Commercial Fryer Guide

We all know that kitchen staff often have a love/hate relationship with the deep fryer. Yes, tasty morsels of golden brown food come out of it, but at what cost? They can be messy, hot, and finicky to keep clean.

A commercial fryer is a cornerstone in most kitchens though, whether your menu is built around fried food or only contains a few deep-fried appetizers. Time, research, and care before buying is all it takes make sure your deep fryer is another productive member of the team and not a hot-oil-spitting monster that your cooks fear.

Countertop Fryer Vs. Floor Fryer

Floor fryers are by far and away the most type size for restaurants. A countertop fryer will only really be used in kitchens that have no space for a full sized fryer and must place it on a countertop.
Countertop Fryers

  • Work well in tight spaces such as food trucks, concession stands, convenience stores, and small kitchens
  • Can be useful for restaurants or caterers that only need a fryer on rare occasions
  • Almost always electric
  • Always open pot style
  • Capacities (in lbs of oil) range from about 10 to 30 lbs- note that countertop fryers get wider with an increase in size, not deeper

Floor Fryers

  • Essential in every size kitchen that fries food
  • Versatile- Great for high or low volume frying with a variety of types of food
  • Built to last, easy to clean and maintain
  • Most common capacity (lbs of oil) is the 30-40 lbs fryers
  • Capacities larger than 50 lbs are usually for frying unusually large volumes of chicken or fish

The “Cold Zone”

It is important to know what a “cold zone” is to understand the different types of commercial fryers. At the bottom of most commercial fryers there is a zone that is intentionally left out of the way of the heating elements so that the oil there can stay at a lower temperature than the rest of the oil in the pot. When food is being fried, the bits of breading or chunks of food that fall off will sink to the slower moving, colder oil and stay there. This keeps those bits of food out of the way of the main frying area until the fryer can be drained and cleaned.

Types of Commercial Fryers

Tube Fryer
Tube Fryers get their name from the tube heating elements that lay across the bottom of the pot and above the cold zone. In gas units, heat is blasted down these tubes and up a flu at the back of the fryer to heat the oil. In electric fryers there are heating coils that lay inside of the tubes.

  • Great for heavily battered foods like battered fish, battered chicken, onion blossoms, etc
  • They can be difficult to clean as you have to clean around the tubes
  • Require cleaning less often because of the large cold zone

Open Pot Fryer
The Open Pot Fryer gets its name from the open design of its frying area, no bulky heating tubes here. In gas units, the heating elements are along the outside of the pot above the cold zone. In electric units, the heating coils lay across the bottom of the pot over the cold zone.

  • Designed for lightly breaded foods like French fries, cheese sticks, chicken wings, etc
  • Easy to clean as there are no heating elements inside of the pot in the gas units and coils flip up easily in the electric models
  • Need to be cleaned more often as the cold zone is smaller

Flat Bottom Fryer
Flat Bottom Fryers offer no cold zone and the heating element lays underneath the pot. These fryers only come in gas, the flame is applied directly to the bottom of the pot to heat the oil.

  • Good for free float frying where no basket is used and items are skimmed out when ready
  • Used for donuts, funnel cake, and even fried chicken if being free floated
  • Popular in southern restaurants that serve only fried food, such as fried chicken, fried fish, hush puppies, etc
  • Can be difficult to clean if stray bits burn to the bottom of the pot

Pressure Fryer
Pressure Fryers have a large vat with a heating element below and tight fitting lid on top to create pressure in the pot. This causes food to fry very quickly and have a brown, crispy exterior.

  • Used to cook large volumes of chicken or fish quickly
  • Seasonings can be added to the pot while cooking to permeate the food thoroughly
  • This is the type of fryer used by Chick-fil-A and KFC

Gas Fryer Vs. Electric Fryer

If you are replacing an existing commercial fryer it is best to go with the type you currently have. This way you likely already have the wiring or hookups needed. If you are installing a new one though, there are a few things to consider about each type.

Gas- Natural Gas Fryers and Propane Fryers

  • Are less efficient than electric fryers- gas fryers must have a vent, often at the back of the fryer, and much of the heat is lost through it

  • More common than electric fryers, kitchens often already have the gas hooks ups

Electric Fryers

  • Can be more expensive to operate than gas fryers due to utility costs
  • More efficient than gas fryers- electric coils sit directly at the bottom of the pot and don’t require ventilation, so little heat is lost

Recovery Time

The recovery time of a fryer is the time it takes the oil to get back up to heat after frozen foods are dropped in. A quick recovery time is very important for fast food restaurants that are putting out a high volume of food quickly. Open pot fryers often have a great recovery time which is why they are so popular for French fries.

Types of Oil

  • The better the quality of the oil the better the food
  • Peanut oil is the most popular high end oil- has a nicer flavor that won’t make food greasy
  • Vegetable and soy oil are popular less expensive options
  • Beef fat is no longer popular to use for taste and health reasons

Commercial Fryer Filters

To keep taste and food quality high, filter your oil ideally between each service but at minimum of once a day. You do not have to replace your oil as often if you consistently filter it.

  • Fryers with a built in filter system are the safest and most reliable way to filter your oil
  • If your fryer does not have a built in filter, you can purchase a mobile filter to just wheel up to your fryer and filter it remotely
  • For those who are filtering oil manually the safest way is with a drain pot and filter

Commercial Fryer Accessories

Fry Baskets- Most open pot and tube fryers will come with 2 rectangular baskets. Specialty baskets are available such as circular fry baskets, taco salad shell baskets, and tostada fry baskets, among others.

Cover- It is essential to cover fryers at night to keep the oil quality better for longer. This protects the oil from heat/light (which can age the oil) and any airborne particles.

Casters- Almost all codes require casters so that you can move your fryer out to clean under and behind it. Some fryers come with them but many do not.

Gas hoses- If you are purchasing a natural gas or propane fryer be sure to order gas hoses for installation.

Cleaning Supplies- Maintain your filter system by replacing the filter envelope often and adding filter powder to assist in removing sediments from the fryer. Fryer pucks are a popular alternative to filter powder, they are concentrated detergent that can be dropped into your fryer rather than dealing with messy powder.

Fryer Oil Shuttles- Hot oil is extremely dangerous; oil shuttles are advised for transporting oil to be disposed of in a safe way.

Commercial Fryer Reviews

Our favorite commercial fryer is the Pitco 45C+S: 45 lb. Medium Duty Economy Fryer. Here are some reasons why we like it:

  • 45 lbs is a good general size for versatile restaurant application
  • Comes with casters
  • Tube fryer- don’t have to clean it as often as it has a large cold zone
  • Natural gas operated
  • 1 year parts and labor warranty

Take your time and research your options before you pick your next fryer, your cooks will thank you.

Happy shopping!


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