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What is a Bird's Nest Fryer?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A bird's nest fryer is a kitchen utensil designed for use in deep fryers. When used properly, a bird's nest fryer shapes and holds food while it fries, allowing the cook to make basket shaped deep fried foods which do indeed resemble the nests of birds. Typically, the bird's nest is used like a bowl to hold a main course dish. While the concept most commonly appears in Asian food, it can be utilized to great dramatic effect with other foods as well.

The construction of this type of fryer involves two baskets which clamp together. One basket is slightly smaller than the other, and will nestle inside the other during the frying process. The food which is being shaped is placed between the baskets, and the entire assembly is lowered into the deep fryer. In most cases, a bird's nest fryer has a long handle, so that the cook is not exposed to splash back and heat from the deep fryer.

Typically, a bird's nest fryer is made from some type of metal, so that it can withstand the heat of the deep fryer. The baskets are made with as few supports as possible, so that a maximum food area will be exposed to the heat. Some companies make bird's nest fryers with cool grip handles made from materials like silicone, as the metal handle can conduct heat from the deep fryer. After use, the fryer should be allowed to cool completely before washing, either by hand with hot water and soap or in a dishwasher. Thorough washing is important, to prevent greasy buildup.

Some foods are better suited to preparation in a bird's nest fryer than other. Classic choices are cooked rice or wheat noodles and shredded vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, or leeks. A fried vegetable basket is often used to hold mixed vegetables or meats, while a noodle bird nest can be used for the same purpose. This type of fryer is usually not suitable for batters, since they will drip through the baskets before they form, although stiff doughs could be prepared in a bird's nest fryer.

A bird's nest can make a fun presentation for foods like stir fries. The bird's nest is usually prepared at the last minute, so that it does not get cold and oily while it sits. Using a garnish such as finely chopped chives, green onions, or carrots will add flair to the presentation.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By wavy58 — On Aug 01, 2012

@Oceana – Most food that has been pressed with a bird's nest fryer is so crispy that you don't notice all the grease. To me, if something is soggy and greasy at the same time, it is sickening, but since the nests are so crunchy, they don't repulse me.

I have been using a bird's nest fryer ever since my friend cooked Asian food for me a year ago. This was just the neatest little kitchen tool ever, and I knew that I wanted one.

It is really important to use hot water when you wash it. I once tried using lukewarm water, and the grease just sat there and wouldn't budge.

It's good to turn on the hot water full force, or use a spray nozzle if you have one. The more force you have behind it, the more quickly and thoroughly it will cut through the grease.

By shell4life — On Jul 31, 2012

Using a bird's nest fryer is a great way to make hash browns. I have so much trouble trying to get my shredded potatoes to stick together and not burn while frying them in a skillet, but the bird's nest fryer does everything for me.

I don't actually use the nest shape for presentation, though. The tool is simply a way for me to make hash browns without ruining them.

I just serve them on the side when I make sausage and eggs. My husband likes his eggs sunny-side-up, and he will sometimes plop a cooked one inside the nest just for kicks.

By DylanB — On Jul 30, 2012

I have a friend who uses a bird's nest fryer when serving certain kinds of vegetables in order to make them more appealing to her kids. She had been having a lot of trouble coaxing them to eat their veggies, but the bird's nest fryer has helped so much with that.

She grates carrots and zucchini so that they look like strands that belong in a nest. She presses these into shape with the fryer, and this results in a pretty nest of brownish-orange and brownish-green twigs.

It's not the healthiest way for the kids to get their veggies, but it seems to be the only way. I guess fried veggies are better than none at all.

By Oceana — On Jul 30, 2012

I have never seen nest-shaped food before, but it does sound like a nifty idea. Noodles would probably hold up really well for this, and since they resemble twigs, they could give a realistic effect.

While I think it would be a really cool way to present food, I don't know if I could actually eat the nest. Generally, things that are fried in hot oil nauseate me.

I would be more likely to eat fried noodles or vegetables than fried meat, though. If they were neatly compressed with a bird's nest fryer, then this would definitely make them more appetizing.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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