Air Fryer Basket Vs Tray | Which Is Better Air Fryer?

The basket and tray are essential to get the best outcome from your air fryer. The units lessen your work and give you the ultimate result. But there has to be clarity when it comes to the two.

Are they the same thing? Though some websites use the two terms to mean one item, that is an error. These accessories are distinct. Still, others debate the need for the air fryer basket Vs. tray.

That is why I came up with this topic. Stay here and learn the functions of these two crucial air fryer attachments, which one is better, how to use them, and their pros and cons.

Air Fryer Basket

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The air fryer basket is a metallic netting with an intentional design to allow airflow. It comes with a nonstick surface to quickly release food after cooking. While shopping for one, you may have come across one with only a perforated base. 

This style is also great but not better than the all-mesh basket. It allows air circulation only from the base. Such a basket will give you difficulty cooking as you must keep flipping the food to facilitate even cooking.  

Air fryer baskets, called crisper baskets, can be cylindrical or square. The shape depends on the brand and model. Kitchen experts point out that the square crisper baskets are better because the corners allow easy food arrangement. Also, the designs hold more items. 

The basket size also differs. It depends on the size of your air fryer, with the smallest being about one quart. There are giant ones with up to 28 quarts, but these are commonly for air fryer ovens

When picking the right air fryer basket, consider a size that fits your needs. Its sole purpose is to hold food and allow hot air to circulate in the cooking chamber. It is the basket that makes your air frying results heavenly! Crusty and delicious dishes!

Features Of An Air Fryer Basket

The air fryer basket is unique, and so are its features. Have a look;

  • The basket can be all mesh or have perforations at the base
  • It comes in a square or found shape.
  • Air fryer baskets are a necessity when air frying. They hold the food and allow sufficient cooking.
  • The air fryer basket can be cylindrical or cube, depending on the type.

Before you leave, check the benefits of having the air fryer basket. You can also learn here about a few cons if any!

Benefits And Costs Of Using An Air Fryer Basket

When you use an air fryer basket, you will find it easy to cook your meals. Cooking with the basket is also faster than using an alternative like a tray. The tray will block air circulation because it is not perforated. 

In a nutshell, you get more benefits from using the air fryer basket than cons. However, there are also obstacles to using the unit. Have a look.


  • It facilitates fast cooking.
  • It helps you to attain a crispy and well-done outcome.
  • The basket enhances hot air circulation.
  • It is easy to monitor and turn or shake your food when cooking
  • You can insert a crisper pan/rack and cook multiple menus.


  • The basket consumes space and only allows you to cook small food portions. 

With the above information about the air fryer basket, I will jump straight and go to the next accessory, the tray.

Air Fryer Tray

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The air fryer trays differ in purpose and features. There are two types; the crisper tray and the drip tray. Each one of these has its place in the air fryer. You will find the crisper inside the basket, while the drip tray comes below the basket or on the floor of the air fryer oven. I will begin with the crisper tray.

  1. Crisper Tray/Pan/Plate

This type of air fryer tray is an accompaniment for the basket. It is a crisper plate that suspends food above the basket surface, thus allowing oils and juices to drip down into the air fryer basket.

The accessory allows hot air to circulate inside the basket, thus cooking your food consistently on all edges.

Though the tray is a necessary fit for the basket, it is not a do-or-die! That’s why you will find it missing in some air fryers. You can cook without this attachment. And if your air fryer has one, use it as it gives the best results.

The detachable tray or pan also doubles as a rack. It helps you to separate your basket and cook multiple meals in a batch. An example is when you want to roast potatoes and grill steak at once. The crisper tray will do the magic.

Features of an air fryer crisper tray

  • It fits the air fryer basket.
  • The tray helps to create tiers in the basket and helps improve the airflow.
  • It is not a necessity when air frying.
  • The shape depends on the air fryer basket so that it can be round or square.
  • It is flat.

Benefits And Costs Crisper Tray

This tray, called a crisper pan, is perforated and helps separate the basket. That way you can cook different meals. With the tray, you can cook your veggies and, at the same time, roast your meat. So, a double menu is possible with a crisper tray. 

