6 tips on how to deep fry in a pan or a wok

No deep fryer? No problem! You can still enjoy delicious fried food at home. All you need is a pot or a wok with a thick, heavy bottom and tall walls.

Here are some tips on how to deep fry without a deep fryer.

Tip #1: Choose the right pot or wok

When deep frying, you need a pot or a wok that can hold enough oil to cover the food you’re frying. A pot or wok with a thick, heavy bottom will distribute heat evenly and prevent the oil from overheating. Tall walls will help contain the oil and prevent splatters.

A cooking pot with oil ready for deep frying
Source: @drobotdean, Freepik
An empty wok with thick walls surrounded by veggies and spices
Source: Freepik

And, you don’t actually need it – but you could also insert a metal mesh strainer into the pot or wok, in place of a basket. This would keep the food from touching the walls of the kitchenware.

A mesh strainer from metal
Source: Freepik

Tip #2: Use the right oil

When it comes to deep frying, choosing the right oil is crucial. Choose the one with a high smoking point to get a crispy, crunchy, and golden-fried dish (the smoking point of the oil is the temperature at which it starts to smoke and break down).

Here are some of the oils with high smoking points that you can use for deep frying:

  • Peanut oil: Smoke point 450°F
  • Soybean oil: Smoke point 450°F
  • Canola oil: Smoke point 400°F
  • Sunflower oil: Smoke point 450°F
  • Safflower oil: Smoke point 510°F
  • Corn oil: Smoke point 450°F

Peanut oil is a popular choice for deep frying because it has a high smoking point and a neutral flavor that doesn’t overpower the taste of the food.

Soybean oil is another good option because it’s affordable and widely available.

Source: @Can Pac Swire, Flickr

Tip #3: Heat the oil to the right temperature

For most fried foods, the oil should be heated to around 350-375°F (175-190°C). If the oil is too cool, the food will absorb too much oil and become greasy. If the oil is too hot, the food will burn.

If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, you can judge by dropping a drop of water into the oil – the hot enough oil will “boil” and sizzle.

Tip #4: Fry in small batches

Fry in small batches to have food cooked evenly.

Overcrowding the pot or wok will lower the temperature of the oil, and if it is packed too tight, the pieces might not come into contact with the oil at all. It might end up being undercooked in places, and absorb too much oil – not something that would taste great.

Source: @Joshua Hoehne, Unsplash

Tip #5: Dry the food from excess oil after taking it out of the pan

Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the fried food from the oil and place it on a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. This will help save your dish from becoming soggy.

Fried chicken drumsticks on a white paper towel
Photo by @素材王国 Footage Kingdom, Pexels

Tip #6: Season the food

Once the food is fried, season it with salt or other seasonings while it’s still hot. This will help the seasoning stick to the food and enhance its flavor.

Summary

It’s completely possible to make delicious deep-fried dishes at home without a deep fryer, in a regular cooking pot, or a wok. The key part of that is to choose the right pot.

Take advantage of the 6 tips from this article when you decide to deep fry something at home!

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