8 best deep fat fryers for crispy fish, chips and doughnuts at home

·10-min read
For when only triple-fried chips or choc-dipped churros will do (iStock/The Independent)
For when only triple-fried chips or choc-dipped churros will do (iStock/The Independent)

Deep frying is not for every day cooking. But, when only triple-fried chips or choc-dipped churros will do, there’s no better way to crisp up your comfort food.

Modern deep fat fryers are a cut above the old-fashioned open chip pan and basket. Today’s models use inbuilt timers and temperature gauges to give you greater control over the oil and some will sense overheating and cut the power. This will still be the most hands-on appliance you’ll have in your kitchen, so, we recommend staying close by during cooking.

We tested a range of deep fat fryers, from basic to bells-on, and all of our final selections made a great job of our chosen dishes. First, we tried chips like mum used to make – soaking evenly-cut potato in water to get rid of starch, before drying thoroughly and frying twice, using the temperature adjustment function to finish off with hotter oil.

Homemade bhajis were next, with our onion mixture dropped into the hot oil and lifted out when crunchy. Chicken and fish completed the menu, with Korean, southern fried and breadcrumbed portions all heading for the fryer.

We looked for ease of use – was the fryer basket stable to handle and hook onto the unit itself? If the model had a closed lid, did it fit well and minimise cooking smells? Could the inner baskets in our test models be cleaned in the dishwasher, too? It’s always a horrible job, but removable filters, lids and inner pots make things easier.

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You should also consider how much kitchen worktop space you have to play with. In most instances, you’ll want to use cooking oil more than once but moving it back and forward from a cupboard or shelf is not a good idea unless it’s been emptied first. It’s much less risky to leave fryers in situ on the countertop and only store away when the oil has been removed.

Most importantly though, we wanted to know how safe our deep fat fryers were to use. From steam escape to overheat cut-off – models with safety as a priority would always score well. And finally, here are our top eight.

The best deep fat fryers for 2021 are:

  • Best overallTefal oleo clean pro: £129.99, Tefal.co.uk

  • Best for dual cooking – Tristar FR-6937 double deep fryer: £89.99, Currys.co.uk

  • Best small deep fat fryer – Progress compact deep fat fryer EK2969P: £19.99, Charlies.co.uk

  • Best for chips – Lakeland 3l electric deep fat fryer: £49.99, Lakeland.co.uk

  • Best for small kitchens – Judge 2 Litre deep fryer: £39.30, Horwood.co.uk

  • Best for one person – VonShef 1.5l deep fat fryer: £29.99, Staall.com

  • Best for families – Russell Hobbs digital deep fat fryer 24580: £54, Ao.com

  • Best for two people – Tower 1500W 2 Litre deep fryer: £44.99, Towerhousewares.co.uk

Tefal oleo clean pro

Best: Overall

  • Safety Features: Rise and fall basket, timer, overheat function

  • Timer: Dial

  • Dishwasher friendly: Yes

  • Dimensions: 46.4cm x 34.8cm x 37.5cm

  • Power: 2100W

This powerful, fast-heating Tefal fryer uses a unique system to drain, clean and store oil after use, so there’s no food debris floating around for the next time you use it. Described as “semi-professional”, the 3l capacity is the largest we tried. The advantage of its size is that there’s a generous, wide basket, huge viewing window and plenty of room for food to float around; no clumping of bhaji batter or unevenly-cooked chips here.

It was so easy to empty the oil after cooking spicy chicken to move on to the sweet stuff – no one wants chilli-hot churros, after all. When cool, it was a cinch to remove the blue tank and drain away. This is a serious piece of frying kit, if you have the space.

Buy now £129.99, Tefal.co.uk

Tristar FR-6937 double deep fryer

Best: For dual cooking

  • Capacity: 3l (each)

  • Safety features: Cool touch handle, overheat function

  • Timer: Dial

  • Dishwasher friendly: Yes

  • Dimensions: 27cm x 41cm x 40cm

  • Power: 1800W

This thermostatic double fryer is a brilliant solution if you’re cooking spicy things such as samosas and coated chicken, as well as more delicately flavoured dishes or sweet treats like doughnuts and churros. There’s no need to drain and replace tainted oil – which, having experienced faintly Korean-spiced churros, is definitely a good thing – as it keeps everything separate.

The fryers themselves are pretty straightforward, with dial timers and oblong fry baskets; there’s also a “cool zone” beneath the heating elements, to encourage debris to sink to the bottom. Use both or one at a time for the perfect fish and chips – all ready for plating up at the same time.

Buy now £89.99, Currys.co.uk

Progress compact deep fat fryer EK2969P

Best: Small deep fat fryer

  • Capacity: 1l

  • Safety Features: Ready indicator light

  • Timer: Dial

  • Dishwasher Friendly: Yes

  • Dimensions: 21.3cm x 19.2cm x 20cm

  • Power: 850W

This dinky deep fat fryer had the smallest capacity of all the models we tried out. The upside of that is that it takes up hardly any space on the counter, still we think it’s only really going to be enjoyed by someone who lives alone or doesn’t mind cooking in batches.

