Fried foods are coveted for their rich flavor and golden exterior. Creating these treats in a home or commercial kitchen is easy as long as you get the right cooking oil and container.
Food must be completely submerged in oil while frying. When using a gas or electric fryer, fill the oil to “full fill” so the fryer baskets can be fully submerged. Typically, a deep fryer will require 9 to 16 cups of oil to have enough liquid to submerge an average-sized batch of food, depending on the size of the fryer.
Due to the different sizes of fryers and foods, there is no single answer for the amount of oil needed to fry foods. Read on for a complete guide on how much oil to use for a variety of common foods.
Different types of fryers
Frying is different from cooking with oil in a pan on the stove. All deep fryers serve essentially the same purpose: immersing food in hot oil to cook it while dehydrating the outside of the food for a crispy texture.
The type of food you want to cook can determine the type of air fryer you need. Below is a list of common deep fryers that require oil.
- Table top electric fryer
- Professional Natural Gas Tube Floor Fryer
- Countertop Propane Gas Fryer
- Professional Countertop Pressure Fryer
- Freestanding Outdoor Propane Fryer
- Outdoor cart for propane fryer
Most deep fryers come with instructions on the oil level and maximum temperature. Commercial and home deep fryers typically heat between 325 and 375 degrees F.
Fryer Oil Chart
Displacement occurs when a solid is added to a liquid, such as oil. The mass of food, or solid, takes up space and pushes the oil up and out to further fill the container. Without caution, oil can overflow from adding too much food to an overcrowded fryer.
When oil heats and cooks food, it expands. Filling a fryer to the top will cause it to bubble up and out of the fryer, creating a kitchen hazard. That’s why most fryers have a max fill line.
It is important to have enough oil to cook food well. It is also an advantage not to waste oil by adding an unnecessary amount. Below is a table detailing the recommended safe amount of oil needed for common fried foods.
amount of oil needed
Fill fryer half full
Fill the fryer ⅓ full.
At least 2 quarts of oil, fryer no more than ¾ full
At least 2 cups of oil, fryer no more than ¾ capacity
Fill fryer half full
Fill the fryer to a maximum of ⅔ of its capacity
Fill the fryer no more than half full.
Fill the fryer no more than half full.
In addition to the fried foods listed above, some larger foods require specific amounts of oil. Fried turkey, for example, is a popular Thanksgiving tradition.
How much oil do you need to fry a turkey?
Outdoor turkey fryers are used to fry whole turkeys. Turkey fryers can range from 29 quarts to 44 quarts. Peanut or canola oil is common for frying turkey.
There are different sizes of turkeys available depending on the number of people to be fed. Below is a table detailing the amount of oil needed to fry small, medium and large turkeys.
|Turkey size (lbs)||Oil needed for frying|
|ten||2 to 3 gallons|
|eleven||2 to 3.5 gallons|
|12||2.2 to 4 gallons|
|13||2.4 to 4.5 gallons|
|14||2.6 to 5 gallons|
|fifteen||2.8 to 5 gallons|
|sixteen||3 to 5 gallons|
|17||3.2 to 5 gallons|
|18||3.5 to 5 gallons|
|19||3.8 to 5 gallons|
|twenty||4.5 to 5 gallons|
|twenty-one||5 to 6 gallons|
|22||5 to 6 gallons|
|23||6.5 to 7 gallons|
|24||6.5 to 7 gallons|
If the chart above doesn’t match your home layout, there’s an easy way to measure how much oil you need. Place turkey in fryer, then fill with water until turkey is submerged, measuring amount of water added to fryer.
Then carefully remove the turkey and water, dry the fryer and add both oil and water. The turkey should be submerged so that it floats under an inch or two of oil.
How much oil should be filled in a fryer?
In a fryer, the oil should never exceed the “max fill” line. There should be enough room for the baskets and food to move the oil that is already in the fryer.
