Kristen Hicks on June 15, 2016 1 Comment Table of Contents Types of Commercial Fryers Factors to Consider While Shopping Popular Brands for Commercial Fryers People love fried food. That’s not a controversial statement. Just think about how many of the most popular appetizers and sides are fried – French fries, onion rings, fried pickles, fried green tomatoes. But most people feel fried foods are too much of an indulgence to justify buying a fryer for in-home use. That’s why they’re all too eager to order up the fried foods they find on the menu at a restaurant. If you can offer them one of their favorite indulgences that they can’t get at home, you can count on happy customers. Commercial fryers are thus an important investment for most commercial kitchens to make. As long as you get one that’s big enough and heats fast enough, you can supply your customers with all the delicious fried foods they could want and keep them coming back. To a large degree, fried foods are hard to get wrong, but that doesn’t mean you can just buy the first commercial fryer you happen upon and hope for the best. You need to find one that’s right for your establishment and your particular needs. This buyer’s guide will help you gain a thorough understanding of what to look for in your search. Types of Commercial Fryers Commercial fryers come in three main types. Which type works best for your restaurant will depend primarily on the types of food you’ll be frying. Open Pot Fryer Click Here to View All Commercial Fryers Open pot fryers are popular for being affordable and easier to clean than the other main types. They have a heating element on the bottom that keeps the oil hot, as well as a small, but easily accessible sediment zone for crumbs to collect in that makes them easy to clean. Because that sediment zone is small, they usually work best for food types that are lightly breaded and therefore don’t produce all that much sediment. That includes most of your popular fried appetizers like French fries and mozzarella sticks. Their price point and versatility combined make them one of the most suitable options for most commercial kitchens. Benefits: Affordable Easy to clean Good for many of the most common fried foods To Keep in Mind: Sometimes have slow heat recovery Best for foods that produce minimal sediment Tube Fryer Tube fryers cost a bit more than open pot fryers and can be a pain to clean, but they’re your best choice for any heavy duty frying needs. If your menu goes beyond the simpler fried appetizers and includes items like fried chicken or catfish, then you’ll likely be best served by making the investment in a tube fryer. Tube fryers have tubes along the bottom of them that emit heat to warm the oil. They have a large sediment area under the tubes that can catch a lot of sediment before needing to be cleaned, but once you do get to the point of needing to clean it you have to get around and under the tubes to get everything, which is predictably difficult. A tube fryer is still your best bet though if you’re going to be making heavily battered items. Benefits: Your most heavy duty choice – good for a wide range of food types Large sediment areas mean you can do a lot of frying before you need to get in there and clean them out To Keep in Mind: Can be costly Hard to clean Flat Bottom Fryer Flat bottom fryers are the least versatile of your commercial frying options, but they’re perfect for a narrow set of needs. Delicate items like tortilla chips and tempura and battered doughs like funnel cakes and donuts fare best in flat bottom fryers. There’s nowhere in particular for the sediment to collect, so you want to stick with foods that don’t produce too much so it’s easy to stay on top of cleaning it. You do need to clean flat bottom fryers pretty frequently, or you risk the sediment affecting the flavor of the food you prepare in them. And cleaning them can be a pain, since the sediment doesn’t drift down to one particular spot like it does in open pot fryers. If you’ll be sticking with certain types of delicate, specialty fried items though, flat bottom fryers are your best choice. Benefits: Good for specialty items like funnel cakes and tortilla chips To Keep in Mind: Not good for fried foods that produce much sediment Hard to clean Factors to Consider When Buying a Commercial Fryer Not all businesses have the same priorities when looking for a commercial fryer. Your budget and preferences may look entirely different than those of a colleague starting their search at the same time. You have to figure out what’s right for you and your kitchen. Here are the main categories to keep in mind to help you find the best fryer for you. Cost Most commercial deep fryers fall somewhere in the price range of $500-$5,000. That’s a pretty big range – as you’d imagine, there are a lot of differences between the fryers that fall at the low end and those at the high end. Size is one of the biggest factors that makes a difference in price. A large commercial fryer with an especially large capacity will cost more than a smaller one that just makes a couple of batches of fries at a time. If