A commercial deep fryer cooks foods extremely efficiently and quickly, and are often used in restaurants and commercial kitchens for appetizers and specific entrees. Deep fryers use a heating element to super-heat an oil medium to around 400° Fahrenheit. When food product is dipped into the oil, the moisture inside boils, but because oil and water don’t mix, the product doesn’t lose moisture, but rather, is steamed from the inside out. Beyond these great deep fryer basics, here’s your buying guide to deep fryers and a great reference to bookmark for later maintenance.
The two most common types of commercial fryers are countertop models and floor models.
Countertop models are perfect for those restaurants that don’t have much space to fit a floor model and don’t fry enough food to call for a large capacity fryer. However, if frying foods is part of your regular menu, a floor model may fit your business model better as they have a much larger capacity. For this reason, it’s important to calculate the cooking capacity needed for your commercial kitchen before purchasing a new fryer.
Larger volume kitchens may find it necessary to purchase multiple tank floor fryer units or put several smaller floor units in series next to each other. This is especially useful for frying different food types simultaneously, i.e. helping to avoid flavor transfer from one type of food to another by using the same oil. Likewise, it also helps prevent cross-contamination from fish products.
It depends on how much fried food you cook in a day. Capacity is determined by how many pounds of french fries a fryer can cook in one hour. Typically this is calculated by roughly doubling the oil tank capacity of a fryer; therefore, a 40 gallon fryer should produce between 75 - 80 pounds of french fries per hour.
There are three common types of deep fryers: tube style, open pot, and flat bottom. Almost every fryer type is constructed out of heavy gauge stainless steel and includes an accurate thermostat for temperature control.
It’s important to note that gas vs. electric is another important type to know about. For more on this, please see question below.
Tube style deep fryers have a series of tubes that run through the bottom of the heating tank. Gas burners run through these tubes to heat the oil. Tube style fryers also have a cooler sediment area below the tubes. This allows crumbs and food particles to settle out of the super-heated oil above the tube burners, which prevents the carbonization of those particles, i.e. it helps to prolong oil life and keep the burnt taste out of fried foods. The heating tubes on tube style fryers make cleaning the bottom of the tank more difficult than with other deep fryer types, because the tubes sit in the tank above the sediment zone, blocking easy access to where the particles rest.
Open pot deep fryers are heated with either a gas burner or an electric heating element that wraps around the base on the outside of the oil tank. The oil is heated as these elements heat the metal base. Open pot fryers also have a sediment zone below the point where the gas or electric element is heating the oil to allow food particles to escape the super-hot oil. Open pot fryers are typically easier to clean than tube style fryers. Both open pot and tube style fryers can handle most food products in significant quantities, depending upon the tank capacity of the fryer as discussed above.
Flat bottom deep fryers do not have a sediment zone that allows food particles to settle out of hot oil. This type of deep fryer is therefore best for lighter foods that can be bulk fried, like tortilla chips and taco shells.
Ever heard the story about the infamous KFC chicken recipe? The secret was partly in the seasoned flour, but greatly in how the chicken was cooked. Coronel Sander’s secret to cooking otherwise tough chicken, was to pressure cook it in a pressure fryer.
A pressure fryer is a commercial unit that works in a similar manner as a residential pressure cooker (see note below). Rather than bringing water up to a high temperature under pressure, oil is brought up to well over 320° F and placed under pressure to deliver a perfectly cooked, juicy fried recipe. Pressure fryers turn incredibly long braising times into just minutes. They are known to use less oil than other deep fryer types and offer a controlled, low pressure, yet faster cooking method – leaving chicken (and other meat choices), fall-off-the-bone delicious.
Note on residential pressure cookers.
Although, pressure fryers operate similarly to how residential pressure cookers work, they are not the same, and it is NOT advised that you turn a home pressure cooker into a pressure fryer. Normal pressure cookers are made to handle temperatures up to 250° F; whereas pressure fryers are designed to handle temperatures that reach well above the 320° F needed to get oil hot enough to begin frying foods. Under this type of high temperature, the gaskets in a residential pressure cooker would likely melt and essentially turn the pressure cooker into a ticking time bomb – yikes. It’s also important to note that pressure fryers operate at a much lower pressure than pressure cookers do.