We managed to fry up a single chicken leg portion – two would have been a squeeze – and, afterwards, a round of chips for one (with a few extras for a friend to pinch from the plate). If you only indulge in the occasional deep-fried delights there is a useful filter to keep fat-frying smells down in the kitchen, but it won’t cope with more than one hungry mouth to feed.

Buy now £19.99, Charlies.co.uk

Lakeland 3l electric deep fat fryer

Best: For chips

  • Capacity: 3l

  • Safety Features: Overheat cut off

  • Timer: Dial

  • Dishwasher friendly: No

  • Dimensions: 41cm x 23cm x 24cm

  • Power: 1800W

We like the viewing window on this narrow model, which meant we could keep a close eye on our chips, to reach just the right golden colour. The slim shape meant the footprint isn’t too obtrusive, only taking up a narrow space in a convenient space beside the cooker. The chrome and steel felt a good, chunky grade and the controls and filter, although simple, were solid and nice to handle. We got great results from this deep fryer with two large cod fillets easily handled. When not in use, we appreciated being able to fold up the basket handle and store inside the machine.

Buy now £49.99, Lakeland.co.uk

Judge 2 Litre deep fryer

Best: For small kitchens

  • Capacity: 2.25l

  • Safety Features: Overheat cut off

  • Timer: Sliding function

  • Dishwasher friendly: No

  • Dimensions: 28cm x 32cm x 37.5cm

  • Power: 1500W

The clean, white styling of this model looked really good on the worktop. We’ll have to be rigorous with cleaning the casing, however, as we think that could start to look grubby after long-term use. Luckily, the lid and filter can be removed for this.

We liked the rise and fall basket on this model, meaning that we could lift chips from the hot fat without having to hook it onto the rim, which can be tricky with some fryers. It heated quickly and then the cool-touch materials did a good job of keeping the unit at a decent temperature. Although none of these fryers should be moved around when in use, of course, that was helpful when working in a small space.

Buy now £39.30, Horwood.co.uk

VonShef 1.5l deep fat fryer

Best: For one person

  • Capacity: 1.5l

  • Timer: No

  • Dishwasher friendly: No

  • Dimensions: 25cm x 22cm x 21cm

  • Power: 900W

Just right for smaller portions and side dishes, this smaller fryer looks higher-end than its price tag. It worked well for a single bowl of chips – good enough for two as a side – and perfected two coated chicken thighs afterwards. The viewing window was a generous size, and we liked the simplicity of the variable temperature dial and cooking time graphics. The stainless steel casing and non-stick inner pan cleaned up well, too. Our one complaint was there’s no separate inner pot to remove when draining oil – the whole unit must be tipped.

Buy now £29.99, Staall.com

Russell Hobbs digital deep fat fryer 24580

Best: For families

  • Capacity: 3l

  • Timer: Dial

  • Dishwasher friendly: No

  • Dimensions: 24.5cm x 27cm x 33cm

  • Power: 2200W

This powerful fryer was quick to heat up, with a light indicating when it was time to dunk our ingredients in the hot fat. With a capacity of 3l, there was more than enough space to make chips for a family of four, using the digital timer to remind us when to take them out – this function won’t cut off the heat, however. This is a great choice if you need a fryer that will see a lot of action and have the capacity to cook everything at once rather than in batches. Plus, it still didn’t take up too much space compared to some other models we tried as its footprint is comparable to a large four-slot toaster in size.

Buy now £54.00, AO.com

Tower 1500W 2 Litre deep fryer

Best: For two people

  • Capacity: 2l

  • Timer: Dial

  • Dishwasher friendly: No

  • Dimensions: 25cm x 22cm x 21cm

  • Power: 900W

The lid on this model had a multi-functional handle that folds flat and then lifts out from the body of the fryer and clicks into position. This feels secure as it lifts the basket out of the oil. The half-moon shaped viewing window made it easy to keep an eye on the fry and everything we tried in it was a success, with the handy “ready” light letting us know when the perfect temperature for each dish was achieved. There was a useful guide on the casing to remind us of those, too. This is a great value family fryer for sides, or exactly right for two generous chicken portions.

Buy now £44.99, Towerhousewares.co.uk

Deep fat fryer FAQs

How often should the oil be changed in a deep-fat fryer?

Advice varies between models and depends on what you are cooking in your fryer. If you are cooking spicy food or foods covered in breadcrumbs you may find you have to change it more regularly. So, always follow the advice given in the instruction booklet.

Ideally, you shouldn’t be keeping oil in a fryer longer than one month, but if properly filtered after each use, and stored properly, it can last up to 3 months.

What do you do with leftover oil?

Wait until it’s completely cool and decant into a jar or bottle for general waste, but never pour it down the sink as it will cause fatberg-style problems. Recycling centres will have a dedicated area for it; some refuse collections take it in secure containers in general waste.

The verdict: Deep fat fryers

The Tefal oleo was a seriously good fryer and gave us everything we wanted from this kitchen kit – safety, stability, versatility and seriously good chips. The clean-up in this model was by far the best, with the removable tank making life so much easier. The Lakeland model was also a great buy, giving us 3l capacity for under £50.

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Fancy making something smooth instead of crispy? Check out our guide to the best soup makers here

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