There is nothing like the satisfying crunch of deep fried food, be it French fries, chicken wings, or a deep fried dessert like beaver tails, a Canadian specialty. That deep fried taste is so beloved, that many people are buying deep fryers for their own home.
In this article, I’ll discuss how deep frying works and some of the features you should look for when shopping for a deep fryer, and look at some of the best units available on the market. Click the links in the table below to see the latest prices and reviews on Amazon for the deep fryers I recommend.
How Deep Frying Works
Deep frying is a fairly straightforward process—heat the oil, immerse the food in the hot oil, and take the food out. The hot oil seals the food from the outside, and then heats up the moisture within the food so that it essentially steams itself from the inside.
It sounds simple, but there are some tips for deep frying success.
- The type of oil is important—deep fryers require ones with a higher smoke point, like peanut or canola oil, so that they can get hot enough without burning to cook the food. The food should get lightly fried on the outside, but not saturated through with oil. You can reuse your cooking oil and some fryers will store the oil when not in use, but you might also be interested in a good dedicated oil storage system.
- The temperature of the oil is also an essential factor. Too hot and it will quickly burn your food on the outside but leave it uncooked inside; too cold and it won’t fry and crisp adequately, leaving to food soggy. If you really want to get serious, you’d do well to get a thermometer so you can check the temperature of the oil. A good candy thermometer will work.
- The type of batter also plays a role in the success of your effort. Some foods require a thicker batter, while with more delicate foods, you’ll want to have a lighter batter that won’t overwhelm the food it’s coating.
The beauty of having your own fryer is that you can do all this experimentation on your own, to become a deep frying expert! (Here are some more deep frying tips to help you out.)
Advantages of Deep Fryers
Deep frying on the stove is a bit of a pain. I worry about the hot oil out on the stovetop with little kids running around my kitchen, and the mess it leaves is enough to make me not want to bother.
A good deep fryer will help eliminate some of these issues, with more safety features and the ability to contain the mess better.
The ease of deep fryer also gives you the opportunity to get inventive and make things you’d never be able to order out somewhere. Many deep fried food enthusiasts note that pretty much any food will taste even better when deep fried, and I tend to agree! Just look at this list from BuzzFeed. Deep fried cookie dough, anyone?
Need more inspiration?
Once you have a deep fryer, you’ll find tons of exciting recipes on the Internet or in a good deep fryer cookbook
Deep Fryer Features
Here are some of the things you should consider when shopping for a deep fryer.
1. Ease of Cleaning
To me, this a fundamental issue with deep fryers. You’re working with oil, and oil is notoriously difficult to clean up. So it’s helpful when your machine makes it as easy as possible to clean, and helps you avoid a bigger mess in the kitchen.
Some features that help with this are an oil drainage system, removable parts, and a tight-fitting lid to keep the oil splatters in the fryer.
2. Safety Features
Cooking with hot oil can be dangerous. But many deep fryers offer safety solutions so you can deep fry with less worry. Temperature controls and automatic turn-off, a lid that locks, and a peer-through lid to let you monitor the food without opening the unit are good safety features. Drop-in baskets reduce the chance of hot oil splatters.
Deep fryers come with a variety of control types, from simple on-off switches, to greater temperature adjustments and timers. Consider how much control you want to have over your fryer when looking at different options.
Deep fryers take up some space. If you have the luxury of storage or counter space in your kitchen, this might not be a big issue. But for many people, you may need to find a fryer that’s more streamlined so that it can find a permanent home in your kitchen without being a nuisance.
Deep Fryer Reviews
Let’s take a look at some of the best fryers out there. I’ll cover a variety of different fryers that get top marks from users.
1. Hamilton Beach Electric Deep Fryer, 3-liter
This is one of the larger home fryer options, without getting into more commercial style fryers. With a stainless steel exterior and an enamel-coated steel frying pot, it’s attractive and easy to clean. I like that it has three baskets—two small ones so you can fry two different things at once, and one larger one for frying bigger items like a whole chicken.
It also features a viewing window and two controls—a timer and a temperature control with a ready light for when the oil reaches the desired temperature. The unit turns off automatically when the cooking time is up.
Reviewers praise the build quality of this fryer. The parts also disassemble easily to help with the clean up process. Many users have a lot of success with this fryer.
