We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Does the thought of deep fried onion rings and French fries make your taste buds water?
What about golden battered shrimp and rich, flavorful mozzarella sticks?
You don’t have to dine out to experience the succulent taste and crispy texture of these delightful foods. With the help of a deep fryer, you can enjoy these delectable treats at home.
At BestReviews, our mission is to help consumers find the best products for their needs.
For example, some people want a deep fryer with a large capacity and multiple baskets like the Secura Triple Basket Electric Deep Fryer. Others prefer a smaller, bucket-style deep fryer like the Presto GranPappy model on our shortlist, above.
Currently Executive Chef at Bon Appétit Management Company, Steve began his tenure with Bon Apetit as Chef de Partie. He has over ten years of experience, including tenures at two- and three-Michelin star restaurants. Steve is passionate about all things cooking – products, supply chain, management, menu design, and budgeting.
Whatever you prefer, we’ve got five great solutions for you. We spent hours researching the market and testing deep fryers in our lab.
We never accept “free” manufacturer samples for testing; we purchase the products that we test off of store shelves and online. And when we’re finished testing, we donate them to charities that can use them.
The insights we gained through testing and research have helped us to identify the top five deep fryers on today’s market. Please read on to learn more about this exciting product.
You may be wondering if a deep fryer is a “fad” kitchen gadget that you’d use a few times, then stash away for months. Many satisfied owners tell us they use their deep fryer on a regular basis. Plenty of recipes exist for the adventurous deep fryer owner, and if you get one, you’ll encounter no shortage of relevant recipes on the internet.
However, there are some people who find their deep frying needs to be minimal. If this sounds like you, you could potentially achieve the same “deep fried” effect with a heavy Dutch oven and a good supply of cooking oil.
In short, an honest evaluation of your potential usage is always wise before investing in a countertop appliance.
Larger families who consider themselves to be “frequent fryers” may benefit from a larger appliance like the T-fal Ultimate EZ Clean. But occasional fried food snackers should be satisfied with a smaller model such as the fryers offered by Presto, creator of the FryDaddy line.
Finding the right cooking oil or fat for deep frying foods is not always a straightforward process. For example, coconut oil is favored for its health-boosting properties, but some brands impart an unwelcome coconut flavor to the food.
Here’s an in-depth look at some of your choices:
Coconut oil is considered to be one of the healthiest choices for deep frying foods. Cooks love it for its high smoking point and neutral flavor. While coconut oil does contain a significant amount of saturated fat, it’s still considered healthier than saturated animal fat.
Olive oil is a great candidate for deep frying, but the extra virgin variety has a low smoking point and can become bitter when overheated.
There is no consensus among professionals as to which deep fryer oils are the best. It’s wise to answer a few questions about about an oil before using it in your deep fryer. For example, does it have a high or low smoking point? Does it impart a neutral flavor, or will it change the taste of your food?
Peanut oil is one of the most popular cooking oils used in professional kitchens and higher-end fast food restaurants. It has a very high smoking point (450°F) and a neutral flavor. It can be expensive, and it’s not readily available in some areas. Those with a peanut allergy or sensitivity could experience a reaction to foods cooked in peanut oil.
Safflower oil is another “healthy” choice for deep frying. It has a high smoking point, polyunsaturated fats, and beneficial Omega6 amino acids. However, it can impart a strong (though generally agreeable) flavor to foods.
Canola oil is an excellent all-around cooking oil, and many people prefer it to standard vegetable oil. It has a fairly high smoking point and is high in Omega-3 amino acids. The main drawback to using canola oil for deep frying is its tendency to break down after one session. You must replace it after each use.
Vegetable oil is often the most affordable form of cooking oil on store shelves. It has a relatively neutral flavor, although some detect “buttery” tones in the finished product. If you use vegetable oil in your deep fryer, be sure to monitor the temperature closely.
Be careful when frying raw chicken. It still needs to cook all the way through, so turn down the temperature and let it cook for a longer period of time.
If you’re going to drop $50 to $100 on a deep fryer, you want one that will deliver a quality finished product. The tastiness of deep fried food hinges on the temperature of the oil it’s cooked in. If the oil is too hot, the food will taste burnt. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the food will be too greasy. Ideally, you’ll end up with a platter full of golden, crispy deep fried food every time you use your fryer.
