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Oct 2, 2011 05:37 PM

Best pan for deep frying?

I use a 5 qt stainless steel saute pan (1980's Macys brand with a heavy aluminum bottom) for deep frying chicken, fish, et al. I've used this pan a couple of times a week for over 20 yrs-we fry a lot in the south. The pan is showing wear & I'm considering a replacement. I don't know if stainless is the best choice for this-it just seemed to be the best choice of the pans I had on hand. Any suggestions?

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  1. I am guessing that you mean deep frying chicken pieces, not a whole chicken because a saute pan is too swallow for whole chicken. For deep drying, I think many materials work well. Stainless steel cladded, straight aluminum, cast iron, carbon steel.... etc. Some example:

    Obviously, Teflon nonstick pans are not good choices due to the Teflon (PTFE) coating.

    Actually a wok works very well for deep frying. The bowl shape of wok allows you to deep frying small amount of foods without using a lot of oil and can handle large amount of food if needed. Also the wide opening of a wok makes it easier to scoop the fried food out and minimizes oil spatter.

    The following is just one example. Jump to 0:45 min if you like

    6 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Thanks for the ideas, the chicken looks yummy. I spotted an old wok ring in the basement-just need a wok. Also planning a trip to the Lodge factory in TN this fall, so I probably won't purchase anything before that. I have some Le Creuset- a 31/2 qt casserole & 5 qt oval. I use both of them a lot & would be afraid frying like that might damage the finish.

      1. re: GAfoodfan

        A flat bottom wok should work if you don't have a wok ring. Lodge, definitely, has a lot of offering in this department. No need to spend a lot for a deep fryer I think. For your Le Cresuet, there is no reason to believe the hot oil will damage them. However, you may damage them from other things like using metal utensils to scoop the foods...etc

        1. re: GAfoodfan

          While it might not damage it, I was told by LC that if you do a lot of frying in it it would discolor the interior after a while.

          1. re: blondelle

            "I was told by LC that if you do a lot of frying in it it would discolor the interior after a while"

            This sounds very possible.

        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I would think the Teflon would not be so bad since when deep frying you are not going near 500* compared to pan frying which can get a lot hotter. Personally I like to use a Dutch oven but if I'm frying a very small amount of food I use something smaller.

          1. re: scubadoo97

            Good point. I also like to deep fry in a Dutch Oven for a lot of foods. For small amount of food, I use something else like a wok.

        3. Thanks, I'll try the dutch oven. Between the braising and the frying, I don't know if it will ever leave the stove. Pans that perform many tasks well & last a long time are a pleasure to use.

          1. I found that if you are truly deep frying, such as making french fries or completely immersing chicken pieces in oil (versus pan frying, which leaves part of the food sticking out of the oil), a thick bottomed and sided pot works best for heat retention and heat stabilization. When you add food, the temperature of the oil drops, and a heavier pan that retains heat works best. Heavier, thicker sided pans seems to get back up to temperature quicker. I reach for, depending on the volume of what I am cooking, a heavy Demeyere clad conical sauteuse, which has very thick sides and thick bottom in multiple clad layers, or a Le Creuset enameled cast iron Dutch oven, for this purpose. A cast iron Dutch oven without enamel will work wonders also.

            To me, the key is whether or not it helps keep the temperature steady, and the pot has to have good depth, as bubbling oil has to have lots of room so that it doesn't spill over when you add food. If you never fill it more than half way, and the pot is deep, you have lots of room to work with.

            I must confess that I recently (finally) purchased an electric fryer, and I absolutely love the temperature control. It took me nearly 35 years of frying in a pot with a thermometer to make this decision, but it was worth the wait. I bought a rather high end one, and in addition to easy temperature control (with no danger of overheating on the stove top), it is a breeze to clean. Still, my pots work for me under certain circumstances, especially if the oil is going to get messy because of what I am cooking (coconut shrimp comes to mind), or if I am making a smaller volume and need less oil.

            1. A deep cast iron pan works great--you can get it really hot and it will stay hot. Buy one that's inexpensive and use it exclusively for that purpose and you'll be happy.

              If you're Paula Dean, you could always invest in an in-home deep fryer like she has. Guarantee she's deep-frying something on each show!