How Do Deep Fryers Work? (Types, Oils, And Proper Use)

Image of a deep fryer preparing food

You can always make your favorite deep-fried food with a deep pot and utensils to collect the fried items. However, a deep fryer gives you more control when handling hot oil. It also makes fried food crispy and delicious. These advantages are because of how a deep fryer works. So, how do deep fryers work?

Deep fryers cook food in phases. In the first phase, oil is heated to a high temperature before the food is dropped into it. Next, the hot oil makes the moisture in the food vaporize and simultaneously cook the food. The food is done when all of the water evaporates, and the bubbles disappear.

While this is how all deep fryers operate, there may be slight differences according to the type of deep fryer.

Types Of Deep Fryers

Depending on the type of fuel used, deep fryers are of two types: gas and electric.

As the names suggest, gas deep fryers use a stovetop while the second one is powered by electricity. Regardless of whether you have a gas fryer or an electric deep fryer, the cooking process is the same.

Most deep fryers are made of steel or stainless steel. It will have a large container to hold the oil for frying. It will also come with a basket into which you must place the food to fry. This basket will conveniently fit inside the deep fryer. The basket has a handle that helps to conveniently lower it into the oil during cooking and remove it when the cooking is complete.

The oil container and the fryer basket are the two main parts of a deep fryer. Apart from these main components, the device may have timers, alarms, temperature sensors, ventilation systems, oil filtration systems, and other parts depending on the brand and model. Some deep fryers have a cold zone at the bottom. Unused batter or breadcrumbs that break off from the food will sink into this space. Since this area is not too hot, it will not burn and spoil the oil.

Most modern electric deep fryers are countertop models. They come with various temperature control settings and are easy to clean and maintain. Outdoor deep fryers are usually gas models. They use propane gas cylinders as the source of heat.

Related Further Reading:

How Do Deep Fryers Operate?

Deep frying is a process in which the food is cooked in hot oil at a temperature of 325°F to 400°F. At this temperature, the food cooks and develops a crispy exterior. Technically, there are four phases to this process.

  1. Heating: When you switch on or apply heat to the deep fryer, the oil in the container starts heating up. Once the oil reaches the right temperature, you can add the food into the basket and place it in the oil. The sudden exposure to heat will immediately cook the exterior surface of the food. Meanwhile, the insides are still uncooked. The crisp outer coating seals the moisture inside the food.
  2. Surface Boiling: During the second phase, the oil is still hot, which causes the moisture inside the uncooked food to vaporize. As the water evaporates, it cooks the insides of the food. You will notice bubbles at the food surface during this time. They are formed when the evaporating water touches the hot oil. These bubbles prevent the oil from getting inside the food.
  3. Reducing Heat: As cooking progresses, the water in the food gets used up. The bubbles on the surface will also begin to disappear.
  4. Bubbling Stops: When the bubbles disappear, it means that all the moisture in the food is over, and it is properly cooked. You should now remove the food from the deep fryer. If you leave it in for any longer, it will start absorbing oil as there is no bubble shield anymore.

The Importance Of Choosing The Right Type Of Oil

When choosing an oil for deep frying, the main aspect to consider is its smoking point. The smoking point is the temperature at which the oil breaks down. When the oil reaches this temperature, it becomes unstable. If you further increase the heat, it will break down and release harmful toxins.

Since deep frying involves heating of oil to a very high temperature, choose an oil with a high smoking point. It will allow you to safely heat the oil to the temperature mentioned in the recipe. Canola oil, coconut oil, and peanut oil are good for deep frying. Some oils, like coconut oil, have a strong flavor. So, you may also like to consider this factor if you do not want the flavors of the food to be affected.

Always use the right amount of oil. Avoid filling more than half of the container, as the oil may spill and lead to accidents. Use the level indicator inside the deep fryer as a guide. Additionally, pour the oil only when the deep fryer is turned off and cool.

Related Further Reading:

How To Use A Deep Fryer Properly?

The first and most important thing when using a deep fryer is to understand your appliance. Read the instruction manual and follow the directions for installation. Here are some factors to consider.

  • For an indoor deep fryer, place it away from inflammable objects. Ensure that the power cord is out of the way and not prone to spluttering oil from the deep fryer.
  • For outdoor deep fryers, read and understand how to use the propane gas cylinder. Install it in a space where there are no inflammable objects to reduce the risk of accidents.

If the deep fryer has a lid, use it while heating the oil. Modern deep fryers have inbuilt temperature displays or lights that indicate the temperature setting. Use an external thermometer if your deep fryer does not have a temperature indicator.

Cooking Food In A Deep Fryer

Never leave a deep fryer unattended when it is in use. The oil can get too hot, start smoking, and even go up in flames. So, monitor it constantly. Here are the other factors to pay attention to.

  • Do not directly transfer food from the fridge or freezer into the deep fryer. Pat it dry to remove any moisture and prevent the oil from spluttering.
  • Place the food in the basket and lower it into the oil gently. Sudden and quick immersion can make the oil spill or splutter.
  • Add the food gradually and in small amounts. Fry the food in batches if needed. Avoid crowding the basket as the food will not cook uniformly. It can also cause dangerous accidents due to the spilling of oil.

Interesting Further Reading:

Removing Food From A Deep Fryer

  • The right time to retrieve the cooked food is when the bubbles disappear. Lift the basket gently and shake it well to get rid of the excess oil.
  • Place the food on a drying rack or paper towels and let it cool down a bit before use.
  • Wait till the oil properly cools down to drain the inner pot and clean the deep fryer. Keep the lid on while it cools. Make sure it is out of the reach of children or pets, as hot oil is dangerous and can cause accidents.