Take the Fear out of Frying with These Top Tools
From simple French fries to the ultimate crispy fried chicken, fried foods are always a treat. Making fried foods at home? Less than a treat—unless you have the right tools. In this week’s guide, we’ve collected the equipment you need to fry safely and successfully. Our winning Dutch oven is roomy enough for deep frying, while our top-rated thermometers will make sure the oil is heated to the precise temperature and your food is cooked to perfection. We’ve also included the best tongs, our top-rated wire skimmer, and other key tools that help take the fear out of frying at home.
No one knows more about frying than our Cook’s Country test cooks and cast members. With The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook 10th Anniversary Edition, you’ll get every recipe ever featured on the show, including—of course—all manner of fried chicken, grilling greats, and our best cakes, cookies, and pies.
This thermometer, with an oven-safe probe, was the most accurate among those we tested, plus it had an intuitive design. It’s the only model we tested that can be calibrated; we also liked the programmable high- and low-temperature alarms, the adjustable brightness and volume, the on/off switch, and the small knob on the probe that stayed cool for over-the-pot adjustments.
This pricey pot is still the one to beat. It was the most durable and user-friendly with comfortable handles and lower, straight sides that made it easy to move, load, and unload. Its broad, lightly-colored cooking surface allowed us to cook more food faster and monitor browning. It’s heavy, as a Dutch oven should be, but a bit lighter than some of the others we tested.
BUY FOR $364
With ample cooking surface for sautéing eight chicken pieces without crowding, a steady, even heat for excellent browning; low, flaring sides for good evaporation; and good balance, this pan offers everything we want in a 12-inch skillet. Since our initial review was published, All-Clad has introduced a number of useful improvements to this pan. A more steeply angled handle offers testers better leverage, and a higher amount of aluminum in the core makes the pan induction-compatible, though also faster to heat (requiring a little more vigilance from the cook.) And finally, a new, tight-fitting, slightly convex lid adds value to an already excellent pan.
BUY FOR $120
Missed a perfect score only because one picky tester thought the pincers bruised cooked asparagus—a minor complaint. Class valedictorian in every other respect.
With a basket made from a single smooth spiral of thick wire, this beautiful, long-handled, well-balanced spider was easy to maneuver and clean and capable of handling fragile ravioli with care. But that elegance came at a price—the highest in our lineup. And while some cooks thought its lower profile allowed them to get up under food more easily, the shallow basket simply couldn’t hold fried chicken as securely or pick up as many fries or ravioli in a single pass.
BUY FOR $28
Testers gave top marks to this rack, which has six feet on three support bars for extra stability. Cookies cooled evenly on this rack, and pork emerged from the oven with crisp, browned surfaces. It fit perfectly in our favorite rimmed baking sheet (and other standard-size baking sheets) and is safe to wash in the dishwasher. It’s sold in packs of two, making it the best value in the lineup.
BUY FOR $17
The Mk4 takes all the accuracy and speed of the Classic Thermapen and adds a couple of nifty features that improve the user experience: its display now auto-rotates, lights up in low light, and wakes up when the unit is picked up. It takes a single AAA alkaline battery and is also more water-resistant than the Classic, capable of surviving a half-hour bath.
This lightweight mesh screen contained the most splatter. It didn’t require any adjusting, and while it still let out a fine mist, it caught larger, more dangerous blobs of oil while allowing the steam to safely escape. Its 7-inch handle was shorter, which kept it flush atop pots and pans of all sizes.
BUY FOR $17
Everything prepared in this sturdy, warp-resistant sheet cooked appropriately and evenly. Best of all, our new favorite is a few bucks cheaper than our old winner.
Every tester who tried these paper towels came back with a rave review. The sheets were thick, soft, and sturdy, and a single full-size sheet could hold nearly 1/4 cup of water—about twice as much as lower-ranked products. Thanks to their double-ply construction, these sheets looked unscathed after scrubbing—even after 300 passes across a plastic cutting board—and we detected nary a hair of lint, even on glass.
All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.