Countertop Fryer Buyers' Guide
A commercial fryer can be a lucrative addition to any foodservice operation, from full-service restaurants to concession stands. If you've taken the time to figure out what size fryer you need, you may have realized that a countertop fryer will fit best in your operation. As with any piece of restaurant equipment, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing your countertop fryer.
Choosing a Commercial Countertop Fryer
A countertop fryer is usually the best option for a business that is adding a supplemental fryer to keep up with demand during peak hours or for a smaller operation that doesn't have the room to add a full-size floor model. These small fryers can also be suitable for restaurants that need to prepare a lower volume of specialty items, like jalapeño poppers or fried desserts.
Commercial countertop fryers can have vat capacities as small as 6 pounds and as large as 50 pounds, but generally will provide an oil capacity of 15 to 30 pounds. Because of this smaller size, this type of commercial fryer is not recommended for establishments that need to produce a large volume or variety of fried foods. The exact production rate of each fryer will fluctuate based on factors like product types and load sizes, but you should not expect to get more output than about 1.5 times the vat's oil capacity. For example, a countertop fryer with a 32-pound vat can yield about 50 pounds of french fries per hour, while a 10-pound fryer can produce around 17 pounds of french fries per hour.
Countertop fryers may be heated by electricity or gas, but an operator choosing an electric countertop fryer will have a wider range of options because that type includes a majority of the models on the market. When choosing a countertop fryer, you'll likely notice many features are similar to those available on full-size models, like frypot styles, full and split pots, and swing-up elements. A split pot allows two different batches of food to be fried in half-size baskets, and swing-up elements make it easier to clean out the frypot in a tube-type fryer.
- Open-pot fryers should be used with foods that produce a low-to-medium amount of sediment.
- Tube-type fryers are best for battered and breaded foods.
- Flat-bottomed fryers can be used to fry foods that float in oil.
When adding a fryer to your lineup, it's also important to make sure your kitchen is equipped with a hood that can handle the extra grease-laden vapors that will be produced. If your current hood is not sufficient, you may want to consider investing in a ventless fryer that eliminates that requirement. Ventless electric countertop fryers, like those from Perfect Fry and the XPressFry by Giles, may also feature semi- or fully-automatic cooking processes with varying degrees of programmability that can help ensure your menu items are fried consistently with minimal hands-on involvement by your staff.
Built-In Deep Fryers
Built-in deep fryers are not very common, but can be a suitable option for businesses seeking a more permanent frying solution. Installing a built-in deep fryer eliminates the portability of the unit, which could be a useful anti-theft measure in church kitchens, community centers, and other public spaces. These are designed with removable frypots so they can be easily cleaned, but should only be installed in metal countertops.
Commercial Fryers Accessories
Although commercial countertop fryers are smaller than floor models, you will still need to invest in fryer accessories in order to get the most of out of your equipment.
- A fryer gas connector is a necessity for a gas fryer, although installing one with a quick disconnect will make it easier to move the fryer.
- Additional fryer baskets may be purchased to supplement or upgrade the ones that come standard with your fryer.
- A fry dump station can be used to keep fried foods warm until they are ready to be served. Products can then be scooped out of the dump station with french fry scoops.
In addition to accessories that can streamline the cooking process, you will need fryer accessories for filtering oil and cleaning the frypot.
- One of the most important accessories is a fryer cover, which keeps oil clean overnight and at other times when the fryer is not in use.
- Fryer cleaning tools include fryer filter accessories that make it possible to filter the oil so it lasts longer and produces higher-quality food, as well as fryer brush and cleanout rods, which are necessary for maintaining a clean frypot.
- Once oil can no longer be used, it can be moved to a proper receptacle in a shortening disposal unit.