Fryer reviews: FAQs
How much do I need to spend to buy a decent fryer?
There are some decent fryers which cost less than £40, but they tend to be flawed. Some are difficult to clean, others are difficult to change the oil on, while some leak oil when tipped over.
To get an all round Best Buy fryer you'll need to spend at least £70, and some cost more than £100.
Are fryers safer than a chip pan?
The fire brigade recommends replacing chip pans with a deep fat fryer for safety reasons.
A chip pan of oil, heated on the hob, can reach temperatures of more than 300°C, which can cause the oil to bust into flames.
Electric fryers are controlled by a thermostat which is designed to keep the oil at the right temperature to avoid it overheating and igniting, which makes them much safer.
Most deep fryers also feature a thermal safety cut-out system to stop it working if it gets too hot.
Other safety features include viewing windows so the cooking food is visible, cool walls to keep the outsides from getting too hot, and locking lids that prevent oil from splashing out while cooking and reducing the risks of spills if a fryer is knocked.
What oils can I use, and are there any best avoided?
The instruction manual which comes with the deep fat fryer will suggest which oils are best, and any to avoid.
Different oils are suitable for cooking at high temperatures, so it is essential the right one is chosen for deep frying. For this reason different types of oil should never be mixed.
Suitable oils include vegetable, sunflower, sesame, groundnut, corn, soy, hazelnut and rapeseed.
Most fryers advise against using olive oil, butter or margarine as they are unsuitable for cooking at high temperatures and will bubble over and smoke.
Any oils with high water content should be avoided, too.
How often should the oil be changed?
Advice varies from 5 to 25 uses, and it will depend on what you're cooking in your fryer. But it should be changed regularly – on average every 8-10 uses, especially if you are cooking food covered in breadcrumbs. Always follow the advice given in the instruction booklet.
After cooking, and once the oil has cooled down, the oil should be filtered to remove any food debris such as breadcrumbs.
Once filtered, the oil should be kept in a sealed container until the next use – unless otherwise stated in the instruction manual.
What do I do with oil once it’s been changed?
Once the oil has been used several times it needs to be disposed of very carefully.
Oil should never be poured down the drain – it needs to be poured into a sealed container and disposed of according to your local council’s guidelines.
Do fryers cause unpleasant odours?
Odours are a problem with deep fryers. Many do have lids which will reduce the odour problem – however, when the lid is opened cooking smells will escape.
Odour filters help to reduce this problem, but they won’t eliminate odours completely.
None of the fryers we tested were odour-free.
Can I use solid fat in my fryer?
Though using solid fat isn’t recommended for health reasons, it is possible to use it in some fryers, so check the instruction manual to see what applies.
For fryers that can use solid fats, solid fat should be melted in a saucepan first and then carefully transferred into the fryer before turning the fryer on.
The next time the fryer is used, holes need to be made in the solid fat, all the way down to the bottom of the fryer. This will allow any water trapped underneath the solidified fat to escape as steam while it’s melting.
Always refer to the fryer's instruction manual for the exact process for melting solid fats, as it can differ from model to model.
I’ve heard that steam can be a problem when cooking with fryers.
During cooking, it’s usual for steam or condensation to build up under the lid of the fryer.
Opening the lid can cause steam to rush out – so make sure you’re not standing directly over the fryer when opening the lid.
Steam can also escape from around the edge of the lid during cooking, so make sure the fryer is positioned in a suitable place in your kitchen.
How easy are fryers to clean?
By definition, a deep fat fryer isn’t going to be simple to clean, because it cooks using oil.
Some models have removable dishwasher-safe baskets, lids or handles which can also be washed by hand in warm, soapy water.
Some fryers can be disassembled completely, making the individual parts much easier to clean.
Fryers with non-removable bowls will have to be cleaned at the sink with soapy water. Always refer to the instruction manuals for guidance, and ensure the cable and plug are kept well away from the sink.
The hardest part of cleaning a fryer is removing the used oil. This should only be done when the oil is cool – never attempt to remove hot oil.
Most fryers need the oil tipping out of the bowl which means, in some cases, a large heavy bowl full of cold oil needs to be lifted and poured. So it’s worth thinking about what size fryer is needed and how heavy it will be.
How easy are fryers to use?
Fryers are relatively simple appliances to use. They feature a bowl, a basket and a lid and controls.
The temperature is adjusted by a manual dial or slider, and a light will show when the fryer is on. Some models, such as the Tefal Actifry, have digital controls.
Some fryers have an indicator light to show when the oil has reached the correct temperature, but on other models the light will simply go out when it’s reached the correct temperature.
Are Tefal Actify chips ‘healthiest’? What about oven chips?
According to the Potato Council, oven chips contain 4.2% fat, while chip shop chips contain 12.4% fat.
Tefal claims chips made in the Actifry contain 3% fat.
If you cook chips at the right temperature and for the correct length of time, the hot oil should seal the outside of the chip and the water content inside the potato should keep the fat out.
Thicker chips are thought to be healthier than thinner chips, as they don’t absorb as much fat when deep frying.