First off, not every household wrapper is meant for oven use.
Wax paper alongside its “freezing” and “anti-stick” goodness is a terrible companion in the oven.
That’s because the coating melts off and the substrate disintegrates at standard oven temperatures; 350 F and 375 F. (There’s still a way around this limitation though, and if you click the link above and read the article, you’ll find out).
Its closest looking buddy parchment paper on the other hand is completely safe to use in the oven, even for high heat applications such as pizza baking or high heat glazed turkey. It has always served that purpose!
For plastic wrap, forget it, your common sense should tell you that the light and clingy structure can never fare well in the torrid perimeters of the oven. At least not alone!
But what about the shiny roll of aluminum foil sitting somewhere at the pantry shelf? I mean, we’ve seen countless pans and trays made out of aluminum base popped into the oven and still come out nicely and sharp like they were before! So perhaps aluminum foil should easily fare well in the oven shouldn’t it?
Well, in this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about putting aluminum foil (or tin foil as it is wrongly called) in the oven. Without wasting time, let’s get started!
Can you put aluminum foil in the oven?
Aluminum foil can be put in the oven for cooking packet S’mores, broiling fishes, grilling briskets, baking potatoes and even roasting turkeys.
They’ll come out perfect and all done. Just make sure to never use aluminum foil as a permanent solution to catch spills and drips at the bottom of the oven. It can affect the quality of baking and damage oven in the long run.
Perfect for your project, but here are a few things to note
Earlier, you understood that aluminum foil is totally safe to use in the oven (so far you’re not using it to catch spills and drips at the bottom).
Here, you’ll learn all the correct ways that aluminum foil should be used in the oven, as well as the very few practices that can potentially spell out hazard and danger in both the short and long run.
First, lets start off with how not to use aluminum foil as it’s the most important.
How not to use aluminum foil in the oven
1) Never at the bottom of the oven
To begin with, never line the bottom of an electric oven with aluminum foil in order to collect spills, drips and food particles that fall off the higher rack.
In fact, never you line the bottom of an electric oven at all. It’s the safest option out there. I know I’ve said this like a million times on this blog, but that’s because the warning is very crucial and therefore can never be overemphasized! Put it in other words, it’s a huge money and life saver! Here is why.
Putting a layer of foil below can trap heat underneath, reflect any heat striking the foil at the surface, and subsequently, cause a serious upset in the overall performance of the oven.
This means that your turkeys aren’t going to bake as perfect as the first time you made them (before stuffing the bottom of the oven with foil).
Plus, a blockage like this almost always surges up the possibilities of shock and fire hazard, and it can also lead to a permanent damage of the bottom by melting straight into it.
If you don’t already know, most range manufacturers hardly ever cover damages like this in their warranty. So either you fork out the money for a new oven, or start baking your foods in briefly dug pits at the backyard!
Secondly, for gas ovens, never cover any slots, holes or passages in the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil. This can also be said in a stricter way, simply, never cover the bottom of a gas oven with aluminum foil. It can trap heat and block air flow throughout the oven — causing carbon mono-oxide poisoning, shock, or a deadly fire hazard.
2) Never at the drawer
Lower oven drawers too, should never be lined with aluminum foil for the same purpose of catching spills and drips. The foil can trap heat and cause an upset in performance. It can also melt and permanently damage the drawer bottom.
3) Careful not to ignite a fire
Additionally, ensure to never touch the inside walls of a hot oven, the heating elements or the flame (from both electric and gas ovens) with aluminum foil respectively, it can produce highly unexpected results.
4) Never on a pizza stone
And lastly, never use aluminum foil on a pizza stone. Why people even do that is beyond my understanding! Foil placed as an intermediary between pizza and stone can interfere directly with the performance of the stone. Pizzas will definitely turn soggy at the bottom and develop unevenly cooked interiors. That’s more like soaked tortilla than a pizza!
How to properly use aluminum foil to catch spills in the oven
- Use aluminum foil to catch spills or drips from food items like turkey by placing aluminum foil on a lower rack several inches below the food. Make sure to not use more foil than necessary and ensure you keep the foil at least 1½ inches from the oven walls to prevent poor heat circulation and unexpected ignition. You can use a cookie sheet instead (I highly recommend that).
What can aluminum foil be used for in ovens?