There isn’t a set price for deep fryers; in fact, on our site, you can find some from under $1,000 to upwards of $10,000. Essentially, the larger the deep fryer is, the more expensive it is; likewise, if it has digital readings and controls, rather than analog, it will also be pricier. On the flipside, countertop models with a 10 lb capacity or less can easily be found for under $500. Final price will depend on control type, fryer type, number of fry pots, capacity, and gas/electric.
Gas deep fryers use a natural gas or liquid propane flame, either inside a series of tubes that run through the oil or through heating elements located towards the bottom of the oil tank. Gas deep fryers heat up quicker than an electric deep fryer and are also more efficient, though rising natural gas prices have narrowed that gap. Larger capacity deep fryers, with 40 gallons of oil or more, are almost exclusively gas heated units. In a larger capacity context, gas heat is the only way to go in terms of efficiency and heat recovery time (see definition below). Gas deep fryers are typically less expensive than electric deep fryers, yet the set-up cost for gas is typically higher than with electric.
Electric deep fryers use an electrical heating element that sits in the fryer vat (the part of the fryer that holds the oil). Electric deep fryers are small capacity countertop deep fryers that operate well when dealing with a small amount of oil (up to about 25 gallons); in this situation, electric deep fryers are more efficient and recover quicker.
Recovery time is the time it takes for the oil to return to its normal cooking temperature when a basket of cold, frozen food is dropped into the vat or hot, cooked food is removed, i.e. the time to restore the heat. When looking to invest in a new deep fryer, it’s important to take note of the recovery time of the unit as this time will help keep the kitchen running efficiently, as well as, help save on energy costs. Electric deep fryers typically have a faster recovery time than gas fryers.
For used deep fryers, if you start to notice that recovery time is taking longer than it used to, odds are it’s time to start looking into a new deep fryer, as you are not only loosing time to cook the next batch, but also energy dollars.
The oil you use in your fryer degrades in quality over time and should be replaced. The frequency with which you need to replace oil depends upon what you cook, how much of it you cook and how regularly.
To improve oil quality and lifespan, use a oil filtration system to filter out food bits and debris from the deep fryer. A fryer filter works by draining oil from the deep fryer tank, circulating it through a filter that strains out unwanted particles, and returning the cleaned oil to the deep fryer tank. Some more advanced fryer models have the oil filtration system built-in.
It is also important to boil out deep fryers regularly to burn fat and carbon build-up off the heating elements and the tank. These deposits can become corrosive and cause severe damage to the deep fryer. Be sure to clean the inside of the deep fryer regularly as well; the most logical opportunity for this being when you replace the oil.
Make sure you have the proper equipment to handle spent oil. Used oil should be stored in stainless steel drums and transported in a spill-proof container with wheels for easy movement. A local biodiesel company will dispose of your used oil for free or even pay you for used oil.
Buying a new deep fryer isn’t just a one-stop shopping experience. To keep any kitchen equipment running properly and efficiently, it’s always recommended to ensure you have the right parts and accessories on hand. To start, make sure to take a look at the fryer parts we have for your brand. Things like fryer baskets, fryer screens, and filter paper are used on a regular basis and help control the basic functions of your deep fryer. Splash guards and door hangers may not need to be replaced often, but it’s good to know about the parts that fit your model so that you can get quick access to them when they are needed.
From learning more about maintaining oil life to DIY repairs on your deep fryer, check out some of these great articles:
|Fryer Oil Maintenance: Tips To Make Oil Taste Better & Last Longer||Fixing Commercial Fryers [Video]||Fryer Safety Checklist|
|Stop Giving Fryer Oil Waste Away||Repairing Commercial Fryers||How to Remove Hot Used Fryer Oil Safely|
|A Lesson in Cooking Oil||Fryer Fire Low|
|What’s in the Oil: A Healthier Alternative to Fried Foods in the Restaurant||Converting Gas Restaurant Equipment in 5 Simple Steps|
|Replacing Gas Safety Valves|