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8 best deep fat fryers for crispy fish, chips and doughnuts at home

Take the plunge with our pick of the best deep fat fryers – essential kit for crunchy comfort food

Lesley Jones
Thursday 11 February 2021 11:48
<p>For when only triple-fried chips or choc-dipped churros will do</p>

For when only triple-fried chips or choc-dipped churros will do

Deep frying is not for every day, but when only triple-fried chips or choc-dipped churros will do, there’s no better way to crisp up your comfort food.

We tested a range of deep fat fryers, from basic to bells-on, and all of our final selections made a great job of our chosen dishes. First, we tried chips like mum used to make – soaking evenly-cut potato in water to get rid of starch, before drying thoroughly and frying twice, using the temperature adjustment function to finish off with hotter oil.

Homemade bhajis were next, with our onion mixture dropped into the hot oil and lifted out when crunchy. Chicken and fish completed the menu, with Korean, southern fried and breadcrumbed portions all heading for the fryer.

Read more: 10 best air fryers that make life easier in the kitchen

We looked for ease of use – was the fryer basket stable to handle and hook onto the unit itself? If the model had a closed lid, did it fit well and minimise cooking smells? Lastly, we wanted to know how safe our deep fat fryers were to use. From steam escape to overheat cut-off – models with safety as a priority would always score well.

When choosing your deep fat fryer, consider how much kitchen worktop space you must play with. In most instances, you’ll want to use cooking oil more than once but moving it back and forward from a cupboard or shelf is not a good idea unless it’s been emptied first. It’s much less risky to leave fryers in situ on the countertop and only store away when the oil has been removed.

And where to put that leftover oil? Wait until it’s completely cool and decant into a jar or bottle for general waste, but never pour it down the sink as it will cause fatberg-style problems. Recycling centres will have a dedicated area for it; some refuse collections take it in secure containers in general waste.

We noted whether the inner baskets in our test models could be cleaned in the dishwasher, too. It’s always a horrible job, but removable filters, lids and inner pots make things easier.

Whichever model you choose, you’ll find it’s a cut above the old-fashioned open chip pan and basket. Modern deep fat fryers use inbuilt timers and temperature gauges to give you greater temperature control over the oil and some will sense overheating and cut the power. We’d still advise wearing oven gloves when opening a lid, as the heat is obviously fierce, and a sudden surge of steam can burn. Also, never leaving the room when using a fryer – this is the most hands-on appliance you’ll have in your kitchen, so stay with it.  

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. 

Tefal oleo clean pro

Safety Features: Rise and fall basket, timer, overheat function

Timer: Dial

Dishwasher friendly: Yes

Dimensions: 37.5x35.46.5cm

Power: 2100W

This powerful, fast-heating Tefal fryer uses a unique system to drain, clean and store oil after use, so there’s no food debris floating around when you use it next time.  Described as ‘semi-professional’, the three litre capacity is the largest here. The advantage of its size is that there’s a generous, wide basket, huge viewing window and plenty of room for food to float around; no clumping of bhaji batter or unevenly-cooked chips here. It was so easy to empty the oil after cooking spicy chicken to move on to the sweet stuff – no one wants chilli-hot churros, after all. When cool, it was a cinch to remove the blue tank and drain away. Serious frying kit if you have the space.

Tristar FR-6937 double deep fryer

Capacity: 3lx2

Safety features: Cool touch handle, overheat function

Timer: Dial

Dishwasher friendly: Yes

Dimensions: 27x41x40cm

Power: 1800W

This thermostatic double fryer is a brilliant solution if you’re cooking spicy things such as samosa and coated chicken and also want to make more delicately flavoured dishes or sweet treats like doughnuts and churros. There’s no need to drain and replace tainted oil (which, having experienced faintly Korean-spiced churros, is definitely a good thing). The fryers themselves are pretty straightforward, with dial timers and oblong fry baskets; there’s also a ‘cool zone’ beneath the heating elements, to encourage debris to sink to the bottom. Use both or one at a time for the perfect fish and chips – all ready for plating up at the same time.

