How to Deep Fry in a Pot or Saucepan

How to Deep Fry with a Pot
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If you’re looking to deep fry without a deep fryer, then your best bet is to deep fry with a pot or saucepan over a stove-top.  And were not going to lie when we say we love deep frying with out deep fryer, but we’re still going to show you a simple yet easy method to deep fry with your pot/saucepan. We’ll give you a few tips and tricks to make everything easy while also giving you a list of things you may want/need.

Saucepan or Pot: Which to choose when Deep Frying

Just for a quick reference, a saucepan is usually a deep pan with one long handle for support. Conversely, a pot is also a deep cooking tool although it usually has two handles, one on each side. In all honesty either could be used to deep fry a number of things. There are some subtle differences between a saucepan and pot beyond the handle(s). For example, pots are traditionally used for boiling water of other liquids, while saucepans are more for (you guessed it) sauces. Because of this, saucepans are sometimes more narrow at the bottom, and widen as you get to the top. This has to do with how many sauces cook.

The bottom line is this: For the best and easiest stove-top deep frying experience, you are simply going to want a deep pan/pot. We’d recommend getting something with two handles and also a lid. We like to handles because if you’re deep frying, you may have quite a bit of hot oil in the pan/pot. It can get pretty heavy, so safety is key.

Pros and Cons of Deep Frying without a Deep Fryer

Pros of Deep Frying without a Deep fryer

  • You likely already have most if not all of the tools in your kitchen.
  • You have more freedom in the size of pot/pan you decide to use, only enough oil to get the job done.
  • Deep fryers usually max at 375°F, causing problems for some foods that require higher temperatures. Frying from a pot solves this problem.
  • By not owning a deep fryer, you’re eliminating an appliance, and saving room.
  • By not using a deep fryer, you shouldn’t need to worry about malfunctions/breakdowns.

Cons of Frying without a Deep Fryer

  • You’ll want to ensure you have a thermometer. Despite its many uses in the kitchen, not everybody actually owns one. Most deep fryers have these built in.
  • Another tricky aspect can be what you use to put the food in and out of the fryer. Deep fryers typically use straining baskets. You can purchase a basket separately or simply use tongs or a slotted spoon. Although, this can be less than ideal for some foods.

Things you’ll need to Deep Fry without a Deep Fryer

Before we get into the step by step instructions on how to deep fry with a sauce/pot, lets cover some of the things you may need or simply want to make the process as easy as possible

  1. Heating Source: Usually this will be a stove-top although there are plenty of other options.
  2. Pot/Saucepan: Ideally, you’d like to use something with two handles, one on each side. Keep in mind the depth of the pot/pan. The deeper the pot, the more you’ll be able to deep fry.
  3. Lid– While not completely necessary, a lid not only helps prevent some splattering when deep frying, but it’ll also help hold the temperature, which is very important in deep frying.
  4. Oil: Obviously oil is necessary to deep fry. You can check out our list of best oils here. If you’re good with keeping thing simple, we recommend vegetable oil.
  5. Oil Storage: Sometimes people get away with letting their oil sit in their deep fryer. However, unless you plan on tossing a lot of oil after each use, its best to have something to save oil in. You can check out options here
  6. Thermometer– Given how important temperature is to deep frying foods to perfection, you should consider having some sort of device that will read the temperature of your oil. Here’s our guide on the best thermometers for deep frying. One of the biggest advantages of deep frying with a deep fryer is that most fryers have some sort of thermometer built into the unit.
  7. Tongs, Fry Basket, Slotted Spoon– You’ll want an easy method to be able to put the food into the pot as well as take it out.

You most likely already have most of these items listed above, but there are a few things you may also want to consider to pick up. Luckily, all of these things have multiple kitchen uses, so you don’t have to feel like you’re spending money on just one thing.

How to Deep Fry without a Deep Fryer (8 Steps)

Finally, here comes our step by step guide for deep frying with a pot or saucepan over a stove-top. No Deep Fryer necessary.

  1. Choose your frying oil. Keep in mind deep frying requires higher temperatures than pan frying or sauteing.  You’ll want an oil with a high smoke point. Our favorite oils include vegetable oil and peanut oil.
  2. Add oil to your pot or pan. For safety, you’ll want to make sure you do not fill a pan past the half way point. You’ll also want to ensure you have at least 4 inches or 10 cm from the oil line to the top of the pot. This’ll ensure your oil doesn’t spill over once you put the food in. The more space you have left, the less splattering that should go on, allowing for an easy clean up. You’ll also want to make sure you have enough oil to completely submerge the food completely. If you cannot, you’ll have to consider making multiple batches
  3. Preheat your oil over the stove to the desired temperature. If you’ve ever had soggy deep fried food before, then you should understand the importance of keeping a high frying temperature to prevent oil from seeping into the food. This is where the thermometer comes in. 
  4. Before putting any food into the deep fryer, pat your food dry. We’ve covered how water violently reacts with hot oil. You’re not going to want to deal with the chaotic splattering that ensues. Once you have your food as dry as it’ll get, its ready to put the food into the fryer carefully. You’ll want to keep some distance when doing this to ensure you avoid any burns. This can be done with tongs, a slotted spoon, or a fry basket.
  5. Given the temperature of oil, food typically doesn’t fry very long. Make sure to keep a close eye on anything you deep fry. If you’re not sure, look up deep fry times before starting. Some smaller foods can deep fry as quickly as one minute.
  6. Once done, its time to carefully take the food out of the deep fryer. Its best to try and shake or drain the food before putting it on a paper towel lined plate. For the most part, oil doesn’t penetrate the food while frying, so by draining the oil and patting the food down immediately, you are eliminating a lot of the unhealthy aspect to deep frying.
  7. Turn off your heating element.
  8. Once the oil has cooled, you can drain the oil into a container (straining it if you choose to do so). Never pour oil down the sink.

Tips and Tricks for Deep Frying with a Pot or Saucepan

Some of these tips and tricks are for deep frying in general, and not solely for deep frying without a deep fryer.

  • Before frying, note that the more food you fry at once, the more the temperature will drop, and the longer it remains at the dropped amount. While it’s not the end of the world, it could affect your dish.
  • Always pat your food before putting it into the fryer. Water does not react well with fryer. 
  • Conversely, by patting and draining most of the oil once your food is complete, you’ll eliminate most of the unhealthy parts of deep frying.
  • While a lid is often over blown when it comes to the splattering of oil, it definitely helps a pot/pan hold temperature easier.
  • Always have your station set-up for when your food is deep frying. Deep Fried food cooks quickly, and you don’t want to be scattering where to put the food when the food is already done.


Hopefully we’ve covered everything you could have on your mind when it comes to deep frying with a saucepan/pot. It is most definitely possible to deep fry without a deep fryer. If you ensure you have all the necessary supplies and follow these simple steps, you’ll probably find yourself deep frying over the stove-top quite often. If we’ve missed anything, feel free to add any questions in the comments below.

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