Frying at Home: The Necessities
Frying at home gets a bad rap. It's easy to see why—the fear of sputtering hot oil or undercooked food is enough to give even the most confident home cook pause. But with the right equipment, making a recipe like our Easier Fried Chicken is a straightforward process that hinges on keeping both the oil at the right temperature and an eye on the clock.
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. Buy at thermoworks.com
This model, referred to as "the gold standard" of Dutch ovens by some of our test cooks, is our go-to when deep-frying in the test kitchen. It's a kitchen workhorse, too: We use it not only for great fried chicken, but also for soups, stews, boiling water for pasta, and braises.
This pot was the star of our french-fry test, recovering the cooking temperature of the oil very quickly after fries were added. It's the best choice for cooks who prefer a lighter pot.
Crafted from enameled cast iron, this cheaper alternative to the Le Creuset produced crispy French fries in all of our tests. It's a great choice for cooks who don't want to break the bank but still want a reliable, trustworthy pot.
We use a traditional skillet when we shallow-fry, a method where food is partially submerged in oil and one side cooks at a time. This model has low, flaring sides, good balance, and a handle that angles slightly upward for better leverage, making it the best skillet of all we tested.
BUY FOR $120
These tongs kept a firm hold when we used them on everything in the kitchen. And since dropping food into hot oil can be dangerous, we were relieved to find a pair that never lost their grip.
This strainer was easy to use and clean. The wire mesh pulled out fritters and fries from the oil efficiently. The handle was angled enough to keep our fingers away from the sides of the pot, and the deep basket securely held multiple wontons without tearing any wrappers.
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.
BUY FOR $10
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 $20
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.
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