9 Secrets To Better Fried Menu Items

Deep fried foods are satisfying and delicious in a crispy, crunchy way that no other menu items can achieve. However there are some tricks to the trade that can make or break deep-fried foods. South Chicago Packing has been producing superior oils and shortenings for the restaurant industry for decades. Our customers are consistently ranked at the top of “Best Of” lists year after year for fried items such as French fries, wings, and fried chicken. Therefore, over the years we have picked up a thing or two on how to get the best results from your fry oil.  We would like to share with you our 9 Secrets To Better Fried Menu Items:

Properties of cooking oils can vary widely. Industry experts suggest that the primary selection criteria for frying oils should be stability. For this reason highly unsaturated oils such as pure canola oil should be avoided. It is also a general good practice to avoid oils that are chemically extracted. Animal fats such as tallow perform extremely well in frying applications and produce a consistent, crispy and flavorful result.

The majority of fatty acids in animal fats are saturated and monounsaturated, which makes this oil more resistant to high heat. Tallow, or beef fat, is a traditional fry oil that has been used widely for centuries.  Could this be why Grandma’s food tasted so good? Or why everyone went crazy for McDonald’s french fries? Peanut oil is also an excellent contender, but can be a drain on your wallet since it is typically more pricey.   

If you fry at too low of a temperature your food will be greasy. You may also find that if your oil is too cold, the food’s coatings and batters will not adhere properly. This is a delicate dance. If your oil is too hot, the exterior of your food will burn while the inside remains raw or cold. It is also worth mentioning that overly hot oil is also a safety risk that you will definitely want to avoid. The standard temperature range for best results is from 325°F to 400°F. Choosing your exact temperature within that range depends on the specific food item and recipe.

The amount of oil used will also affect the outcome of your fried foods. A good rule of thumb is to follow a 1:6 food to oil ratio. Always keep your fryers filled to the required capacity and make sure to top off your oil as volumes get low. Also, the natural degradation of fat can be delayed by topping off the fryer – an added bonus.

As the saying goes, water and oil do not mix. Always make sure that food is dried of any excess water before you drop it in the fryer. Frying is a dehydration process, pulling water out of the foods – therefore the drier your food, the crispier it will be. You can, however, batter your food. Just make sure to do so away from the fryer. Never season food over the fryer. However it is a good idea to season food quickly after frying so that salt and seasoning can better adhere to the surface of the food.

The amount of food added to the fryer affects the temperature. The more items added, the faster the oil temperature drops. And as we explained in Tip #2 – temperature is key. In addition, overcrowding the fryer can lead to items sticking together and not cooking properly or evenly. A good rule of thumb is to follow a 1:6 food to oil ratio.

Double frying has become popular in recent years, and in some cases rightfully so. This depends largely on the recipe and menu item that you are frying. As we mentioned in Tip #1, if you are using a superior fry oil, double frying may not be necessary – or could even be overkill when frying more delicate items like fish.  

Want to know more about the science behind double frying and when to do it? You can start with these two articles by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats:

The Food Lab: For The Best Buffalo Wings, Fry, Fry Again

The Burger Lab: Why Double Fry French Fries?

Drain your food as soon as it is ready to be removed from the fryer. Most fryers allow you to drain food in the fryer basket. If you are using different equipment such as a pan or wok – you can drain on a cooling rack.

Strain, filter, and discard your oil when needed. You will also notice a difference in your fried foods if you make it a practice to clean your frying equipment on a regular schedule at least once per week. An often little-known tip is to avoid the use of iron, copper, or brass utensils as these metals can accelerate the breakdown of your oil. 

Is there any food that can’t be deep fried? We don’t think so. Getting creative with fried foods is a delicious and innovative way to explore new menu items. We have seen it all from fried jelly beans to deep fried Thanksgiving turkey, and of course the carnival favorite – fried candy bars. What will you fry next?

If you are looking for more information on frying best practices, how to extend the fry life of your oil, and the science behind oil degradation, please click here and request a copy of our Oil Management Guidelines: A Resource for Increased Quality and Performance. Or email us with this request at info@southchicagopacking.com.