Finding exciting ways to serve dinner can be a challenge, which is why a deep fryer can be an invaluable tool in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it can also be a little dangerous if you don't have the experience and know-how. One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from injury is to use the right oil and the right amount to avoid burns and splattering.
How much oil you put in a deep fryer depends largely on what food you're preparing and what kind of fryer you have. However, a good rule of thumb is to never fill the basin more than halfway.
Simple as that may sound, we know you're going to want the most tailored advice in order to stay safe in the kitchen. We've compiled a list of common foods you can prep in a deep fryer and the best practices to use while doing so.
Getting The Fryer For You
There are actually a couple of different types of deep fryers:
- Electric Fryers – Easy, accessible, but often small, which limits you to frying vegetables and tiny cuts of protein
- Propane Fryers – Frequently described as producing a better taste, but requires a bit more finesse than the electric models. For example, they need to be used outdoors.
- Air Fryers – A healthier alternative to oil-based deep fryers. They don't produce exactly the same result, but some people prefer these for the health benefits. We won't spend too much time on them here, but just know you have the option.
These models are affordable for two reasons. First, you can find pieces under $100, easily. For example, this is a great electric fryer that won't break the bank.
If you're looking for something extra affordable, try this little guy on for size.
Secondly, electric fryers tend to save you money on oil because you don't need as much per session. The second model specifically requires only about six cups of oil.
Since they're designed to be user-friendly, most electric fryers will mark a minimum and maximum fill line in the basin. If that's the case with your fryer, you'll typically want to fill your model to somewhere between those lines, and then adjust as you get a feel for the process.
If you have more experience with deep frying or simply prefer the restaurant-quality taste, propane fryers are for you. They're particularly popular when it comes to preparing Thanksgiving turkeys, as this model is designed to.
You can also find models ideal for fish-fry season, such as this one.
When it comes to oil capacity, these models can differ a lot because they're so specialized. Be sure to read product manuals thoroughly before using it for the first time.
What Kind Of Oil Do You Put In A Deep Fryer?
As important as the machine itself, the oil must be chosen for safety and taste. If you end up picking the wrong kind, your food might come out too greasy or completely burnt. The main rule to follow is to use an oil with a high smoke point.
Given that, you can choose between:
- Vegetable oil, the most commonly recommended
- Peanut oil
- Grape seed oil
- Coconut oil
- Canola oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
After picking your oil, you may have to play around with which temperature produces the best results. Don't get discouraged if your first batch of, say, fried chicken comes out a little differently than you imagined.
Common Foods And How Much Oil They Need
That being said, we want to help you get it right on the first try. We've compiled a list of commonly fried foods and how to prepare your deep fryer for the best results.
Always a delicate type of meat to prepare, the amount of oil you use to fry steak will depend in part on the cut and thickness. For example, if you're frying a sirloin and want to bring out the flavor without leaving the steak too greasy, three cups of oil is the recommended amount.
To highlight the flavor of the fish, it's recommended that you use oil with a neutral flavor, such as peanut. When preparing your deep fryer, fill it approximately two-thirds to the max fill line.
Fir this well-tread classic, you'll find a lot of advice online. It all boils down to a few things:
- Keep the oil at a temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use peanut, corn, or canola oils
- Only fry a couple pieces of chicken at a time
- Fill the deep fryer above the minimum fill line but not to the maximum
- Expect to replenish the oil as necessary and give it the time to heat back up
Wow the kids with fast-food worthy french fries. The fairly straightforward treat requires between four and six cups of oil to fry well.
As they're also a potato, chips follow similar rules to french fries. Though, because they're typically thinner, you can get away with using less oil to get your desired crispiness.
Start with four cups and adjust as you play with your recipe.
For this nutritious snack, you can typically use two cups of oil. Be sure to fry them three or four at a time for the best results.
If you're using a skillet to prepare your meatballs, you'll only need an inch of oil coating the bottom of your pan. Otherwise, try about four cups of oil in your deep fryer for similar results.
Impress at parties with some special deep-fried shrimp appetizers.
Since these little guys cook at a relatively low temperature, you can use the oils that have a lower smoke point if you'd prefer. Additionally, since shrimp is small, you can fill your deep fryer closer to the maximum fill line.
Different than a codfish fry but no less a classic, salmon should be handled delicately when frying. Typically, you'll want to use a skillet and coat the bottom of the pan with oil.
After seasoning them to taste, you'll want to deep fry ribs in about one to two cups of oil.
Can You Reuse Oil After Frying?
Good news! You are able to reuse oil after frying. In fact, some deep fryers come with compartments used specifically to help you filter the oil so it's ready for a second use.
If your deep fryer does not have that feature, you can always strain your oil using cheesecloth or a sieve.
Even if you don't plan to use leftover oil for cooking, you should plan to dispose of it safely. If you're interested in the proper procedure, you can learn more here.
How Often Should You Change Your Fryer Oil?
If you've filtered your oil and stored it correctly, you can use it again and again in your deep fryer. How often you change it out for completely new oil depends a little bit on what you were cooking. For example, if you've only been frying vegetables, you're good to use the same oil six to eight times.
For meats and fish, the oil gets dirty much more quickly. Typically you'll want to change your fryer oil once every two to four uses.
Stay safe, and happy frying!