The biggest complaint with this unit is that the heating element has a hard time maintaining the temperature of the oil, particularly when the unit is filled to capacity. If you can’t fill it to capacity, it negates the value of having a large fryer.
2. Butterball XL Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer
This appliance is billed specifically as a turkey fryer, but it’s capable of frying other foods as well. Fried turkey for Thanksgiving is pretty much the most American thing I can think of!
Deep fried turkeys are popular in the US South, and have become more popular elsewhere in recent years. Many people would fry the turkey on a rigged up pot of oil over a propane grill, which can be a dangerous job. This fryer aims to take away this safety hazard while still enabling people to enjoy their fried turkeys.
This unit will fry up to a 14 lb turkey. There is also an XL model that will go up to a 20 lb. turkey. Interestingly, it also indicates that you can use this to steam or boil foods with water.
This unit features a frying basket, an enamelled steel inner bowl, and a convenient drain spout for draining off the oil. A light to indicates when the oil has reached the set temperature, and an automatic shutoff kicks in if the oil gets too hot. At 1,650 watts, it gets oil up to temperature in 30 minutes.
The most common complaint is that this fryer has a hard time bringing the oil back up to temperature after immersing the food. Other users note that the directions recommend pre-heating the food in your oven so that the oil doesn’t lose as much heat when the food is introduced.
Another common complaint is the short 14” electrical cord and the fact that this large, tall unit might not fit on kitchen counters, especially when you open the unit to put the food in. This is a good reminder to pay attention to the measurements before buying! Another note is that this unit does not have a viewer window.
3. T-Fal Family Pro 3-Liter Deep Fryer
T-fal is well-known for its fryer appliances. This is one of their top-rated models. It has a brushed stainless steel exterior, a viewable window on the lid, and cool-touch handles. The bowl is non-stick coated, and the bowl, lid, and basket are all dishwasher safe.
I like this design wherein the heating control box slides off the side, which is a nice feature for cleaning and storing the unit. The controls include a timer and a temperature control dial. A light indicates when the oil has reached the desired temperature.
Some users have found some design flaws in how the lid opens and the basket sits on the side when lifted, which causes oil to run down the side of the unit.
It also seems to suffer from a common deep fryer issue—oil not reaching the desired temperature, especially after food is put into it. This seems to be an issue with the calibration of the thermostat, and in this unit, you cannot adjust that. People’s experience with this fryer really seems to hinge on that calibration—those who have a well-calibrated machine enjoy it, those who don’t find it to be useless.
4. Presto GranPappy Electric Deep Fryer
This is a simple little unit made to look like an old-school pot for deep frying. I like this throwback design. The smaller size makes it easier to store, as well.
It is smaller and lacks some of the features on the other units I’ve reviewed—no lid while frying, no temperature controller, no basket for lowering the food, although it does come with a spoon for putting food in and removing it.
Many users appreciate the very simple nature of this deep fryer. It is less complex and easier to clean—just one non-stick cast aluminum bucket rather than multiple parts that need to get taken apart. It also has a clip on lid, so that the oil you may want to reuse can be stored in the unit when not in use.
Again, it seems that temperature control is a common issue—many people find that this unit runs hot, and the oil simply becomes much too hot to cook anything properly. If the thermostat is poorly calibrated, this will be even more of an issue with this fryer as it does not have any temperature adjustment. I also worry about the lack of a lid that can close during frying, particularly if you have young children.
Dive Deep into Deep Frying
Ready for some deep frying adventures at home? Which fryer should you go for?
If you’re cooking for a modest crowd, I think the Hamilton Beach deep fryer is an excellent choice. It’s nice to have the flexibility of different basket sizes, and I think the issues with oil coming back up to temperature after putting the food in can be avoided by a little extra prep to pre-heat the food.
If you’re looking to deep fry larger items, like a whole turkey, go for the Butterball! That it can also steam and boil food makes it a bit more versatile than most dedicated deep fryers.
If you are cooking for yourself or just you and another, the simplicity of the Presto GranPappy may be a good option. The quirky design is fun and easy to clean—always a plus. It’s also a comparatively inexpensive model.
Have you invested in a deep fryer? Let us know your favourite things to deep fry in the comments below!