No matter if you use the foil as a tray to bake cookies or kebabs on, or if you fold it nicely into a pack for baking veggies, its uses are countless. Once you’re done using the foil, you can simply toss it out and that’s it. It’s easier to save time by using aluminum foil instead of washable dishes. However, is it safe to put aluminum foil in the oven?
Aluminum foil is the go-to item in almost every kitchen. It can be used for baking, for packing and pretty much anything that you can imagine. Even though it’s fairly expensive, it’s a convenient item that more than makes up for the price.
While you have most definitely used aluminum foil in the oven before, did you ever think about whether or not it’s safe? Here is everything that you need to know about the safe use of aluminum foil in the oven, and a couple of other tips to up your oven baking game.
How to Use Aluminum Foil In the Oven
Aluminum foil is most commonly used in the oven, in various ways. It can be either used to keep the oven clean, or to help you cook. No matter how you choose to use the foil, you should keep in mind that some of the ways are not exactly safe.
Below you can see a list of commonly known ways to use aluminum foil in the oven:
- Cover the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil;
- Wrap the bottom rack of the oven with aluminum foil;
- Wrapping your food in aluminum foil;
- Use aluminum foil on top of a baking sheet;
- Use the aluminum foil as a tray, directly on the oven rack;
- Use aluminum foil on top of another dish to act as a lid, when baking in the oven;
While some of these ways are completely safe, there are some issues with a few of them which can be straight up dangerous in the long run. So, here’s a detailed look at each individual way to showcase why some of them are not ideal.
1. Never Cover the Bottom of the Oven With Aluminum Foil!
When you cover the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil, you can end up damaging the oven. The aluminum can stick to the surface of the oven, and it can be really difficult to clean afterwards. There are other ways to keep the oven clean that don’t cause damage (such as using parchment paper).
In addition, if you don’t clean the stuck aluminum foil right away, it could damage the oven over time. Another reason aluminum foil is not great for the purpose of lining the bottom of the oven is that it reflects heat. The heat could cause uneven cooking (best case scenario) and even damage the heating elements of your oven (worst case scenario).
As a result, it’s highly discouraged to use aluminum foil to line the bottom of the oven.
2. It’s Not Ideal to Cover the Bottom Rack of the Oven With Aluminum Foil
This idea works in a similar way to the previously mentioned one — to avoid spillage and keep the oven clean. However, while it is not as harmful as the previous one, it still has its flaws.
If you cover the bottom rack of the oven with aluminum foil, you can impede the air flow in the oven. This could cause uneven cooking or heating. As a result, you could end up burning the food on one side, while the other remains mostly uncooked.
3. It’s Safe to Wrap Your Food and Cook It in Aluminum Foil
An idea that actually works and is used by many is wrapping the food in aluminum foil while cooking. There are no major risks to this method, if used properly. However, if you do it the wrong way, you could end up tearing the foil and making a huge mess, or even altering the food.
- Do not wrap acidic foods in aluminum foil, as they will have a chemical reaction. Acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, will interact with the foil and end up melting it.
- If you want to cook acidic foods in aluminum foil, you could place a layer of parchment paper between the aluminum foil and the food. This way, you can avoid the chemical reaction and safely cook your food.
4. You Can Use Aluminum Foil on Top of a Baking Sheet
When you want to cook something, but want to avoid doing the dishes, this is one of the go-to methods. Simply place your food in the aluminum foil, and underneath it place a baking sheet. Due to the relative fragility of the foil, it could end up tearing. However, if you use a baking sheet underneath, you can avoid all the resulting spillage.
This is a great way to keep your oven clean, avoid doing the dishes, and cook delicious food at the same time. Therefore, it’s best to use a baking sheet rather than place the food directly onto the oven rack.
5. You Could Use Aluminum Foil as a Tray or Pan
Another pretty ingenious idea is to use aluminum foil as a tray (or a pan). You could opt for the ready-made aluminum foil pans, or you could make your own. All you really need is some heavy-duty aluminum foil, and you’re good to go. Just make sure you don’t accidentally tear any holes in it.
Some people prefer to fold the aluminum foil into a pouch, which can help cook a variety of meals evenly while retaining the moisture. If you want to learn how to make a pouch, follow this tutorial – it can be used both in the oven and on the grill! Furthermore, you can find a variety of recipes that can be cooked in a foil pack.
6. Use Aluminum Foil on Top of Another Dish as a Lid and to Seal Moisture In
By far one of the most commonly used methods, using aluminum foil to cover the food is a great idea. When you use tin foil to cover your food, your food will retain its moisture and bake evenly.
There are no drawbacks to this method, as long as you remember the acidic reaction some foods can have with aluminum foil. If you avoid covering high-acid foods (tomato sauce for instance) with aluminum foil, you will have no issues whatsoever.
How to Correctly Use Aluminum Foil: Shiny Side in or out?
This question might keep you up at night — or not. No matter the case, the difference between the two sides serves no specific purpose, unless you use non-stick foil. The non-stick aluminum foil has one side which is coated so it doesn’t stick to your food, so you should make sure to use it the right way.
When using non-stick foil, you should always use the dull side. In addition, some companies (such as Reynolds) have imprinted the words ‘NON-STICK SIDE’ onto the foil’s non-stick side.
Fun fact: If you want to see for certain if using one side over another has a different effect, you can check out this experiment.
Is It Safe to Use Aluminum Foil in the Oven?
As mentioned above, it is perfectly safe to use aluminum foil in the oven. The only things you should always be aware of is how you use it. In addition, there are multiple pros to using aluminum foil in the oven:
- You can easily keep the oven clean (when you use it as a lid or as a protective layer when cooking);
- Foil can be used to retain moisture in the food (as a lid or when cooking inside the foil);
- You don’t necessarily need oven mitts to remove the foil (as it doesn’t get as hot as oven dishes);
- It allows you to cook without a pan or tray (when cooking directly into the foil);
With so many benefits to using aluminum foil you might think that there’s no use for other dishes. Well, that’s not exactly true. Some foods, most notably meats, are better cooked in conventional dishes, rather than aluminum, in order to avoid increased aluminum intake and taste change. However, that’s just a recommendation.
While it’s perfectly safe to put aluminum foil in the oven, you should always avoid coating the bottom of the oven with foil. Also, try using an alternative when cooking acidic foods (such as parchment paper). It’s best to be on the safer side, rather than spend hours cleaning afterwards.
Due to the many benefits that aluminum foil brings to the home-cooking scene, it is often one of the easiest methods of cooking something. Just keep in mind that not everything is aluminum-friendly, and if you want to reduce your aluminum intake, you can always opt for another option.
So, after learning about the damage aluminum foil can do to your oven, hopefully you won’t think about coating your oven in foil ever again. Instead, use some of the other suggestions presented here.
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