you have enough items on your menu that you need a large-capacity fryer to churn them out at the rates your customers order them, then you’ll regret trying to settle for a smaller fryer for the sake of cost. Open pot fryers typically cost less than tube fryers, but the latter can handle hardier frying jobs that the former won’t do as well with. Flat bottom fryers can also get costly, but if you’ll be making the specialty items they work best for, then they’re likely worth the investment. In addition to considering the cost of the fryer itself, you should think about the long-term costs involved with commercial frying. You’ll be spending money to fuel the appliance. Gas usually costs less than electricity over time, but you can seek out electric fryers that perform better on energy efficiency. The other big expense that comes with commercial frying is the oil. Fryer oil is expensive, and if you go with a high-capacity machine you can count on using a lot of it. Size As with any commercial kitchen appliance, you have two main considerations when it comes to size: how the fryer will fit in your kitchen, and how much food will fit in the fryer. You can’t make your kitchen bigger than it already is, so make sure you know exactly how much available space you have so you can be careful to choose a fryer that you can actually get into the kitchen. Kitchens are full of items that can potentially become hazardous, and boiling oil goes high up on that list. You can’t just think about where the fryer will fit physically, you also need to make sure it’s in a spot where employees can reasonably work with and around it without any serious safety hazard. And of course, you need a fryer big enough to meet your frying needs. If you send out a side of French fries or onion rings with every order, then you know you need a fryer (or a few) that can produce tasty appetizers in the quantities you need, without slowing the kitchen down. Fuel Type Commercial fryers all use either gas or electricity in order to function and keep the oil heated. For many customers, the choice for which fuel option to go with will largely be based on the kind of hookups you have in the kitchen now. If you’re replacing a commercial fryer and decide to switch from one fuel type to another, you’ll be facing much higher costs to change your kitchen setup accordingly. If you’re buying a new commercial fryer and therefore in a position to make the decision for the first time, gas fryers usually cost less to run over time (although this varies based on the cost of natural gas in your area), but can set you back a little more upfront. Gas fryers also usually heat up more quickly and can get to higher temperatures than their electric counterparts. Most large capacity fryers will only come in gas, electric tends to work best with smaller capacities. Uses As the types section makes clear, one of the most important factors you must be aware of before you begin your search is what you’ll be using your fryer to make. If your menu includes fried meats or anything heavily battered – or if those are items you’re considering adding to the menu – then you need to go with a tube fryer. If you’re buying the fryer specifically for simpler sides like fried vegetables and cheese, then you can get by spending a little less on an open pot fryer. And the flat bottom fryer is an obvious choice if you’ll be making any types of fried dough, tempura, or tortilla chips. If you’ll be making a variety of types of fried foods, you may want to consider getting multiple fryers. Tube fryers can be used for most of the dishes you’d use an open pot fryer for, but the items flat bottom fryers are commonly used for really will work best if you stick to a fryer of that type. Recovery Time When you drop anything into a commercial fryer, especially something frozen, it’s going to cool your boiling oil down. How quickly the oil can get back up to boiling in order to fry your foods is an important factor in how quickly you’ll be able to get those orders out to people. Fryers that have a good recovery time also save on energy costs, since they don’t require as much energy to re-heat back up every time you use them. Electric fryers usually fare better than gas when it comes to recovery time, although they take longer to heat up when you first turn them on. Ease of Use Efficiency in a commercial kitchen is crucial and any appliance that’s difficult to use can slow everything down and turn a smoothly run kitchen into a chaotic one. Before you purchase a deep fryer, carefully consider how it will fit into the kitchen as its run now. Is there anything about it that your employees will struggle with? Does it have any features or a design that will make it easier to use quickly and safely? Your commercial fryer can’t just be functional, it has to be usable. Ease of Cleaning Cleaning a deep fryer is not fun, no matter the type you get. But some are easier to clean than others. Tube fryers are some of the worst contenders in being a pain to clean, although flat bottom fryers don’t fare much better. One of the big appeals of open pot fryers is that they’re