If you're looking to make tasty deep-fried food at home, first read our review of the best deep-fat fryers and health fryers. Homemade chips, anyone?
Using a thermostat-controlled electric fryer is the safest way to deep-fat fry as the thermostat helps stop the oil from overheating and burning.
Many electric fryers come with lockable lids to minimise hot oil splashes and some fryers switch themselves off when their timer runs out.
Although safer than chip pans, electric fryers still need to be watched while they're on and the fryer’s manual should come with a list of safety instructions – for example, keeping the oil between minimum and maximum marks, positioning the fryer away from overhanging cupboards and not frying wet foods.
You may be tempted by an air fryer – marketed as a healthier version of a deep fat fryer, they use very hot, circulating air to cook food. However, a deep fat fryer is usually cheaper and they are very straightforward to use.
Read on to discover the best deep fat fryers. For more, visit our reviews section and find over 200 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
Russell Hobbs digital deep fat fryer – best deep fat fryer for families
Best bits: large capacity, accurate thermostat, quick frying
This fryer has an accurate thermostat and was one of the fastest to come up to temperature in our test. It holds up to 3.3 litres of oil and instructions say it will cook 1.2kg of food at a time (though we found it was more efficient with 1kg).
It comes back up to temperature quickly after food is added. Though large in capacity, it has a neat rectangular shape and a handle that tucks tidily into a recess during frying and for storage. The lid keeps in oil splatters, reduces odours during cooking and pops up with the press of a button.
The lid can be unclipped for cleaning and the filters washed separately in soapy water. The bowl is removable which makes it easier to tip the cooled oil out of the fryer. None of the parts are dishwasher-safe but the bowl is non-stick and straightforward to clean afterwards with soapy water.
Philips Viva Airfryer – best health fryer
Best bits: healthier alternative, little oil needed, fast, easy to use
One of the faster air-fryers on the market, this popular model produced crunchy chips using only a tablespoon of oil in 16 minutes. The chips do need stirring two or three times to ensure even cooking and though not authentically deep-fried in texture, the chips were very crisp on the outside and fluffy at the centre.
The manual wasn't clear but there was a helpful app with instructions and recipes, and the fryer is easy to operate with one dial to set the temperature and another to set the time. It can also be used as a miniature oven to bake, grill and roast.
We baked coconut cupcakes in silicone moulds using a recipe from the app and they were impressively light in the middle with a subtly crunchy exterior. The fryer heats up very rapidly, too, so there is no need to preheat for baking.
If a low-fat, versatile fryer is what you’re after, the Philips Viva is a good option, but be aware that for full functionality you may have to buy extra accessories.
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 multifunctionality, then one of these may be the better buy for you.
How we tested deep fat fryers
We reviewed a representative sample of deep fat fryers and scored them against the following criteria:
Temperature: We tested the calibration of each fryer using probe thermometers. We checked how quickly the oil came up to temperature and how well temperature was maintained during frying.
Safety: We checked sturdiness, how hot the sides became during cooking, how rigid the handles were and noted safety features like lockable lids and timer cut-outs.
Cleaning: We checked how easy it was to pour out the used, cooled oil and whether any parts could be detached and, if so, whether they were dishwashable. We looked for filters in lids and checked if they could be cleaned. Fryers with non-stick easy-to-wipe interiors were preferred.
Capacity: We tested whether the fryers could hold as much food and oil as they claimed while maintaining temperature and cooking food evenly.
Taste and texture: We cooked chips in both the deep-fat fryers and air-fryer, looking for golden crunchy exteriors and soft, fluffy middles. Fryers of soggy chips didn’t make the cut.
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 July 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…