I’ve been talking a lot about what I’ve been frying so far in my new deep fryer. I posted pictures of my first attempt at veggie tempura (it was awesome), and I wrote a whole post about my three tries at making great French fries. I’ve done hush puppies and even battered bananas (they were to die for). The kids are begging to deep fry Oreos. My husband (who was initially against the fryer) is hoping for fish & chips.
But I haven’t written much about the fryer itself. It’s a T-Fal Ultimate EZ Clean. When I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted a deep fryer I checked out pretty much every single one on Amazon. I kept going back to the T-Fal for one simple reason: it claimed to easily filter and drain the oil for you, and just about all of the parts could go in the dishwasher. I know myself and what’s likely to relegate an appliance to the basement. A complicated cleaning procedure would do it for sure. Could this one really be that easy?
There were a lot of Amazon reviews claiming that the filtering and draining process really was spectacularly simple, but there were just as many claiming that after using the fryer for the first time and leaving it to drain, they’d come back to find the oil all over their kitchen!
How could I even think about buying a fryer that might leave me with that kind of mess? But something else had to be going on. How could so many reviewers love the thing and so many others have such a huge problem?
I read through every review, and a couple people had solved it. Under the fryer there’s a plastic reservoir that you’re supposed to drain the oil into. It has two openings: one in the front that slides open when you turn the fryer’s lever to the drain position, and one in the back to pour the oil back into the fryer. That second opening has a screw-on cap. If you leave that cap on when trying to fill the reservoir with oil, the air inside the container has no place to go. The oil bubbles up around the front opening as the air tries to get out, and most of the oil spills outside of the fryer, making an unimaginable mess.
And here’s the kicker: nowhere is this mentioned in the directions. They never tell you to leave the cap off while draining the oil.
Had I not read those reviews, it would not have occurred to me to take the cap off. The reservoir slides nicely into the fryer with the cap on. HUGE design flaw.
I tried this cap theory out using water before I ever put oil in the fryer. Even after proving it to be true, the first time I drained the fryer I put it on a baking sheet just in case. But not a drop was spilled. I’ve drained the oil three times now, and the process really is that easy. Plus, the oil gets filtered so well it looks like new each time I pour it back into the fryer. I don’t know how many uses I’ll get out of it, but I’m keeping it in the fridge so I’m hoping to use it for a while – peanut oil isn’t cheap!
It’s also important to note that the reservoir only holds a tiny bit more than the Max fill line in the fryer. You shouldn’t overfill a fryer anyway, but if you do, it will leak during the draining process.
Once you’ve drained the fryer, you wipe the heating element off, and everything else goes into the dishwasher. Couldn’t be easier.
It takes up practically the whole dishwasher, but it fits!
The fryer itself is very easy to use. If you’re worried about splatter you can even raise and lower the fry basket with the lid on. The basket holds a decent amount of food, but you don’t want to crowd the basket, especially with anything battered.
The fryer heats up quickly (less than fifteen minutes for cold-from-the-fridge oil) and returns to its max temperature quickly as well. However, my oil never got up to the 374 degrees listed on the dial. It stopped at 330. I’m not claiming that my thermometer is exactly right, but I’m confident that it is not off by as much as forty-four degrees!
Still, that was hot enough to cook all of my foods well. I’m going to do some testing at some point to see if the thermometer is simply inaccurate, or if it is accurate but the heating element simply isn’t powerful enough to reach the max.
The other small problem is the placement of the “on” indicator light – I can’t see it! It’s basically behind the dial. Very awkward.
But otherwise, this fryer is excellent. Reading over this review it seems like I spend a lot of time complaining and not much time praising, but the good points of the fryer are very simple: it fries well, it cleans up easily.
I highly recommend it.
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