Many restaurants and fast food establishments couldn’t operate without industrial fryers. Whether you serve hamburgers and French fries or Mozzarella sticks, your kitchen needs a commercial fryer.
Like any other piece of equipment, restaurant fryers are an investment. It’s important to make sure that you choose the right one that meets your needs and budget.
What should you look for when buying a deep fryer?
Before we discuss what to look for, let’s talk about what it actually is and why your restaurant may need it.
What is a Deep Fryer?
It is a piece of equipment designed for heating large quantities of oil for deep frying large batches of food, like:
- Onion rings
- French fries
- Fried calamari
- Shrimps Tempura
- Fried pickles
- Chicken nuggets
Fried foods are popular menu items, particularly as sides and appetizers. Most casual restaurants will want to have at least one fryer in their kitchens, but usually there are two or three.
1. Types of Deep Fryers
There are two main types of commercial fryers (countertop and floor) and several types of specialty fryers.
The best countertop fryer will save space without compromising on performance. As the name suggests, they sit on top of your countertop, so take up minimal space in the kitchen.
Ventless models are also available that offer advanced filtration for added convenience and safety.
A floor fryer takes up more space in the kitchen, but if you sell large quantities of fried foods at your restaurant, this type may be your best option.
A floor model can handle daily, consistent use, making them ideal for high-volume establishments. These models tend to have more advanced features to make the cooking process as quick and efficient as possible.
Along with floor and countertop models, you will also find a variety of specialty types designed for specific uses, including:
- Donut and funnel cake fryers: Funnel cakes and donuts require a special type of fryer (mainly one with shallow pots) for optimal results. If you run a food truck or an establishment that specializes in donuts or funnel cakes, this equipment unit is invaluable for you.
- Ventless countertop models: Ideal for use in locations without hood vents, like kiosks or food stands. These items have special filtration systems that eliminate the need for conventional hood ventilation.
- Outdoor fryers: These units are mobile, gas-powered and primed for outdoor use. If your restaurant offers catering, an outdoor model may be a necessity.
- Drop-in fryers: Fits inside cutouts in your countertop for a seamless and visually-appealing kitchen. These small commercial fryers work in the same way as countertop models.
Once you have decided which type, or types, of fryers you need, it’s time to consider the power source.
2. Power Source
When it comes to your kitchen appliances, you may not have much of an option when it comes to power sources. The power source may be your deciding factor.
Gas Deep Fryer
It is powered by a natural gas line or a liquid propane tank. Commercial gas deep fryers have heating elements either inside or outside of the pot.
Gas is generally considered more efficient and cost-effective. They heat up and reach their maximum temperature very quickly.
With that said, gas fryers are difficult to move because they require a natural gas line connection. If you don’t have pre-existing connections, it may be expensive to install this unit.
Electric Deep Fryer
The best commercial electric deep fryer is highly efficient and easy to install. These models have multiple heating elements that come in direct contact with the frying oil. They have a quicker recovery in between batches, and they’re more mobile because they’re not tied to a gas line connection.
However, electric fryers do have longer heat-up times and can’t reach the same high temperatures as natural gas.
When choosing a commercial deep fat fryer, you will also need to consider the types of burners you’ll need. They will largely depend on the foods you’re cooking.
Ideally, you want a fryer with multiple burners so that you can cook different foods at once. It’s best not to mix flavors. If you use oil to cook batches of chicken and then cook French fries in the same oil, your fries may taste like chicken.
Either switch the oil with each new food type, or use a different burner for each food item.
The most common types of burners include:
Open Pot Fryer
A popular deep fryer for restaurant kitchens. Open pot models have heating elements on the exterior of the tank, making them ideal for restaurants that serve onion rings, fries, fried chicken and other pre-breaded foods.
Open pot fryers provide more cooking space, so they’re ideal for high-volume kitchens. They’re also easier to clean and maintain compared to other burner types.
They have longer heat-up times and aren’t ideal for high-sediment foods.
A fryer with ribbon-like elements along the bottom of the unit.
They heat up quickly and have a fast recovery.
The ribbon-like elements are difficult to clean. Food items that touch these elements may burn or scorch.
A tube fryer has tube pipe-like burners that carry gas inside the pot.
These are ideal for cooking high-sediment and heavily battered foods.
The fixed heating tubes make it difficult to clean.
A shallow fryer that delivers even heat distribution.
The shallow design makes it ideal for cooking funnel cakes, donuts, tortilla chips and other low-density items. Because the heating elements don’t get in the way, it’s much easier to clean compared to other types.
Flat bottom fryers take longer to heat up. They are not ideal for frying high-sediment items or high-volume cooking.
4. Size and Durability
Two other important things to consider when choosing a fryer are size and durability. Volume requirements are always going to be an important factor when choosing any new kitchen equipment.
When comparing fryers, you will find a wide range of sizes.
- Widths commonly range from 11” to 34,” but some models can go up to 94”
- Capacities can range all the way up to 500 lbs. Tank capacities are usually measured either in pounds or maximum oil volume.
If you run a high-volume restaurant that fries a lot of foods, you can choose to buy the largest fryer you can find, or you can arrange multiple units side by side.
Along with size, you must also consider the durability.
- Light: Suited for low-volume use. Ideal for concession stands, delis and other food businesses that only fry a few foods.
- Medium: Can handle more frequent usage than light-duty models without losing efficiency.
- Heavy: Suited for high-volume frying at popular restaurants, food trucks and other food businesses that focus on fried foods. Heavy-duty models are designed for high durability.
5. Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance
Commercial fryers, like any other restaurant kitchen appliance, must be cleaned on a regular basis to ensure efficiency and meet sanitation standards.
Fryers can be difficult to clean because of their nature. They hold large amounts of oil that need to be regularly changed. The oil can make it more difficult to clean the tank and the machine itself. Frying is a greasy, messy business.
Look for fryers with designs that are relatively easy to clean and maintain. The easier it is to maintain, the more time your employees will save when cleaning up for the day.
The right commercial fryer will make your kitchen more efficient while helping you serve customers the foods they want. Consider your size, type and power requirements when choosing a model for your establishment.