It’s no secret that kitchen gadgets such as air fryers, Instant Pots and slow cookers emit heat to cook our food. What is concerning is how that heat might be damaging the countertop surfaces the machines sit on.
Air fryers and other kitchen gadgets often emit a small amount of heat underneath when turned on and cooking your food. This isn’t usually enough to cause damage to your granite countertop or stone worksurface however, should be something to consider.
Especially if you’re using the machine on a high heat and over extended periods of time. Aside from this the main factor as to whether or not damage occurs as a result of your air fryer, instant pot or slow cooker is going to be based on the material that your kitchen worksurfaces are made from.
Some work surfaces conduct heat better than others, and some can easily react and become permanently damaged. However, with the right tools, you can easily still use an air fryer or instant pot on your work surface without causing damage. I’ve shared some of my favourites below.
What Are Heat Resistant Counter Top Surfaces?
There are 30+ options when it comes to materials for countertops. However, not all of them are heat resistant. Air fryers are only suitable for heat resistant countertops, if you use the machine on a non-heat resistant countertop you may significantly damage it.
Heat resistant countertop materials include;
Granite is one of the most durable and heat resistant countertop materials. It’s been found to withstand up to 1,200 degrees. Placing pots and pans straight from the stove onto the counter isn’t a problem, and neither is the heat created by your kitchen gadgets such as air fryer, microwave, instant pot and slow cooker.
Such strength and durability come at a price. Granite comes in two forms either tiles or slabs. Tiles are the cheapest and cost between $5 and $15 per square foot. Meanwhile, slabs can cost anything from $45 to $200 square foot.
Both prices vary significantly depending on the thickness of the granite, the colour, the size, the quality of the stone and whether you complete the installation process yourself or get a professional in to help you.
Marble is another heat resistant material which is commonly used on kitchen surface tops. Just be careful to minimise the potential of thermal shock to the stone which could potentially cause it to crack.
However, unlike marble is also more porous when compared to the likes of granite which means it can be scratched and stained as a result of knives or spices.
Marble is often cheaper than granite and runs from around $40 to $100 per square foot when purchased in a slab form.
Soapstone is often used on fireplaces but has recently been found in the design of kitchen countertops thanks to its durable properties. Most importantly (for us) is the materials ability to withstand a large amount of heat.
Setting a hot pan straight off the stove or from inside the oven isn’t a problem for soapstone countertops. The material is, however, slightly more expensive than marble with an average of $70 to $120 per square foot when purchased in a slab form.
Corian countertops are heat resistant and can often tolerate temperatures up to 200 degrees without damage. Making them suitable for any kitchen appliances such as air fryers, instant pots and slow cookers.
However, this means that Corian countertops aren’t suitable for hot pans that have come straight from the oven or the stove. In this case, you should use a heat trivet or heat pad to safely protect your surface.
Stainless steel countertops are often found in restaurant kitchens and as a result, can often seem cold or industrial. However, in the correct home environment, they can create a fantastic focal point in the kitchen.
The good news is that countertops made from stainless steel won’t be damaged by heat. This includes hot pans from the oven or stove as well as kitchen gadgets such as Instant Pots and slow cookers.
The kitchen of my dreams is open plan and contains a huge concrete island work surface (I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to this obsession).
While concrete work surfaces are relatively heat resistant and suitable for kitchen gadgets such as microwaves, air fryers, Instant Pots and slow cookers you should avoid placing hot pans directly on the surface as this could damage the seal which is used to lock the material into place and give it that lovely smooth finish.
Other materials which are sometimes heat resistant include laminate, quartz and butcher’s block. Although these tend to vary significantly depending on the manufacturer.
I personally have laminate countertops at home (because they are super cheap) and I’ve found that I’m able to use the air fryer, slow cooker and instant pot on the countertop without protection.
However, yours may be completely different, please don’t take my word for it and find out by damaging your work surfaces. It’s not worth it and a small investment in protection (more on this below) can save you from having to replace the entire countertop unit.
How Do You Know If Your Counter Top Is Heat Resistant?
If you’ve recently moved into a new house then you may be unaware of the material that your countertops are made from. In this case, you can do a couple of things to find out.
This video is great for explaining how to tell the difference between different stones which are used for countertops. This way you’ll know if you have granite, marble, soapstone or other.
You’ll be able to tell if you have a laminate work surface or a work surface made of stone based on the hollowness of the material. Laminate work surfaces are made from multiple layers of plastic which are bonded together onto particleboard (this kind of looks like MDF).
These plastic layers which are used to finish the worksurface can come in a variety of different colours and styles which can sometimes reflect that of more expensive stones such as granite or marble.
If you knock gently on a laminate surface it shouldn’t hurt, however, if you do the same on a marble, quartz or granite surface then you’ll likely experience some pain.
As well as the structure of the material, you’ll also be able to tell the difference between laminate work surfaces and stone worksurfaces based on how they feel to touch.
On a cold day, a stone counter surface will likely be cold due as they are a thermally conductive material.
If you’re not confident in what material your kitchen is you can ask friends and family who may be able to help you.
What Will Happen If You Put Your Machine On A Surface Which Isn’t Heat Resistant
If you have a surface which does not cope well with heat and leave your machine (whether it be an Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, Microwave etc.) unprotected conducting heat for an extended period of time then you may damage it.
This will likely be in the form of darkening the surface area so it looks burnt. This isn’t something you can wipe off, nor is it something you can fix easily. In fact, the best solution in this situation is likely to be to replace the countertops all together.
As you, therefore, might imagine, it’s an incredibly expensive decision to make.
Things To Put Under Your Air Fryer, Instant Pot & Slow Cooker To Protect Your Counter Tops
Luckily, there are a few solutions to leaving your machine out on an unprotected surface that doesn’t cope well with heat.
The first and perhaps best solution for many is placing a trivet under the appliance when it’s in use.
My favourites include; this pack of four silicone mats which come in a variety of different shapes and sizes or this beautiful expanding trivet by Joseph and Joseph (seriously, these guys can make any kitchen gadget look beautiful)
If you don’t have a trivet to hand then you could use a large chopping board. This bamboo one comes with a lifetime guarantee. The heat won’t damage the board other than perhaps leaving a burn mark which shouldn’t affect future use. An hey, better this than your countertop!
Finally, you could use a silicone surface protector. These are available in various different sizes and are often larger than a chopping board or a trivet as well as a number of different colours. Which means you should be able to find one that suits your kitchens current style.
My favourite includes; this pair of mats which come in a 17″ by 25″ size and come in colours such as lime green, orange, white, red, clear and black.
In conclusion, if you have a work surface that’s not sensitive to heat then using an airfryer, Instant Pot or slow cooker consistently on the surface won’t damage it.
However, if you have a countertop surface that can be damaged by heat then it’s best to protect it with a small investment in equipment such as a silicone mat or trivet as the alternative (replacing the countertop) is likely to be significantly more costly.