Published May 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.
Could any fryer top our usual method of deep frying in a Dutch oven with a candy thermometer clipped on?
Electric deep fryers seem doubly appealing: Not only are they safer than stovetop frying (because of their enclosed heating elements), but they also have lids and filters to reduce mess and smell. Could any top our usual method of deep frying in a Dutch oven with a candy thermometer clipped on? We made French fries in six fryers priced from $49.95 to $135.95 to find out. Every one had a problem reaching and staying at the correct temperature. Set to the maximum temperature, 375 degrees, most could only reach 350 degrees (a few not even that)—resulting in limp, greasy fries. Two models overshot the top temperature and got too hot but did produce crisp fries. The best of the lot had a wide, shallow basket big enough to cook a full batch (four potatoes serving four people) of fries that were uniformly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. It works—but not well enough to replace our Dutch oven.