9 Foods You Should Never Cook in Aluminum Foil

Foods Not to Cook in Foil

Cheapism / MurzikNata/NataBene/istockphoto

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Foods Not to Cook in Foil
Cheapism / MurzikNata/NataBene/istockphoto

Foiled Again

While you can use aluminum foil to cook certain foods and prevent them from drying out (and even use foil to clean quite a few things), the hack doesn't apply to all foods. This is due to the potential for aluminum to leach into certain foods or ingredients at high temperatures. This can happen especially with acidic or spicy foods, which can react with the foil and cause traces of aluminum to dissolve. Consuming high levels of aluminum has been linked to various health issues, including osteoporosis and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Additionally, cooking certain foods in aluminum foil can cause the dish to develop an off-putting, metallic taste. Here are nine foods you should never cook in aluminum foil. 

Tomatoes - Summer

1. Tomatoes

The high acidity in tomatoes can react strongly with aluminum, causing tiny bits of metal to leach into the food. While this can impart that gross metallic taste, the bigger issue is the possibility of consuming aluminum, which can be harmful to one's health in large amounts. Instead, consider cooking tomatoes in stainless steel or glass cookware to retain their flavor and ensure safer food handling.

Related: 15 Foods You Should Never Reheat in the Microwave

Citrus fresh fruits

2. Citrus Fruits

Similar to tomatoes, citrus fruits like lemons, limes, tangerines, and oranges are highly acidic. Cooking them in aluminum foil can thus lead to significant aluminum leaching. To avoid this, use parchment paper or non-reactive cookware when baking or roasting citrus to preserve their bright, fresh taste. 


3. Vinegar-Based Foods

Foods that contain vinegar, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and dishes with vinaigrettes, should not be cooked in aluminum foil. This is due to the risk of aluminum contamination and the potential for altered taste from the acid. Instead, opt for glass or ceramic baking dishes to maintain the integrity of these foods.

Related: 6 Things You Should Never Cook in Cast-Iron Skillet

Spicy International Foods

4. Spicy Foods

Certain spices like chili powder, paprika, and cumin can accelerate the breakdown of aluminum foil, resulting in higher exposure and consumption of metals. Spicy foods should instead be prepared in non-stick pans, such as stainless steel, tin, or ceramic cookware, to prevent this reaction and preserve their zesty, bold flavors.

Berries - Summer

5. Berries

Berries, with their natural acidity, can also cause aluminum foil to leach into food. They can also fall apart and turn into a sad, mushy mess when cooked in foil at high temperatures. Instead, bake or cook berries in glass or ceramic containers to avoid that icky, metallic taste and help them retain their natural sweetness and texture. 

Fresh rhubarb for sale at the food market

6. Rhubarb

Rhubarb is another highly acidic food that can corrode aluminum foil. When making rhubarb desserts or compotes, opt for stainless steel, enamel, or glass bakeware. This will protect the tangy taste and flavor of the fruit while preventing any cross-contamination from leeching metals. 

Africa Studio/shutterstock

7. Apples

Apples, particularly when cooked with acidic ingredients or certain spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, can cause a reaction with aluminum foil. To prevent this, cook apples in ceramic, tin, or glass dishes to preserve the fruit's natural taste and texture. This will help maintain the integrity of the spices while enhancing the aromatic and comforting flavor of cooked apples​. 

Related: 11 Foods You Should Never Cook in an Air Fryer

Bell Peppers

8. Peppers

The acidity and capsaicin in peppers (a compound that gives them their spicy taste) can also cause aluminum foil to degrade. To prevent this, consider roasting or baking peppers in stainless steel or enamel cast iron pans. This will enhance their natural flavors and minimize the risk of aluminum exposure and leeching of metals. 

For more cooking tips and hacks, sign up for our free newsletters.

whole eggplant on wooden background

9. Eggplant

Eggplant contains compounds that can react with aluminum foil, leading to that unpleasant metallic taste. Instead, grill or bake eggplant in non-stick or cast iron pans to help maintain its rich flavor and creamy texture.