The Best Fish Fryer You Probably Already Own
It’s the ultimate fish supper that’s hard to resist.
Golden, Light, and crisp on the outside. Yet still tender, moist, and succulent in the center.
And if you own a wok, cook on a gas flame, and can get your hands on a digital thermometer you’ve already got the best fish fryer in the business and everything you need to cook up this much-loved iconic dish.
Mostly made from carbon steel, tradition Chinese style woks are lightweight, conduct heat quickly, and retain it well.
Their high sloped sides and shallow depth lets you use less oil but still have plenty of surface area to cook in, making it easier to flip fish over and move it about.
Those flared sides also prevent oil from boiling over and can catch a lot of the splatter that happens when your deep-frying fish.
So you'll have a little less cleaning to do, and your stovetop won’t end up looking like a Jackson Pollock painting by the time you’re finished cooking dinner.
Getting your wok on a gas flame is vital though. It gives you much more control than cooking on an electric or an induction hob.
You can get your oil up to the searing hot temperature required to set batter quickly creating a barrier between the oil and the fish.
And once you slide the fish in, you can turn gas up full blast, which helps reduce recovery time (more on this in a sec)
You will need some sort of thermometer to measure all this. And digital is definitely the way to go because it will give you a reading almost instantaneously.
Nevermind throwing in a bread crumb to see if it sizzles. This is just guesswork, using a thermometer is the only way to ensure that your oil is at the right temperature.
This set up isn’t for everybody though.
A wok full of hot oil sitting on a stovetop is more than a little hazardous especially if you've got kids around.
And frying up fish like this should only really be undertaken by the most experienced home cooks.
The golden rule is to never leave it unattended and don’t fill your wok more than about halfway.
If you’ve got any safety concerns, getting all this set up seems like a bit of a hassle, or you cook on a flat top stove than maybe you should consider a countertop electric deep fryer.
These plug and cook solutions offer more features, are straight forward to use, and have come a long way over the years with many now capable of reaching the high temperature needed to fry up the perfect fillet of fish.
Below are 3 of our favorites.
Best fish fryer - 3 excellent options to consider
Why The Best Fish Fryer Has A High Top Temperature
375℉ is good but 425℉ is better (that’s 190 - 220℃ for our European friends) although you can get away with any temperature in between.
Unfortunately, even the best deep fryers designed for home use never get anywhere near 425℉ and the best you can hope for is about 390.
But the hotter you can go the better your fish will taste and the crispier the result.
These scorching hot temperatures are crucial when deep-frying fish because they instantly create a wall between your fish and the oil preventing it from seeping in.
It doesn’t matter what coating you’re using, whether it’s a batter, a breadcrumb, or a simple egg and flour mix.
Throwing your fish in at too low a temperature almost guarantees you'll end up with a stodgy, limp, grease-laden outcome.
When what we’re after is that beautiful contrasting texture of moist just cooked fish underneath a coating of light crunchy batter.
So when you’re looking for a deep-fryer for fish opt for one with the highest temperature range available.
What Is Recovery Time And Why It’s Important
Odds are you’ve come across a recipe for something deep-fried that will tell you ''don't overcrowd the pan'' or ''cook in batches’’ and there's a good reason for this.
Adding cold food to hot oil causes its temperature to plummet by somewhere between 40 and 60 degrees.
How long the oil takes to get back up to its original temperature is called recovery time.
And the shorter the recovery time the better, not just when your cooking fish, but anything deep-fried.
Because the longer you fry at a lower temperature the more time it takes for food to crisp up, the more oil it absorbs, and the soggier, greasier, and more unhealthy it will be.
Plus you run the risk of overcooking your pricy piece of fish and the coating could even come off.
To help keep recovery time to a minimum a good rule of thumb is to never cover more than around ⅔ of the surface area of oil with food.
And like the recipes say, cook in batches if you have to.
The only other way to influence recovery time is to get a fryer with plenty of power.
Why It's All About Power
Like most electrical appliances watts is the unit of measurement we’re looking at.
