The air fryer is such a fantastic kitchen appliance for modern-day cooking. The problem is it ALWAYS detonates a lingering fishy smell whenever you cook fish with it. 

And knowing how to get fish smell from an air fryer properly is something almost every homeowner struggles with.

Of course, you CAN NOT forsake the air fryer as it will give your meals an unpleasant aroma and aftertaste.

A deep clean of every mechanical part (including the venting fans and tray) would help —but with the right solution. 

Don’t worry. I will explain how you can do this step by step below. 

But first, let’s talk about why your air fryer smells like fish, alright? 

Why Does An Air Fryer Smell Like Fish?

Your air fryer may smell like fish for several reasons.

 However, the primary reason is that previous cooking sessions may have left behind scents.

And if it is not adequately ventilated or cleaned, the pungent smell of fish can easily contaminate the air fryer’s interior. 

The taste and aroma of the following dishes may be impacted by the lingering smell of recently cooked fish or other seafood in the appliance.

The kind and state of the cooking oil you use in the air fryer is another potential cause of the fishy scent. Oil may degrade and start to smell like rotten fish after some time.

Using the same oil frequently without properly filtering or replacing it can also cause an unpleasant smell.

I also want to touch on this “plastic-like smell” because I suffered from it when I first got my air fryer. 

Then the internet went into an air-fired frenzy. Many Air fryer recipes and hacks went viral in the media, so I got mine and experimented. 

The first meal I tried was  French Fries (then it was a thing with an air fryer), but the result was a plastic-like aftertaste. 

Most customers have similar complaints that it gave their meals an unpleasant aroma. 

While this is true, it is NOTHING serious. 

You have to acknowledge the device has just got out of its packaging. It hasn’t had the time to breathe fresh air or be appropriately cleaned.

You can check out Best Kitchen Hub’s reason air fryer smells like plastic and how to get rid of it. But the methods I will show you also work miraculously well on any odor.

How To Get Fish Smell From Air Fryer

1. Clean The Air Fryer Basket Properly

Cleaning your air fryer is the first and most effective way to eliminate the fish smell. Clear the air fryer basket of any leftover fish, oil, or crumbs.

Clean the air fryer basket with warm water and light detergent. Remove them if there is fish residue in the basket.

After that, wash the air fryer basket under running water and clean the components with a moist cloth. You can also throw the basket in the dishwasher if it is safe for a deeper clean.

2. Use Baking Soda Solution

Baking soda is another natural deodorizer worth considering. 

If you can just sprinkle a little into the air fryer basket and let it sit for several hours or overnight, your fish smell days are over. 

Afterward, wipe it out with a damp cloth. Preheating the air fryer before cooking can also help reduce the exposure time of the fish to heat and minimize odors.

3. 1-Part Vinegar And 1-Part Lemon Juice

Vinegar and lemon juice are acidic and make an excellent all-natural deodorizer — let alone their combo will neutralize any fish odor. 

But you have to do it right. 

Mix one-part vinegar and one-part lemon juice with two parts water. 

Pour the mixture into the air fryer basket after mixing one part vinegar or lemon juice with two parts water in a basin.

Give the mixture time to cook. Preheat the air fryer for five minutes at 300 degrees. After the allotted time has passed, take out the basket and clean it with a moist cloth.

4. Use Odor-Absorbing Material

Using odor-absorbing substances like activated charcoal or coffee grounds may help if you still have trouble removing the fish smell from your air fryer. 

The activated charcoal and coffee grounds effectively absorb the odors. 

Simply pour some activated charcoal or coffee grinds into a bowl, place it inside the air fryer basket, and let it sit for a few hours or overnight if you have any materials.

If done correctly, the odor-absorbing substance will diminish the fish smell, absorbing all other foul scents.

So that is how to get a fish smell from the air fryer. 

NOTE: Water could hold the fort if you don’t mix lemon juice with vinegar. 

Mix one ounce of white vinegar with two ounces of water and place the mixture into a small dish. Set your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2-3 minutes, then allow it to cool.

 Once cooled, wipe the air fryer with a damp cloth. Repeat this process as needed until the odor is gone.

However, if you only have lemons handy, squeeze the juice of one lemon into the air fryer and fill it with water. Turning on the air fryer and letting it run for about 10 minutes would complete the job.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Prevent Food From Sticking To The Air Fryer Basket?

That shouldn’t be a problem! 

First, create an anti-sticky surface by preheating the basket, then lightly lotion the interior with cooking spray or oil. Some people prefer throwing the food in oil or batter, whichever way. 

After that, use parchment paper or aluminum foil as a barrier, arrange the food in a single layer, and shake or flip it while it cooks. 

After each use, thoroughly wipe the basket to remove any residue. By following these instructions, a non-stick surface and tasty results are guaranteed.

Can I Use Oil In An Air Fryer?

It’s critical to note that, while it’s not necessary, unlike in traditional oven or pan frying. 

A small amount of oil can enhance your food’s moisture and achieve a nice golden brown color.

How Often Should I Clean My Air Fryer?

Keeping your air fryer clean is necessary if you want to keep using this unit. However, your cleaning habits will determine how often you clean.

If your air fryer is only occasionally used, it’s best to thoroughly wipe it down after each use to eliminate any burned residue. A thorough deep cleaning has to be done every 4-5 usages. 

Is It Normal For An Air Fryer To Retain Odor After Cooking?

Yes, a slight residual smell after cooking is typical for an air fryer. Like other cooking utensils like ovens or stovetops, air fryers can capture and hold onto food scents while cooking.

The cooking oils, spices, or ingredients used can get stuck in the silicone or plastic portions of the appliance and generate a lingering odor.


While all of these methods are practical solutions to getting fish smell from air fryers, it is crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. 

I’m sure unplugging the air fryer and cooling down before starting the cleaning process is at the top of that list.

And by following these tips in your routine maintenance, you can enjoy odor-free cooking and preserve the flavors of your favorite dishes.

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