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What Should I Consider When Buying a Deep Fryer?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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Most cooks have improvised a deep fryer from a deep sauce pan and a generous supply of cooking oil, but the results are notoriously variable. The oil temperature is difficult to control, the food items may not fit properly and all of that used oil must go somewhere else for storage. A deep fryer designed for home use is often a better alternative. When choosing one, consider where you will store it, how well you can control the temperature, how much food it can fry at one time, and any other specialty features you want.

One thing to consider before buying a fryer is portability and storage. This appliance is similar to a toaster oven or a microwave oven in this regard &mdash they all must have enough counter space and clearance to work properly. When selecting a deep fryer at the store, consider the amount of clear kitchen space you have available near an electrical outlet. You don't want to use extension cords with the appliance and you don't want to place it too close to an open flame or swinging door. If the fryer is to be stored out of sight between uses, look for a means to cover the oil or at least to protect the unit itself.

Another feature to consider is temperature control. Placing a frozen food item into a 350°F (177°C) deep fryer is going to reduce the cooking temperature until the heating elements reactivate. Avoid models with overly simplistic temperature settings such as low, medium, and high or even just an on/off switch. You'll need to know when the fryer has reached the proper temperature for the specific food item you are preparing. A good appliance may have two separate compartments with two separate temperature gauges.

Capacity is another important feature to consider. Some cooks may only want to prepare a few snack items or single servings, but others may want to cook entire chickens or a family-sized portion of french fries. Manufacturers often market different sizes to suit individual needs. Very small fryers can have such a low capacity that food does not cook thoroughly. While in the store, make note of the quality and size of the fryer baskets and wells. A good appliance should have sturdy baskets and deep oil wells for bulk cooking.

One new innovation in deep fryer technology is the rotating fry basket. Instead of lowering the food into a vat of oil, some modern models feature a vertically-mounted basket turned by an electric motor. The food does not remain in the hot oil constantly, but is periodically pulled out as the basket rotates through the vat. The result is a crispy product with much less residual oil. This form of fryer is not suitable for every dish, but the results are often better than traditional deep frying methods.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By discographer — On Sep 11, 2012

@fify-- I think the only solution to that is using an outdoor deep fryer. If you fry stuff in the home, it's going to smell like oil no matter what.

Outdoor deep fryers are much bigger and more expensive than the typical fryers. They run on propane instead of electricity. But it sounds like it would be good for you since you're going to be using it often. It's also really great for when you have guests over or if you're having a barbecue or something like that.

By fify — On Sep 10, 2012

Do any deep fryers come with ventilation or odor control?

I love fried foods and a deep fryer is used often at my house. The only problem is that I don't like the smell of oil. It lingers on for hours and if we fry something like fish, it's impossible to get rid of the odor. The entire house smells like a fast-food restaurant.

Is there a deep fryer that doesn't cause this?

By bear78 — On Sep 09, 2012

There is a new kind of fryer now which requires a very small amount of oil to fry foods. It takes a lot longer than a a normal deep fryer, but the advantage is that the food doesn't absorb as much oil and so is healthier.

My sister just got one of these. She was making french fries as a side dish for the kids, so she put the potatoes with a little bit of oil in the fryer an hour and a half before. I don't really like fryers that take so long but to be honest, I was impressed with how little oil she used. She used like half a cup for four or five potatoes which is unbelievable.

By Pharoah — On Aug 23, 2012

@betterment - If you have a small kitchen, you're probably better served just doing your frying in a pot rather than getting something like a Presto deep fryer. Most home fryers are kind of large, so it would be a waste of space unless you were planning on using it all the time.

I actually do all my frying in a pot on the stovetop with oil, and it usually works out OK. As long as you use the right amount of oil and aren't doing too big a batch of things, I think frying in a pot works just fine.

By betterment — On Aug 23, 2012

I was thinking about buying a deep fryer awhile ago, and I read a bunch of deep fryer reviews. There are a lot of models out there that are fairly affordable, but in the end I decided I wouldn't use it enough for it to be worth purchasing.

I have a small kitchen, so I try to limit the amount of gadgets I buy to just things I'm going to use all the time.

By strawCake — On Aug 22, 2012

@ceilingcat - If you don't want to purchase a deep fryer pot for your home, that's your business. But I can see why someone else might want to purchase a deep fryer, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

A lot of people like to eat fried snacks. That's why so many restaurants serve them! So what's wrong with getting a deep fryer to make homemade stuff? As long as you aren't frying every single meal of the day, I don't see the problem.

In fact, I personally have a deep fryer that I use maybe once a month, and I love it!

By ceilingcat — On Aug 21, 2012
I hate to sound like a stick in the mud, but I really don't see why anybody needs to purchase a countertop deep fryer for their home. Fried food is horrible for you! It's bad enough so many people eat fast food that is fried, but we don't all need to start doing it at home too!
By geronimo8 — On Feb 12, 2011

Thank you for the tips. I was looking at buying a deep fryer with the generic low, medium, and high settings. It just seemed like it would be easier to use if I didn't have to worry about actual temperatures. I guess the extra hassle is worth it though, if the food turns out better.

By jlmk — On Feb 11, 2011

I'm thinking about getting a deep fryer and I really like the idea of the rotating basket. It seems like the food would be a little bit healthier if there is less residual oil. Plus, beyond health matters, I really can't stand eating food that is overly greasy. This definitely sounds like the best deep fryer for me.

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick


As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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