pots and pans. It just so happens that stove covers are wide, rigid, and flat enough to hold an air fryer, too!
Like cutting boards, you’ll have a pretty wide selection of stove cover materials to choose from. Some of the more popular options are wood and tempered glass—both of which can withstand indirect heat of up beyond 400°F without cracking or bursting into flames.
It’s worth noting that you should never place an air fryer on a stove cover while the cover is on your stove. The slightest bump may cause the stove cover, as well as your air fryer, to fall onto the floor. So, when the stove cover isn’t in use, place it on a kitchen counter before placing the air fryer on top of it.
If you recently renovated a room in your home, look around for a spare ceramic tile. These tiles are durable enough to withstand temperatures beyond 3,000°F, so there’s virtually no risk of the heat of your air fryer damaging them in any way.
The only problem you might have is looking for a ceramic tile that matches the interior décor of your kitchen. If this is the case, you might want to choose a neutral-colored tile, such as this glossy white tile from Amazon.
Can Air Fryers Go in a Cabinet?
Earlier, I mentioned how the compactness of an air fryer is one of the appliance’s selling points. However, does that mean it’s safe to use an air fryer while it’s sitting in your cabinet? No, it doesn’t.
An air fryer requires at least 5 inches of clearance on all sides and above. So, while putting an air fryer in a stuffed cabinet may look cool, it’s not safe or wise.
In addition, heat fryers are heat-generating devices. I’d like to tell you that air fryers don’t spontaneously combust, but with a heating coil that increases the temperature of the food basket to 400°F or more, anything can happen. Your air fryer should always be in view when it’s in use. Also, unplug the device whenever you’re done using it!
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