Is Your Oil Hot Enough? Plus, Other Deep Frying Tips

Get golden brown perfection every time.

Deep frying, we admit, may not be the healthiest cooking option, but it’s a good contender for one of the tastiest and easiest ways to cook food. Good old French fries, fried chicken, and donuts—all those delightful dishes turn out beautifully when deep fried—are just a few delicious examples. So whether you deep fry daily, weekly, or monthly, you better make those cups of oil worth it by churning out something really delicious. Here are the tips to get you golden brown perfection:

Your oil should be heated to the right temperature.

When it comes to deep frying, heating the oil to the right temperature is crucial. When the oil is not hot enough, the food will absorb a lot of excess oil and will not become crispy. On the other hand, oil that’s too hot will cause the surface of the food to brown easily while the inside remains raw.

How will I know if the oil is ready for deep-frying?

You want your oil be the right temperature: hot enough to crisp but cool enough to cook until your good cook through.
Photo by Bianca Laxamana

1 Use a deep-fry thermometer.

The best way to determine if the oil is at the right temperature (usually between 350°F to 375°F) is by using a deep-fry thermometer. These are easily available at department stores and kitchen and bakery supply shops.


2 Use chopsticks or a wooden spoon.

If you don’t have a thermometer, you can dip a barbecue skewer, a wooden chopstick, or the handle of a wooden spoon into the heated oil. If the oil starts to bubble steadily around the stick, then the temperature is ready. If it bubbles too vigorously, then the oil is too hot. If very few bubbles form, then the oil hasn’t reached the proper temperature yet.

3 Use a piece of bread.

Another way is to drop a 1-inch cube of bread into the oil. If it becomes crispy and brown in 60 seconds, then you’re ready to fry!

4 Use a “tester” batter or dough.

If you’re frying donuts, battered food, or dough (like fried empanadas), another good test is to drop a small amount of the batter or dough into the hot oil. It should sink to the bottom, but not stick. Then, it should rise and linger in the middle of the oil before fully rising to the top. If the oil is too hot, it will rise too quickly and brown too fast. Oil this hot, however, is good for the second round of double frying chicken wings.

5 Use your hand.

For the truly brave, you can test the heat of the oil by holding your hand above the hot oil. If you can’t keep your hand over the oil for longer than five seconds, the oil should be hot enough to fry in. If it takes longer than that, it’s not hot enough and if you can’t keep it there for less than 5 seconds, it may be too hot. Adjust your heat accordingly and test again. While this isn’t the most tried and tested method, it takes experience to perfect this method.


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Double frying lets chicken hold flavor without losing crunchiness.
Photo by Michael Angelo Chua

What is double frying?

Double frying is deep frying food on low heat until the food is cooked all the way through without the pieces becoming browned. The main purpose of this first fry is to cook the food, not brown it. Remove the food from the heat, and set aside. Increase the heat and heat the oil to a much higher level until the temperature is at deep-fry levels. Return the food back in the pot in batches, if necessary, and cook briefly or until the outside has become golden brown. This method will ensure a crispy exterior.

Helpful Deep-Frying Tips To Lessen Splatters

If you’re afraid of oil splatters, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Boiling oil, after all, is much hotter than boiling water! Don’t let that fear get the best of you, though. There are ways to manage oil splatters!

Photo by Aldwin Aspillera

1 Moisture is the enemy.

The hot oil will heat up any moisture quickly and then repel it at the same time, causing that loud ruckus in your pan. So, the dryer your food, the less splattering will happen, so pat your meat dry and make sure each is fully coated with breading.

2 Sprinkle salt or flour to bubbling hot oil.

You can dry your food as much as you want but it may still have a little moisture. Simple sprinkle salt or flour into bubbling oil and the flour will absorb some of the oil while the salt will briefly lower the oil’s temperature. This tip is useful when frying frozen food that has thawed since thawing produces moisture that will be in contact with the oil.

3 Use your lid as a shield.

Cover yourself! There’s no shame in protecting yourself. You can even use a larger pan’s much wider lid to get more protection.

4 Use a pot, not a pan.

Taller sides will help prevent some of that splatter from reaching you.

5 Place, don’t drop, the food in.

A rookie mistake is dropping your food into the oil and having it naturally bob and then splatter oil. We get it. That’s a pot of really hot oil but it’s a disaster waiting to happen! Instead, use your hands or tongs and gently submerge your food partially into the oil before letting go. This technique not only ensures there’s little to no splatter as the food goes in gently, but you can also tell the instant the food is in the oil whether it’s hot enough or not.

You’re ready now! All you have to do is pick a recipe and test out your new skills.


Article was published in the December 2012 issue of Yummy magazine. Edits and additional text were made by editors.

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