Can You Use Vegetable Oil in a Deep Fryer?
If you are the proud owner of a deep fryer, you may have already tried different recipes and learned through trial and error what works and what doesn’t. There is no need for guessing games when it comes to which oils can be used safely and effectively in a deep fryer.
Vegetable oil is one of the better oils you can use in a deep fryer for a variety of reasons. While that includes all the technical varieties of vegetable oils (sunflower oil, olive oil, and canola oil, for example, can all be used in deep fryer cooking), straight-up vegetable oil makes a great go-to oil for deep-frying just about anything.
The difference between vegetable oil and its more specifically named counterparts mentioned above is that vegetable oil typically consists of a blend of several plant-derived oils mixed together to produce the most cost-effective oil. It does not have a strong flavor, so although it might not be our preferred oil to use as a salad dressing, it’s great for deep frying.
Here are some of the attributes of vegetable oil that make it perfect for use in a deep fryer.
Smoke point is something you may have already learned about, whether you realized it or not, through trial and error with your deep fryer at home. The smoke point of oil is the temperature where the oil starts to burn and release smoke. The last thing you want is the stressful sound of a smoke alarm blaring in your ear while handling a tank of hot oil.
The smoking point of vegetable oil is around 450° Fahrenheit, which is much higher than many other oils. Many brands of deep fryers do not even have thermostats that exceed 375° Fahrenheit, so you may not ever reach the smoke point of vegetable oil depending on the type of deep fryer you use. For reference, you would fry chicken in oil heated to about 350 and French fries usually cook in oil between 325° and 375°F. This leaves you plenty of wiggle room to keep from hitting the smoke point of vegetable oil.
While a lack of flavor isn’t always an advantage in cooking oil, it almost always is when it comes to deep frying. Frying food is usually about adding texture and cooking it through, not about adding the flavor of the oil. Flavor in fried food usually comes from the food itself being fried, seasonings, or batter. Deep frying is best done with oil with as neutral or little flavor as possible so as not to change the taste of the food you are frying. Vegetable oil definitely has a neutral flavor and will not taint or overshadow your dish.
One of the (only) bad things about deep frying food is the amount of oil you have to use. Even if you have the smallest size deep fryer, you are still going to need a lot of oil to completely submerge the food you are cooking.
Oil can be expensive. Have you seen the cost of high-end, imported, infused oils? Unless you are both a millionaire and know how the flavors in these oils will affect your dish, you won’t want to use copious amounts of expensive oil in your deep fryer.
You have a lot of oils to choose from when selecting one to use in your deep fryer. Sunflower, canola, olive, extra virgin olive, peanut, coconut, and rice bran are just a few of the many types of oils on the market that you could use, but they all almost always cost more than generic vegetable oil.
Thanks to its high smoke point, you can even reuse vegetable oil multiple times. As long as you store it in an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze it, you can use vegetable oil over and over again before it will start to go bad. You can also strain the vegetable oil using a strainer lined with cheesecloth after frying, and put the oil right back in the (clean) deep fryer for storage, as long as it has an airtight lid.
Most new models of deep fryers have this feature, both for this purpose and to prevents splashes and spills. You could even use a coffee filter and a funnel to put small amounts of oil into a bottle for reuse, although it is not recommended to mix old and new oil.
Overall, not only can you use vegetable oil in a deep fryer, but you probably should in order to save money, produce great flavor, and avoid burning down your kitchen.