Plus, the foods you should be air frying instead.

Elizabeth Laseter
November 20, 2018
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Air fryer bacon sounds like a brilliant health hack. Imagine: perfectly crispy bacon with a fraction of the calories and fat. Besides, air frying can make foods like chicken wings, doughnuts, and fish and chips a little healthier, so shouldn’t it have the same effect on bacon?

In theory, yes. But when I tried to cook bacon in my Philips Viva Collection HD9621 Air Fryer, it was a complete disaster. In fact, after about 3 minutes of cooking it at 350 degrees, my air fryer started spewing out thick white smoke.

Once the smoke had cleared, I tried cooking the bacon again, this time at 325 degrees. After about 3 ½ minutes, the same exact thing happened—but in addition to seeing a steady stream of white smoke, I smelled burning.

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I turned off the air fryer and removed the basket (which of course released more smoke) to get a closer look. The drawer underneath was practically overflowing with piping-hot bacon grease. I poured out the grease, wiped it clean, and tried one more  time. And you can guess exactly what happened.  

According to Phillips’ troubleshooting guide, if white smoke comes out of your air fryer, food with high fat content has been used. Yes, bacon is higher in fat. I already knew that. But the suggested solution wasn’t very helpful either—Please, stop cooking and use a full hand of kitchen paper to soak up the oil on the bottom of the pan or pour off any excess oil. After that you can continue cooking.

Clearly, that didn’t work, so I polled my last resort: Google. One blogger recommended pouring a small amount of water into the air fryer drawer to keep higher-fat foods like bacon, burgers, and sausage from smoking during cooking. It sounded smart, so that’s what I did—and guess what? My air fryer still smoked up like an active volcano.  

What was wrong? I’d arranged the bacon in a single layer in my air fryer so that it would crisp and cook evenly. But that wasn’t the problem. The cooking temperature wasn’t too high, either. If I set it any lower, I worried that the bacon would never become crispy enough.

After chucking my sad, lifeless bacon into the trash can, I arrived at a conclusion. Cooking bacon in an air fryer simply doesn’t work.

Here’s why: The air fryer is essentially a small convection oven that circulates hot air around food to cook it. For foods that are typically fried, this is a game changer because you can cook them without all the extra oil you’d normally need.  

But for bacon, a food that doesn’t need extra oil or butter to cook in the first place, you’re not achieving much by air frying it. You’re essentially just filling up your air fryer with rendered bacon fat that ends up burning and smoking to a point where it’s practically unsalvageable.

Sure, you can stop the air frying process, pour out the bacon grease, and continue cooking. You’ll probably have to do this more than once—and trust me, opening and closing the air fryer basket so frequently is incredibly annoying. You’re also highly likely to spill bacon grease all over your countertop (like I did).

So please, do yourself a favor and cook your bacon in the oven. This method is guaranteed to work and it’s 1000 percent less irritating. Besides, bacon alone packs a significant amount of saturated fat and cholesterol—and you should keep your consumption of it to a minimum anyway. If you’re going to eat bacon at all, at least cook it the right way and save your sanity.  

Paige Grandjean

Luckily, there are still a plethora of foods that air fry beautifully—from Strawberry Pop-Tarts to Avocado Fries to Sweet Potato Chips. To learn how to take full advantage of this versatile gadget, check out our collection of over 30 healthy air fryer recipes. I promise there’s one ingredient you won’t find in here—bacon.  

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