Air fryers have been all the rage the last few years, but we know you like to indulge. There’s something about dropping food into a pool of hot oil that just makes it taste better. While we would love to eat every meal at the state fair, our hearts and wallets simply would not be able to take it. But you can get that delicious fried goodness at home whenever you want when you own a deep fryer. That’s right, funnel cakes and corndogs year-round, baby.
Deep fryer vs. air fryer
If you’re on the fence about whether to buy an air fryer or deep fryer, think about three things: texture, taste, and calories. Deep fryers are not for the health conscious (though even the health conscious indulge sometimes!), but they will produce better taste and texture. Air fryers use hot circulated air and a tablespoon of oil to achieve a crispy texture while deep fryers fully immerse food in a vat of hot oil (typically around 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit).
Food cooked in a deep fryer will get more evenly coated with oil and crisp up better, resulting in that signature golden exterior that people love. Air fryers are better than ovens for achieving crispiness, but you sincerely can’t beat the real deal of deep frying. You get a richer taste and more complex texture.
How to choose a deep fryer
The biggest factor that comes into play when choosing a deep fryer is size — how much food are you trying to fry at once and how much space to you have in your kitchen? While deep fryers are meant for countertop use, they’re not exactly full-time countertop appliances, so you’ll need adequate storage for one of these bulky units. We’ve found deep fryers that range from the size of a toaster to ones that can fit full turkeys inside.
As for safety features, most deep fryers have magnetic breakaway power cords that will easily detach from the unit if the cord is tugged. This prevents the whole appliance from being pulled and saves you from a mess and burns. Deep fryers with clear viewing windows are nice because you can check the progress of your food without hot oil popping all over you and your kitchen.
How to use a deep fryer
Before you cook with an electric deep fryer — like any new appliance — you should wash it to avoid any burning plastic smells when you fire it up. Once you’re ready to start cooking, fill it up with the proper amount of oil indicated by the manual and then set your desired temperature. Most deep fryers do not have a power button and rather turn on when plugged in or when the timer is set.
Once the oil reaches the ideal temperature, drop your food in and keep an eye on it as it gets crispy and golden. The temperature will drop significantly once food is introduced to the oil, so be aware that it will have to heat back up and might affect how long you need to keep your food submerged.
After you’re done cooking it might be instinct to dump out the used oil, but you can actually reuse it a few times. Just sift out the chunks and store the oil in an airtight container and pour it back in the machine when you’re ready to use it again. Just pay attention to the smell and use your judgment to determine when it’s time for fresh oil.
Maintain regular washes of your deep fryer or you might experience corrosion or buildup on the frying basket, oil container, or heating element.
We went on the hunt for the best deep fryers and found our top eight choices based on size, ease of use, ease of cleaning, and performance level. Find the one that suits your needs and get ready for fatty, delicious, fried food.
EASIEST TO CLEAN
T-fal EZ Clean stainless steel deep fryer
Avoid messes with this easy-to-clean deep fryer.
OUR TOP PICK
Cuisinart CDF-200P1 deep fryer
Meet all of your deep frying needs with this compact model.
BEST FOR LARGE CAPACITY
Chefman XL deep fryer
Fry up batches of food for the whole family.
BEST BUDGET PICK
Bella Pro Series deep fryer
Small and affordable, this is ideal for one to two people.
BEST FOR MULTIPLE FRYER BASKETS
Elite Gourmet triple basket deep fryer
Fry up multiple batches at once with side-by-side baskets.
BEST MULTI-USE DEEP FRYER
Presto 06006 kitchen kettle
Do more than just deep fry with this appliance.
BEST FOR DEEP FRYING A TURKEY
Bayou Classic turkey fryer
Fry a turkey up to 25 pounds in this massive deep fryer.
Oil capacity: 42 quarts
Food capacity: 25 pounds
Max temperature: N/A
BEST FOR ROTISSERIE-STYLE COOKING
Cuisinart extra-large rotisserie fryer
Use this fryer to cook everyday-sized birds.