Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools and kitchen goods that make life better.
Everything I cook is weighed against how long it will take to clean up. I am a maximalist person with a minimalist outlook toward cooking. I hate doing dishes and always have nail art on, so I try to keep my sink time to a minimum. One of the most foolproof ways to cut down on scrub time is by keeping pre-cut parchment paper liners around at all times.
My love for perforated parchment paper started when I discovered that I could line my steamer basket with them to get restaurant-quality dumplings. The first time I used the steamer, my dumplings stuck to the bottom and tore. It was tragic. I went online and found 10-inch perforated parchment paper circles for less than $8, and I am still using the same 100-pack years later. (Be sure to measure the width of your steamer before buying, as they come in many different sizes.) Whenever I am ready for dumplings, I boil some water, line each steamer basket with a parchment circle, and add the dumplings. Nothing sticks, and it takes just a minute to wipe the steamer down with some soapy water without having to scrub it.
Line Your Air Fryer Basket With Parchment Paper
The perforated parchment paper liners work for air frying, too! They are best for lining standard air fryer baskets, not air fryers that look like toaster ovens. The holes allow hot air to circulate around the food while still providing a base to trap some of the grease and food bits that usually fall through the basket. The liners are especially helpful if you have an air fryer basket with a fine-mesh bottom—food stuck in those little holes is so hard to clean out. You’ll have a lot less cooked-on mess that will take almost no effort to wash off. Most times a swish of soapy water in the air fryer basket is enough to clean it.
Plus, if the food is not too greasy or saucy, the parchment paper is durable enough to weather a few rounds of air-frying. I typically re-use them if it is on the same day—like making chicken nuggets for lunch and then air fryer broccoli for dinner. I toss it when it gets loaded up with schmutz.
When staying at a friend’s place with a Cosori air fryer (it has a square-shaped basket), I grabbed some Reynolds Kitchen air fryer liners at Walmart, which were a perfect fit and made cleanup a breeze. It kept me from having to scrub burnt cheese off of the basket after air frying pizza rolls. Measure your basket and find a liner that fits—they typically come in packs of 50, 100, or more, which will last you a very long time and save you lots of washes.
I never knew parchment paper could improve my life so greatly. I will spend the hours saved on scrubbing dirty dishes by eating more dumplings and chicken nuggets. And you should, too.