Nothing beats the golden, crunchy crisp of pretty anything deep fried. Americans may think that their obsession with deep fried food is unique, but cultures around the world have been deep frying all kinds of food items for centuries. Even the ancient Mesopotamians had discovered the irresistible draw of placing food — meats and breads in particular — into a pot or pan of hot, bubbling animal fat. And yes, while the actual health benefits of fried food are certainly questionable, few people can deny that flavor profile for any ordinary food item is almost certainly enhanced once it’s spent a few minutes floating around in the fryer.
So while we acknowledge that you’ll likely need to invest in some exercise equipment if you allow fried dishes to become a staple in your diet, we’re ok with that. The most important thing you can do in life is to kick your feet back, take a break from that troublesome diet, and live a little. Or should we say, eat a little? We’ve tiptoed around the health fanatics on the Internet in order to do some stealthy research on the best deep fryers available on the market. They offer a mixture of features that you may just find as delectable as that next batch of (healthy?) vegetable tempura we know you love so much.
Presto 05450 DualDaddy
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Why we like it: Presto makes our list twice for the simple reason that its deep fryers are the most loved by those who bought them. The Presto 05450 uses the same basic structure and format as that found on the Presto 05411 GranPappy. The big difference here? Quite obviously, our review on this one will be a bit shorter, as the features and characteristics are little changed.
The key reason why someone might choose this device over the Presto 05450 relies on two factors: capacity and division. The capacity on this deep fryer, in both the amount of oil and the amount of food that it can fry at one time, are increased. The GranPappy holds 3 cups of oil and up to 6 servings worth of food. The DualDaddy holds 8 cups of oil and can hold up to 8 servings worth of food. Unfortunately, Presto uses the same heating element for an increased oil capacity, so do anticipate longer waiting times for the oil to get up to temperature. That said, the main benefit of owning this device over the GranDaddy is the removable divider. This aluminum sheet splits the bucket in half, allowing you to cook two different foods at the same time. It’s Presto’s answer to its competitors that have dual baskets in their deep fryers. And it’s obviously just as simple an answer as you’d expect.
The benefits and negatives for this device are the same as what you’ll find on the GranDaddy. If you’re looking for a deep fryer like the GranDaddy but need something that’s a bit bigger and allows for a larger cooking capacity, the BigDaddy may be what you’re looking for.
Hamilton Beach 35021
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Why we like it: As Hamilton Beach has fairly effectively spread themselves over the entire kitchen appliances market like a fine layer of oil, it should be no surprise to see that they have several different deep fryers boiling away in the market. Their 35021 does not have an entirely interesting name, but it does have some fairly interesting and highly sought after features for home fryers.
The Hamilton Beach 35021 is advertised specifically on the Cool Touch feature. This is not achieved through any technology feats. Hamilton Beach simply places the immerses the heating element into the oil, and keeps the cooking area separated from the outer casing. There is a space between the actual metal container where the cooking is taking place and the plastic outer shell, allowing the outer shell to get warm, but never hot. This is an improvement over the Waring and Presto devices on our list, which both do get hot to the touch due to relatively thin layers of metal separating the extremely hot oil and the rest of the outside world.
The other features which may attract you to the Hamilton Beach device include the basket, the top and the adjustable temperature. The basket can be lifted into and out of the oil without getting your hands anywhere near the hot oil. The top can be closed while the food cooks, and the clear viewing window on the top lets you check in on the look of your food. A closing cooking top also ensures that you’ll minimize the amount of oil splatting all over the place, something that is a concern for those who may be interested in the Presto device.
More information you need
The ability to adjust the temperature is always a nice touch for these devices, particularly for those that want to use different types of oils or who may be trying to cook some foods that require a bit of a lighter temperature. The temperature on the 35201 has a fairly wide range, with four settings (all in Fahrenheit): 265, 300, 350 and 375. A simple red light indicates when it is hot enough, but there is no digital readout that tells you exactly what temperature you’re looking at inside of the device. Finally, the device has a somewhat reasonably sized 8 cup capacity, good for cooking most dinners for most families in one go.
