Kristen Hicks on March 21, 2016 0 Comments Table of Contents What You Can Cook in a Deep Fryer Types of Deep Fryers Factors to Consider While Shopping Popular Brands of Deep Fryers Just about everybody loves fried food. You could do an informal survey amongst your friends and acquaintances, but you already know the results. Some might say “ooh, I know I shouldn’t”, but once people start picturing fried meats, fried vegetables, fried breads – even fried ice cream – the jig is up. Many of the tastiest foods you’ll find on a restaurant menu fall into the familiar fried food category. For many home chefs though, those beloved apps and entrees seem out of reach. Frying foods can be tricky and messy. You have to get the temperature of the oil just right for your food to be tasty rather than greasy or burnt. Dealing with extremely hot oil in a typical pan or pot is not fun, as the sizzling oil tends to splatter onto you (ow!) and onto your cooktop, leaving you with extra mess to deal with. If you love those fried foods and want to start making them more often at home without the extra trouble, it may be time to look into buying a deep fryer. Deep fryers aren’t a necessity in most home kitchens, but they’re a great perk for people who either enjoy fried foods enough to make them frequently, host parties often and want to add some new snacks to the mix, or want to indulge in a fried turkey for the holidays. What You Can Make in a Deep Fryer Before you can decide if purchasing a deep fryer is really the right decision for you, you should consider how likely you are to regularly use it. Answering that question means considering what you can make with it. The possibilities are nearly endless. Once you have a deep fryer, if you can think of something that may taste good deep-fried, you can go ahead and deep fry it. Here are some of the most common fried foods you and your friends are likely to enjoy. Fried Vegetables: Fried okra French fries Sweet potato fries Fried pickles Fried mushrooms Fried zucchini Fried green beans Onion rings Fried green tomatoes Fried Meats: Deep-fried catfish Deep-fried turkey Deep-fried chicken Deep-fried shrimp Deep-fried crab Fried Breads: Donuts Beignets Funnel Cakes Hush puppies Sopapillas French Toast Churros Fried Cheeses Mozzarella sticks Fried cheese curds Deep fried mac and cheese Cream cheese wontons Getting hungry yet? Those are just your more conventional options. Many people with deep fryers have fun getting creative and make more ambitious or unfamiliar dishes like fried lasagna, fried oreos, fried ice cream and more. 3 Types of Deep Fryers There are three main types of fryers you’ll come across when you start searching for one to buy. 1. Electric Deep Fryer Electric deep fryers are the most common option you’ll come across. They’re safe to use indoors and just safer in general than propane deep fryers, but many home chefs don’t feel they produce the same level of results. Many of them are on the smaller size, so if you’re looking to fry something like a whole turkey, you’ll have to splurge for one of the larger, more expensive models in the $100-$200 range, and still probably stick with a smaller turkey than you could fit into a propane fryer. But if you’re mostly going to stick with smaller foods like vegetables and shrimp, you can probably manage with one of the more affordable electric fryers that fall into the $30-$50 range. Click Here to View All Deep Fryers Benefits: Safer than propane. Can use indoors. Can find affordable electric deep fryers that work for smaller fried foods. To Keep in Mind: Some foodies don’t think the results are as good. Larger models can get expensive. The smell will linger inside. 2. Propane Deep Fryer Propane deep fryers are popular with many home chefs who consider the results crispier and tastier than those achieved with electric deep fryers. The tradeoff is that propane deep fryers come with greater risks, so anyone who chooses to purchase one should be careful to research the best practices and make sure you follow them. Propane deep fryers can only be used outdoors, so if you live somewhere with especially cold winters, choosing to go with propane will likely put a limit on how often you ‘re willing to use it. Finally, opting for a propane model will mean you have to deal with the propane tank – storing it, refilling it, and moving it when needed – which can be a big annoyance to some people. Benefits: Better fried foods. Oil heats up faster than in electric deep fryers. To Keep in Mind: Can be dangerous if you don’t take proper precautions. Must be used outdoors. Must deal with storing and refilling propane tank. 3. Air Fryer To start, we must be clear that an air fryer is not actually a deep fryer. Semantically speaking oil-less fryers are a bit of an oxymoron. But as you’re likely to come across this category of products in your search, you should have an idea of what they are. Air fryers use a technology that heats the food within it from all sides, producing food that’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. While it produces food that many find tasty, the results are distinctly different from fried foods. To their credit, they’re healthier and the air fryer is safer and easier to clean, so for many consumers who want their French fries and fried chicken wings, but aren’t too concerned with whether they’re “fried” in the traditional sense, the air fryer can be a reasonable choice. They do tend to cost more than traditional deep fryers, but you won’t end up with all that leftover oil that often goes to waste, which can lead to savings over time with some users. Benefits: Healthier than deep frying. Easier to clean. No leftover grease. To Keep in Mind: Foods not actually fried. Technology works better for some types of foods than others. Expensive. Factors to Consider When Buying a Deep Fryer There are a good number of deep fryers on the market for you to choose from. You’ll have an easier time identifying the best deep fryer for you if you first consider a few key factors that define what you want to get out of it. Capacity Think about what kind of quantities you’ll want your deep fryer to manage. If you’re planning to use it primarily for party snacks like wings or fried cheese, will you just need enough to feed your immediate family, or will you want quantities that will please your guests at larger parties? In the latter case, a small deep fryer will mean you spend much longer cooking up the quantities you want. If you aim to deep fry larger items like whole chickens or turkeys, you’ll need a deep fryer that can handle birds of the size you’re likely to purchase. A batch of fries will be easy to fit into a small countertop deep fryer, a 15-pound turkey, not so much. You’ll also find deep fryers that come with multiple baskets so you can fry different foods at once. That way if you want chicken wings and fried zucchini at your party, you can get both done without any extra time. Safety Safety needs to be a top concern for anyone buying a deep fryer. While all of your other cooking appliances can cause some risk of fire if you’re not careful, frying is especially sensitive and prone to fires. While that’s true across the board for deep-frying, frying a whole turkey in a propane deep fryer comes with a whole new level of risk. There’s a reason that Thanksgiving is the day when most cooking fires occur. Videos of fires caused by deep fryers proliferate on YouTube if you need any more evidence. An electric deep fryer is safer, but still poses some risks. Oil can boil over or get hot enough to combust if you’re not careful. You can find electric deep fryers that come with helpful safety features, like an automatic shutoff feature that kicks in whenever the oil reaches an unsafe temperature, or a break-off cord that will detach from the fryer if the cord is disturbed, rather than tip the whole thing over. A lot of deep fryer safety has less to do with features than use. Read the instructions that come with your deep fryer and follow them to a tee. Don’t overfill the oil — it’s easy to underestimate how much space your food will take up, but spilled oil is one of the most dangerous components of deep-frying. Keep a close eye on the temperature at all times, so you don’t risk an explosion. Don’t ever lower your food into a deep fryer over an open flame. Spilled oil plus an open flame is a bad equation. And in addition to all that, keep a fire extinguisher handy just to be careful, especially if you’re using a propane deep fryer. Cost You may want to have a set budget going into your search so you know which options to consider. The most affordable choices would be smaller electric deep fryers, but they only make sense if they suit your needs. Bigger electric models, propane deep fryers, and air fryers will pretty much all cost somewhere in the range of $100-$200, and you’ll likely find you want to purchase a few accessories in order to do everything you want with it. Types of Use As has likely become clear by this point in the guide, what you plan to use your deep fryer for will play a significant role in which one you should go with. Making dishes like French fries and fried pickles amounts to a very different frying task than frying a holiday turkey. In the latter case, you’ll likely want to go with a propane deep fryer that has a large capacity. In the former, a smaller electric deep fryer may very well suffice. Browse some of the recipe options available for deep fryers so you have a pretty clear picture of what you’ll want to do with yours. Better to know now than realize once you’ve already purchased one that it won’t work for everything you want to try. Ease of Use and Cleaning Be warned: cleaning a deep fryer is not much fun. Some models have parts that are dishwasher safe and/or detachable to make the process easier. You should also consider how easy your deep fryer will be to drain. Draining oil is often messy and tedious, but some deep fryers come with features that simplify the draining process, like a detachable compartment that makes it easy to dispose of your oil. Time to Heat Up Electric deep fryers usually take longer to heat the oil than propane fryers, and then longer to heat back up to the boil point again once the food is added. In many cases, the extra time is a small concern, but for some consumers the added convenience of faster frying time could be a significant value add. Deep Fryer Features to Consider: Built-in Thermostat — While not necessary (you can always buy a separate thermometer), a built-in one can add some extra convenience. Oil Change Notification — If you plan to re-use your oil to avoid waste, then a model that includes a handy notification that lets you know