When it comes to fried food, you have staunch nay-sayers who say it is bad for you and you should avoid fried food as much as possible. Some would say to these people that they aren’t living until they’ve had a freshly fried doughnut or a perfectly fried piece of chicken.
Foodies who do loved their fried foods probably even have a deep fryer in their kitchen so they can prepare their favorite fried appetizers and entrees without having to hoof it all the way to some restaurant.
Of course, you don’t have to be a complete foodie to love deep fried foods or enjoy using a deep fat fryer. Even if you only enjoy fried foods every once in a while, a deep fryer can amp up your dish exponentially. Think about it… How many times have you made French fries in the oven and were disappointed by how bland and dry they were? That’s exactly what a fryer is for!
If you’re someone who’s on the fence about taking the plunge and buying a deep fryer because you don’t a whole lot about the frying business, you’re in luck. In this guide, we are going to fill you in on everything you’d want to know about how to use a deep fryer, how to choose the right one for you, and so much more!
What Can I Cook In A Deep Fryer?
Before you start looking at deep fryers, you’re probably wondering what you can make in one of them—after all you can only eat so many French fries before you’re tired of them. Well, the truth is, there is no shortage of food items that can be cooked in a deep fryer and come out delicious! Here’s a list of our favorite deep fried foods to give you just a small idea of what you can make!
And these are just some of the more traditional goodies you can make in a deep fryer. Granted, if you want to fry large items, like turkey, you’re going to want an infrared deep fryer, rather than just a large deep fryer, otherwise, a small deep fryer is perfect for most home uses.
Types Of Deep Fryers
Speaking of sizes of fryers, let’s take a look at the 3 different types of deep fryers.
Electric Deep Fryer
The electric deep fryer is going to be the most common type of fryer that you’ll find on the market. These units are safe to use inside and they are generally much safer than a gas deep fryer, however many people feel like they aren’t able to get the same kind of results.
Most of these electric fryers are small and they aren’t going to be able to hold a whole lot of product. If you’re hoping to cook for a large family in one or two batches, you’re going to want to spring for a larger fryer.
Benefits of an electric fryer:
Drawbacks of an electric fryer:
Gas Deep Fryer
A gas deep fryer are popular with many homeowners who loved fried food because they believe these units are able to give them the crispy, flavorful food that they cannot get with an electric fryer.
The tradeoff of the tastier food is that there’s a greater danger risk involved. So, anyone who wants a gas deep fryer should do their research the proper way to use these appliances and make sure you follow those rules closely.
These fryers are only intended to be used outdoors, so if you live somewhere that has cold winters, you’re going to be very limited in how often you’ll be able to use your fryer.
Also, when you are using one of these fryers, you’re going to want to remember the additional cost associated with filling the tank, but also where the tank will be stored when you aren’t using the fryer. These things can be considered a big inconvenience that some chefs simply do not want to deal with.
Benefits of a gas fryer:
Drawbacks of a gas fryer:
Okay, so these aren’t technically deep fryers. Technically speaking, an oil-less fryer is an oxymoron, but you’re probably going to come across several of these on your search for a deep fryer.
These fryers use a technology that is going to heat the food from inside in all directions, which is going to create food that is going to be crispy on the outside and juicy inside. While it still is capable of creating food that is crispy and people feel that it is just as tasty, it will have a different feel than traditional fried foods.
Food cooked in an air fryer is going to be healthier and using them isn’t going to be nearly as dangerous or messy as a traditional unit.
They’re going to be easier to clean, too. Now, for those who don’t care whether their fried foods are fried in a gallon of oil, then the air fryer may be your best bet. Do keep in mind that these can be more expensive than the other options, but they can save in the long run, as you aren’t going to be pouring gallons upon gallons of oil down the drain.
Benefits of an air fryer:
Drawbacks of an air fryer:
What To Consider When Purchasing A Deep Fryer
Now that you know what kind of fryers there are, you’re going to want to think about a few key factors that is going to help you determine which fryer is going to be right for you.
Take a minute and think about what you’re going to fry and how much of it will you need. If you’re just going to be frying appetizers like mozzarella sticks, fries, and onion rings, you can get a small countertop deep fryer.
However, if you’re looking for a fryer for your restaurant, then you’re obviously going to want a commercial deep fryer, as these are going to be able to handle larger amounts of food.
Then again, maybe you’ve got a food truck and you want to try out some new items, a portable deep fryer may be something worth considering. You can also get fry multiple food items at once if you get a portable, two basket deep fryer.
Safety should be a top priority when you’re using a deep fryer. Sure, other appliances are going to have some kind of risk involved if you aren’t being careful, but frying poses more of a risk because of oil splattering and the like.
If you’re using a gas fryer, that risk sky rockets because we all know that oil is highly flammable, so when you combine that with the fact that you’re working with gas… You can understand why safety should be a big concern.
An electric fryer is going to be safer than a gas one, but there are still going to be some risks involved. Oil could bubble over, or, if it gets too hot, it could combust and catch on fire.
There are electric deep fryers that will come with useful safety features like automatic shut offs that will turn off when the oil reaches a dangerous temperature. Or, the fryer will feature a break-away cord that will break away from the fryer if the cord is disturbed, rather than knocking the whole fryer over.
When it comes to safety with a deep fryer, it has less to do with the features of the fryer, but more about how you use the fryer. Always read the instructions that come with the device and follow them to the word.
Choosing a fryer doesn’t have to be expensive. You can find a decently priced stainless steel deep fryer that will be able to handle the amount of food you wish to fry with ease. So not only will it meet your needs, but it’ll also look nice too. Of course, if you need (or want) a larger fryer, you will have to spend more money.