Now for the bad. There are some consistent complaints on a few key areas for this device. One is on the main advertised feature, the Cool Touch. Some say “cool” wasn’t the same as “cold”. This should have been obvious to most, but while the device is not going to be 375 degrees on the outside, it can still get over 100 degrees. This is a bit unavoidable, considering the function of the device. There are also consistent complaints that the advertised oil requirement (8 cups) is not enough to actually achieve deep frying. You may find yourself using more.
A lot more. Finally, cleaning is not fun with this device. It does not have the removable parts like you find with the Waring or the overall simplicity like you have on the Presto devices. Expect a bit of a headache when trying to empty the oil and clean the inside. Still, the device heats quickly and the splatter-proof top might be what right up the alley for those who have that disconnect between their love of fried food but hate oil splatter.
Presto 05411 GranPappy Electric Deep Fryer
[amazon box=”B0000Z6JK0″ title= “Product Info” ]
Why we like it: Some buyers might be a bit turned off at first by the shape of the Presto 05411 GranPappy Electric Deep Fryer. That’s a bit understandable. Presto has designed this deep fryer to look like a bucket (handle included), and it draws up all kinds of negative connotations related to fried food and those who enjoy it.
This deep fryer is just about as simple as it gets. The cast aluminum design makes it a bit heavier than your average extruded aluminum or steel appliance, but it is relatively small and fits easily on a kitchen counter. There are absolutely no frills involved with this machine. At all. As stated, it’s basically just a metal bucket. Presto adds in a 1500-watt heating element at the bottom that heats up the oil to a temperature good enough for frying (somewhere between 350-375), but you have no control over this temperature. You might actually have more control with an open flame than you would with this device. There is no on/off switch and no display that even lets you know what the actual temperature is.
And that’s not all
The perks of this device are in that aforementioned simplicity. It holds a small 3 cups of oil, and can fit a fairly light 6 servings worth of food. It comes with a simple, sturdy plastic scoop that doesn’t melt in the oil, and includes an even simpler plastic top that you can help keep oil fresh inside of the fryer (after you have strained it and poured it out, strained it, and poured it back in, of course). Cleaning the actual device is just about as simple as it gets. With the only real parts being the bucket, the top and the spoon, you can expect that you’ll be able to wash it out rather fast without much hassle.
That said, the negatives for the Presto 05411 in comparison to some of the other deep fryers you might purchase are obvious. Add that in to the fat that this device has no automatic shutoff, and you’re looking at something that’s a little more concerning for those worried about fire safety. It can also get extremely hot to the touch, as there is no insulation between the pot and the metal. One of the biggest draws for many deep fryers is often the basket, so the fact that this device only has a scooping spoon may lead some to believe that this is little better than deep frying in a large pot. Nonetheless, it has rave reviews, and if you are looking for something that doesn’t require any deep thinking (just deep frying), you may see this one as your go-to device.
Waring DF280 Professional Deep Fryer
[amazon box=”B005Z4935O” title= “Product Info” ]
Why we like it: The Waring DF280 Professional Deep Fryer was made for heavy duty frying tasks. The device large, so it may not be for everyone. However, if you have the space to fit it on your counter top, and you’re looking for a fryer, this is one you’ll likely want to consider, especially if you find yourself frying more often than most people. Waring packs their DF280 with all of the bells and whistles that you will find in a modern deep fryer as well, making it a great option for those willing to spend a little bit more for some interesting, added features as well.
Possibly the biggest draw for this fryer is the capacity. The oil container is stainless steel, removable and can hold up to one gallon of oil. It is also built with a pouring spout for when you’re ready to dump out the oil for filtering and reuse, or for when you’re simply ready to get rid of the oil in there and set yourself to the fairly easy task of cleaning out the inside. That large capacity is also shared by the baskets. The Waring DF280 comes with three separate baskets, two smaller ones and one larger one. All told, it can hold 2.3 pounds of food. You can either split that weight between the one larger basket and fry one type of item (or a particularly larger item), or fry smaller portions of two different items.