when it’s time to replace it can be useful. Cool Touch Exterior — A deep fryer that stays cool to the touch while in use can help you avoid accidental burns and make working with the deep fryer a bit easier. Easy Drainage System — Draining the oil after use is one of the biggest annoyances of deep-frying. Many deep fryers come with drainage systems that make the process easier. Automatic Shutoff — If your oil gets too hot, it could combust. Some models include a safety feature that will shut the heat off if your oil starts reaching dangerous temperatures. Break-Off Cord — How many times have you seen an appliance fall of the counter because someone trips on a cord? If the appliance is filled with hot oil, the consequences can be severe. A breakoff cord makes sure that never happens. Multiple Baskets — A deep fryer with multiple baskets enables you to make multiple fried foods at once. When you’re hosting a party or just want some variety, it can be a nice perk. Deep Fryer Accessories You May Need: Depending on the model you go with, you may find you need a few additional items in order to use your deep fryer for your desired needs. Deep Fryer Baskets — What goes in must come out. When you’re working with a deep fryer, you need a basket or slotted pot with a handle to accomplish the task of pulling your food back out of the hot oil. Most deep fryers will come with baskets, but you may find you need different sizes or types for the different foods you aim to make. Cooking Oil Pump — If your deep fryer doesn’t have an easy drainage system, then a cooking oil pump can be used to help with the process of getting the oil out of the fryer and into the proper storage container. Thermometer — You have to stay on top of the temperature of your oil, both to ensure your foods come out as they should and to maintain safety. If you buy a model without a built-in thermometer, purchasing a separate thermometer is an absolute necessity. Propane Burner — Some gas models don’t come with the heat source included, so you’ll need to purchase a burner to provide it. Most Popular Deep Fryer Brands One of the last factors to consider in your search is the reputation of the brand you choose. There are a few key brands in the deep fryer market. To give you an idea of what consumers think of each, we’ve looked over the reviews available online to provide a summary. Bayou Classic Bayou Classic is one of the most popular brands for propane deep fryers. They have a great reputation amongst reviewers for providing quality products that produce delicious results. Their fryers maintain a consistent temperature and as such produce food that’s not greasy. The vast majority of reviewers gave them five stars along with superlative praises. If you’re going with an outdoor deep fryer, they’re one of the strongest brands to consider. Cuisinart Cuisinart makes a small, mid-priced electric deep fryer that gets mostly positive reviews from customers. It’s compact, good for making side dishes and smaller fried foods, and works reasonably well. The most common complaint we saw in some reviews was counted as a benefit in others – it is a small deep fryer, so make sure the size meets your expectations before purchasing. We did come across several durability complaints from customers who didn’t get much use out of their fryer before it stopped working, so some units seem to be of questionable quality on that count. Delonghi Delonghi sells a couple of electric deep fryer models that are right around the $100 range. Their fryers receive a high number of positive reviews, but also their share of dissenters. Many customers find the performance great for the price and appreciate features that add convenience like the easy draining system. Others complain about durability issues and the oil not getting hot enough for their needs. King Kooker King Kooker sells a range of propane deep fryers and associated accessories. If frying turkeys or chickens is a top priority for you, their frying products are made with this use top of mind. Reviewers praise their deep fryers for being great for the price, easy to assemble, and producing great food. Presto Presto makes a few models of electric deep fryers that get solid reviews from customers. Customers praise how well their fryers work for the price and say they like the special features the different models come with. A few reviewers felt that the oil didn’t get hot enough for the results they wanted, but the complaints in our research were few and far between. T-Fal T-Fal sells electric deep fryers in a number of types and sizes. Reviewers are largely happy with their T-Fal deep fryers, finding them easy to use and easy to clean. The food comes out tasty and customers like the features that their models come with. A few complain that they’re not crazy about the smell that lingers after frying foods, but that’s pretty par for the course with indoor frying. Conclusion Delicious fried snacks and the perfect fried turkey could all be in your future. Why leave the fried food to restaurants when you can bring it into your parties and make snacks that are a hit with your guests every time. Whatever model of deep fryer you go with, make a point of being careful and putting safety first. As long as you follow instructions and best safety practices, you can enjoy the tasty results of deep-frying with minimal risks.