Deep fryers are intended for use by families and large groups. They are typically measured by oil capacity (quarts, liters, or cups) and the amount of food you can make (pounds or servings). In general, the number of cups equals the amount of servings, so a deep fryer that uses six cups of oil makes six servings. Smaller fryers make about four servings, while larger ones can make twelve or more. The really large fryers can hold 3 pounds of food or even deep-fry a 14-pound turkey. If you want to get a fryer that makes lots of leftovers, bear in mind that fried food is best when eaten soon after it is initially fried. It can get soggy when reheated later in the microwave.
To reach the high temperatures necessary for deep-frying, a deep fryer needs strong wattage. 1500 watts is enough to keep the deep fryer at one consistent temperature, while deep fryers with adjustable temps can go as high as 1650-1800 watts. For larger deep fryers, this is very important, because larger amounts of oil can take a long time to heat up if the wattage is too low. For best results, the heating element should be immersed.
Getting oil hot enough is crucial for frying food, though some require hotter temperatures than others. Most deep fryers have adjustable temperatures that range from 250-375 degrees Fahrenheit. An indicator light will let you know when your temp selection is reached. Having heat control over the deep fryer means you don’t have to babysit the oil too closely, and your food will be perfectly fried and not burned. When making fried food, be sure to look up the recommended temperature for the specific food you’re making.
Frying foods produces a lot of smells, so to help absorb them, deep fryers include air filters. They are usually either charcoal, oil vapor, or paper. Charcoal filters work when millions of tiny pores in between the carbon atoms create a filter that absorbs extra grease and oil fume odor. Oil vapor filters are intended to reduce the “fog” that deep-frying creates. These get saturated in oil, so they need to be washed. Paper filters catch leftover bits of food in the oil, so you can reuse the oil. Like most filters in household appliances, you will need to replace your filter eventually. Some deep fryers have permanent filters, but replaceable ones are more common. Most filters are fairly cheap and can be cut to fit into a variety of deep-fryer brands.
The interior basket is what food sits in. Using a handle, you immerse your veggies, meat, what have you into the hot oil. These baskets are made from wire and usually have an external basket handle you can hold while the fryer cover is closed, so the hot oil doesn’t splash on you. Some also feature small foods that are ideal for draining off oil without letting smaller bits of food fall out. The basket should also have a clip for the side of the fryer during draining. There are some deep fryers that don’t have baskets, and instead use scoops. You will just want to make sure that the fryer has safety precautions in place to prevent dropping the scoop or getting splashed.
Deep fryers consist of an inner frying “pot,” a locking cover, and some kind of strainer, like a scoop or wire basket. Covers often include a viewing window so you can check on your food without opening it, or are made from tempered glass. Deep fryers must be durable to endure the hot heat from the oil. Stainless steel is a very common material or heavy-cast aluminum. Both are good for providing even heat distribution, although stainless steel is more reliable. The inner pot part of most deep fryers usually has a non-stick finish or is coated in porcelain.
Cleaning up a deep fryer might seem like a pain, but there are features that make it easier. A drain valve makes removing the used oil easy, though many deep fryers allow you to refuse oil. A storage lid is intended for these types of deep fryers. You can only use the oil so many times though, so eventually, you’ll have to dispose of it. Many deep fryers have removable parts (the cover, basket, pot) that are dishwasher-safe, so once you drain the oil, you just stick it in the wash. If your deep fryer has a nonstick finish, do not scrub with steel wool or harsh chemicals, as that will cause the finish to strip off.
Deep fryers are meant to be used on a countertop, so they can be very lightweight. Smaller ones can be as little as 3-5 pounds, while medium-sized fryers are 8-13. The really big ones that you can fry a turkey in can be 20 pounds. You’ll need a good amount of counter and storage space for those. Safety can also be a concern with a very heavy deep fryer, so be sure the fryer is stable when you’re using it, and don’t have it close to the edge of a counter when it’s full of hot oil. Some deep fryers have skid-proof rubber feet to help with this issue.