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The 1800-watt heating element on the Waring DF280 is removable, something that is not the case with most deep fat fryers, and just part of the reason why this fryer is so popular. The ability to remove the element allowed for cleaning around the element in the case of spilled oil, but also serves as a fire safety feature. In the case of an oil fire, removing the burning oil from the heat is a necessity. This is not possible with many deep fat fryers, giving the Waring DF280 a distinct advantage over some of its competitors as far as safety is concerned. To keep the oil from getting so hot it will even cause a fire, the device has a 60-minute timer as well as a digital LCD screen with simple temperature adjustment. Finally, the temperature readout on the display screen will show the temperature as the element is heating, not just the temperature you have set it to.
This helps you see what temperature it is while it’s heating, an added bonus. Waring uses on the casing. The device can get somewhat hot, and oil can drip down from the overhanging top. The handle for the baskets sit partially in the oil, which can be a problem for some people. Finally, many users commonly complain about the slow time to heat fully due to a heating element that may be underpowered for the oil capacity. That said, most users found little wrong with it beyond the construction quality. Many point to the fact that it gets hot and stays hot, even when you put food into the fryer.
T-fal FR7008 Ultimate EZ Clean
T-fal has several models of its Ultimate EZ Clean device. The the Waring DF280 is more of a heavy duty device, the T-fal FR7008 is more for the home. This is not say that the device is without its benefits. Although smaller in overall size and with a smaller oil capacity, it has a heavier food capacity than the Waring device. As the name suggests, T-fal focuses on cleaning capabilities with this device, and it does indeed have several attractive features that help make it a great device for those who do a lot of frying at home.
The most desired features for the Ultimate EZ Clean are those tied directly to just how clean it can get. This starts with the oil. Reusing deep fryer oil can help save costs in the long run. Most fryers do not have a dedicated filter system. The T-fal Ultimate EZ Clean has a gravity-fed filtration system that drains the oil through the bottom of the container and into a dedicated plastic oil container beneath the device. The oil catch is itself removable and dishwasher safe In fact, most parts on the Ultimate EZ Clean are both removable and dishwasher safe. The oil container, the food basket — all of these can be cleaned simply and easily. The only thing that cannot be removed (and where the Waring device has a one-up over the EZ Clean) is the heating element.
And that’s not all
Speaking of which, the heating element on the 1700-watt heating element is almost as strong as that found on the Waring DF2800.The benefit of this is that the T-fal FR7800 holds only about 1 quarter of a gallon of oil. While this may initially seem like a disadvantage, the result is that the T-fal has the capability of heating the oil to full frying temperature much faster than many competitors. The heating element is also fully immersed in the oil. The combination of lower oil capacity and higher food capacity means that this fryer helps avoid oil absorption. This may also result in food sticking together for battered food, but it can work well for things such as unbattered/unbreaded chicken or fries.
Despite being easy to clean and quick to heat and fry, the T-fal FR7800 is not without its downsides. While the device does have several different oil temperature settings, these are set by a manual dial. There is no digital display for the actual temperature. This can become a bit of a problem, as heating elements can malfunction and overheat. Unless you’re paying attention to smoking oil, you may not realize that the oil is overheating and reaching the potential to catch fire. The biggest concern is the oil filtration system. If the container is not placed properly, you’re looking at a huge, oily mess all over the place that can be hard to clean. Oil can leak from the device even when you are not intending it to, adding to the potential for big headaches. Still, users were overwhelmingly pleased with the device, and when installed and used properly, it can provide a great frying experience.
Deep Fryer Buyers Guide (And Safe Usage)
Deep Fryers are a fun item to have around the house. Deep frying food can result in some of the most delicious (or disgusting) dishes you’ll find, although admittedly it also lands some of the highest caloric content foods right onto the table. However, a good many dishes across the world utilize deep frying and many of these can be made with low-fat oils and low-calorie foods. Deep fryers come in all shapes and sizes, but there are some common features, and some safety measures, you’ll want to be aware of before you start cooking up a batch of fries.
