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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

23 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
385 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best portable propane deep fryers

Last Updated September 2020

It’s great to cook outdoors, whether it’s for you and your partner or a whole bunch of friends and family. Grills are very popular, but there are lots of cooking styles they can’t handle: delicious, crispy turkey, Cajun style. Large joints. Breaded fish. Fries. Gotta have fries. The answer is a portable propane deep fryer.

There are numerous designs and sizes, from those that disassemble for easy transport to a picnic ground or campsite to those that can be wheeled into the backyard to feed the whole neighborhood or used for commercial cooking. But how do you know which one is the right model for your needs? There are a number of things to think about to make sure you get the right portable propane deep fryer at the best price.

The BestReviews team has been cooking up a storm to bring you the information you need on all of the latest models. Our recommendations cover a wide range of versatile fryers, and the following buying guide takes a thorough look at the important features.

If portability is important — for campsite use, for example — don’t forget the amount of oil you need. Each gallon of vegetable or corn oil weighs about 8 pounds.

Key considerations

At a glance, many of these portable propane deep flyers have a similar design: a robust stand houses a propane burner and supports a cook pot. However, there are a couple of less common options that might suit you better. To make the right choice, you need to answer a few key questions.

Where will you use your portable propane deep fryer?

The word “portable” means different things to different people. For some, the fryer needs to come apart so it can fit in the back of the family car or storage area of the RV. There are models with folding stands and relatively shallow cooking pans that are ideal for this purpose.

The majority aren’t so compact, but they’re small and light enough to store in a garden shed or a corner of a garage until needed. These are the ones people typically think of when you mention a portable propane deep fryer. They offer the widest choice in terms of size.

Large fryers tend to be built into a cart with at least two wheels. There’s often a shelf to support a standard 20-pound propane tank, and perhaps storage underneath. You’ll often see these fryers used at fairs or other outdoor events where a lot of food needs to be prepared fairly quickly over an extended period.

Excellent portability

Here’s a great idea for deep frying on the go. The leg set clicks together in moments, providing a sturdy platform for the saucer. The central well offers the main cooking area, and the wide rim allows you to warm buns and arrange your fried food so it’s ready to serve. Connecters are provided for either a 1-pound canister or a 20-pound tank. It’s even got a carry bag.

 

What style of cooking will you use the fryer for?

The common picture of a deep fryer is probably the one where it’s swallowing a whole turkey, large cuts of meat, or sausages. They’re perfect for that kind of outdoor cooking, but you do need deep cooking pots. For many, there’s no substitute for a deep pot full of hot oil — it gives food an unbeatable flavor — but it’s worth thinking about the other options available.

The most common way to add versatility is to provide two pots instead of one. While you can’t fry a whole bird, you can produce a lot of smaller items quickly.

Some models have a central well for deep frying and a wide rim surrounding it for draining excess oil and keeping food warm. Folding legs make these fryers very portable.

There are other shallow designs, equally easy to move around, that incorporate a wide pan that can be used to grill, fry, cook rice, or even make soup.

How many people will you cook for?

Most portable propane deep fryers have a single burner outputting something like 50,000 British thermal units (Btu). There’s little variation in the power of the burner across many different models, which tells you they provide perfectly adequate power for a single pan. Many commercial models with twin baskets have two burners.

The size of the pot or pan included is going to affect the amount of food you can cook in one go. Manufacturers sometimes tell you their fryer will cook 10 pounds of food, for example, but that’s not a very accurate guide. Ten pounds of chicken wings? fries? onion rings? A review of owner comments will give you useful information, but to a large extent it’s a judgment you need to make yourself.

EXPERT TIP

Whenever practical, it’s a good idea to keep a spare propane bottle around. They have a habit of running out halfway through cooking!


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Convenience

Handles: It’s not always practical, but it’s nice when the pots or pans have long handles so you can keep your hands well away from the hot oil. It’s also good when they have a grip that offers some insulation.

Drain plug: On models with large oil tanks, a drain plug is pretty much a necessity.

Ignition: An electric igniter isn’t common on smaller fryers, but one is definitely convenient.

Thermometer: You’ll need a meat thermometer. If one is included with the fryer, it will save you a few bucks.

