Commercial Restaurant Fryers

Commercial fryers are valuable cooking mechanisms for businesses that thrive on consumers' continued fascination with fried foods. Fryers can cook anything from chicken and fish to potatoes and cheese to pastries and ice cream in minutes. They can take foods from frozen to golden brown and cook up to 100 pounds of food per hour. Commercial fryers are used primarily in fast food outlets, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, hotels, and cafeterias.

Several models of commercial fryers are available: stand alones, portable countertop models to save space, floor models, or batteries of several small fryers. With the addition of casters, you can easily clean the fryer at the end of the day to ensure quality and performance.

Basic components of a fryer

Most fryers feature stainless steel on the front, sides, doors, and basket hangers. The food rests in a frypot made of insulated steel. All sides of a fryer are welded for a professional look. The frypot is typically designed as an "open pot" which allows for easy maintenance and cleaning by hand. The "cold zone" collects crumbs and oil from the cooking area.

Thermostats keep the oil temperature precise, typically 350 - 400 degrees. In particular, a 1 degree action thermostat keeps the temperature steady and cooks the food uniformly. It also extends the life of your cooking oil or shortening. A centerline thermostat senses frozen food items immediately and gets the cooking process started more quickly. Your fryer's thermostat might work together with jet burners, which raise the cooking surface to allow the flames to flow freely.

A safety shut off activates if the temperature exceeds certain levels or if the fryer is left on after business hours.

Here are a few other elements of a fryer that you may want to consider:

  • Disconnect-valve combo: Prevents intentional or accidental disconnect of the gas until the gas is completely shut down. This also helps protect your fryer from growing bacteria.
  • Drainboard: Collects excess grease and can double as a cover for the frying area when not in use
  • Submerger screen: Provides food with direct contact with cooking oil without the threat of the food falling into the pit
  • Ribbon design: Offering uniform heat transfer for thorough cooking
  • Melt cycle: For liquefying shortening for cooking
  • Solid state controls: Digital readout of the temperature, signal lights, and on/off switch
  • Extra large capacity frypots: For cooking larger quantities of food quicker
  • Twin kettles: Fries different types of food simultaneously without flavor transfer

Gas vs. electric fryers

Your first major decision in selecting a commercial fryer will be to decide between a gas-powered or electric-powered model. Gas fryers are cheaper to operate and recover heat more quickly. Also, high-end gas fryers heat up faster than any other type. Gas fryers can use natural or propane gas and may include filtration systems underneath for draining.

Electric fryers use the highest number of BTU, but are the most efficient. They feature more safety measures and enhanced controls for temperature and time limits. With electric fryers, a low-watt design that extends the life of both the heating elements and the oil or shortening. Electric fryers are also preferable for businesses that move frequently or reorganize the kitchen- they disassemble quickly for easy portability and storage.

Other considerations

You need to know how much space you have for your fryer, the quantity of food you need to cook at a given time, and what type of foods you will cook. It's probably best that you don't use the same fryer for all kinds of foods at one time: you wouldn't want to cook a funnel cake in the oil that was used for a batch of fried fish.

Maintaining the quality of your fryer starts with quality oil filters. They prolong the life of your cooking oil while collecting crumbs and other food debris you don't want to serve to customers. No matter how good your filters are, be sure to change the cooking oil frequently as excessive use can affect the taste and quality of the food.

Consider a transfer system to remove old oil from your facilities. Transfer systems will keep track of cooking oil's degradation rate - it's recommended that you replace the oil when the level exceeds 24% or when food quality and taste suffers. When you remove cooking oil, always use solid steel containers to transport the waste.

Fryer purchasing checklist:

  • How much food do I need to prepare in a fryer every hour?
  • Will I need multiple fryers to cook different types of food?
  • Can the fryer handle the workload without downtime?
  • Do I have enough space for a large commercial fryer?
  • How much money can I budget for this purchase?
  • Should I purchase a gas- or electric-powered model?
  • What safety precautions are included?
  • Is my fryer easy to clean?
  • What kind of warranty will I get from the dealer or manufacturer?

Commercial fryer pricing

You can get an economy-sized gas fryer that can cook 15 to 30 pounds of food per hour for as low as $850. Expect to pay up to $8,000 or more for an industrial-sized fryer that can handle over 100 pounds of cooking per hour. Electric fryers range from $500 to $3,000. Casters and disconnect-valve devices cost $100 to $200 extra.

Keep in mind that replacement parts for fryers are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace so even if your warranty doesn't cover all parts of the fryer, you should be able to repair it painlessly. For high-end models, you want to make sure your warranty covers the mechanical components of the fryer as well as the labor.

If the prices are a bit high for your business, consider leasing. For $100 to $200 per month, you can acquire the fryer you need without the capital so you can immediately start earning revenue from the equipment.

Commercial fryer tips:

Save money by spending more. Buying an energy-efficient fryer costs more money up front but could help save money in energy costs in just a few years. Energy-efficient fryers feature smaller operating costs and less food waste.

Shipping costs. Be sure to factor in shipping, handling, and installation charges into your final budget for a commercial fryer.

Keep it clean. The best method of washing your fryer is to use soap to clean up dirty areas and then rinse the soap away with a vinegar solution, which helps remove the film soap can leave behind.

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