Here’s a look at what to expect from the products on our shortlist in terms of their performance:
The 1700-watt T-fal FR8000 Ultimate EZ Clean fryer turns out golden, crispy food without too much absorbed oil, according to owners. As with most fryers, the T-fal EZ Clean retains its temperature when the basket is not overloaded. But the real differentiating factor is its ability to do so even when the basket is stuffed to the top.
Deep fryer power is typically measured in watts. The higher the wattage, the stronger the unit’s heating elements. Stronger heating elements translate to a shorter cooking time.
At 1500 watts, the Presto CoolDaddy has slightly less power than some other models. However, this should be a non-issue if you’re using the fryer mostly for standard meals at home. Several users note that the CoolDaddy has trouble heating to the full 375° F when preparing a second batch of food, but owners we surveyed mentioned that this issue can easily be avoided by not overfilling the basket.
You’ll want to either remove or filter your cooking oil between deep frying sessions.
The Presto GranPappy operates at 1500 watts. There is no manual temperature control, but the manufacturer boasts that it achieves and maintains the “perfect” temperature for deep frying. Many customers we surveyed agree. The GranPappy’s “regulated” control will please some; others may wish they had more control over this aspect of their food preparation. And, notably, there are a few foods that simply cannot be cooked at the high heat the GranPappy puts out.
What types of features should you look for in a deep fryer? The best fryer features enhance cooking efficiency, ease of use, and cleanup.
In this section, we highlight some of the features provided by today’s electric fryers. Useful features include an adjustable thermostat, a signal light, a sealed locking safety lid, and a filter for oil drainage.
As hinted in its name, the T-fal Ultimate EZ Clean contains easily detachable, dishwasher safe parts. It also comes with a sealed locking lid, a permanent odor filter, a viewing window, and an oil draining/filtering mechanism that preserves the oil for future use. Most owners we surveyed noted that, with the exception of the mesh basket, the fryer can easily be washed by simply throwing all of its parts into the dishwasher. Cleaning the mesh basket may require a bit of elbow grease, as fried batter tends to stick to it.
While most deep fryers come with built-in thermostats, it's important to check their reliability so you don't let the oil get too hot or too cold.
The Presto CoolDaddy comes with multiple features for easy handling. These include an adjustable thermostat, an indicator light, and a locking cover designed to prevent spills and reduce odors. In addition, the unit has a viewing window so you can monitor the frying process without having to open the lid. Many owners we surveyed were especially happy with the exterior basket handle, as the food can be lowered into the oil with the cover closed, preventing spills and splatters.
There are dozens of oils, shortenings, and animal fats available for deep frying, but not all of them are safe to use at high temperatures. Before investing in an oil — especially an “exotic” one you’ve never worked with before — make sure it’s safe for deep frying.
The Presto GranPappy is a simpler unit than the other Presto product on our shortlist, the CoolDaddy. It’s a bucket-style pot for frying that’s made of durable aluminum, and its inside finish is nonstick. You get a snap-on lid and a slotted utensil with this purchase, but in terms of extra features, there isn’t much else. There isn’t even a basket, although some people like this omission, as they say it involves less mess and cleanup.
Features like the oil drain filter, sealed cooking lid, and easily detachable/washable parts make the T-fal Ultimate EZ Clean Fryer a model well worth its price.
People sometimes make mistakes when deep frying food. A piece of fried chicken could burn on the outside but remain raw in the middle. A frozen snack food designed to fry in hot oil for five minutes could become unrecognizable three minutes later.
Here are some common deep frying mistakes and how to avoid making them:
The ideal temperature for most deep frying projects ranges between 300° and 400°F. Oil that’s too cool won’t form bubbles, and the food will absorb it rather than repel it. Overheated oil can break down, creating an undesirable combination of oil and water. It will also burn the outside of the food before the interior has a chance to form steam.
Frozen and refrigerated foods may temporarily pull down the oil’s temperature, and different models have different temperature recovery times. This “uncertainty” could taint your results — at least until you know how your deep fryer works.
The best oils for deep frying generally have a neutral flavor and a high smoking point (over 400°F). Using a flavorful oil like EVOO might sound like a good idea but, in reality, its low smoking point may impart a bitter flavor to the food if it overheats.
