Operators can choose from many different fryer types and styles, including models suitable for general use and multipurpose and specialty units. The menu will determine the type of fryer that is necessary.
There are three basic fryer types. Open-pot designs, popular for preparing fries and breaded chicken, feature heating elements on the tank’s exterior. This format provides more frying space and is relatively easy to clean. Tube-type units have pipes inside the pot that carry gas and serve as the heat source. Shallow and square flat- bottom fryers are preferable for more delicate items, like fish, that float to the top during cooking. Floor and countertop fryers are available in gas, electric, infrared and induction-heated versions.
Tank capacities are generally measured by pounds or the maximum oil volume. Although sizes can range from 20 up to 80 pounds, the most common are 14-inch-by-14-inch fryers, which hold 45 to 50 pounds of oil, and 18-inch-by-18-inch units, which have an oil capacity of 60 to 80 pounds. Ventless countertop fryers offer 2- and 3-pound capacities and are suitable for operations with limited footprints and low-volume frying needs. Fryer well widths range from 11 to 34 inches with depths up to 34 inches.
For high-volume operations, place fryers side by side in a battery configuration. With this setup, five or six fryers employ a single, central filtration system. Pressure fryers are suitable for larger operations with diverse menus, as this type cooks a variety of items simultaneously without flavor transfer using hot oil and steam. By cooking under pressure, the boiling temperature of the product’s juices is raised and not boiled off. The end result is a juicier, less greasy product.
Fryers offer either dial- or computer-controlled thermostats, with the latter automatically turning the fryer on and off for added temperature consistency.
The more advanced the controls, the tighter the fryer’s variance or tolerance.
With oil filtration and use, operators can choose from various options. Central filtration systems not only help extend shortening life but also lower food costs and can reduce oil costs by as much as 50%. Models with plumbed filtration systems drain, filter and return shortening to the vat. Fryers with automatic replenishment systems detect when oil is depleted and top it off as needed. Reduced-oil volume fryers, or low-oil volume fryers, reduce the tank’s oil capacity without changing the fryer’s output to substantially cut oil costs while extending oil life.
Options for easier maintenance are also available. For example, self-cleaning fryers have stainless-steel nozzles that attach to the basket hanger and connect to the plumbing system. This promotes easier cleaning of the vat’s interior and fryer’s heat exchanger.
In addition, some fryer options can help reduce labor and enhance consistency. Electronic controls notify operators when the preset cook time expires. Basket loaders and unloaders are automatic as well as basket shakers, which help prevent product from sticking together during the cooking cycle. Automatic lifts raise the baskets out of the cooking oil, halting the cooking process.
Fryers with energy-efficient components are available. Those that utilize a blower system are not relying solely on gas pressure to heat the tank’s metal and shortening. This type is powered by an electrical motor that pushes or pulls heat from combustion through the unit. Models with premix burner systems maximize energy efficiency by accurately mixing air and gas. Alternative baffling fryer designs utilize a natural vacuum located in the tank that, through its exhaust, slowly pulls flames within the unit. Self-cleaning burner systems perform daily preventative maintenance and keep fryers running at peak efficiency levels.
Energy Star-rated fryers utilize advanced burner and heat exchanger designs, which shorten cook times and increase production rates. Fry pot insulation reduces standby losses, resulting in a lower idle energy rate. Energy Star-rated standard-sized fryers can be up to 30% more energy efficient than standard models, while large-vat Energy Star commercial fryers can be up to 35% more energy efficient than nonqualified models. Commercial standard vat electric fryers that are Energy Star certified can be 14% more energy efficient than standard units.