From fish and chips and fried chicken to sweet treats like doughnuts, a deep fat fryer is capable of delivering the most mouth-watering of dishes.
An electric deep fat fryer makes cooking with hot oil much safer than a traditional chip pan. Controlled by a thermostat, it keeps oil at the perfect temperature for cooking, preventing it from overheating and igniting.
What to consider when buying a deep fat fryer
Price Domestic deep fat fryers range in price from around £20 to over £100, but mid-priced models around £70 come with plenty of useful cooking and cleaning features. Bear in mind that while deep fat fryers themselves are cheaper than other healthier air fryers, the amount of oil they require can work out more expensive in the long run.
Size A typical domestic deep-fat fryer can cook between 1kg and 1.5kg of food, which requires around 2 to 3 litres of oil. Compact fryers require only about one litre of oil and can cook up to 350g of food – enough for a couple. About the size of a small toaster, compact models save storage space but you have to be careful not to overload them when cooking.
Shape A deep fat fryer is a simple kitchen gadget – essentially consisting of an oil tank, wire basket and a heat source. Many models look like smaller versions of the traditional deep fat fryers you see in chip shops with heating elements at the back, while others are more rounded all-in-one units. If cooking with so much oil doesn’t appeal, look for a model with a rotating basket, which requires less than half the standard amount of oil.
Temperature control Different food needs to be cooked at different temperatures to avoid overcooking or burning. Avoid basic fryers that have just an on/off switch or a dial with low, medium and high settings. An adjustable thermostat with a digital display lets you set the right oil temperature for perfectly fried food every time.
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Safety Deep fat fryers heat oil to dangerously hot temperatures so look for a model that has the following safety features:
- Cool walls – insulated walls that prevent your fingers burning should you touch the side of the fryer during use.
- Lockable lid – this helps prevents hot oil spillages or splashes during cooking or should the fryer be accidentally knocked.
- Viewing window – lets you keep an eye on your food as it cooks so you don’t have to open the lid, risking oil splashes and reducing the cooking temperature.
Cleaning A large vat of oil is quite a messy item to clean. Choose a deep fat fryer that’s easy to clean otherwise you’ll be reluctant to use it regularly. Look for:
- Drainage Look for a model with a trap or easier oil drainage to avoid having to tip the whole fryer to empty it.
- Dishwasher safe parts make clean up easy. Some models have removable baskets, lids, handles and even the vat itself that can be popped in the dishwasher for painless cleaning.
- Detachable lids are easier to clean and make replacing filters easier.
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What about air fryers?
Air fryers such as the Tefal Actifry, Philips’ Airfryer and Delonghi’s Multifry offer a healthy alternative to deep fat fryers.
They use very little oil – usually a tablespoon or less – to coat food then ‘fry’ it with circulating hot air. However, results are more similar to oven cooking rather than deep fat frying.
Next article: How to choose the best slow cooker >>>