A silicone mat is a very useful kitchen tool with dozens of possible applications. A silicone mat can withstand extremely high temperatures, which makes it ideal as a potholder or trivet for hot cookware. A silicone mat also resists liquids very well, which makes it suitable as a protective barrier between a work surface and a deep fryer or boiling pot of water. Many cooks also enjoy the non-slip feature of a silicone mat, which makes it a good stabilizer under cutting boards or sheet pans.
But do you need a silicone mat when using a deep fryer? It's not a bad idea to invest in one, but it may not be strictly necessary. Some deep fryers already feature silicone rubber knobs to reduce the chances of accidental slipping. These knobs on the feet of the fryer do not protect the work surface from excessive oil or spatters, however. A silicone mat placed under a freestanding deep fryer provides greater stability, along with a heat-resistant barrier that will not absorb grease or oil.
A silicone mat used as a protective base for deep frying should be larger than the fryer itself. A large deep fryer placed over a small silicone mat would not receive much benefit. Ideally, the proper silicone mat would extend at least several inches or centimeters in all directions from the fryer. Any hot oil spilled over the side would land on the silicone mat itself, not the more vulnerable surface beneath it. The legs of the fryer should also be supported evenly.
One of the main concerns when using a freestanding deep fryer is clean-up. Hot oil or grease from a working deep fryer seems to reach all the inaccessible nooks and crannies of a stovetop or kitchen counter. By using a silicone mat, clean-up after a long frying session should be much easier. The hot oil will not damage the mat, and the silicone mat can be washed in a standard dishwasher or scrubbed by hand with hot, soapy water. Using other absorbent materials, such as paper towels or newspaper, may also work, but this could also present a fire hazard or leave a significant amount of grease on the work surface.