Features Of A Deep Fryer To Look For
When you are looking at a fryer, you’re going to notice that the features they have aren’t going to be the same. Here is a look at some of the most common features on fryers:
Although it isn’t necessary that you have a fryer with a thermostat, it’s a nice convenience feature that will tell you the deep fryer temperature without needing to purchase a separate thermometer.
Oil Change Notification
If you want to cut costs and re-use the oil, you may want to look for a model that will have a notification system in place that will let you know when you should replace the oil. Think of it like the oil light on your car.
Cool Touch Exterior
A deep fryer that is able to stay cool to touch while the unit is on is going to be a great safety feature to look for because it’ll reduce the risk of accidental burns. Also, it’ll make working with the deep fryer a bit easier, too.
Once you’re done using the deep fryer, you’re going to have to drain the oil. To many, this is a big cause for concern because it can get quite messy if you aren’t careful. However, when you find a fryer that has a drainage system, that process is much easier.
Break Away Cord
There are many instances where an appliance will topple over because the cord got snagged on something (or someone). Most fryers today will have a magnetic cord that will break away from the fryer in the off chance that the cord is pulled. This cord can be the difference between a minor setback in cooking or a major burn.
By looking at a deep fryer with multiple baskets, you are going to have double the cooking space. This can be a great feature for those who are entertaining and need to fry different food items at once.
How To Use A Deep Fryer
When you’ve decided what deep fryer is going to best for you, it’s important that you know how to use it.
Fill The Fryer With Oil
Choosing the right oil is going to be something else that you need to take into consideration, but once you know what kind of oil you’re going to use (we recommend vegetable or peanut oil) and pour it into a cool fryer to the max full line. Do not overfill it!
Turn It On And Monitor The Heat Level
You’re going to want to plug your machine into the socket and turn it on. Some devices will have a power switch, while others will come on when you set the temperature settings. You will want to make sure that it reaches the desired heat level. Most instances, it will be between 350 to 375 degrees. Most devices will have a thermostat on it, so you won’t need a secondary thermometer.
Make Sure Your Food Is Not Damp
Oil and water (or any other kind of liquid) are not friends, so when you put food into the fryer, you’re going to want to make sure that the food is nice and dry. If you’re using fresh potatoes, pat them off before dipping them in the oil. If you don’t, your oil is going to spit and splatter, and that’s not going to be fun.
Gently Lower The Food Into The Oil
This is usually the easiest part, as most devices will come with a basket that you can put the food into the oil. However, there are some models that do not have a basket, and it can be dangerous to put food in the oil if you aren’t careful. If you choose one of these models, we recommend that you use a slotted spoon to put the food in the oil and take it out.
Be Patient And Wait
If you’re cooking something that doesn’t require a long time to cook, you’re going to want to stay nearby the machine and watch it. However, if you’re cooking something like chicken that is going to need at least 10 minutes to cook, set a timer (or use the timer on your device if that is a feature of your fryer).
Remove Your Food Carefully From The Oil
When your time has gone off or the food looks done, carefully remove the food from the oil. This means lift the basket out of the hot oil and let it rest in the edge of the fryer. However, if it does not have a basket, use a slotted spoon or a pair of tongs to pluck the food from the oil.
Let The Food Rest
When you take the food out of the oil, let it rest for a few minutes, be it in the basket, a drying rack, or pat it dry with some paper towels. This will remove the excess oil and save you from eating an unnecessary amount of fat.
5 Tips For Perfectly Fried Food
While you may think you know how to fry food, we’ve got some tips that will help you become the frying pro!
Choose Your Oil Wisely
While you may want to reach for your EVOO, you might want to rethink that. It has a low smoke point and a very distinguishable flavor. With these two factors, your favorite olive oil is going to go to waste in the fryer. Instead, try vegetable oil, as it is neutrally flavored, it has a high smoke point, and it’s really affordable.
You could also try peanut oil or grape seed oil, since they have the same qualities as vegetable oil. Also, if you’re reusing oil, make sure you filter it after each use so it doesn’t give your food that nasty, old oil flavor.
Season Your Flour
Whatever you are planning on frying, you’re going to want to dredge your food in flour first (that is, if it isn’t a French fry or something already breaded). Flour is going to make your batter stick better to the food. If you didn’t use flour, your batter would slip off and it would defeat the purpose of frying!
Make A Good Batters
After your food has been coated in flour, you’re going to want to dip it in some kind of batter. You can always search online for a great batter recipe. If you want to make your own, you will want to use fresh ingredients—including fresh flour and baking powder!
Don’t Overload Your Fryer
Overloading your fryer is going to cause the temperature of the oil to drop, which will cause your food not to be cooked properly. You’re going to want to leave enough room in your fryer so that you can flip the food and move it around.
Turn Up The Heat
You can prevent your food from becoming oily by turning up the temperature of the oil. Hot oil means the batter is going to react and create a barrier between your food and the oil. If the temperature is too low, the oil is going to seep into your food and cause it to become a big oily mess that you won’t want to eat.
Fried foods may not be the best for you, but there is something oh-so comforting about sinking your teeth into a fabulously cooked piece of fried chicken or that ooey-gooey goodness of a mozzarella stick.
Gone are the days when you would have to rush out to your local eatery to get the fried goodness that you crave at 9 pm. Now, you can whip out your very own deep fryer and create your favorite late night fried snacks.
In this article, we covered a lot of ground. We talked about the types of food most commonly fried (which you can always experiment with on your own!), the different types of fryers, features to look for in a fryer and how to actually fry food and 5 tips that’ll help you be a fry-master.
We hope that you’ll take this knowledge and put it to good use! Fry up some of your favorite food and munch on its crispy goodness. Just remember to be safe!