What to Know About Outdoor Fryers

Deep-fried food is delicious, and outdoor deep fryers make it possible to prepare it in your backyard. Learn all about outdoor deep fryers here.

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Some forms of cooking are messier than others, and deep frying is about as messy as it gets. And yet deep-fried foods are delicious, a staple of cuisines in the U.S. and worldwide. Trouble is, no one likes spattered oil and lingering cooking smells in their home. That’s where outdoor deep fryers come in. Learn all about them, how they work and the different types available.

What Are Outdoor Deep Fryers and How Do They Work?

Outdoor deep fryers are cooking appliances that use a heat source, usually propane supplied from a portable tank, to heat a pot of oil where different foods can be submerged and fried. Designs, sizes and styles of outdoor fryers vary, but all include at least one burner or heating element and one oil containment vessel. Most fryers feature a metal stand that holds the oil in a pot or pan, with stainless steel mesh baskets or colanders inside for lifting the food from the oil when it’s cooked. The burner is mounted underneath. Some designs are more compact, without stands and with internal burners.

Benefits and Features of Outdoor Deep Fryers

Deep fryers make possible the delicious, unhealthy joy of fast food without leaving home. They make it possible to cook in boiling oil, giving it a flavor and texture unlike any other. Outdoor fryers cook fast, eliminating mess and odor in your home. They also can reduce the risk of fire or injury compared to frying indoors, especially if used properly, away from the home, garage and other structures.

Some outdoor deep fryers are large enough to cook entire turkeys in a fraction of the time needed in the oven. Others have multiple cooking baskets for frying more than one kind of food at a time. Deep fryers aren’t just for frying in oil, either. Their high heat output and pot-based design makes them perfect for heating water quickly to boil corn on the cob, seafood or vast quantities of sausages.

Different Types of Outdoor Deep Fryers

Propane Deep Fryers: Most outdoor fryers use propane in tanks as a fuel source because it delivers more BTUs of heat than an electrical outlet, allowing faster cooking of large quantities of food. Propane also lets you cook anywhere because it’s portable. Propane models can be big or small, feature round pots or shallower square pans and have one or more cooking baskets and burners. Some even have hinged lids and side tables like BBQ grills.

Electric Deep Fryers: The preferred choice for those preferring to deep fry indoors, electric fryers use internal heating elements to heat the oil. Unless they’re full-sized commercial units, electric fryers can’t match the heat output of propane models, but are easier and safer to use thanks to their smaller size and lack of open flame. Although made primarily for indoor use, electric deep fryers can be used outdoors if they’re kept dry.

How Much Do Outdoor Deep Fryers Cost?

Like many things, the cost of outdoor deep fryers depends on size and features. Small, simple electric models like this one from Hamilton Beach are the cheapest, generally from $20 to $50. Medium-sized propane models can cook more food (up to about five lbs. at once) and cost $60 to $100. High-capacity, commercial-grade fryers run from $200 to $400 or more, depending on features.

Outdoor Deep Fryer Accessories and Utensils

Spider Strainer: Use a long-handled spider strainer to lift pieces of cooked fish or meats from the boiling oil. A set of spider strainers is useful for different frying situations.

Cooling Rack and Baking Sheet: Fried foods won’t stay crispy for long if you lay the cooked portions on a plate of excess oil. Use a cooling rack over a baking sheet to rest the cooked food, allowing it to shed excess oil while staying crispy.

Splatter Screen: These aren’t a requirement, but they do make it easier to avoid oil splatters on your clothing and skin while deep frying. Screens come in varied sizes, such as this 13-in. diameter model.

Outdoor Deep Fryer Maintenance and Repair

Keep your fryer working well by cleaning the inside and outside after each use with warm water and dishwashing soap. Carefully drain the oil after cooking, then filter it through a fine strainer and refrigerate if you’d like to reuse it. Don’t reuse oil more than two or three times or it can start to go rancid. A local restaurant may accept your used cooking oil for recycling along with their own oil. Or you can throw it out in the trash if the oil is in a sealed container.

When cleaning, pay special attention to the baskets, removing all grease and food particles. Every few uses, fill the fryer with water and a little dishwashing soap, and then use the burner to bring it to a gentle simmer. Let it soak for at least 15 minutes before draining and rinsing. Burners and regulators can fail on propane-burning deep fryers, and should be replaced with new parts from the manufacturer.