Expired or unfiltered oil can cause food to blacken in the deep fryer. Some cooking oils can survive several rounds of heating, cooking, and cooling without damage. Others begin to break down after only a few uses.
Remember that if a food product is frozen, it will drop the temperature of the oil in your fryer and fry less effectively.
Sometimes, your batter or coating won’t stick to your food. This is a bummer, because not only is that coating delicious, it provides a protective barrier between the food’s moist interior and the hot cooking oil.
One solution is to refrigerate or freeze breaded food products before deep frying. This step enables the batter or coating to better adhere to the food. However, for best results, you’ll still need to thaw the food a bit before dropping it into the hot oil.
Some flash frying techniques suggest that you wait until the last minute to batter the food. With each batch, you use a fresh, cold batter mix. Pro chefs who prepare Japanese tempura tend to follow this philosophy.
Deep frying at an excessively high temperature can cause your food to lose its protective breading or batter and burn.
You may ask: are breaded mozzarella sticks, battered fish, and Southern fried chicken healthy?
After all, the very act of deep frying usually involves saturated animal fats or heavy, plant-based cooking oils. If doctors and dietitians suggest cutting back on artery-clogging saturated fats as part of a healthy diet, where does deep frying stand as a cooking method? Is it inherently healthy or unhealthy?
The answer lies in moderation. The American Heart Association advises us to emphasize monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats while limiting our intake saturated fats. However, that doesn’t mean we must shirk all foods that we love. Instead, we should carefully balance our ratio of “treat” foods against a diet that’s rich in veggies, fruits, and whole grains.
The smaller size of the CoolDaddy makes it a useful, space-saving fryer for apartments and smaller homes where storage space is a concern.
So if you’re going to treat yourself, why not do it right? We know that saturated fats like lard and heavy oils like Crisco enhance the deep frying process. We also know that lighter oils, while healthier for the body, have a lower smoking point and can impart “off” flavors to food.
Consider the process for making Southern deep fried chicken. The chicken is dredged in milk and coated with batter. The batter forms a barrier between the moist interior of the chicken and the hot cooking oil. When the oil contacts the coating, it bubbles and boils — but it does not penetrate the chicken’s skin. This bubbling is actually proof that water (in the form of steam) is escaping from the interior meat.
As the chicken continues to fry, the hot oil creates a crispy exterior, but the meat itself steams in its natural moisture. Whether the chef is using a saturated animal fat like lard or an unsaturated plant oil like soybean oil, the cooking process is still the same.
Are you preparing a late-night snack for yourself or feeding an entire family? If the latter, then you will probably want a fryer with ample capacity. Otherwise, you’ll spend extra time frying food in multiple batches.
Here’s a look at the cooking capacities offered by our shortlist contenders:
The T-fal Ultimate EZ Clean comes with a 3.5L cooking space, which is equivalent to about 14 cups. Owners often say that the size and shape of the basket is just big enough to be fully utilized. While the Secura's basket is certainly bigger in terms of sheer capacity, the T-fal's is more practically shaped for most servings.
Routine cleaning of an oft-used deep fryer is a messy proposition, but it’s a necessary one. Fry baskets and heating elements usually develop a patina of burned cooking oil that is notoriously difficult to remove.
With an eight-cup capacity, the Presto CoolDaddy is one of the smaller deep fryers available. For those who live in apartments or smaller homes, this is a huge plus. It’s a portable space-saver, but if you were to prepare a large quantity of fried food for guests, you’d probably find yourself working with multiple batches.
Don't overcrowd! If there is too much product in the fryer, there will be too much moisture and will not fry.
The GranPappy holds only six cups of oil; it’s much smaller than some other top-sellers on the market. As mentioned above, there are no baskets included with this appliance; it’s a bucket-style unit. It may suffice for a household of one or two people, but it’s definitely not a unit you could easily use to prepare for a party.
Susan Sano Tuveson has been cooking for people for five decades. Educated in music, law, and languages, she left her legal practice to establish Cacao Chocolates in Kittery, Maine. A three-time Best of Seacoast New England winner, the shop was popular for its high-quality artisanal truffles flavored with unusual local ingredients.