Simple quality

Bayou Classic is one of the leading names in traditional propane deep fryers, and here’s a great example. The 10-quart pan and 5-inch basket provide ample capacity for all kinds of outdoor frying. The comfortable handle keeps your hand well back from the hot oil, and there’s a useful thermometer, so you can easily keep an eye on the heat. It’s uncomplicated, functional, and very affordable.

Maintenance

We’d generally recommend storing your portable propane deep fryer indoors if at all possible (once it has cooled), but it’s nice to have a cover anyway.

You can’t judge the quality from pictures online, but you can check owner feedback. As long as there’s a good number of responses, you’ll soon discover if there are frequent faults.

Accessories

Meat thermometer: Kizen Instant Read Meat Thermometer
The Kizen thermometer is the ideal way to make sure your food is cooked properly. It’s low cost, designed for portability, has an easy-to-read screen, and turns itself off when you fold it away. Thanks to a built-in magnet and hanging hole, you can always keep it handy wherever you are.

Fryer/grilling gloves: Jolly Green Products Ekogrips
These insulated silicone grill gloves are heat resistant to 425°F, and provide excellent grip plus terrific flexibility, so they don’t restrict movement. They’re completely waterproof and odor-free, and when you’re done frying, you can just toss them in the washer with the rest of the dishes.

How deep do you want to fry? Some of the shallower designs offer lots of versatility and are often easier to move around than the deeper models.

Portable propane deep fryer prices

Inexpensive: The problem with the cheapest portable propane deep fryers is the quality: thin stands and pans just don’t last. We would expect to pay at least $60 for a well-made set from a trusted brand.

Mid-range: Between $100 and $200, you have huge choice, including oil-free models and those with twin frying baskets. We expect most people can find what they’re looking for in this price range.

Expensive: Not many propane deep fryers top $200. Those that do usually hold 30 quarts or more — great for big parties in your backyard, but they do push the limits of “portability.” Those targeted at commercial users cost anywhere from $500 to over $1,000.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Outdoor frying is great fun, but keep an eye on the kids and pets. Hot oil spills can cause very nasty burns.

Other products we considered

If you don’t see your next fryer in our matrix, we have a few more for you. The GasOne Propane Burner and Turkey Fry is great for those on a tight budget. There’s a well-made stand, adjustable regulator, and versatile aluminum steamer/stockpot, and the whole lot weighs just 15 pounds. A deep fryer without oil?

That’s the promise of the Char-Broil Big Easy, which uses infrared technology to achieve the same crispy skin and juicy meat without needing to lug oil around or clean up the mess afterward. It comes with a 22-piece accessory kit and a cover. Definitely worth a look.

You won’t find many more comprehensive sets than the Cooper & Co Backyard Pro Kit. There’s a powerful 55,000 Btu burner, pans, baskets, racks, lifting hooks, and even a sauce syringe and thermometer.

If the weather is bad, don’t be tempted to use your portable propane deep fryer in a shed or garage — even with the doors open. The burner gives off carbon monoxide. You can’t see it or smell it, but it’s highly toxic.

FAQ

Q. Can I use 1-pound propane canisters for my portable fryer, or do I need a 20-pound tank?
A.
It depends on the demands of the burner. Some smaller models will work off either (you may need to swap the hose and regulator), but a 1-pound canister often won’t provide enough consistent pressure for larger models. Always follow the manufacturer’s suggestions. For safety reasons, it’s not something you should play around with.
 

Q. How do infrared propane deep fryers work?
A.
The propane is used to power a tubular burner that heats the inside wall of the fryer. This creates radiant heat which then reflects around the interior. It’s a very thorough method, but it’s perhaps more like a big oven than a true fryer. It’s very good at roasting, and you can do vegetables in it, but there’s no oil, so you can’t do fried fish or fries. In general, they take a little longer than a deep fryer.
 

Q. Is it OK to leave oil in my deep fryer until next time?
A.
You can, but it can soon turn rancid. Check it each time before you cook — the smell will usually give it away. Any cloudiness should clear once the oil is heated. If it doesn’t, you need to throw it away. It will keep much longer — up to three months — if you strain it and keep it in a closed container in the refrigerator.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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