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Deep frying, versus shallow pan frying, results in a totally different taste and texture. The best pots and pans for deep frying are deep enough to fully submerge foods in hot oil and are made of cast iron for superior heat retention, but if you prefer a lighter or lower-maintenance option, carbon steel and stainless steel are worthy alternatives.
There are a few material options to consider with a pick that rises to the top. Cast iron retains heat well with its thick, heavy walls, and that’s particularly helpful because frying requires maintaining a consistent temperature and it drops when food is added to the hot oil. An enamel coating on cast iron is helpful when frying since the lighter interior allows for closer monitoring of the food you’re frying so that you don’t overcook it and an enamel surface is easier to clean than cast iron (though you will need to take care not to scratch the surface with utensils). Carbon steel is similar but heats up faster than cast iron and is more lightweight; it’s also more prone to rusting but just needs to be gently washed by hand like cast iron. Stainless steel is lightweight, reliably durable and conveniently dishwasher-safe; choose a tri-ply pot or pan with an inner layer of aluminum or copper for improved heat conductivity, and keep in mind this will be more expensive.
For deep frying, choose a pot or pan with walls at least 3 inches deep to prevent splatter and enough room to submerge foods in oil; you never want the pot to be more than two-thirds full for safe frying. A heavy pot or pan with a capacity of four to six quarts is an appropriate size for deep frying.
Keep reading for the best pots and pans for deep frying; each one is versatile enough to deep fry without a deep fryer but also function as a workhorse in the kitchen.
1. The Best Large Deep Frying Pot
This large, deep frying pot is my kitchen essential for cooking nearly anything: a Dutch oven. And clearly I’m not alone since this pick has a 4.7 rating and over 11,000 reviews. Lodge’s cast iron pot has side handles and a capacity of 6 quarts with ultra-deep 5-inch walls and a tight-fitting lid, so you can safely fry anything in it.
The pot is coated in enamel, making it nonreactive and easier to clean, and it doesn’t require seasoning like most cast iron. Although it’s technically dishwasher-safe because of the enamel, the manufacturer recommends hand washing with warm soapy water to keep it at its best. This pot can be used on gas, electric, ceramic, and induction cooktops — and it is also oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Choose from 11 colors to match your decor and several sizes including 7.5 quarts.
A helpful review: “[…] Having done a great deal of research we decided on this dutch oven to serve as a deep fryer. It has performed excellently from making fried chicken to french fries to Chinese food and tortilla chips. It comes up to heat quickly on our gas range and consistently maintains heat even after long periods of cooking. The lid forms a great seal and we’ve had almost no problems with fried food smelling up our kitchen. It holds a good quantity of oil and we can make things in much larger batches than we ever could with [a] retail deep-fryer. The Dutch oven also cleans up nicely. For those looking for an alternative to a [conventional] deep-fryer, I highly recommend this item!”
2. The Best Cast Iron Pan For Frying Chicken
This 10.25-inch round skillet with 3-inch deep walls is a great cast iron pan for frying chicken. It can hold up to 4 quarts, according to reviewers, and its long handle and helper handle are useful for toting the heavy pan around a kitchen. This highly rated skillet should be washed by hand, but it arrives conveniently pre-seasoned with vegetable oil for immediate use. This pick is safe for all cooktops, including induction, and it is oven safe — reviewers say it works at high temperatures, though a maximum temperature is not mentioned. Because this pot is made out of cast iron and retains heat so well, you are guaranteed to get crispier fried chicken all around — including on the sides that touch the pot’s high walls.
A helpful review: “I have always wanted one of these skillets, they are hard to find in stores. I do a lot a frying and I love this skillet. I would recommend this skillet to anyone who like to fry chicken and want to use a skillet that will work like a deep fryer.”
3. The Best Wok For Deep Frying
Woks are often thought of for stir-frying, but their unique shape makes them an excellent vessel for deep frying. This quality wok for deep frying is made of heavy gauge carbon steel and can hold a little more than 4 quarts, according to reviewers. Deep frying in a wok is less messy than some other pans and uses less oil thanks to its sloped walls. This flat-bottomed wok is safe on gas and electric ranges.
This round, 14-inch wok features a long handle and helper handle for extra support and its walls are 5.5 inches deep. This highly rated pick does call for some thoughtful cleaning to avoid rust and removing the seasoning (it doesn’t come pre-seasoned and requires that you season it yourself). Wash the pan with hot water and dry it completely, get rid of any burned-on food with a scouring pad, and finish by coating it lightly with cooking oil.
A helpful review: “Great wok, with a good weight. […] It gets good heat distribution and have a few uses I have a good layer of seasoning over the pan. It’s much lighter than a cast iron wok and gets much hotter, much faster which is perfect for stir fry or deep frying.”
4. The Best Stainless Steel Pot For Frying
This stainless steel pot for frying is certainly an investment, but the versatile pot comes from well-known All-Clad and is built for durability. The tri-ply stainless steel construction holds up to 6 quarts, and also comes in 8 quarts, and this pot with side handles comes with a tight-fitting lid with a handle. The round pot’s walls are about 4 inches deep, and this pick is safe to use in the oven, broiler (up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit without the lid), gas, electric, and induction stovetops, and it’s the only pick on this list that is really and truly dishwasher safe.
A helpful review:“I have not come across an All-Clad product I don’t love. This 6 quart stockpot is great. It has a wide base which makes it very versatile and can be used for browning, braising, sautéing, frying on top of making stock and soups. I use it in place of my dutch oven as well. Love the eye catching high polish outside and the inside cleans up easily. Cooking for a family of 5, I reach for this one often. Very happy with this purchase and would recommend All-Clad to anyone who is looking.”
Nice To Have: A Strainer That Can Take The Heat
After obtaining the right pan, a stainless steel spider is another essential tool for deep frying. The 5-inch strainer is held by a long bamboo handle, and it’s useful for safely lowering food into hot oil and then straining out fried foods. It’s also helpful to move food around as it fries in hot oil so it cooks evenly, and you can do that with this highly-rated strainer, too.
A helpful review: “The spider strainer is wonderful for stir frying and deep frying. Provides excellent control for cooking and scooping items. This tool is very well constructed. Bamboo is perfect material for the handle – it’s durable, doesn’t heat up, and is easy to clean.”
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