Using the tray to create tiers may be complex, as you must keep checking your food and flipping it over. Also, the food may cook at different times, so you may get overcooked results. A crisper tray also functions as a rack.


  • The tray creates more room for air circulation.
  • You can use several tiers for cooking a variety of menus.


  • The tray consumes the basket space.
  • When you create tiers, accessing the lower level may be a challenge. 
  • The crisper tray makes the basket space smaller.

2. Drip tray

All oven-style air fryers have trays to place beneath and tap food craps and juices. The pan is nonperforated, so no liquids or small food particles will find their way into the bottom of your air fryer.


  • It holds more food than the basket.
  • It keeps your oven stain-free. 
  • If your air fryer has multiple heating elements, food will cook faster.
  • You can cook various menus simultaneously.


  • It takes more time to cook food in a single-element air fryer.  
  • The outcome may not be crispy.  

Read more

Should You Always Use A Tray In An Air Fryer?

The tray is part of your air fryer accessories. It is essential for fitting in your air fryer to enhance airflow. You could also use it as a separator for your basket. 

The flat piece of equipment works in your basket and creates an extra layer to place a different type of food. An example is where you can roast your chicken wings and lamb steak at once. 

After inserting the tray, you can put the lamb on the bottom and the chicken wings on top.

A tray will also come in handy if your basket has no perforations on its walls. It allows the circulation of hot air so that your dish comes out with your desired crispiness. 

So, you can always use the tray in your air fryer. If you don’t have one, we have many air fryer dealers. Ensure that it is nonstick and that the coating is Teflon-free.

Can I Put Food Directly In The Air fryer Basket?

Putting your food directly in your air fryer basket will not affect its doneness. The basket comprises mesh to allow hot air circulation. You can enhance the outcome with an add-on such as a tray or rack. 

Placing a tray in your basket is beneficial. Your air fryer relies on enough airflow to cook great-tasting meals. A tray inside will also optimize space for holding more food. 

The essential tip when air frying is to avoid placing your food in the basket and not directly on the bottom of your air fryer. You will not like the mess, as cleaning up will break your nails. Also, you can protect your air fryer by using an undertray. The tray catches and holds any spills and grease. 

Do You Put Anything In The Bottom Of The Air Fryer?

Most air fryers will have a disclaimer not to place any food in the bottom of your air fryer. Follow the correct procedure when using this oven. 

Besides the dos and don’ts, there are more tips to enhance your cooking. For example, adding water to the air fryer drawer is helpful when cooking fatty foods. The water prevents oil/ grease from getting too hot and smoking in your kitchen.  

You may wonder why this tip, yet adding oil is optional when air frying. The excess fat gets super-hot when air frying fatty foods and drips below. The hot surface burns the fat and causes more smoke. 

Some foods, such as lamb, pork, and chicken, may have excess fat. The dripping fats are similar to adding oil to your food and will have the same effect. 

Besides cooking in a smoky and smelly kitchen, the outcome may not be perfect. Higher temperatures than the recipe requirements may damage your food and give you poor results.

So, a drip tray is essential under the air fryer basket. The setup applies to both the oven and basket-type air fryers. 

Besides the grease, the drip tray will hold crumbs and other dirt. You will have a smooth cleaning process at the end of your cooking.

Do You Need A Special Tray For The Air Fryer?

When using your air fryer, you will discover a need for trays. I discussed the two trays, including the crisper and drip tray. But do you need the two in your air fryer? 

Find out below.

  1. Crisper Tray 

The crisper tray is a unique flat perforated fitting for the air fryer basket. Its many holes let in the hot air and allow circulation. You can use the special tray to create tiers in the basket. Also, it facilitates crisping up of your dishes. 

The crisper tray is optional for your air fryer. You can still use the basket without the tray, but do not use your air fryer without the basket. The outcome will be poorly cooked and marshy food.

2. Drip Tray

Unlike the crisper tray, the drip pan has no perforations. It is an essential accessory for tapping food juices or oils. So, it is a must-have as it keeps your air fryer from getting stains.  