In general, the bigger the fryer, the steeper the price tag. Additional features and brand popularity also influence cost. Here’s a look at the price of each contender on our shortlist and what you get for your money:
The T-fal Ultimate EZ Clean is the most expensive model at $91. The vast majority of owners don’t mind the higher price tag, though, especially given that they are paying for a reliable brand name with a solid reputation. Features like the oil drain filter, sealed cooking lid, and easily detachable/washable parts make the Ultimate EZ Clean Fryer a model well worth its price.
At just $43, the National Presto CoolDaddy is one of the cheapest fryers in its category. While the low price is mostly due to its smaller size, this fryer rivals costlier models in terms of both performance and features. Most customers we talked to found this to be the perfect purchase: an affordable price with just the right amount of cooking space. As an added bonus, the fryer's size makes it super portable and easy to move around in the kitchen.
It's worth spending the extra money for features that guarantee well-fried food, like a reliable digital thermometer and easily cleanable parts.
This Presto unit costs $39, which is fairly close to the price of the other Presto on our shortlist, the CoolDaddy. However, it’s a far simpler unit than the CoolDaddy, and it only holds six cups of oil. If you’re intrigued by a basic, bucket-style deep fryer, you cannot go wrong with this price.
If you’re interested in a budget fryer with a few more bells and whistles, however, the CoolDaddy could be the better way to go.
Q. How do I clean my cooking oil between projects?
A. The first step is to use a skimmer to remove any food or coating remnants floating on the surface of the oil. If you can do it safely, the next step is to pour most of the remaining oil through a fine sieve suspended over a clean, heat-resistant container. The last inch or so of oil will probably contain a layer of burnt food particles, so do not pour it into the same clean container. Place a tight-fitting lid on the container and refrigerate the oil.
Q. How reliable is the thermostat on my electric deep fryer?
A. Proper oil temperature control has been an issue with electric deep fryers for a long time. You can probably count on your onboard thermostat to sit within 25° of the target temperature, but for more precise control, we recommend investing in an additional analog bulb thermometer as a safeguard.
Q. Why don't my French fries look golden brown, like the kind I get at restaurants?
A. There are several reasons why food prepared in a deep fryer at home doesn’t always look as picture-perfect as food prepared by the pros.
Many restaurant use a proprietary form of shortening in their fryers that would be prohibitively expensive for home cooks.
Some restaurant foods have been treated with ingredients that encourage browning.
Professional cooks may partially cook fresh potatoes at one temperature, then finish them off at a higher temperature. It would be difficult to duplicate this result at home.
Our “Best of the Best” award goes to the T-fal Ultimate EZ Clean, and it's a no-brainer.
Aside from being manufactured by T-fal, a popular household brand, the Ultimate EZ Clean renders an exceptional performance. With its detachable, dishwasher safe parts, it’s also one of the easiest models to clean on today’s market. The adjustable temperature settings open up a world of possibilities when it comes to experimenting with ingredients and recipes. What’s more, the T-fal’s generous cooking space give you plenty of real estate to prepare just about any meal.
The real differentiating factor of the T-fal is its ability to retain its temperature, even when the basket is filled to the top.
The Cuisinart Deep Fryer delivers an enormous value for an incredibly low price. The feature set on this unit is akin to fryers that cost twice as much, and its performance and quality sit on level with its higher-priced rivals. While the machine is a bit smaller than some premium fryers, it’s the optimal purchase for anyone planning to use it in everyday settings. Unless you’re looking to feed a dinner party of six or more, this could be the right choice for you.
Makes 10-12 Donuts
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
In a large bowl mix the sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add eggs, milk and melted butter. Beat well. Add 3 cups of the flour, beating until blended. Add one more cup of flour and beat well. The dough should be soft and sticky but firm enough to handle. If you feel its necessary, add up to 1/2 cup more flour. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
Remove your dough from the fridge and begin heating oil 360F in your deep fryer. Working half the dough at a time, roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/2" thickness. Cut out circles using a doughnut cutter or large biscuit or cookie cutter. Peel out donuts and place them in the fryer basket, then slowly lower into fryer. Flip them over as they puff and turn them a couple more times as they cook. They will take about 2-3 minutes in total and will be lovely and golden brown all over.
Remove from the oil and set them on paper towels, then place them into a brown bag and add the cinnamon sugar coating. Shake gently to cover them.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.