Finding the best deep fryer for your kitchen
A deep fryer buying guide
If you love chicken wings, French fries, onion rings and other types of deep-fried food, a top-rated deep fryer is a kitchen appliance essential. As you ponder which fryer to buy, there are a few things to consider, including the type of food you like to cook, the amount you cook at one time and your favorite frying oil. Deep fryer uses vary from person to person, so choose a specialty kitchen appliance that suits your needs.
>> What deep-fried food do you enjoy?
When choosing the best deep fryer, think about the foods you are planning to fry. If you cook only a few chicken wings or a handful of French fries at a time, a 3- to 5-cup capacity small table-top fryer will work well. If you are the more adventurous type and plan to fry a 30-pound turkey for the next holiday meal, then a freestanding turkey fryer is a better choice. If you are planning a fish fry party with the neighbors, a portable outdoor fryer with a 9- to 17-gallon capacity is the best deep fryer to consider.
Look at deep fryer brands with adjustable temperature settings. Not all food cooks at the same temperatures. For example, onion rings do well at 375 degrees Fahrenheit but fish fries best at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and chicken is fried at an even lower temperature.
>> What power source do you prefer?
When you are considering which deep fryer to buy, think about your power source. Electric deep fryers are the most common type of deep fryer. They can be used easily, without costly kitchen modifications. The majority of electric fryers are light or medium duty. This style of fryer is often found in home kitchens.
Gas deep fryers, although less common than electric deep fryers, do a creditable job of turning out fried foods. This style of fryer comes in medium and heavy-duty designs and is often found in restaurants. You can get smaller to medium gas fryers for your home kitchen if you are doing a custom build.
>> Consider different types of deep fryers
You can buy a deep fryer in a stove top, countertop or freestanding model. The best deep fryer for you depends on where you will use it and how many people you normally cook for. Freestanding deep fryers are perfect for outdoors. Most use propane, just like an outdoor BBQ. They have a capacity of 4 to 20 gallons, depending on the model, and they have wheels to make them easy to move as needed.
Indoors, the best deep fryers are countertop models. Deep fryer sizes range from very small, holding 1 or 2 cups of oil, to larger home models that hold closer to 20 pounds. The larger capacity models - whether indoors or outdoors - work well for a turkey or a whole chicken. When you are cooking only for yourself or one other person, look at a small countertop or stove-top model. You might consider a fryer specifically made for frying turkeys if that is something you enjoy. There are many top-rated deep fryers available to accommodate your needs.
Most countertop fryers have one frying basket, although some deluxe models have two. The well depth and oil capacity on countertop deep fryers vary enormously, so use the package specs to determine if the fryer meets your needs. Many electric deep fryer brands feature a "breakaway" cord, which attaches to the unit via a magnet. This ensures that if the cord is snagged or tripped over, it will simply separate from the unit, rather than dislodging the unit and spilling hot oil. Check the package specs to ascertain if the heating element detaches for cleaning purposes. Countertop deep fryers range in wattage/BTU from 1,750 watts for a 10-pound fryer to 2500 watts per pot for a multi-basket fryer.
If you plan to or already own a deli or a restaurant or you tend to cook often for a lot of people, consider a larger indoor floor model. These top-rated deep fryers have capacities ranging from 40 to 75 pounds. Floor fryers can use as much as 2500 watts per fryer pot. Many come with two or more baskets so you can fry large batches of food at the same time.
>> Consider specialty fryers
Specialty deep fryers are designed to cook one or two particular types of food, or to cook food under very specific conditions. The most common specialty fryers are:
- Funnel cake fryers: Because funnel cakes float on top of the oil while cooking, funnel cake fryers offer wide, shallow fry tanks. This saves oil and allows you to cook more than one funnel cake at a time. Buy this deep fryer if you frequently make homemade funnel cakes and donuts.
- Pressure fryers: This type of deep fryer allows you to deep fry food under pressure, resulting in faster cooking times and juicier meat. When you buy a new deep fryer, consider this type if you often deep fry turkeys or chicken.
- Vent-less countertop fryers: These are the best deep fryers to use if your kitchen lacks an exhaust hood for ventilation. They are available in both automatic and semi-automatic models and work by pushing a button after loading the food. A spin fresh vent-less countertop model spins the food when it is done cooking to eliminate as much oil as possible for healthier, better tasting food. When determining which deep fryer to buy, consider this model if your kitchen lacks an outside ventilation hood.
When making a deep fryer comparison, check for special features. Important things to look for include the insulation of the container, the type of filter used (generally charcoal or mesh) and, if the fryer has a lid, if there is a window to observe the food as it cooks. Ascertain whether the fryer has a thermometer or different settings for oil temperatures, or if it just turns on and off. The small kitchen appliances section often has additional information on fryers.