And for the best fish fryer, we need a number of at least 1700 watts or above.
The higher the wattage, the more powerful the frier, the quicker it will heat up, and the shorter the recovery time.
And as a very general rule the more fish you’ll be able to fry up in one go too.
But this will also depend on how big the fryer is, and more importantly how much oil you can fill it with.
Oil To Power Ratio
The oil to power ratio is something that often gets overlooked in the discussion about what is the best deep-fryer for fish.
And at the risk of stating the obvious, a fryer with let’s say 1700 watts of power will heat 3 litres of oil a hell of a lot quicker than it will heat 4.
So the more powerful the fryer is, and the less oil its got to heat, the better it will perform.
Unfortunately, most manufactures tend to increase oil capacity as they increase the wattage.
Though you do come across the odd anomaly like the presto fryer (check out our full review below)
And if you do happen to come across a fryer with a low oil to power ratio you should give it some serious consideration as long as it has all the other features you want.
The only downside about having a fryer with less oil in it is that it might not be quite big enough for your needs depending on how it’s designed.
So you’ll need to balance performance against how much fish you want to cook in one go.
Immersion Vs. Bottom Heating Fryers
Another factor that can influence how a fryer performs when it comes to heating up and recovery time is what type of element it has.
And there are two main types, bottom heating and immersion.
Bottom heating is pretty self-explanatory. The element is in the base of the fryer and it heats the oil above in exactly the same way as if you were deep-frying on your stovetop.
Fryers designed like this are a lot more inefficient than their counterparts fitted with immersion elements because they have more oil to heat.
Immersion fryers on the other hand have an element that’s submerged in the oil normally about a half-inch above the base.
Heating coils submerged into the oil work better for a few reasons.
First, they heat the oil faster because heat rises and they’ll focus mostly on the oil above and not below the element.
With the added benefit that your oil will stay fresher longer as any particles that come off your food will fall below the heat source to the bottom of the fryer, where they don't burn, which keeps the oil from breaking down faster.
So, if you like the look of a particular fryer but your unsure whether it has the wattage or power you need, then making sure its got an immersion element could be the clincher.
Capacity Vs. Surface Area
Some manufactures like to throw out statistics.
They'll say something like, our fryer is ‘capable of cooking 2.5lbs of fries’ or ‘’cooks enough chicken to feed 8’’
Measurements like these are useless to us fish cooks.
Because throwing 2.5lbs of delicate flakey fish coated in batter into a fryer that only holds 3 litres of oil is a recipe for absolute disaster.
And only guarantees you'll end up with a ruined mushy mess.
Instead, you need to concern yourself with a far more useful measurement. The surface area of oil.
This little stat gives us a much better idea of a fryers capacity. And when it comes to fish is a more accurate sign of how much it can cook at once.
The quickest way to judge the oil’s surface area is to get the measurement of the fryers basket. Then multiply its length by width which will tell you what you need to know.
Say for example a fryers basket measures 12(l) by 7(w) that will give you an area of 84sq inches.
So if you’re looking for a fryer that has a large capacity for fish it’s well worth running this little calculation before you buy to look for the biggest number.
Best Fish Fryer - 5 Top Contenders Reviewed
After doing a ton of research and looking through lots of different candidates we’ve come up with a list of 5 of the best deep fryers for fish on the market today.
All feature adjustable thermostats and the necessary power to cook up those crisp results.
But each one is slightly different from the next in terms of design, size, and price so you'll be able to pick one that best suits your needs.
Here at Cockles n Mussels we hope you enjoy the products we recommend but we need to let you know that if you decide to purchase something through the links on this page we get a small commission. It helps keep the lights on round here.....Thanks.
Best Performance: National Presto Stainless Steel Pro Fry
With an 1800 watt immersion element heating a mere 2.8 litres of oil this budget fryer from presto has got one of the best oil to power ratios in the business. So it heats up quickly and keeps recovery times short for the crispiest fried fish.
Made from stainless steel with cool-touch handles and an adjustable thermostat that turns all the way up too 375℉ the presto gives a top performance at a great price.
