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For food service businesses in which there is a significant fried food production need, the purchase of a commercial fryer is an obvious first step towards improving kitchen efficiency. Before you engage with suppliers, however, be sure to consider the full range of options so as to best match your needs.
This guide provides an overview of the different types of commercial fryers, as well as some of the accessories that you may consider buying.
What is a deep fryer?
A deep fryer is a commercial kitchen appliance used for deep-frying foods. Fast foods are lowered into hot oil (typically between 300 to 400 degrees F), where they are cooked and crisped quickly. Fryers are typically powered with gas or electricity and can accommodate a range of frying oils (vegetable, canola, etc.). Many modern commercial deep fryers are constructed of stainless steel and may include computerized thermostats and temperature controls, electric timers, and filtration systems. Different model types include full-size freestanding fryers, countertop fryers, and drop-in fryers.
What deep fryer sizes are available?
Depending on your cooking needs, as well as the amount space available in the kitchen, deep fryers range from full-size to countertop and drop-in models.
- Full-Size Floor, freestanding models are the largest and most traditional types of fryers.
- Countertop models are much smaller (with proportionally lower oil capacities), easy to transport, inexpensive, and can be operated on a kitchen countertop.
- Drop-in fryers are ideal if you have ample counter space but limited floor space.
What types of deep fryers are available?
There are three main types of fry pot styles: Open-pot, tube-type and flat-bottom. The primary difference between the fryer pots is the use of a "sediment zone." The sediment zone (also referred to as the "cold zone") is located at the bottom of a fryer, where bits of food that break off during the cooking cycle collect. Oil temperatures are lower in the sediment zone to prevent food particles from overcooking and tainting the oil's flavor.
- Open-pot Fryers have an open, unobstructed frying area and deep, narrow sediment zones. This design allows for easy cleaning. Open-pot fryers are also the cheapest of the three options. As a general rule, open-pot fryers are quite versatile and can be used to fry a variety of foods, but they are best suited for lightly breaded foods such as french fries, mozzarella sticks, and chicken wings, as the these low sediment foods match the smaller sediment zones.
- Tube-Type Fryers have wider sediment zones with a system of tubes, and are most suitable for heavy frying. They're more difficult to clean than open-pot fryers, but because the wide sediment zone allows a greater volume of particulate matter to settle at the bottom, the tube fryer doesn't have to be cleaned as often. This may suit your kitchen cleaning process better if employees are trained to clean equipment thoroughly but less frequently.
- Flat-Bottom Fryers are a subcategory of open-pot Fryers, but have no sediment zone. They are best suited for dough and specialty foods like tortilla chips and tempura that float at the top of the oil and thus avoid collected sediment. They aren't ideal for high volume cooking, and can be more difficult to clean, but for certain items, this may be the best bulk-frying option available to you.
Whatever type of fryer you select, be sure to properly maintain and clean the contents of the fryer so that food sediment, dirt, and other free particulate matter does not collect. To help with proper maintenance of your fryer and to guarantee a higher standard of quality, consider the addition of a filtration system. Installation of a filtration system will ensure the proper flow of oil while preventing the buildup of particulate matter, minimizing flavor issues and maximizing cost-efficiency.
Gas vs. Electric Heating Methods
Deep fryers can be heated with gas or electricity, depending on the model (both are available for purchase). Gas-powered fryers use burners, sometimes external, whereas electric-powered fryers have burners encased in tubes that are lodged within the fry pot.
The choice between gas-powered equipment and electric-powered equipment is often decided based on cost, and for many years, as the cost of natural gas was cheaper than the cost of electricity, kitchens with budget constraints would choose gas. The rising cost of natural gas may reverse the cost considerations, however. Compare the cost of electricity to natural gas in your area before settling on a decision.
There are also inherent differences in gas line/electrical outlet availability (generally, electric outlets are more numerous and easier to setup) and cooking efficiency (gas-powered fryers heat up faster and typically reach higher maximum temperatures than equivalent electric-powered fryers).
Consider the following differences:
- Can be fueled with either natural gas or propane.
- Heat up more quickly than electric models, and to a higher cooking temperature
- More mobile, as they aren't connected to a gas line.
- Lose less heat than gas because heating elements are immersed in oil
- Fast recovery time between frying cycles
What are the sizes and capacities of deep fryers?
Deep fryers come in a range of sizes, and can be measured by physical dimensions, the number of tanks per unit (typically one or two, but sometimes up to three or four tanks for larger operations), total oil capacity, and even the maximum number of french fries produced per hour. Depending on the physical size of the fryer, a one or two-tank fryer may have an oil capacity ranging from 25 - 50 lbs, whereas a three-tank fryer may have a total oil capacity of 150 lbs or more. Multiple tanks enable a cook to prepare multiple types of food simultaneously while preserving the oil flavor of each tank.
What Sort of Computerized Controls Are Available?
Most new fryer models come standard with computerized controls, which allow you to control frying temperatures, sync with timers, cook more consistently, and save energy. Safety thermostats can automatically power down the fryer if the oil temperature reaches a dangerous level. Some computerized controls provide the option to program cooking cycles for commonly served foods on the menu.
A range of factors will determine the final price of your commercial deep fryer. Basic floor models with an oil capacity of 25 lbs. may be purchased for as little as $650, whereas more sophisticated models with multiple fry pots and computerized controls may cost upwards of $10,000. Factors include whether the model is powered with gas or electricity, total oil capacity, fryer type (full-size, drop-in, countertop), sediment-zone type, if it has analog or computerized controls (or any at all), total number of fry pots, and new vs. used.
Generally speaking, gas fryers are less expensive than electric fryers, although the set-up costs for gas fryers are typically greater. For a general pricing guide, please see below.
Commercial Gas Fryers: (listed by increasing oil capacity)
- 25 - 50 Lbs. Full-Size Models: $650 - $4,000
- 50 - 150 Lbs. Full-Size and Drop-In Models: $1,000 - $12,000
Commercial Electric Fryers:
- 25 - 50 Lbs. Full-Size Models: $1,500 - $8,000
- 50 - 150 Lbs. Full-Size Models: $1,000 - $12,000
Countertop Fryers (Gas & Electric):
- 3 - 10 Lbs. Models: $200 - $300
- 10 - 20 Lbs. Models: $350 - $1000
- 20 - 50 Lbs. Models: $600 - $3000