How to buy the best deep fat fryer
Hankering after a plateful of gourmet pub-style chips? You'll need to invest in a deep-fat fryer for a truly authentic taste.
We explain how to choose the best deep-fat fryer to get the fluffiest, crunchiest chips possible.
We no longer review deep fat fryers, but our advice could help you to choose one that works for you.
How much do I need to spend on a deep-fat fryer?
Deep-fat fryers range in price from less than £20 to almost £100. We've found some good deep-fat fryers for less than £70, but we've also encountered plenty that have annoying flaws. Some are difficult to clean or leak when tipped over, and changing the oil is difficult with others. And not all of them produce tasty chips.
The more you spend, the more capacity you're likely to get – some models have two compartments for frying different things in one go. You'll also usually get extra features, such as a wider temperature range.
Deep-fat fryers vs air fryers
Low-fat fryers, also known as health fryers or air fryers, use a small amount of oil, and hot air, to cook food. They came onto the market around 10 years ago, with the launch of the Tefal Actifry, and are a popular alternative to deep-fat fryers.
Whether you choose a deep-fat fryer or an air fryer is likely to come down to what's most important to you – getting the authentic deep-fried crispy coating on your food, or enjoying fried treats with less fat. We explain the pros and cons below.
These are often quite basic-looking machines with a large basin for the oil and a wire basket to hold the food. The oil is heated up and then food is cooked by being submerged in the hot oil. The fryer keeps the oil at the correct temperature until the food is cooked.
Pros: Not too expensive. The best deep-fat fryers will produce authentic-tasting fried treats, from fish and chips to sweet treats such as doughnuts.
Cons: You need to use a lot of oil, although it can be re-used a couple of times. Food is submerged in oil, so has higher fat content. You'll also need to take care in handling and disposing of large amounts of oil.
These alternative fryers use only a small amount of oil – about one tablespoon. Instead of submerging the food in oil, they lightly coat it before circulating hot air around the fryer. Popular models include the Tefal Actifry, Philips Airfryer and Breville Halo fryers.
Pros: The best models turn out tasty well-cooked food using a much smaller quantity of oil, and can be used for other cooking jobs, such as baking cakes.
Cons: Expensive compared with deep-fat fryers, results are more comparable to oven-cooked chips than fried chips.
How air fryers compare
Both Tefal and Philips claim that their low-fat frying technology makes for healthier chips. Tefal says chips cooked in the Actifry contain 3% fat – by way of comparison, McCain oven chips contain 3.4% fat, and chip-shop chips contain around 8% fat according to the Federation of Fish Friers.
Philips says chips cooked in the Airfryer contain 80% less fat than those cooked in a standard deep-fat fryer.
Standard-sized fryers vs compact fryers
A typical deep-fat fryer can hold between 1kg and 1.5kg of food, and you'll need at least 1.5 litres of oil to fill it up.
But there are much smaller fryers available. Compact fryers are about the size of a two-slice toaster and take about one litre of oil to fill up. The maximum basket capacity is up to 350g of chips, which is enough for one or two people.
Compact deep-fat fryers are much smaller and easier to find storage space for, but if you're cooking chips for a family then you'll probably want a standard-sized fryer.
What deep-fat fryer features do I need?
If you've decided a deep-fat fryer is what you need, read on for our guide to the different features you're likely to find and what to look out for.
This is the removable metal-wire basket where you put the food you want to fry. It has a hook which fits onto the bowl to keep the basket out of the oil while it drains off the fried food. The best fryers hold the basket away from the oil so that it can drain and no oil soaks into the food.
Major fryer brands, such as Breville, DeLonghi, and Russell Hobbs have a range of sizes available, so make sure you pick the right size machine for your needs. A capacity of 1 kg is more than enough for four portions of chips.
You can also buy deep-fat fryers with two baskets for side-by-side cooking. Handy if you want to fry sweet and savoury treats at once, without any transfer of flavours.
Look for a deep-fat fryer with insulated walls to protect you – and any little ones – from the heat generated by cooking.
A viewing window allows you to keep an eye on your chips as they cook, so you can stop and take them out once they're done to your liking.
Some deep-fat fryers come with lids that lock, which prevents hot oil from splashing out while cooking and reducing the risks of spills if a fryer is knocked.
This makes cleaning off sticky oil residue and removing the filter much easier.
Removable or foldable basket handle
Some fryers come with basket handles which can either be removed or folded away, meaning that they take up less space in your cupboard when being stored. On some, this mechanism also doubles as a rise-and-fall feature, allowing you to close the lid before lowering the basket of food into the oil.