An air gap between the oil tank and the outside walls allows it’s surface to remain relatively cool to the touch, so no accidental burns if you brush by.
While the long rectangular fry basket is the perfect length for cooking larger fillets and measuring 7 x 9 inches gives a total surface area of 63 sq. inches to cook in.
Best For A Crowd: WantJoin Commercial Deep Fryer
If you’re looking for a fryer that’s able to cook enough fish for a large family along with fries to go with it, then the wantjoin could be the solution your after.
Rugged and durable it boasts a stainless steel corrosion and heat resistant body. With an 8mm thick iron oil pan that’s coated in enamel and non-stick to boot.
Although there’s no drain valve the oil tank has got a handy jug shaped corner that makes it easy to pour out old oil once you’re done cooking.
Powered by two 2800 watt immersion elements submerged in 12 litres of oil divided into 2 pans the want join is the largest fryer on our list.
An impressive maximum temperature of 395°F means its also one of the hottest too. And sets the coating on fried fish quickly for better healthier results.
With 2 wide oil pans, it offers plenty of surface area to cook up enough fish for 12 to 15 people depending on your portion size.
Best For Safety: Duxtop Commercial Deep Fryer
Next up is the Duxtop deep fryer which is a bit of a beast holding a massive 8 liters of oil, powered by a 3000-watt induction element.
And the biggest difference between it and other fryers on our list is that it runs on 220 volts as opposed to 110 which would be the standard in most US kitchens.
The benefit of 220v is that you get a bit of a boost in efficiency when it comes to gaining and maintaining heat. But make sure you have somewhere to plug this fryer in before you buy.
On top of that, the Duxtop comes packed full of safety features including an induction element that keeps oil and power completely separate, an automatic Shut-Off Function, as well as overheat and boil-dry protection.
It also comes with 3 removable baskets (1 large & 2 small) with hooks for easy draining and cool-touch handles to help to prevent burns.
Having the option to put 2 baskets in the fryer at once is a nice one to have. You can cook up fries in one and your fish in the other.
Best Small Fish Fryer: Cuisinart Compact Deep Fryer
They say good things come in small packages. And that’s definitely the case with this little lad from Cuisinart.
But don’t let its size put you off because this fryer has an oil to power ratio of nearly 1:1 and does an awesome job of recovering heat quickly. And heats up to that magic 375°F in record time too.
If there is one drawback to cooking fish in this little guy its that it’s not all that deep.
With only a little over a 1-litre oil capacity, you only get around 2.5 inches of oil in the bottom and there is a danger that battered fish might have a tendency to stick on the basket.
The best thing to do if you find this happening is to remove the basket altogether. Then lower your fish slowly into the fryer allowing the batter to set a little before you let it drop all the way in.
The bottom is non-stick and when it floats to the top and it’s cooked just scoop it out with a tongs
You’ll get a little more usable volume for frying this way too. But be well aware this fryer is really compact and will only cook enough fish for 2 at a time.
Which will probably be music to the ears of a couple of seafood lovers who live together in an apartment with a small kitchen and limited counter/storage space.
Best For Features - De'Longhi Livenza Deep Fryer
If you’re looking for a feature-packed fryer that’s easy to clean and offers good performance then this De’Longhi is a winner
Built to last, its made from stainless steel, features an attractive easy to read digital display, and has a handy tap for draining the oil once you’re done cooking.
Other features include rubber feet to hold it firmly in place. Cool-touch handles and walls. Folding handle on the basket for easy storage and a really accurate thermostat that keeps it at the set temperature.
The basket measures 9.5(l) x 6.6(w) giving an oil surface area of approximately 54 sq. inches. Comfortably enough room to cook enough fish for 5/6 people in one batch.
A Quick Note On The Best Oil To Use
Extra virgin olive oil tastes great, so does sesame, avocado, and walnut.
However, these raw unprocessed oils contain compounds that cause them to smoke far below the high temperature needed to fry fish.
They also pack a powerful punch in terms of taste that can really interfere with the natural flavour of fish.
