Alternatives to a Deep Fryer

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Alternatives to deep frying retain flavor and convenience.
Alternatives to deep frying retain flavor and convenience. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Deep frying is a method of cooking food by submerging it in a deep cooker containing fat or oil at a high temperature. Deep frying at high temperatures quickly seals the surface of the food, preserving flavor and texture. Cooking with a deep fryer creates tasty food, but it can be dangerous and increases the fat content of food.

Deep Skillet

Electric deep fryers offer the convenience of a built-in thermometer and most have a seal-able lid to store used oil for another cooking time. Unfortunately, many electric deep fryers are difficult to clean and require more oil than normal frying. A deep-sided skillet or Dutch oven are excellent substitutes for a deep fryer. Use cast iron which holds the heat very well, or a standard skillet or Dutch oven with an aluminum disk on the bottom that spreads heat more evenly. A separate cooking thermometer will remove any doubts as to when the oil is hot enough for cooking. If the basket feature of the electric deep fryer is desirable, most cooking stores sell baskets separately to fit a variety of pan sizes.

A deep fryer, whether electric or a stovetop model, is often only usable for deep frying and no other cooking purposes. Using or buying multi-use cookware makes more financial sense than a single-use appliance, and also means saving on valuable kitchen storage space.

Cast Iron Cooking

Not only does cast iron hold heat very well as a fryer, a well-seasoned cast iron pan can be used for fat-free cooking. When cooking meats, get the temperature of the pan high to sear the surface of the meat to retain moisture and flavor. Then lower the heat to finish cooking to a tender center.

Oven Frying

Oven frying, when done right, presents the same delicious results of using a deep fryer without the extra calories and hassle. After evaluating a number of oven fried-chicken recipes, TheKitchn notes two particular tips for the best results. Use corn flakes to get that signature crunchy crust, and marinate the chicken in buttermilk before coating and baking. French fries prepared in the oven turn out crispy with a minimal amount of oil sprayed on the surface of the pan. Baking quickly at a high temperature mimics the deep frying process. To enhance crispiness, turn on the broiler setting during the last few minutes of cooking.

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