Oil Temperature and Oil Type
All modern deep fryers (and all of the fryers on our list) have electronic temperature gauges and digital panels that both indicate the current temperature of the oil and allow for modifications of oil temperature. Different oils have different temperatures maximums that they can reach before they begin to smoke and burn. These temperatures are commonly known as the “smoke points”. Oils with a high smoke point are the best to use in a deep fryer, as they are the least likely to smoke, burn or cause a fire. Similarly, not every food is best deep fried in the same type of oil or the same type of temperature. For your convenience, here are the temperature maximums for the types of oil that you might commonly use in a deep fryer:
This list is far from exhaustive, and there are certainly other oils you can use (if you can find them). It’s best, however, to avoid unrefined oils and oils that have a smoke point that is below 400°F for a deep fryer. If you do intend to use one that has a lower than 400°F smoke point, be extra cautious to keep the temperature reasonably below the smoke point, and not at the smoke point.
Oil Filters and Oil Reuse
Many modern deep fryers include a filtration system that helps to remove excess food particles from the oil. This helps keep the oil in the fryer fresh for a longer period of time, allowing for repeated use of the oil. Some fryers will use chemical methods as an oil filtration method. However, many will use more health-friendly methods, such as using diatomaceous earth (a naturally occurring, powdery material) in the filtration system to catch small particles. Fryers without an inbuilt filtration system may require the use of external funnels and filters, which can aid in the process of cleaning the oil for reuse.
However, the more you use oil the less hydrophobic (or water-resistant) it becomes. When we fry food, the oil is helping to dehydrate that food. The bubbles we see are the water molecules spitting out of the food and evaporating through the oil. As more and more water gets into the oil, it gets less and less hydrophobic. Eventually, it reaches the point where it begins to soak into your food rather quickly–resulting in soggy, oil food. Yuck. It’s best to only give you oil several rounds before you throw it out for a new batch. Meats tend to share their fat to the oil, while vegetables do not impart much of their own flavor, so oil that is used primarily for meats (say, fried chicken or fish) will need to be changed much our much sooner.
Deep Fryer Types
Deep fat fryers for your home can come in many different sizes and styles. However, there are two basic types that you’ll run into: basket fryers and bucket fryers. Basket fryers are typically square, and utilize a basket that can be immersed into and pulled out of the oil. Bucket style fryers act more like a large pot that you might use on the stove, and typically come with a slotted spoon for scooping and draining. These are not to be confused with air fryers, which often contain a drawer of sorts and utilize no oil for cooking.
Deep fryers utilize an internal heating element (typically a copper coil wrapped in aluminum or steel) that is either immersed in the oil, or separated from the oil and instead heats the metal pot which holds the oil. Immersed fryers will require a bit more cleaning, and cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer should be followed in order to avoid ruining the device in any way. Most home fryers will range between 1500 watts to 1800 watts. Heating times will depend on how much oil is in the fryer and the wattage of the fryer.
It is not uncommon to find magnetic cords on a deep fryer. This is because most deep fryers cannot be removed from the heating element, which is a first action to take during a grease fire. The ability to disconnect the cord directly from the device is a safety feature. If you are concerned about overall fire safety, look for a device that has multiple measures in place, including a magnetic cord.
Cooking with oil can be extremely dangerous. Recent data suggests that around 50% of house fires are caused by cooking equipment. Whenever you combine a flammable material (oil, in this case) with heat, you’re increasing the chances of a fire. Regular grease fires can be dangerous, but because deep fryers typically carry more oil in them than you might normally use while cooking, a deep fryer fires can result in a huge, almost uncontrollable blaze. For any grease fire, the rules applied here are the same:
- Remove the heat source. Because that’s a bit more difficult in this situation, that may involve unplugging the machine, if you can safely reach the cord.
- Lower the cover to exhaust the oxygen supply
- Pour salt into the fryer if safely possible
- NEVER POUR WATER ONTO THE FIRE.
Buying an electric deep fryer can be a rewarding experience. After all, fried food is perhaps one of the most delicious, if not guilty, pleasures of many people around the world. If you’re not feeling too guilty about making such a purchase, an electric deep fryer will probably expand your cooking options as well.