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How to Deep Fry

The one question that we get more than anything is, “So how do I start deep frying at home?” And it’s true: nothing is more intimidating than a vat of hot oil in your kitchen or the nightmare of soggy or blackened food. But in our opinion, the pros of deep frying far outweigh the cons. Crispy chicken wings, devilishly delicious Oreos, homemade potato chips, and more fantastic dishes reach their true potential with a little deep frying love. Still nervous? We’ll walk you through everything you need to know for success with our How to Deep Fry guide.

So…what IS a deep fryer, and how does deep frying work?

What’s the difference between regular frying and deep frying? Bear with us here, and imagine frying is like a beach.

A hot black cast iron frying pan filled with chopped red onions, being stirred by a wooden spoon.
Red onion in a griddle pan, with wooden spoon to stirl.

On the shoreline, you have sautéing, which is just a tablespoon or so of oil. Use this method as a non-sticking agent for browning vegetables or searing meat.

If we go knee-deep into our deep frying ocean, you’ll find pan frying: about an inch or so of oil at the bottom of a frying pan.

Pan Frying
Pan Fry

This is great for fried chicken at home or chicken strips. And if we jump straight into the ocean so the water is above our head, that’s deep frying: a well of oil, which is great for frying a big volume of food, or when you want to evenly fry food on every single side.

Deep Fry

The basics of deep frying are simple. You’ll cover food in a batter, dip the food into the oil, and let it sit for a certain amount of time. Then you just take the food out of the oil, let the excess oil drip off, and serve. For more on specific supplies and information on batters and oils, keep reading!

Your Essential Deep Frying Supplies

Prepare for deep frying success by picking up a few essentials before you get started.

HOT TIP: Need to deep fry on the fly but don’t have a candy thermometer on hand? You can substitute a wooden spoon handle. Dip it into the hot oil; if bubbles appear around the spoon, then the oil is hot and you can start frying. Keep in mind, this method is best for experienced fryers, and using a thermometer is always preferable!

Deep Frying Oil 101

It can be hard to keep information about oil straight—what oil do you use, and how do you know when you’re ready to start frying? Never fear—our Deep Frying Oil 101 tips are here to help.

Choose the right oil
Choose the right oil

HOT TIP: Keep an eye on the oil to avoid the smoke points and flash points. The smoke point is the temperature at which little wisps of smoke begin rising out of the oil. If this goes on for much longer, the oil will chemically break down and taste, frankly, gross. Medium smoke point oils include grape seed and peanut oil, which hit the point between 375 and 450 degrees. Looking for something a little less high maintenance? Canola oil has a smoke point between 470 and 485 degrees. The flash point is the temperature at which your oil starts to catch on fire; you’ll see little flames on the surface of the oil. This tends to happen around 600 degrees, which is why you NEVER walk away from boiling oil.

Check Out: How to Master Deep Frying Oil

Let’s Pick Your Batter and Breading

Batter or breading

1. Your batter or breading depends on your food

There are lots of different batters you can choose from: thick or thin, wet or dry…you get the idea! If your food has natural moisture, then a wet batter isn’t needed and you can use breading instead. Breading often involves bread crumbs or other dry, crumbly layers (think crackers or even crushed up cookies!) that add flavor. For most breading, you’ll also be using a batter in order to get the breading to stick—unless, of course, there’s lots of natural moisture involved. Use a wet batter for food that isn’t naturally moist, and food where you want to seal in moisture. You can also use batter and breading combined when you want a thicker coating on the food.

Whisk the batter

2. Use the right technique

Whisk your batter and don’t over mix it, or it might get too thick! Submerge one piece of food at a time, and let the extra batter drip off before you set it in the oil. For breading, the standard procedure tends to be as followed: dip the food in flour, then beaten eggs, then finally the bread crumbs. This way, the breading has something to stick to (though you can also dip in your batter first, and then into your breading, if you’ve decided to combine the techniques).

Boneless chicken breast in egg mixture before adding to bread crumbs. Preparing country fried chicken.

3. Learn how to dredge

Dredging is a term that refers to first dipping food in a wet egg batter and then dipping it in breading. The wet batter helps the breading stick. We recommend having a bowl of water handy to clean your fingertips!

HOT TIP: Keep your food warm and crispy in the oven with a warming tray set at 250.

Safety First!

Use baking soda to snuff a small fire
Use baking soda to snuff a small fire

With a vat of boiling oil in front of you, don’t be lax when it comes to safety. A few simple rules to follow so you can keep your cool:

1. In case of fire

If a fire does start, never use water to put out a grease fire. Keep a fire extinguisher or a baking soda on hand.

2. The bigger the pot, the better.

Try to keep at least three or four inches between the top of the oil and the top of the pot. Ideally, you don’t want to fill your deep fryer over half full; most deep fryers will have minimum/maximum lines, so you can keep an eye on when your oil is headed into a danger zone.

3. Lower food S-L-O-W-L-Y into the oil.

Making a splash with hot oil is never a good idea. Along the same lines, you never want ice chunks on frozen food. Throwing ice into hot oil will cause severe splattering and possible burns. Let food defrost until you can’t see any ice or crystals, and pat it with a paper towel.

HOT TIP: Fry mesh nets help contain splatter!

Time to Clean Up

Dish detergent easily cuts oil and grease.
Dish detergent easily cuts oil and grease.

When the fun is done, you still have to do a bit of necessary clean up.

1. Completely cool for cleanup

Completely let the oil cool before getting started on clean up. Hot oil can burn you or melt plastic containers; enjoy your deep fried treats while the oil stands and cools.

2. Use empty container

Pour the oil into an empty container, like a milk carton or a takeout container, and throw it in the trash (or see our hot tip for storage advice!).

3. Clean with grease dissolving detergent

Clean the deep fryer with grease dissolving dish detergent to cut through the grease. Strong chemicals aren’t necessary here, especially since this is a pot you use for making food! A mild dish detergent works wonder on grease fighting.

HOT TIP: You can reuse deep fryer oil safely for three to four uses as long as you leave it in a cool, dark place. Just pour the oil into a sealable container and set it aside until your next deep fry!