This page was last updated in October 2020.
Deep-frying is the cooking method of choice for making many of the foods we think of as ‘treats’.
It’s the key to making crunchy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside, gastropub-style chips, and it can also come in handy for making delicacies such as churros, tempura, doughnuts and onion rings.
The premise is simple: you submerge a foodstuff in a large container of oil, then cook it at a very high temperature.
If you’re going to deep-fry, it’s best to do so using a deep-fat fryer. These appliances are designed to bring an acceptable degree of safety to the historically hazardous practice of deep-frying.
A saucepan of oil heated to a very high temperature could keep getting hotter when left on the hob, but a deep-fat fryer should stop heating up once the oil reaches the temperature you’ve selected with the thermostat. We needn’t spell out why this is important!
The appeal of deep-fat fryers isn’t all to do with safety. Good examples of the appliance can also make deep-frying more convenient and enjoyable, courtesy of features such as viewing windows, handy frying baskets, and vents that prevent smoke from building up inside the fryer.
Before we jump out of the introduction and into the fryers, a few notes on safety:
● Deep-fat fryers are among the more dangerous appliances you might use in a domestic kitchen. Always read the instruction manual and follow the safety advice carefully.
● Never leave a deep-fat fryer unattended while it’s switched on.
● Use an oil that has a smoke point lower than your intended cooking temperature. Vegetable or sunflower oil are good options. Meanwhile, olive oil should generally be avoided.
For more safety advice, read our cookery guide on how to deep-fry safely.
And finally, a note on oil: be sure to buy plenty of it to use with your deep-fat fryer. Usually, the minimum fill level of a deep-fat fryer is only about half a litre lower than the maximum fill level. There’s not much scope for frying with a low volume of oil.
Read on to discover the best deep-fat fryers. For more, visit our reviews section and find over 400 practical buyer’s guides offering unbiased advice on what equipment is worth investing in, including our review of air fryers.
Best deep-fat fryers to buy
Swan SD6040N 3-litre stainless steel fryer
Best overall deep-fat fryer
Here it is: the best deep-fat fryer to emerge from our testing. The Swan SD6040N is a classic-style fryer made to perfection, combining excellent heating performance with handy features, including a viewing window and air vent.
The chips we made with the SD6040N came out superb. The batches were very evenly cooked, with each chip cooked through thoroughly.
In terms of taste and texture, they were perfectly balanced, with crispy skins that had just a hint of chewiness, and dense, fluffy insides. Read our full Swan stainless steel fryer review.
Maxima 8-litre electric fryer with faucet
- Available from Maxima (£89.73)
Best for professional results
Although the Maxima 8-litre fryer with faucet is technically a commercial fryer, it’s well worth considering for home use.
This is the only fryer we’ve tested that has the capacity to make enough chips for a large family in one go. On the downside, it’s probably too large to live permanently on the kitchen counter.
This fryer gets up to temperature rapidly and reliably, and the chips come out evenly cooked and delicious. Read our full Maxima electric fryer review.
Available from: Maxima (£89.73)
Breville VDF108-01 easy clean digital deep-fat fryer
Best for easy maintenance
The Breville VDF108-01 is close to being the perfect deep-fat fryer for home use. We found that it cooked chips and other foods beautifully, and it’s impressively easy to use.
The only real drawback is that the thermostat is a little unreliable. We found this fryer to be a pleasure to cook with.
The 1kg cooking capacity is perhaps a little low, relative to the sizeable footprint of the appliance, but the food it does cook, it cooks very well. Read our full Breville easy clean deep-fat fryer review.
Cookworks XJ-10302 semi-professional fryer – stainless steel
Best for heating performance
With excellent heating performance and a simple, classic design, the Cookworks XJ-10302 is a great choice for those who prize frying power above all else. It’s not the fanciest of fryers, but it does its job well.
We were very impressed with this deep fryer’s heating performance. It got up to 130C in the space of about 4 minutes, and did so with great accuracy.
We found that the chips we cooked turned out pretty evenly – if you like your chips to have a bit of stodge to them, you’d enjoy the chips we made with this fryer. Read our full Cookworks XJ-10302 semi-professional fryer review.
Russell Hobbs 24580 digital deep fryer – stainless steel
Best for speed
The Russell Hobbs 24580 is a powerhouse of a deep-fat fryer, capable of cooking family-sized portions at temperatures from 130C-190C.
It’s very easy to set up, coming up to temperature quickly. With powerful heating comes the potential for delicious deep-fried food, and the 24580 certainly seems capable of that.
This feels like a safe fryer to use. The sides of the appliance don’t get especially hot during use. Read our full Russell Hobbs digital deep fryer review.
Coopers of Stortford compact mini fryer
- Available from Coopers of Stortford (£24.99)
Best for small kitchens
Minuscule it may be, but the Coopers of Stortford compact mini fryer cooks a mean chip. This fryer heats up and cooks very well.
