Really, honestly, no joke: As long as you have some basic kitchen gear, deep frying isn’t hard at all. Just make sure to pay attention to the details and have everything set up and ready to go before you start cooking. Here are the six pieces of equipment you need to start frying with confidence.
1. Dutch Oven
While you could deep-fry in a smaller vessel, we prefer using a Dutch oven because its high walls help contain splatter, and its large capacity means that you can use enough oil without it overflowing or overcrowding the pot. We like to fry in heavier pots because they typically retain heat better, so the oil stays at a more consistent temperature.
Test Kitchen’s Winning Model: Le Creuset 7¼ Quart Round Dutch Oven (about $385)
Test Kitchen’s Best Buy Model: Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole (about $76)
2. Clip-On Thermometer
Proper deep frying requires the proper oil temperature. If the oil is too hot, the outside will look done when the food isn’t fully cooked; if the oil is too cool, the food will absorb too much oil and be greasy, and it won’t brown in a timely fashion. You can use an instant-read thermometer to repeatedly check the oil temp, but clip-on models give you a continual reading and free up your hands to do the important stuff—the frying.
Test Kitchen’s Winning Model: ThermoWorks ChefAlarm (about $64)
3. Instant-Read Thermometer
Because most fried food has a crisp coating, it is difficult to tell at a glance if the food inside is cooked through properly. A good instant-read thermometer takes the guesswork out of gauging doneness.
Test Kitchen’s Winning Model: ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4 (about $99)
4. Rimmed Baking Sheet and Wire Rack
We use a wire rack set inside a rimmed sheet for holding breaded foods (such as chicken) before frying so the coating can set; the air circulation coming through the rack is key here. And we use the same setup (either washing the original rack or pulling out spares), often lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil, to drain and cool the foods once fried.
A good pair of tongs are a cook’s best friend. The best ones are nimble enough to maneuver easily without crushing delicate items and sturdy enough to handle big jobs. When it comes to deep frying, they're ideal for flipping or removing foods from hot oil.
Test Kitchen’s Winning Model: OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Tongs (about $13)
6. Spider Skimmer
A spider skimmer functions like a huge slotted spoon and can easily and safely move large quantities of fried foods out of hot oil. Spider skimmers are great for everyday tasks such as boiling ravioli, potatoes, or green beans.
Test Kitchen’s Winning Model: Rösle Wire Skimmer (about $30)