Aluminum foil has many uses in ovens:
Here are some:
- Pouch roasting, baking and broiling: Wrap food items in packets made from aluminum foil to lock in moisture, flavor and prevent drying. To make a foil packet, 1) Cut large or small sheet of aluminum foil depending on the size of the food 2) Place the foil on a neat countertop 3) Transfer food items to the center of the foil 4) Bring up foil sides and double fold top and ends of the foil to form a large packet. 4) Make sure to leave enough room for heat circulation which will ensure even cooking. To brown poultry, open and turn back foil towards the end of cooking. For tenderness and easier slicing, let items stand for additional minutes after removing from the oven.
- Pan roasting, baking and broiling: Line baking trays with aluminum foil for easier and faster cooking. To line a baking tray, 1) Flip the tray upside down and press a sheet of aluminum foil all around it; including the sides 2) Lift the pressed foil and flip the tray back up 3) Drop the foil liner inside the pan and press the foil edges tightly to the rim of the pan.
- Grilling BBQ: Line grill grate or grilling pan with aluminum foil and cook chickens, briskets, pizzas or your favorite recipes.
- Pouch grilling: Seal items like sausages, salmon and S’mores in a foil packet and cook on a grill gate or grilling pan for a flavorful and tender result.
- Loosely cover the top of poultry foods with a foil tent to prevent over-browning and ensure fast cooking. To make the tent, 1) Cut a sheet of foil large enough to reach the edges of the pan 2) Fold in half, place over the poultry and press the foil edges to the rim of the pan.
- Lightly cover cakes, bread, cheese and other sticky foods with a large sheet of aluminum foil to prevent over browning on the surface. For items like cakes and breads, you may want to do this after the formation of crusts, which is usually half way through cooking.
- Use aluminum foil as a substitute when short on pans, pots or when you don’t feel like cleaning. Simply fold the foil into desired shapes and bake you favorite chocolate or carrot cake recipe in it.
- Delicate treats like cookies or special cakes can produce slightly unexpected results with aluminum foil. Cookies can spread a bit more and brown more on the bottom while cakes can produce irregular shapes. They are best baked with silicone baking mats or parchment paper as the liner.
- For all pan applications, grease the surface of a regular foil with shortening or use a non-stick foil.
- Substitute standard aluminum foil with a heavy duty one for all heavy duty applications.
Which side of aluminum foil to use?
Now you know how to use aluminum foil in the oven. It’s now a matter of which side stays inside and which goes outside. Well, it depends on the type of foil you’re using.
For regular non-stick foil, use the dull side or the side with the non-stick coating to line foods for non-stick results.
For regular foils, use whichever side you prefer. It will have no impact on the final outcome. Just make sure to grease the surface of the foil with shortening or cooking spray to prevent baked goods from sticking.
Will aluminum foil leach substances into food?
Yes, aluminum foil can leach aluminum into food during cooking or storage, particularly at higher temperatures and with highly acidic foods like tomatoes, salt, spices, cabbage and rhubarb.
These deposits are totally non-toxic and are transferred only at an undetectable amounts which do not appear to pose any risk to people when consumed (source).
Further, aluminum deposits of fewer and even higher concentrations are constantly taken in to the body as additives in processed foods, in air, meat, fish, grains, fruits, drinking water or even medications.
Regardless, the body only absorbs a tiny portion of these amounts and does a good job at expelling the rest as waste through feces and urine.
In addition to that, there is no current and strong evidence linking the normal day-day use of aluminum products, whether in food, medications or cookware to any adverse health affect (source).
If you are still concerned about the trace amount of aluminum deposits in your diet, you should definitely limit your usage of aluminum cookware’s and materials. I personally wouldn’t bet my safety and life on the “lack of research papers” too!
Use foils once in a while for grilling or broiling purposes and substitute parchment paper for all pouch related cooking and roasting. Use cast iron, stainless steel or ceramic cookware’s as an alternative to aluminum cookware’s and you should be fine.
More you should know about aluminum foil
Loosely speaking, aluminum foil is produced by passing large slab of aluminum ingot back and forth through metallic rollers until it is less than 0.02 cm thick. The degree to which the aluminum block is reduced depends on the intended usage of the final product. Foils meant for household use are commonly produced into two different thickness;
- Standard Aluminum foil (thin): It is rolled into a thickness of 0.0011 cm – 0.0018 cm and is suitable for wrapping lighter items during gentle cooling and heating applications. For example, wrapping left-over foods for short term refrigeration or cooking light pieces of salmon in a pouch made from the aluminum foil. It can tear or under-perform when used to wrap heavier items or exposed to intense freezing and heating applications.
