For a lot of new chefs, using a deep fryer can be one of the most daunting and stressful experiences in the kitchen.
Even for the most experienced cook, deep fryers present a lot of potential risks and hazards in the kitchen.
Thankfully, we’re here to help, by going over everything you need to know on how to use a deep fryer safely and effectively.
How To Use A Deep Fryer: Setting It Up
Just like when you cook any dish, it’s important to set up your deep fryer properly before you even think about cooking with it.
The first thing to consider is how to assemble all the parts. If you’ve just purchased a deep fryer that requires some assembly, follow the instructions provided VERY carefully.
Resist the urge to throw the instruction manual out and try to do it yourself. That could end up being incredibly dangerous while you’re cooking with it, and it just isn’t worth it.
When you’re setting up the fryer, you should think carefully about where you want it to sit in your kitchen. Deep frying produces a lot of vapor, in the form of steam and smoke, so ideally, you’ll set up your deep fryer somewhere in your kitchen with good ventilation.
If that’s not possible, and you’re worried about the smoke doing damage to the rest of your kitchen, you can always set it up outside, under some cover from the rain.
Choosing the right oil for your deep fryer
A key issue to consider when learning how to use a deep fryer is the type of oil you want to use for deep frying.
The important thing to consider is the oil’s smoke point. This refers to the point at which the oil will combust and start to burn. Essentially, the best oil for deep frying is one with a high smoke point as it will be least likely to cause a fire.
Oils such as olive, grapeseed, flaxseed, walnut, and coconut oil, are not the best choices for deep frying, as they have a low smoke point. These oils can burn easily, and are unnecessarily expensive; save them for pan frying rather than deep frying.
The best oils to use in your deep fryer are:
- Canola oil – Has a high smoke point, neutral flavor, is fairly inexpensive, and not very dangerous to use.
- Peanut oil – Slightly more expensive but has a higher smoke point than canola. Has a slightly sweeter flavor but is unsuitable for those with nut allergies.
- Vegetable oil – Similar smoke point and neutral flavor to canola.
Adding oil to the fryer
Once you’ve set up your fryer, and selected the appropriate oil to use, the only thing left to do is to add the oil to the deep fryer. Make sure the fryer is turned off, and completely cool, before pouring in the oil.
There will often be lines on the inside of your fryer that indicate how far to fill it with oil. Make sure you don’t exceed the maximum fill line; if there isn’t a recommended fill line, don’t fill the fryer more than halfway.
Cooking In A Deep Fryer
Now that you’ve got your deep fryer all set up with the oil you want to use, it’s time to start cooking! Follow these simple suggestions for the best, and safest, results.
Fry at the correct temperature
The first thing to think about is how hot you want your oil. Most deep fryers will have some kind of built-in thermometer, or possibly a light, to indicate when the ideal temperature is reached.
If your deep fryer doesn’t have anything like this, simply use a cooking thermometer to make sure your oil is between 325-375°F (163-191°C).
This is the ideal temperature range for cooking, and it will ensure your oil doesn’t combust. If you see smoke coming off the oil, it usually means you have the temperature set too high and your food will end up burned or improperly cooked. No one wants fried chicken that’s too browned on the outside, and still pink in the middle.
Dry your food before frying
Next, before adding any food to the fryer, make sure it is dry first. You’ve probably heard about how oil and water don’t mix? Well, putting food with too much water or moisture into hot oil is a recipe for disaster, and can cause the fryer to dangerously overflow.
All you need to do is pat your food with kitchen towels to soak up some of the moisture on its surface. You’ll never completely remove all the moisture from your food but taking this step will drastically reduce the risk of your oil overflowing.
If you are cooking foods with a lot of moisture, like fresh fries for instance, you may want to consider leaving the lid open while frying. This will prevent condensation from building up in the deep fryer, and will help you avoid an unwelcome fryer fire.
Add food safely
Most deep fryers will come with a basket that you can place your food into and submerge into the oil safely. However, if yours doesn’t have one, simply use some metal tongs, or a metal sieve, to slowly lower the food into the oil.
Avoid using plastic equipment with hot oil as it will melt. Also be careful to add food to the fryer gently, to prevent hot oil from splashing anywhere.
Check for doneness
If you have a cooking thermometer, you can use this to monitor the internal temperature of your food to indicate when it’s done.
However, another good indicator of doneness, is to see when your food starts floating in the oil. This is particularly useful when cooking something like French fries, which will initially sink and then float when done.
Once you’ve finished cooking with your deep fryer, the first thing to do is turn it off. The oil inside will remain hot for a long time after turning it off, so make sure you don’t touch it for a few hours.
Most deep fryers will come with a lid that you can place over the oil to stop anyone from accidentally touching it, or dropping something in it.
There’s no need to replace the oil after every use as this would end up wasting a lot of time and money. Instead, simply fish out any pieces of food left floating around and replace the oil after 9 or 10 uses.
You can also strain your oil into a clean, dry, jar to store it safely and use another day. Use a small metal sieve to catch and discard any remaining pieces of food.
When replacing the oil in your deep fryer, refer to you fryer’s instructions, as different models may have specific safety practices. Make sure you follow these instructions carefully, and that the oil is cool and the fryer is off, before starting.
Other Safety Tips
There are a few other safety considerations to bear in mind while using a deep fryer.
While it might seem obvious, you should never touch any part of the fryer with your bare skin while it’s cooking.
Even the exterior components can get deceptively hot while the fryer is on, so it’s best to avoid touching it altogether.
Another thing to consider is never overfilling the fryer with food. Oil is the same as any liquid and it will rise inside the fryer as you add food to it. The last thing you want is for the oil to overflow, and dangerously spread across your kitchen, so make sure you never have too much food in it at once.
What To Cook In Your Deep Fryer
Wondering what to cook first? We’ve rounded up some recipes to inspire you:
You should now have a much clearer understanding of how best to use a deep fryer and be well equipped to whip up some delicious deep-fried dishes for your dinner guests!
PS: Still trying to decide which deep fryer to buy? You may find this post helpful: https://familykitchennow.com/cuisinart-deep-fryer-reviews
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