The best deep fryer has

  • The right capacity. As noted in the introduction to this report, capacity may be the most important consideration when buying a deep fryer. If you don't get one large enough for the number of people you cook for, you may have to fry multiple batches, which takes more time. A 4-cup deep fryer will make two small servings, a 6-cup will make two generous or three small servings, and a 12-cup should make enough to feed most families. If you're planning to cook a whole chicken or turkey, you need a dedicated turkey fryer that will cook the size poultry that you want to fry.
  • High power. Deep fryers with higher wattage ratings have more powerful heating elements. This helps heat the oil to the desired temperature more quickly. Then, after you add the food, the oil comes back up to temperature more quickly, this is the key to performance -- beginning the frying process more quickly so the outside cooks crisply and the inside stays moist, yet without absorbing a lot of oil.
  • An adjustable temperature. While the ideal frying temperature for most foods is 375 degrees Fahrenheit, adjustable temperature controls provides versatility for cooking different types of food.
  • Hooks for draining foods. The best home deep fryers that use oil have hooks for the frying baskets that allow you to lift the food out of the oil and hang it on the side of the fryer, over the oil cavity, to drain.
  • A nonstick interior. Deep fryers can be a pain to clean, nonstick interiors make it much easier. Also, look for stainless steel baskets that resist rusting and pitting. A few deep fryers have dishwasher safe accessories, but most need to be hand-washed.

Know before you go

Where will you store your deep fryer? Deep fryers come in all sizes; larger fryers, such as turkey fryers, are not usually meant to be countertop appliances. Smaller fryers may be suitable to leave out on a countertop. However, if you're an infrequent fryer, you probably don't want another appliance taking up valuable counter space. Measure your available space and choose a deep fryer that will fit in it -- and that goes for storing a big turkey fryer when it's not in use.

Do you enjoy different cooking methods? A few deep fryers have features that make them useful for multiple purposes. The T-fal ActiFry, for instance, can make risotto and a variety of other foods, while other fryers double as steamers or boilers. If you like to experiment, or just prefer multi-use appliances, choose a deep fryer with a little versatility.

Are you cutting back on fats? If you're on a low-fat diet for whatever reason, oil-less deep fryers cook food with no oil or very little oil, so the resulting cooked food will have less fat than a comparable serving cooked in oil. However, according to professional tests, foods that are properly cooked in standard deep fryers absorb very little oil anyway.

Will you reuse the oil? Whether you want to recycle or just save money, you'll probably want to use the same oil at least a few times. Opt for a deep fryer with built-in filtration or a drainage system that can be easily configured with your own filtration method, so you can store the oil for later use without too much hassle.

Safety considerations when using a deep fryer

Home deep fryers are perfectly safe when used properly; however, they have the potential to do a lot of harm as well. Deep fryers are estimated to result in more than $15 million in property damage each year. You must be especially careful when using turkey fryers. Butterball has an excellent, very detailed guide to properly deep frying a turkey safely whether indoors or out. We urge you to study it before you attempt to deep fry your first turkey -- and then review it as a refresher each time you use the fryer for a turkey.

As for other types of deep fryers, follow all manufacturer's instructions to the letter, don't overfill your fryer, and always keep children away from these appliances. In addition, we recommend always placing the deep fryer on something like heavy cardboard or a grill mat just in case of spills.

Elsewhere in this Report:

Best Reviewed Deep Fryers: Deep fryers can prepare restaurant-quality fried foods, without the restaurant prices. Here are the top oil and oil-free deep fryers, as well as the top turkey deep fryers. Some are even multitaskers, capable of steaming or stir-frying.

Best Deep Fryers: There's a deep fryer in every size and for every price range. These are the best home deep fryers -- including a few that don't even use oil!

Best Turkey Fryers: Plenty of folks say there's nothing like the delicious taste and moist, succulent texture of a deep-fried turkey. We found a traditional turkey fryer that uses oil, one that uses about a third less oil, and one that uses no oil at all.

Our Sources: We used these professional and user review sites to find the best turkey fryers. They are ranked in order of their expertise and helpfulness.

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