Let’s be honest, some foods are just better when they’re fried. Okay, pretty much everything tastes better deep-fried. Sadly, nothing gets healthier by being dunked in oil and even though we don’t believe in outright denial around here, there is something to be said for moderation.
That’s one reason why not everyone wants to invest in a machine whose sole purpose in life is to fry foods. That being said, a pot that can steam or boil up veggies like a professional, all the while being ready for a well-deserved, deep-fried cheat meal, sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn’t it?
So what are the best pots for deep frying? The best pots for deep frying are cast iron pots, metal pots, and woks. The best pot is also a deep pot since the food needs to be completely covered by oil.
There are other factors to consider, like whether your pot needs to be seasoned, so we’ll dive into all of the things to keep in mind when buying a pot for deep frying.
We’ve gone on a search for the best pots to use for deep frying, and we’ve even figured out how to use them for the task. If you’re on the market for a pot that will perform miracles in your kitchen, feast your eyes on these 3 best pots for deep frying.
The Best Pots for Deep Frying
|Material and Type
|Lodge 6 Classic Red Enamel Dutch Oven
|Porcelain coated dutch oven
|Lodge 5 Quart Pre-Seasoned Pot with Lid and Dual Loop Handle
|Cast iron dutch oven
|Cook N Home Stainless Steel Saucepot with Lid
|Stainless steel sauce pot
|Moss & Stone Copper 5 Piece
|Copper deep dish pan
|Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok
|Carbon steel wok
|Helen Chen's Asian Kitchen Flat Bottom Wok, Carbon Steel With Lid
|Carbon steel wok (with lid)
If you’re looking for a pot to deep fry in, the first rule of thumb is to go deep or go home. Whatever you end up frying over the lifespan of your pot, it all needs to fit inside and be completely submerged in oil.
For most recipes, you’ll need about 3 – 4 inches of oil, so you want your pot to be at least 5 – 6 inches deep. Another point to keep in mind is that the thicker the walls of the pot, the more heat retention you’ll get out of it.
Finally, if your pot happens to come with a handy pouring spout it will make life a lot easier when you’re ready to transfer the oil to a container for storage after use.
The 3 best types of pots for deep frying are:
- Cast iron
When it comes to deep-frying, keeping your oil hot throughout the entire pot is crucial for a good cook all the way through, whether you’re making chicken wings or doughnuts.
Cast iron not only heats up quickly and evenly but with the lid on your Dutch oven, you can contain the heat from all sides.
With a traditional cast iron pot or pan, deep frying will actually help to keep it seasoned over time. The only downside is that if the oil is left for too long it can start to degrade, thanks to the iron in your pot.
This is an easy fix – just transfer the oil to a container once it cools down.
Of course, if you opt for an enameled pot, you don’t need to worry about seasoning or restoring your oil!
1. Lodge 6 Classic Red Enamel Dutch Oven
This is by far my favorite pot for deep frying, and if you try it you’ll pretty quickly realize why.
Coating a cast iron pot with porcelain enamel makes it non-porous, so you don’t have to temper or season it. You still get all the benefits of a heavy-duty pot with great heat transfer and retention, and it’s incredibly easy to clean, as an added bonus.
- This Dutch oven is incredibly versatile, great for use on most stovetops or in the oven.
- The lid locks in moisture and keeps your oil from sputtering out all over your kitchen and sensitive arms.
2. Lodge 5 Quart Pre-Seasoned Pot with Lid and Dual Loop Handle
Cast iron is one of the few things on earth that get better the more you use them.
Deep frying is only the tip of the iceberg with this kitchen essential. You can also roast, bake, simmer and sauté. It’s your kitchen’s equivalent of a one-man band.
- One of the biggest drawbacks to cast iron is that it needs to be seasoned before you can use it – this one is pre-seasoned and ready for use!
- This pot can even be used on your grill or campfire
As we’ve mentioned, when it comes to deep-frying, you want your heat to be as evenly distributed as possible, and metal is pretty good at that job.
It’s also very durable, simple to maintain, and relatively inexpensive, especially considering the quality that you can get.
3. Cook N Home Stainless Steel Saucepot with Lid
Stainless steel isn’t as great for heat retention, but it will keep your oil fresh for longer than copper or cast iron, if you’re planning on reusing the oil for a few meals.
They’re also fairly lightweight, inexpensive, and come in some really large sizes. This is great news if you’re the adventurous type, with visions of deep-frying a turducken in your future.
- This 20 qt stockpot can hold a lot of food, so it would work great for a big, fried family fest
- The bottom has an aluminum core which helps with heat distribution but the steel is still suitable for induction stovetops
- The tempered glass lid will not only keep you safe from too much splatter, but you’ll also be able to check on the progress of your food without lifting the lid every 3 seconds
4. Moss & Stone Copper 5 Piece
Full disclosure, copper isn’t the easiest metal to find for sale, but when you come across an incredible deal, you really should jump on it.
Copper is top-of-the-line for heat distribution, so it’s perfect for deep frying.
- While we normally advise avoiding non-stick coatings, the Cerami-Tech used on these deep-dish pans are free of dangerous chemicals and extremely durable, making clean up a breeze.
- The bottom of each pan has a stainless-steel induction plate, so they can be used on induction stovetops.
There are many perks to using woks for your deep-frying needs. The sloped sides actually reduce the amount of spatter that makes it outside the pan, and the funnel shape lets you use less oil for the same amount of food. It’s also easier to scoop out once it’s ready.
You do want to avoid anything non-stick though, because the heat of the oil might leach chemicals into your food. Also, if you want to be doing stir-fries and other cooking in your wok, it’s best to avoid anything that will scratch easily.
5. Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok
This wok has a round bottom which is ideal for gas stoves. It’s a frying chef’s dream wok – perfect for deep frying which will season the pan beautifully, as well as making legendary stir-fries whenever your heart desires. You can even make soups in this deep dish if you so choose.
- Traditional Chinese walk, hand-hammered by professionals, and top-of-the-line professional quality.
- Wooden handle is treated so that you can have a firm, non-slip grip while you are frying and tossing.
6. Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen Flat Bottom Wok, Carbon Steel With Lid
Flat bottom woks are perfect for ceramic or electric hubs, and this one will sit sturdily on your stove as you work, holding on firmly to the heat-resistant bamboo handle and the handle helper.
- Not all woks come with lids, but this one does, and it’s a giant, domed wonder, perfect for keeping your oil hot and your kitchen spatter free.
- Extras are always welcome, and this wok comes with a lovely bamboo spatula and a booklet of recipes to inspire you.
Additional Tools for Deep Frying Success
Deep frying is a relatively simple cooking technique to master, but there are two tools in particular that can make your life a lot easier: a high-heat deep fryer or candy thermometer and a stainless-steel skimmer basket or spider.
Not all thermometers are able to handle the heat of boiling oil, so finding one that is specifically made for the task will make it easier for you to monitor your food, making sure everything is cooked at the right temperature.
Look for something with a clip that will keep it tacked onto your pot through the frying process, like this long-stem thermometer.
If you need to fry tonight and don’t have a thermometer, there are a few tricks to testing your oil to see if it’s hot enough. They’re not foolproof, but they’re handy tips in a pinch.
- Popcorn. Drop a single kernel of popcorn into your oil when you think it’s about ready. The corn will pop when the oil is around 350F.
- Use a chopstick. When you think your oil is ready, take a wooden chopstick and hold it in the oil. If the oil bubbles nicely, it’s ready for cooking. If it goes a little crazy, the oil might be too hot and you can reduce the heat a bit before you accidentally burn your food.
Finally, you’re absolutely going to want a spider or skimmer basket to help you contain all your delicious fried food items.
They’re basically colander/strainer/ladle combinations that make it much easier and safer to fish out food once it’s finished, without trying to pour out a pot of boiling hot oil or use a tiny slotted spoon that will leave your food simmering in the oil for minutes longer than it needs to be.
How to Safely Deep Fry Without a Deep Fryer
Now that you have the perfect pot and a few accessories, you’re ready to start frying! For the most part, deep frying food is quite simple and straightforward: put food in boiling oil, let it cook, and take it out.
For your safety, however, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when you’re working with a lot of really hot oil.
First of all, the thinner the food is, the hotter you can have your oil, because it won’t take as long to cook all the way through.
For thicker foods, like chicken thighs, for example, you’ll want to give it a little more time in the oil without burning the outside, so a lower temperature is better. You’ll be working between the ranges of 350 – 400F.
You’ll also want to make sure you don’t overload your pot. When you’re adding your food, make sure there’s plenty of room for it to move around in individual pieces, instead of being crammed in.
If you end up having to make a few batches, make sure you double-check the temperature is back where you want it each time, before adding more food. You’ll also want to season your food after its done frying so it doesn’t burn in the oil.
Finally, make sure your oil is completely and totally cooled down before you try to store it in another container. Let your pot sit uncovered on your stove for as long as it takes, but don’t transfer it until it’s room temperature.
When it’s ready, strain the oil through some cheesecloth to remove any leftover particulates.
Here are a few more tips, depending on whether you are planning on doing your frying on the stovetop, in the oven, or on your outdoor grill or barbeque.
- Do NOT overfill your pot! Once you add your food there will be a certain amount of bubbling and sputtering and you don’t want to add overflowing oil to that equation. Make sure your oil doesn’t fill your pot any more than halfway.
- Set up a draining station close to your pot so that you can take your food out and set it to drain/cool on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. Set a flat wire rack sitting inside it or turn a traditional cooling rack upside down. This will help get rid of some excess oil, but not let your food sit around in a pool of oil getting soggy.
Oven or BBQ
- First, make sure your pot is oven or grill-safe and has a good oven-safe lid. A cast-iron Dutch oven is a good choice.
- The trick here is to get your oil hot enough. To do so you’ll want to preheat your oven or set your grill to 400F and keep a close eye on your thermometer.
- Once your oil is ready, add your food as per usual, but be very careful checking on it and moving your pot around. You do not want to find out what hot oil burns are like, and a pot full of oil and food is heavy, so be very, very careful.
What Is the Best Oil for Deep Frying?
Peanut oil and canola oil are the most popular oils used for deep-frying because of their high smoke points and subtle flavoring.
In general, most refined oils will work well for deep frying, so you can try out a few different options depending on the flavor profile you’re looking for. Safflower, sunflower, palm and soy oil are all very mild in flavor with high smoke points. For more distinct flavorings, try refined sesame oil or coconut oil.
What Should You Not Cook in Cast Iron?
Cast iron is good for so many things, but there are a few food items that you’ll want to save for your stainless-steel pans. Anything that is very acidic, like tomato sauce, can ruin your pan, so stay clear of red sauces.
Cast iron will also retain strong flavors, so if you don’t want your next few meals tasting like fish, liver or garlic you might want to keep these items out of your pan.
Cast iron gets better over time, as it becomes more seasoned. A new pan tends to stick a bit, so don’t fry anything really delicate like eggs or fish until you’ve had your pan for a good while.
What’s the Difference Between Deep Frying and Shallow Frying?
The difference between shallow and deep-frying is, quite simply, the amount of oil you use to do the frying. When you shallow fry, your food will be only partially submerged in oil, and then flipped for the other side to be cooked.
When you deep fry, the entire item is fully submerged in hot oil throughout the cooking process.