easier to clean than other types. The type of drain you have for the oil and where it’s located on the fryer will also play a role in what the cleaning process looks like. Keeping your fryer reasonably clean is important to ensure it lasts longer and the flavors of the foods you fry don’t suffer. You don’t need to drain the oil every day – that would be wasteful as well as tedious – but you do need to do so every couple of months or so in order to give your machine a proper scrubbing. Safety Boiling oil can do some real damage if it’s not treated with the proper care and safety concerns. Safety should influence where you consider placing your commercial fryer in the kitchen and the kind of process and training your staff has for using it. A commercial kitchen necessarily moves quickly, but no one should be rushed when working with something as delicate as boiling oil. Staff should use gloves at all times when working with the fryer to avoid skin burns, and your commercial fryer must be located close enough to a vent hood to keep carbon monoxide from building up. No-slip pads should be used to decrease the risk of falls, which are a problem at any time, but immediately made more serious if a staff member falls in the direction of the fryer (or any hot surface in the kitchen). And you should be careful never to overfill the fryer, so splashes and splatters don’t occur. Every employee that works with or around the commercial fryer needs to be carefully trained and urged not to take the risks lightly. Commercial fryers are generally pretty easy to use safely, but if someone does get burned or encounter carbon monoxide poisoning, the consequences are serious. With the proper training and caution, the worst can be easily avoided. Extras: Baskets Many commercial fryers come with baskets, but you may find it useful to buy extras for different types of foods or to have backup. Fryer oil You have a wide range of fryer oils to choose from that come at different costs and offer different benefits and flavor. Keep in mind that this will be an ongoing expense and one that can add up if you choose one of the higher priced oils – but those can sometimes provide better flavors or health benefits for your customers. Continuous filtration system A commercial fryer with a continuous filtration system can both ease the cleaning process for your staff and help your oil last longer by filtering out sediment automatically as you go. Popular Commercial Fryer Brands One of the final factors you should take into account in your search for the best commercial fryer for your kitchen is brand reputation. To give you an idea of what to expect from some of the main brands selling commercial fryers, we looked at what people had to say about each online. Click Here to View All Commercial Fryers American Range American Range makes commercial fryers in a variety of sizes, styles, and prices. While there weren’t too many reviews of their commercial fryers from customers, those we found were positive, saying their fryers work well for the price and have a great recovery time. Avantco Avantco sells a range of commercial fryers that earn mixed reviews from customers. More reviews than not are positive, with customers saying their fryers heat up fast, are easy to clean, and work great for the price. But there are also a number of customers that aren’t pleased for a variety of reasons that range from the fryer not getting hot enough to the gas valves breaking to service being slow. Based on the reviews, there’s a good chance you’ll be happy with an Avantco fryer, but an at least decent chance you’ll have problems. Star Manufacturing Star Manufacturing produces commercial fryers that have earned a great reputation with customers. Almost all the reviews we found were glowing, with descriptions of the fryers as powerful, easy to use, and easy to clean. Several reviewers mentioned being repeat customers who were pleased enough with the performance and durability of their last Star fryer to come back to the brand for more when it wore out. Star Manufacturing has a reputation for providing the kind of products that earn long-term customer loyalty. Supera Supera’s commercial fryers earn solid, but basic reviews. People say they’re satisfied with the fryers and they work well – usually without much elaboration beyond that. There were a couple of complaints mixed in with the generally positive reviews for minor issues like a pilot light problem or a fryer that was wobbly once put together, but the general response is satisfaction. Vulcan Vulcan makes commercial fryers that get praise from customers for being solidly made, working well, and providing the durability needed for heavy use. While the number of reviews we found was on the small side, every one was positive and we didn’t come across any complaints. Conclusion There’s no question that your patrons will be happy to have the option of fried food. The only question is what you and your staff will need to do to get it to them. The right commercial fryer can ensure you make all the orders you need as quickly as possible, without sacrificing safety or quality.