Commercial Fryer Sizing for Your Food Service Operation

Choosing the right size fryer

Commercial fryers come in nearly as many different shapes and sizes as people, which can make it seem pretty tough to be sure you get the right one for your foodservice operation. Fortunately, there are some guidelines that can help you through the process of purchasing this key piece of restaurant equipment.

Sorting Commercial Fryers by Size

Fryers are sized based on the number of pounds of fryer oil they can hold, so 40-pound units can hold 40 pounds of oil. A common mistake made by first-timers shopping for a commercial fryer is to assume that the pound rating establishes how much fried food the unit can produce, which leads them to buy a much bigger machine than they need. Despite the rating in pounds, fryer oil is sold as a liquid. Go figure.

As a general rule of thumb, a commercial fryer should produce a volume of product equal to about one-and-a-half to two times the amount of oil it can hold. So, a 40-pound unit would have a maximum output of about 80 pounds of fried food an hour.

That holds together pretty well for foods from French fries to chicken breasts. Best practices recommendations for sizing commercial fryers call for estimating on the low-end of that, so 1.5 times the volume of your fryer oil. Estimating on the high end can reduce the efficiency of your fryer because it would force you to constantly fill it to or nearly to its maximum, which will reduce the heat of your fryer oil more and make your unit have to work harder or take longer to cook foods.

Now that we’ve covered that, though, there is a consideration that could significantly reduce the amount of fried food you can realistically expect to cook in an hour: Rethermalizing frozen food. That will reduce fryer oil temperatures and increase the amount of time it takes for the commercial fryer to recover proper cooking heat between batches. That, in turn, will cut the amount of food you’ll be able to cook.

Consult a Restaurant Equipment Expert

For a more specific estimate of what commercial fryer size you’ll need and how much fryer oil you should plan to buy each week, talk to your restaurant equipment sales person. If you’re starting a new food service operation, he or she should be able to help you estimate how many pounds of fried food you’re likely to sell per service. If you’re replacing a unit for an established eatery, your sales person can work with you to determine if you need to shop similarly sized commercial fryers or if it’s time to consider a larger or smaller unit.