Deep Fryer vs Pan Frying: A summary of the main differences

Deep Fryer vs Pan Frying: A summary of the main differences

We’ve all heard about the risks that come with eating too much deep-fried food. Eating deep-fried foods might be linked with chronic health problems like type-2 diabetes, according to researchers at Harvard University.

In the mid- to long-term period, deep frying can have an adverse impact on one’s health – so what’s the alternative?

Deep frying vs pan frying

While food that has been deep-fried is beloved for its crispy exterior, there are other ways to prepare raw food. Assuming that you are willing to forgo that crisp layer, you might like to try pan frying.

Pan frying does much of what deep frying does, but with less oil; the result is also a less crisp exterior.

Generally speaking, deep frying is the process by which food cooks to a crisp golden-brown in hot oil. The food is totally submerged. Once the food reaches that state, it is removed and dried, normally by letting it lie on some tissue paper.

Pan frying does not need as much oil, since the food lies partly submerged. In the pan, food cooks much like it would in a deep fryer. The difference lies in the result: pan-fried food has no crisp outer layer; the surface goes brown, but stays soft when it is cooked.

Pan frying and deep frying work on similar principles. Temperature and oil are in both cases used to give food a specific texture.

Given the difference in oil quantities, though, food fried in a pan needs turning to make sure it is cooked properly.

Pan frying doesn’t always trump deep frying. As a rule, you can cook most foods through deep frying or pan frying. The difference lies solely in the result.

Deep frying: A summary

As we said, deep frying takes more oil than pan-frying does. When deep frying, be sure to submerge the food fully, or else the coat will be uneven. Moreover, take heed not to let water into the oil: wet food sputters and may burn you when it is placed in the oil.

The oil inside the deep fryer is heated to around 400ºF. If the oil is too cold, water seeps into the oil and vice versa; your food may come out greasy and underprepared.

A common myth claims that deep-fried food is much greasier than food fried in a pan. Such claims are false, however, since the principle that runs deep frying is that steam, not the oil, cooks the food.

Only the food’s surface gets cooked by and is exposed to the hot frying oil.

The science on which this process works is the natural repulsion of water by oil. Since water and oil stay separate, so long as the oil remains hot, food that is deep-fried should be no greasier than pan-fried food is in the end.

Of the two processes, deep frying is the quicker at preparing and/or heating your food.

Pan frying: A summary

To pan-fry food, heat the oil to around 350ºF. Pan frying takes place in a pan; using a stove hotplate, heat the pan before lowering your food into it. The oil used generally covers around half the food’s surface area.

This means you will need to monitor it, checking that it is cooked and not brazed unevenly. Turn the food regularly. Obviously – for it is less hot – the idea is to braze rather than coat the food; hence, when it is over, more oil remains than if you had chosen to deep fry it.

You may also use butter to pan-fry food; in that case, cover the pan rather than half the food’s surface area. Using a butter adds flavor, much like deep frying preserves and helps enhance flavor in some instances.

Choosing your technique

You may be wondering what the benefits of choosing one technique over another would be. Should you discount the health variable, the food that you use determines which fry method is preferable.

To deep fry mince would be toilsome; although, deep frying would be a less practical option with meals that include raw bacon.

With that said, it is up to you to choose the process of frying food. Deep-fried Mars Bars are a Scottish novelty, for instance. In most countries, though, deep frying would be a less obvious method to prepare and eat chocolate bars.

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