If there is no “max fill” line, leave at least six inches of space between the oil and the top of the fryer tank in a commercial fryer. For a countertop fryer, fill no more than ¾ full with oil.
Can oil be reused in a deep fryer?
Oil from a fryer can be reused. However, the quality of the oil deteriorates over time depending on the number of foods fried in a batch and the types of foods fried.
After a while, you may notice the oil change from a light golden yellow color to a dark brown color. Frying with darker oil will make the food more cooked than it is due to color contamination.
Another downside to using leftover oil is that it can transfer potential allergens to the next batch. For example, frying chicken nuggets will leave traces of gluten in the oil since the breading on the chicken nuggets is made with flour.
If a gluten-intolerant person eats French fries cooked in this same oil, they run the risk of ingesting gluten from the previous batch.
How many times can the oil from a fryer be reused?
In a restaurant, it is common practice to change the fryer oil every two to seven days for quality and cost-effectiveness reasons. Oil can be removed from food particles that accumulate in the fryer after a day of food service so that old particles that fall off of fried foods don’t stick to freshly fried foods.
There are many pros and cons to consider when it comes to oil change frequency. To learn more about reusing oil in a fryer, we recommend reading this article.
What is the best oil for frying?
The classic flavor of fried foods is the result of special fatty acids that are heated to high temperatures. There are three types of fatty acids: saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The smoke point determines at what temperature a certain oil will begin to emit smoke from its surface. Smoking occurs when the fat reaches a temperature that causes it to break down from a liquid to a gas.
The best oil for frying has a high smoke point and will not deteriorate or spontaneously ignite at the standard fryer temperature of 375 degrees F. Fresh refined vegetable oils can withstand up to 450 degrees F.
Different varieties of oil have different smoke points depending on their free fatty acid content. Fat is more stable and less likely to smoke at high temperatures if the oil contains fewer free fatty acids. Below is a chart detailing commonly used frying oils, their fatty acid content and smoke point.
|Oil||saturated fatty acids||Monounsaturated fatty acids||polyunsaturated fatty acids||smoke point|
|Canola oil||seven%||55%||33%||375 to 450 degrees F|
|Peanut oil||17%||46%||32%||450 degrees F|
|soy oil||14%||23%||58%||450 to 475 degrees F|
|Sunflower oil||13%||24%||59%||450 degrees F|
Many commercial kitchens purchase premixed blended oil for their fryers. A 50/50 mix of soybean oil and peanut oil is cheaper than buying 100% pure peanut oil. Its smoke point remains stable at 450 degrees F.
Frying foods in a mixture of canola and soybean oil prevents the food from absorbing the flavors that the oil carries. It also contains 0% trans fat, which is ideal for people with health concerns related to high cholesterol or risk of heart disease.
Can you use leftover oil in a deep fryer overnight?
Restaurants can use oil that has been left in a fryer overnight. However, this is not always the case and certain precautions must be taken in this regard.
Oil can harbor hazards in the form of biological, physical, and chemical contaminants. Unrefrigerated anaerobic oil can grow bacteria Clostridium botulinum which is a biological contaminant.
To prevent physical contaminants like hair, tools, and bugs from falling into the oil overnight, it’s best to leave it covered. For example, it is common to cover the top of the oil tank with a sheet or lid overnight.
During cleaning cycles, it is important to protect the oil from chemical contaminants such as disinfectants and detergents. If an exterminator sprays insecticide in the kitchen, it’s also important to properly cover the oil so the chemical doesn’t leach into the oil and then transfer to foods fried in that oil.
If you leave oil in a pan overnight, be sure to turn off the fryer completely to allow the oil to cool. In a home setting, leftover oil can be stored in a clean glass jar in the freezer or refrigerator with the expiration date marked on the container.
Use or discard any remaining oil stored for 30 days. Rancid or “bad” oil tastes sour, bitter, or rancid and contains carcinogens that are dangerous to the body. Never use leftover oil if it has gone rancid.
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