Setting up this appliance is incredibly easy. The basket and the handle fit together and into the fryer intuitively, and turning the fryer on is a simple matter of turning its thermostat dial.
The chips we cooked with the mini fryer were heavenly in taste and texture: really crisp on the outside, and perfectly fluffy on the inside. Read our full Coopers of Stortford compact mini fryer review.
Available from Coopers of Stortford (£24.99)
Cookworks DF5318-GS deep-fat fryer – white
The Cookworks DF5318-GS has its quirks and foibles, but once you’ve learned its ins and outs, it will make you some of the finest chips you could hope to deep-fry.
Setting up the appliance is pretty easy: it’s just a matter of powering the appliance on, adding the oil, then turning the thermostat to your desired temperature.
This fryer seems to work much better at very high temperatures than it does at the lower temperatures. Read our full Cookworks DF5318-GS deep fat fryer review.
VonShef 2.5-litre deep-fat fryer
Best lightweight fryer
The VonShef 2.5-litre deep-fat fryer is a neat, loaf-shaped appliance that can fry plenty of food without taking up too much space. It’s easy to set up and all main components are detachable, which is hugely convenient for cleaning.
During our testing, this fryer proved itself capable of heating oil impressively quickly. Perhaps our favourite selling point of this fryer is its ratio of cooking capacity to oil required.
It’ll cook you a few decent-sized portions of chips with just a couple of litres of oil, which is highly efficient. Read our full VonShef 2.5-litre deep-fat fryer review.
IKOHS Quickfry FD-2180 deep-fat fryer
- Available from IKOHS (£49.95)
Best for accuracy
This brilliantly finished, impressively precise fryer is a typically accomplished offering from Spanish brand IKOHS. Contrary to its name, the Quickfry FD-2180 is not especially fast, but once it gets up to temperature, it fries very effectively.
A particularly strong suit of this fryer is safety. The fryer is particularly robust, and it seems less prone to spitting oil than most other models we’ve tested.
The chips produced by the Quickfry FD-2180 are very good. We are particularly impressed with the evenness of the batches produced by this fryer. Read our full IKOHS Quickfry deep-fat fryer review.
Available from IKOHS (£49.95)
Asda George Home black deep fryer
- Available from Asda (£18)
Best budget fryer
This fryer is more than a little similar to the more expensive appliances we’ve seen from other brands, and as such, you might consider it a bit of a bargain. It cooks delicious chips in portions large enough to generously feed two or three people.
This fryer does seem to heat oil to a higher temperature towards the middle of its frying bowl, and this does result in a slight unevenness among batches of chips. However, the chips have great flavour and a delightful, fluffy texture.
Much like a toaster in size and shape, this fryer makes a modest addition to the kitchen. Read our full Asda George deep-fat fryer review.
Available from Asda (£18)
Which deep-fat fryer should I buy?
Should you buy a deep-fat fryer or an air-fryer? If you want to cook golden, crunchy, chip-shop-style chips or authentic fried chicken at home, then only a deep-fat fryer will do. They are generally straightforward to use and are cheaper on average than air-fryers.
Air-fryers are marketed as a healthy alternative to deep-frying. They use a little oil and very hot circulating air to cook food. While they do make chips very crunchy, the texture is closer to oven-baked than deep-fried. However, air-fryers are increasingly popular for their versatility, as they can be used as a mini oven to bake, roast or grill.
They use much less oil than deep-fat fryers so they can indeed be healthier, as well as being safer to use, and some can cook food more quickly than a conventional oven. They’re more expensive than deep-fat fryers and can be quite noisy, but if you’re looking for multi-functionality, then one of these may be the better buy for you.
How we tested deep-fat fryers
We tested a representative sample of deep-fat fryers by using them to cook twice-cooked chips, and scored them against the following criteria:
Temperature: how soon did the fryer heat oil to the desired temperature, and how accurate was its temperature dial? Further, how soon did the fryer recover temperature after we added cold food to the oil?
Safety: how sturdy and robust is the fryer? Do the sides of the appliance become especially hot?
Cleaning: how was the experience of cleaning the fryer? (A removable frying bowl is often the key factor here).
Capacity: did the fryer hold as much food and oil as we’d expect?
Evenness: how evenly cooked through were individual batches of chips made by the fryer? And how about individual chips?
Taste and texture: were the chips to die for?
Packaging: was the appliance’s packaging suitably minimal and recyclable? Was the instruction manual up to scratch?
Setup: how easy was the fryer to set up and use?
Storage: is the fryer convenient to store? Are there any features to help with this, such as a space within the appliance to store the power cable?
For more product picks, visit our reviews section.
Deep-fat fryer recipes
In the mood for deep-fried food? Check out our recipe collection, or try these suggestions:
This review was last updated in October 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you love your deep-fat fryer or prefer an air-fryer? Leave a comment below…