Electric Deep Fryers

Published May 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.
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Overview:

Electric deep fryers seem doubly appealing: Not only are they safer than stovetop frying (because of their enclosed heating elements), but they also have lids and filters to reduce mess and smell. Could any top our usual method of deep frying in a Dutch oven with a candy thermometer clipped on? We made French fries in six fryers priced from $49.95 to $135.95 to find out. Every one had a problem reaching and staying at the correct temperature. Set to the maximum temperature, 375 degrees, most could only reach 350 degrees (a few not even that)—resulting in limp, greasy fries. Two models overshot the top temperature and got too hot but did produce crisp fries. The best of the lot had a wide, shallow basket big enough to cook a full batch (four potatoes serving four people) of fries that were uniformly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. It works—but not well enough to replace our Dutch oven.

Electric deep fryers seem doubly appealing: Not only are they safer than stovetop frying (because of their enclosed heating elements), but they also have lids and filters to reduce mess and smell. Could any top our usual method of deep frying in a Dutch oven with a candy thermometer clipped on? We made French fries in six fryers priced from $49.95 to $135.95 to find out. Every one had a problem reaching and staying at the correct temperature. Set to the maximum temperature, 375 degrees, most could only reach 350 degrees (a few not even that)—resulting in limp, greasy fries. Two models overshot the top temperature and got too hot but did produce crisp fries. The best of the lot had a wide, shallow basket big enough to cook a full batch (four potatoes serving four people) of fries that were uniformly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. It works—but not well enough to replace our Dutch oven.

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  • Product Tested

  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended with Reservations - Winner

    Waring Pro Professional Digital Deep Fryer

    The large, wide basket of this fryer was the only one big enough to cook a full batch of potatoes (four russets) serving four people. Its ample size also ensured even exposure to the oil to create uniformly cooked fries. Its temperature dropped the least when the potatoes were added (40 degrees), and it recovered the fastest, yielding fries that were super-crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The fryer’s main flaw: It overshot the temperature on the dial (but was still one of the more accurate fryers we tested).

    $139.95

  • Recommended with Reservations

    DeLonghi Cool Touch Roto Deep Fryer

    A tilted, rotating basket continuously moved food through the oil, submerging half the basket at a time, greatly reducing the amount of oil needed (5 cups versus the typical 10 to 12 cups). Like the Waring fryer, it overshot the temperature on the gauge but did produce nicely crisped fries. The main drawback: The small basket could hold only two potatoes (serving two people) at a time.

    $99.95

  • Not Recommended

    T-Fal Ultimate EZ Clean Deep Fryer

    A convenient oil draining and filtering system that released used oil into a separate chamber below made this fryer look promising. But its temperature never rose beyond 350, and when fries were dropped into the hot oil, the temperature plummeted a full 100 degrees. The result: soft, leathery fries.

    $119.99

  • Not Recommended

    Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Oil Capacity Deep Fryer

    The long, narrow basket of this fryer crowded the potatoes, resulting in a layer of undercooked fries on top and overcooked fries on the bottom. This small fryer could hold little more than two potatoes (serving two people) at a time. Like others in the lineup, it never reached the maximum temperature on the dial.

    $53.95

  • Not Recommended

    Rival 3-Liter Cool Touch Cool Zone Deep Fryer

    Cheaply constructed, this fryer’s lid was difficult to keep shut, then sprang open violently when we pressed the “open” button. We needed to jiggle the basket to remove it—a risky endeavor when dealing with hot oil. It was the least accurate of all the fryers.

    $49.95

  • Not Recommended

    Aroma Professional 3L Deep Fryer

    This fryer had nothing to recommend it. Like the Hamilton Beach model, it featured a long, narrow basket that turned out pale, undercooked fries on top, and brown, overcooked fries on the bottom. Its temperature dropped dramatically (100 degrees) when the fries were added to the hot oil, and took 20 minutes to return to 350 degrees (though the gauge was set at 375)—the longest recovery of any fryer in the lot.

    $49.99

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