Fryer Maintenance 101

What You'll Need
Home kitchen fryer appliance
Frying oil
Sealed container for discarding or saving leftover frying oil
Soaking basin or sink
Dishwashing soap
Cleaning cloth or papertowels
Fire extinguisher labeled for grease and cooking oil fires

From making tasty fried meals, to holiday treats and deep frying turkeys for Thanksgiving, home deep fryers are a handy kitchen appliance. As useful as they are, failing to maintain your fryer can affect food quality and lead to major safety hazards. It's important to keep in mind these good maintenance guidelines to ensure your deep fryer lasts for years to come. Poor maintenance not only could shorten your fryer's lifespan, but can also cause the heating element to not evenly heat the oil to the correct temperature and undercook your food.

Warning: Food not cooked to a safe temperature can cause foodborne illness.

Clean Your Deep Fryer Regularly

You should clean your fryer on a regular basis. If you use the fryer several times a week, you should change the oil and clean it every couple of days. If you only use the appliance on special occasions, clean it before you store it. When cleaning the fryer, avoid using a dishwasher or placing the entire unit in the sink. This can damage the fryer or create an electrical short.

Cleaning Prep

Begin the cleaning process by unplugging the appliance and allowing it to cool. Never attempt to clean the unit until it is unplugged. You should also test the oil before cleaning to make sure it is not too hot. Adding water to hot oil can create a dangerous explosion, so it is important to start cleaning only when the oil has cooled to room temperatures.

Sliced potatoes in a deep fryer

Drain the Oil

Once the oil has cooled, drain the liquid into a sealed container. If you plan to use it again, strain the oil through a cheese cloth or sieve before storing it in a cool environment. Never pour oil down the sink as it will eventually clog up your system. Dispose of the oil properly if you do not plan on using it or recycle it for later use.

Remove the Fry Basket

Remove the fry basket and place it in an open sink. Soak the basket in a mixture of warm water and regular dish detergent. With the basket soaking, take a damp rag and wipe down the pot and lid. You want to remove as much oil residue and food debris as possible. You can use a plastic spatula to help remove tougher stains, just be sure not to scratch the finish. After the lid and pot are clean, turn your attention back to the basket. Repeat the cleaning process with the basket, removing as much leftover oil as you can manage. Allow the basket to air dry before re-installing it in the fryer.

Clean the Heating Element

A typical deep fryer will feature two metal rods that act as a heating element. If the heating element is dirty, wipe it down with a damp paper towel. Just be careful to avoid bending the rods and damaging the wires. If the heating element is removable, take it out of the unit to clean. After wiping down the heating element, pour hot water into the fryer and let it soak for half an hour. Then pour out the water and clean the surfaces with a rag. If stubborn pieces remain, use a mixture of baking soda and water to remove them.

Deep frying hash browns in a basket

Replace Your Deep Fryer's Filters

A deep fryer's filters should be inspected every time you clean your fryer. If your model features filters that can be cleaned, do so per the owner’s manual. If your fryer has charcoal filters, they will need to be replaced as soon as they are clogged up.

Keep the Fryer Oil Fresh

Keeping the oil fresh will help with food quality and overall fryer performance. You can filter the oil using a cheese cloth or sieve between uses, but should change the oil if you notice that it is smoking at a lower temperature than before, appears dark, starts to get thick, foams, or smells strange. If you are not using the fryer on a regular basis then the oil should be drained and stored elsewhere.

Deep Fryer Safety Measures

The most important thing to remember about owning a fryer is keeping it squeaky clean. If you use the fryer every day, remember to wipe down the outside with a damp cloth to remove excess oil. This oil can easily run down the sides and create a slip hazard in the kitchen. Remember to keep the fryer unplugged when cleaning and only plug it back in after everything has fully dried.

Warning: The process of deep frying uses hot oil and can burn people and start fires. To prevent deep fat frying injuries at home, keep a fire extinguisher that is safe to use on fats in cooking appliances in the kitchen.