- Heavy-duty Aluminum Foil (thick): It is rolled into a thickness of 0.02 cm – 0.04 cm and has superior strength and tolerance compared to the standard variety. It’s great for wrapping weighty items during heavy cooling and heating applications. For example, wrapping heavy cuts of meat such as briskets for barbecuing or deep freezing poultry meat to prevent freezer burn. Other heavy duty applications include, roasting, grilling, broiling, and camp fire grilling.
Both the standard and heavy duty foils can be coated with a release agent on one side to impart a non-stick property on them. The non-stick coating is especially useful for preventing baked good from sticking to their surfaces. Regular aluminum foil must be coated with shortening to achieve this purpose.
Aluminum foil rolled and coated in this manner boasts a whole spectrum of physical and mechanical properties that are useful for household needs.
Some of the key properties include:
- Heat tolerance: Aluminum foils can resist a wide variety of temperatures; from very cold to very hot with no risk of cracking, breaking, melting, or burning.
- Barrier properties: Aluminum foil acts as an effective barrier against light, air, moisture, micro-organisms and foreign odor. This property makes it useful for wrapping foodstuffs for long term storage and prevent them from bacteria, moisture transmission and aroma-transmission.
- Thermal conductivity: Aluminum foil is an excellent conductor of thermal heat and therefore can speed up cooking times and promote even cooking.
- Dead-fold characteristics: Aluminum foil wraps around food materials easily and stays folded with no spring back. This makes food storage and preparation quicker and easier. No extra seal needed.
- Reflectivity: Aluminum foil can reflect 98% of radiant heat, which makes it suitable for preserving the temperature of food items for longer duration. This characteristics is also one of the reasons why aluminum foil used at the bottom ovens can produce uneven cooking.
- Hygiene: Aluminum foil is sterile and does not harbor the growth of bacteria.
- Neutral taste: Aluminum foil imparts no detectable taste or odor to foodstuffs.
- Non-toxicity and corrosion resistant.
Can aluminum foil be used in toaster ovens?
Yes. Aluminum foil can be used in toaster ovens.
Here are the safety tips regarding the use of aluminum foil in toaster ovens.
- First, always consult the “owner’s manual” of your toaster oven and heed to the manufacturers recommendations for the use of aluminum foil.
- Use aluminum foil to line baking trays for easier cleaning. Make sure the foil doesn’t get too close to the heating elements or touch the walls of the oven. It can melt on the surface, which can be hard to scrape off and will prevent the interior from heating properly and even cause permanent damage.
- Wrap food items like raw fish or meat in aluminum packets and grill in toaster ovens.
- Only line the crumb tray with aluminum foil if the “owner’s manual” of your toaster oven says so. Properly line the surface of the crumb tray and do not allow any contact with the bottom heating elements which can damage the oven. The best possible advice we can give, is to avoid lining the crumb tray at all. You are better off wiping the tray with a damp cloth after every baking session.
When a manual forbids the use of foil to line the crumb tray or other parts of the oven, it’s because the foil can cause the oven to overheat, which in consequence, can damage the oven.
Can aluminum foil be used in microwave ovens?
Microwave ovens work by emitting low energy microwave radiation that is easily absorbed by water molecules in food and converted to heat for cooking.
Metals like aluminum foil generally reflect microwave radiation rather than absorb it. As a consequence, any food completely covered in the microwave with aluminum foil will not be able to absorb microwave radiation and thus will remain uncooked.
However, small pieces of aluminum foil can be used to shield small areas of food such as chicken wings or turkey drum sticks to prevent heating or over cooking.
Here’s how to use aluminum foil for this purpose.
- Make sure to use a new foil and not a wrinkled foil.
- Cover no more than ¼ of the food with aluminum foil.
- If the microwave oven has metal shelves or a metal turntable, dont let the foil touch or get too close to the shelves or turntable.
- If you see sparking, immediately remove the foil shielding.
Can aluminum foil be used in air fryers?
Aluminum foil can be used in air fryers to line the bottom of the basket and make cleanup easier.
Here are the tips for using aluminum foil in air fryers.
- Ensure to leave spaces here and there for proper circulation of hot air around the cavity. You can puncture holes on the foil to help with this.
- Avoid sticking aluminum foil beyond the edges of the basket to prevent possible contact with the heater.
- Avoid using aluminum foil at the bottom of air fryer where grease is collected. The air flow can be disrupted which will disrupt the cooking performance of the air fryer.
- Always make sure to preheat the air fryer first before putting aluminum foil and food. If aluminum foil is lined in the basket without food to press it down, it can get sucked towards the heater and melt.
Important note: Ensure to properly clean your ovens to prevent dirt and grease accumulation which can increase the risk of fire hazard.