Floor and countertop fryers come in gas, electric, infrared and induction-heated versions.
Foodservice operators from all segments use fryers for deep-fat frying of breaded and unbreaded foods including fries, doughnuts, poultry, seafood and shellfish. The menu will determine the type of fryer that best suits an operation. Models range from units designed for general use to multipurpose and specialty units.
Fryers consist of three main types: open pot, tube type and pressure units.
For fries and breaded chicken products, operators often choose open pot designs including heating elements on the tank’s exterior. The benefits of this format include increased frying space and better access for easier cleaning. Tube-type fryers have pipes inside the pot that carry gas and serve as the heat source, while shallow and square flat-bottom fryers are preferable for fish and other more delicate foods that float to the top during cooking. For high-volume operations with diverse frying needs, pressure fryers simultaneously prepare a variety of items without flavor transfer using steam and hot oil. Cooking under pressure raises the boiling temperature of the product’s juices without boiling them off, which results in a less greasy and juicier product.
Measured by pounds or the maximum oil volume, tank sizes can range from 20 up to 80 pounds. The two most popular sizes are 14-inch-by-14-inch, which has a 45- to 50-pound oil capacity and 18-inch-by-18-inch, which holds between 60 to 80 pounds of oil.
For operations with lower volume and limited space, ventless countertop fryers have 2- and 3-pound oil capacities. These fryers’ well widths range from 11 to 34 inches with depths up to 34 inches.
Fryers provide dial operation or more advanced computer-controlled thermostats that deliver more temperature consistency.
Operators can choose from a number of oil filtration options. Central filtration can extend the useful life of the shortening, reduce oil costs and lower food costs. For high-volume operations, operators can place fryers side by side in a battery configuration with five or six units employing a single central filtration system.
Fryers utilizing plumbed filtration systems drain, filter and return shortening to the vat, while automatic replenishment systems detect when oil is depleted and top it off as needed. Reduced-oil volume fryers, or low-oil volume fryers, lower the tank’s oil capacity without changing the fryer’s output. This type substantially decreases oil costs while prolonging oil life.
For easier maintenance, self-cleaning fryers include stainless-steel nozzles that attach to the basket hanger and connect to the plumbing system for easier cleaning of the vat’s interior and fryer’s heat exchanger.
Electronic controls notify operators when the preset cook time is over, reducing labor and ensuring consistent results. Also labor savers, basket loaders and unloaders are automatic. The same applies to basket shakers, which help prevent product from sticking together during the cooking cycle. Another option that saves manpower, automatic lifts raise the baskets out of the cooking oil, halting the cooking process.
Energy Star-rated fryers include advanced burners and heat exchangers that can minimize cook times and maximize production rates. Insulated fry pots lower idle energy rates by reducing standby losses. Energy Star-rated standard-size fryers can be up to 30% more energy efficient than traditional models, while large vat Energy Star-rated commercial fryers are up to 35% more energy efficient than non-qualified models. Commercial standard vat electric fryers that are Energy Star certified are said to be 14% more energy efficient than standard units.
Self-cleaning burner systems perform daily planned maintenance and keep fryers running at peak efficiency levels. Fryers that utilize a blower system do not rely solely on gas pressure to heat the tank’s metal and shortening, which provides additional energy efficiency. Powered by an electrical motor, these units push or pull heat from combustion through the unit. Models with premix burner systems maximize energy efficiency by accurately mixing air and gas. Fryer designs with alternative baffling incorporate a natural vacuum located in the tank. Through its exhaust, this type slowly pulls flames within the unit.