To use the drip tray, place it under the air fryer basket. You can also place below the rack in the oven-type air fryers.  

Add water to the drip tray when cooking fatty foods such as pork ribs. As your dish cooks, the water will prevent smoking. Another hack you can try is to revive leftover foods. Don’t throw your croissants and scones. Add some water to the drip tray and reheat in a few minutes.

In summary, here are the uses of a drip tray:

  • It keeps your air fryer out of messy greases and juices.
  • The drip tray prevents smoke and flames.
  • Refreshing leftovers.

So, do you need a tray for your air fryer? You do! The crisper tray will help you to cook multiple menus, while a drip tray will protect your air fryer from excess staining.

Do You Put A Tray Under The Air Fryer Basket?

The first thing to do when you bring home your air fryer is to take note of the accessories. Your unit may have come with two trays; an air fryer basket insert/crisper tray and the drip pan/tray. Your manual will help you differentiate between the two sets of trays. 

As I said earlier, the crisper tray is a basket insert. It is flat and perforated. So you insert it in the basket to enable more airflow. You can also use it as a rack to separate and cook different foods simultaneously.

You place the drip tray under the air fryer basket to trap juices, oils, and crumbs that fall below. Setting the pan keeps your air fryer off stains. It is easy to clean the tray as it is nonstick, plus you can dip it in water. 

The drip tray has more functions, like preventing smoking and flames. You can soften your pastries by adding water to the tray as you warm them in the basket. So, before you put your tray under the air fryer, determine the type. 

Now that you know more about the air fryer basket and the tray, which is better? Have a look below!

Which Is Better? Air Fryer Basket Vs. Tray?

I have expounded more about the air fryer basket and the two types of trays that come with your air fryer. And without biasness, these two pieces of equipment are essential accessories for your air fryer. 

Their benefits are irreplaceable. You cannot place your food on the floor of your air fryer. The outcome of your menu will be nasty. Besides sticking and burning on the extra hot surface, your will cook poorly. You need to raise it from the surface, so the basket is essential. But you may need to raise it more. That’s when a rack comes in handy.

Inside your air fryer basket, you can insert the crisper tray. However, this is optional. The crisper tray is essential for improving air circulation in the oven. You can make a rack with the crisper pan and cook a double menu.

Below the basket, a drip tray is a requirement. It taps all the grease and food residue. Without the pan, your air fryer will have stains and other damage. It is time-consuming and costly to clean a stained air fryer. 

Between The Air Fryer Basket And Tray, Which Is Better?

Choosing the air fryer basket and a tray shouldn’t bother you. Both accessories are unique, so you should have them. When cooking, you can narrow down the use of the menu. 

Use the basket with a crisper tray to create more tiers. Also, insert the tray above the element to prevent staining your air fryer. You can utilize your tray when cooking food that does not require a crispy layer. 

So, both accessories are excellent and valuable. Enjoy cooking multiple menus with the air fryer basket, and use the crisper tray to separate your beef and zucchini. The tray is essential for the oven-styled air fryer to air-fry more food and keep your cooker clean.

To clear up your doubts and confusion, I have summed up everything in the table below.

Air Fryer Basket Vs Tray: comparison table

FeaturesAir fryer basketTray
ProsFood cooks faster. Dishes attain a crusty, juicy, and well-done outcome. It enhances hot air circulation. It is easy to monitor and turn your food.Crisper Tray: Creates tiers for more cooking. It creates more room for air circulation. Drip tray: Protects the air fryer from staining. It holds more food and is versatile.
ConsMakes the air fryer space smaller.Crisper tray: Makes the basket space smaller. Drip tray: It takes more time to cook food. The outcome is mashy and not crispy.

 Inside the cooking chamber.
Crisper tray: inside the basket. Drip tray: below the basket and on the belly of the oven.
NecessityIs a requirement.Crisper tray: Not a requirement. Drip tray: It is a requirement.
DesignSquare/Round (depends on the model). Metallic netting.Crisper tray: Flat with perforations Drip tray: It is non-perforated Shape depends on the model.
priceCheck price on AmazonCheck price on Amazon

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