The best oils for deep-frying fish and anything else for that matter are the relatively cheap, flavourless oils with high smoke points.
Think vegetable, corn, or canola.
Below I’ve compiled a handy list of oils to use for deep frying fish along with their smoke points.
type of fat
Light olive oil
Pomace olive oil
It’s got to be said though that the very best oils for frying fish are the ones everyone says are unhealthy.
Yes indeed, saturated fats like peanut and lard not only give the tastiest and crispest results but also have the longest fryer life and can be used again and again.
The biggest downside to frying up fish with them (besides the health concerns) is that you need to serve up straight away.
Let them cool too much and you’ll find your fish can become just a little greasy.
Important Safety Features
After the best part of 25 years spent working in restaurant kitchens, I can confirm the number 2 cause of accidents (cutting the hand off your self with a knife is deffo no.1) is the deep fryer.
Besides the odd burn from a bit of oil splatter. I’ve witnessed one chef trip, try to steady himself with his hand, and put it straight in the fryer.
While one kitchen porter in a place I worked stood in one while cleaning the kitchen canopy.
Although your un-lightly to encounter one of these scenarios at home the danger of these appliances shouldn’t be underestimated.
And these days the best fish fryers come equipped with a whole host of safety features you should definitely look for before you buy. Including...
And after you get your fryer home the first thing you should do is give the owners manual a quick read and learn how to set it up properly, how much oil you can safely fill it with, and how to turn the power off quickly.
Other Nice Features You Might Want To Consider
Modern deep-fryers come with a whole host of bells and whistles attached. Some a lot more helpful than others.
Below is a quick list, most of their benefits are pretty self-explanatory.
None of these features are exactly what you’d call must-haves. But some like a drain valve for oil, easy-clean finishes, and dishwasher safe parts are real time savers.
While others like timers and oil change notifications you'll probably not bother with.
I find timers a bit useless when deep-frying food (you should never leave a fryer unattended so you’ll know when anything in there is cooked)
While a fryer telling you that it needs a change of oil will be something your well aware of long before it flashes up.
Why Frying Fish For A crowd Is Problematic Even With The Best Deep Fryer
Fried fish is at its best the second it comes out of bubbling hot oil.
Soggy and greasy fish is not only caused by cooking at too low a temperature. But by poor drainage and by letting it sit around for too long before serving up too.
And Ironically, frying in batches, which keeps the oil hot and reduces greasiness. Is often the very reason fried foods have to sit too long before serving.
So to keep things crisp pop your fish into a warm oven at around 200 ℉, while you fry your other batches. Then when you're ready, serve up everything together.
By maintaining a bit of heat, you slow the movement of oil into the food and keep any moisture present as steam.
Let it sit too long and as it cools down that steam will condense into water ruining your once super crisp crust.
This will only work for around 10 or 12 minutes though. If you’ve 3 or 4 batches to cook there’s a chance that the first ones through the fryer might have started to go a little soggy.
But not to worry. You can pass any of the spongy guys off to the mother in law, an annoying nephew, or anyone else who’s been irritating you by constantly asking when dinner will be ready.
But all joking aside. The truth of the matter is that frying up fish to a decent standard for anything more than around 10 people is difficult with a lot of countertop fryers.
So, if you think you'll be doing it for large numbers on a regular basis then you might want to think about getting an outdoor propane-fired fryer. They have a lot more power and capacity than an electric one.
Best Fish Fryer - Wrapping Up
No matter how good or how fresh your fish is, it can be badly let down by a bad batter, and completely ruined by frying it at too low a temperature in a poor fryer.
Keeping this in mind, performance should always be your main priority when you’re looking for the best fish fryer.
And on that front, the presto is hard to beat.
Despite being lightweight, it fries fish while maintaining a consistent hot temperature, has a short recovery time, and it's great value for money too.
It’s not the biggest though, so if you’ve got a large number to feed the wantjoin could be just the job as it’s got a really big surface area and one of the highest maximum temperatures available.
Fish ‘n chips anyone?
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