Refined neutral-flavored oils are often used for deep frying due to their high smoke point and subtle taste. These usually come in the form of peanut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, and canola oil. Avocado oil is also an option, but remember that a larger quantity is required for deep frying, which can be expensive.
From a nutritional standpoint, oils rich in saturated and monounsaturated fats are preferable for deep frying as they remain stable at high temperatures, reducing the formation of harmful free radical compounds. But, for the most part, you will find high polyunsaturated oils used in commercial and home settings due to their affordability and high smoke points.
Understanding Smoke Points and Why They Matter
When it comes to deep frying, the best oils for this cooking method are those with high smoke points. The smoke point is the temperature at which heated fat or oil starts producing smoke, which varies significantly between different types of oils.
Deep frying typically involves temperatures between 350 °F and 375 °F. However, the oil can reach over 400 °F (205 °C) during the process. When food is added to the oil, the temperature will initially drop, so it’s advisable to preheat the oil to about 15 F higher than the optimal deep-frying temperature. As such, oils with a smoke point around 400 F are most suitable for deep frying.
Understanding an oil’s smoke point is essential for safety and health reasons. You don’t want the oil to reach its flashpoint—the temperature where it could ignite and cause a fire. Moreover, the smoke point indicates how quickly oil breaks down into free fatty acids. Cooking with oil that has reached its smoke point can adversely affect the flavor of your food, giving it a burnt or rancid taste.
All-Purpose Options for Deep Frying
When choosing a cooking oil, it’s crucial to consider factors such as smoke point and flavor. The smoke point is the temperature at which a fat begins to break down, and it’s preferable to select one that can withstand high temperatures, ideally starting at 400 degrees. The flavor the oil imparts to the food also needs to be considered.
Usually, the more refined an oil is, the higher its smoke point. This refining process also impacts the levels of polyphenols and other antioxidants, compounds known for protecting cells from oxidative damage.
The following is a list of neutral-flavored oils that have smoke points within the acceptable range for deep frying:
- Canola Oil: Up to 445 degrees.
- Corn Oil: 450 degrees.
- Cottonseed Oil: 420 degrees.
- Grapeseed Oil: 420 degrees.
- Peanut Oil: 440-450 degrees.
- Soybean Oil: 450-475 degrees.
- Sunflower Oil: 400-450 degrees.
- Safflower Oil: 475-500 degrees.
- Vegetable Oil: 400 degrees.
- Avocado Oil: 520 degrees. However, it gets costly and requires a lot of oil for deep frying.
- Olive Oil: 390-470 degrees (the refined version works best)
It’s worth noting that while avocado and refined olive oil have high smoke points, they can become quite costly, particularly if you’re planning to deep fry with them.
The Healthiest Oil Options for Deep Frying
Not all oils used for frying are created equal. Some, like olive oil and avocado oil, are much healthier options. Olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, is heat-resistant and remains relatively stable even when used in a deep fryer for extended periods.
Similarly, with its high smoking point, avocado oil is also a healthy choice for deep frying. It shares many of the same benefits as extra virgin olive oil but is even more versatile due to its higher heat tolerance.
How Much Oil Do You Need for Successful Deep Frying?
When deep frying, the food should be entirely submerged in hot oil for optimal cooking. You’ll need to use pots or pans at least 5 inches deep to achieve this. A 1.5- to 2-gallon pot, equivalent to 6 to 8 quarts, is usually ideal. This size can accommodate enough oil and food without spilling over. Remember, when oil heats up and cooks food, it expands, so filling a fryer to the top may cause it to bubble over and out.
Cast iron Dutch ovens are often recommended for frying on the stove due to their heaviness and depth. You’ll need at least 3 inches of oil for most items, equivalent to around 4 to 6 cups. It’s crucial not to overcrowd the food in the oil. The food should have plenty of room to float around, ensuring even cooking inside and out. As a rule of thumb, add just enough food to the oil so the oil level rises only about a half inch.
For larger foods, specific quantities of oil may be required. A popular example is the Thanksgiving tradition of deep-frying a turkey. For a 10 lb turkey, you’ll need 2 to 3 gallons of oil, whereas a 24 lb turkey will require between 6.5 to 7 gallons. For every additional 1-2 lbs of turkey, increase the oil by ½ gallon.
What Oil Do Restaurants Use For Deep Frying?
Many commercial kitchens and fast food chains opt for pre-mixed blend oil for their deep fryers. For example, a blend of soybean and peanut oil in equal proportions remains stable at a high smoke point of 450 degrees F.
Another popular blend is that of canola and soybean oil. This combination offers a unique advantage – it prevents the food from absorbing flavors carried by the oil, ensuring the original taste of the food remains uncompromised.
Some fast food chains used to use a combination of vegetable oil and beef tallow, but with the rise in the popularity of vegan and vegetarian diets, most have switched to refined vegetable and seed oil blends.
The three methods of deep frying are the basket method, the double basket method and the swimming method. The first is the most common, with food placed in a wire basket and submerged in hot oil. In the second method, two baskets are used; one to submerge food into the oil and another to hold it above the surface. The third method involves food items floating freely in the oil while it is heated.
I am not sure if there is a specific list, but mine are:
1. Use the correct amount and type of oil, and don’t crowd the items.
2. Ensure food items are dry before submerging them into the hot oil to prevent splattering and explosions.
3. Monitor the temperature of the oil and never let it get too hot.
4. When finished, turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to remove any food remaining in the oil.
5. Always dispose of used cooking oil properly by taking it to a recycling center.
Foods unsuitable for deep frying include foods with a high water content, like lettuce and celery.
Technically, yes, though it is not at all healthy and sometimes makes your food taste icky, or taste like the stuff you cooked before. You should make sure that the oil is strained and cooled before reusing. It’s also important to remember that reused oil will break down more quickly and should not be used for long periods.