Progress compact deep fat fryer EK2969P

Capacity: 1l

Safety Features: Ready indicator light

Timer: Dial

Dishwasher Friendly: Yes

Power: 850W

This dinky deep fat fryer had the smallest capacity of all the models we tried out. One for single chip lovers, this small plastic-cased model could also be used to cook in batches, of course, and the upside of that is that it takes up hardly any space on the counter. We managed to fry up a single chicken leg portion – two would have been a squeeze – and, afterwards, a round of chips for one (with a few extras for a friend to pinch from the plate). If you only indulge in the occasional deep-fried delights there is a useful filter to keep fat-frying smells down in the kitchen, but it won’t cope with more than one hungry mouth to feed.  

Lakeland 3l electric deep fat fryer

Capacity: 3l/700g

Safety Features: Overheat cut off

Timer: Dial

Dishwasher friendly: No

Dimensions: 41x23x24cm

Power: 1800W

We like the viewing window on this narrow model, which meant we could keep a close eye on our chips, to reach just the right golden colour. The slim shape meant the footprint isn’t too obtrusive, only taking up a narrow space in a convenient space beside the cooker. The chrome and steel felt a good, chunky grade and the controls and filter, although simple, solid and nice to handle. We got great results from this deep fryer with two large cod fillets easily handled. When not in use, we appreciated being able to fold up the basket handle and store inside the machine.

Judge 2 Litre deep fryer

Capacity: 2.25l

Safety Features: Overheat cut off

Timer: Sliding function

Dishwasher friendly: No

Dimensions: 28x32x37.5cm

Power: 1500W

The clean, white styling of this model looked really good on the worktop. We’ll have to be rigorous with cleaning the casing, however, as we think that could start to look grubby after long-term use. Luckily, the lid and filter can be removed for this. We liked the rise and fall basket on this model, meaning that we could lift chips from the hot fat without having to hook it onto the rim, which can be tricky with some fryers. It heated quickly and then the cool-touch materials did a good job of keeping the unit at a decent temperature. Although none of these fryers should be moved around when in use, of course, that was helpful when working in a small space.

VonShef 1.5l deep fat fryer

Capacity: 1.5l

Timer: No

Dishwasher friendly: No

Dimensions: 25x22x21cm

Power: 900W

Just right for smaller portions and side dishes, this smaller fryer looks higher-end than its price tag. It worked well for a single bowl of chips – good enough for two as a side - and perfected two coated chicken thighs afterwards. The viewing window was a generous size, and we liked the simplicity of the variable temperature dial and cooking time graphics. The stainless steel casing and non-stick inner pan cleaned up well, too. Our one complaint was there’s no separate inner pot to remove when draining oil – the whole unit must be tipped.

Russell Hobbs digital deep fat fryer 24580

Capacity: 3l/1.2kg

Timer: Dial

Dishwasher friendly: No

Dimensions: 24.5x27x33cm

Power: 2200W

This powerful fryer was quick to heat up, with a light indicating when it was time to dunk our ingredients in the hot fat. With a capacity of 3kg, there was more than enough space to make chips for a family of four, using the digital timer to remind us when to take them out – this function won’t cut off the heat, however. This is a great choice if you need a fryer that will see a lot of action and have the capacity to cook all at once rather than in batches but not take up too much space compared to some other models – its footprint is comparable to a large four-slot toaster in size.

Tower 1500W 2 Litre deep fryer

Capacity: 2l

Timer: Dial

Dishwasher friendly: No

Dimensions: 25x22x21cm

Power: 900W

The lid on this model had a multi-functional handle that folds flat and then lifts out from the body of the fryer and clicks into position. This feels secure as it lifts the basket out of the oil. The half-moon shaped viewing window made it easy to keep an eye on the fry and everything we tried in it was a success, with the handy ‘ready’ light letting us know when the perfect temperature for each dish was achieved. There was a useful guide on the casing to remind us of those, too. This is a great value family fryer for sides, or exactly right for two generous chicken portions.

The verdict: Deep fat fryers

The Tefal Oleo was a seriously good fryer and gave us everything we wanted from this kitchen kit – safety, stability, versatility and seriously good chips. The clean-up in this model was by far the best, with the removable tank making life so much easier. The Lakeland model was also a great buy, giving us 3l capacity for under £50.

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