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5 Downsides of Deep-Frying Food

Paul has been passionate about preparing, cooking, and eating healthy food for over 30 years. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

Deep-fried heaven: schnitzel with fries

Deep-fried heaven: schnitzel with fries

Deep-fried food is usually quick and easy to prepare and is popular both in homes and restaurants, due to the appealing tastes, textures, and aromas that the cooking technique produces.

However, this article lists and looks at five negatives of the cooking technique.

5 Disadvantages of Deep-Fat Frying

Here are five common issues with deep-fat frying that are often highlighted by critics:

  1. Unhealthy
  2. Unsafe
  3. Waste oil
  4. Difficult cleaning
  5. Harmful acrylamide

I look at each downside in more detail below:

1. It's Unhealthy

Perhaps the biggest charge made against deep frying is that it's generally unhealthy. It's undeniable that the process involves a lot of oil and that high amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol can be absorbed by the food.

This has the potential to cause the clogging of arteries, which in turn can result in heart diseases and strokes. High fat levels can also contribute to conditions like obesity and diabetes, as well as certain cancers.

When deep frying, always be sure to use a high enough temperature to cook the food properly. If the oil isn't hot enough, no crisp shell forms around the food, lots of fat is absorbed, and the food becomes soggy.

2. It's Unsafe

Hot oil can be extremely dangerous. During deep frying it can reach temperatures of 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Appropriate safety measures must be taken, as there is a risk of burns, as well as starting a fire.

I would recommend having a kitchen fire extinguisher on hand in case something does go wrong. The hot oil is extremely flammable and will dramatically flare up if it comes into contact with a flame.

Water can also be hazardous if it encounters hot oil, as it transforms almost instantly into steam and makes the oil spit and spatter, causing severe burns if it comes into contact with someone's skin.

Care must be taken to allow the oil to cool before attempts are made to clean the appliance.

Grease fires

Water should never be used when trying to put out a grease fire. Water has the potential to make the situation worse by causing the hot and burning oil to spatter.

Covering the fryer with a metal lid is an effective way to put out the grease fire, or alternatively, use a kitchen fire extinguisher.

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In the event of a grease fire, you should always call 911 straightaway.

3. It Creates Waste Oil

Deep frying creates a lot of waste oil. This is particularly problematic when the frying is done on a commercial scale by restaurants, as they can generate huge amounts of used fat.

Waste oil is bad for the environment. It can enter the soil and pollute the water supply. Where possible, it should always be filtered and reused.

However, if the oil has turned cloudy, begun to foam, or has developed a bad taste or smell, then it is not reusable and should be discarded.

How to Correctly Dispose of Waste Oil

The best way for home users to get rid of it is usually to pour it into a sealable, non-breakable container and throw the oil-filled container away with the trash.

Some areas have recycling facilities where waste oil can be taken. It can then be used to make soap or biodiesel fuel.

Used oil should never be tipped down the kitchen sink. It will cause your pipes or septic system to clog up and potentially damage the local wastewater mains.

4. It's Difficult to Clean Up

All appliances require regular cleaning, but deep fryers can become particularly grubby and unpleasant if not properly maintained.

The large amounts of oil involved in frying can also result in the surrounding area getting spattered. The grease creates sticky spots and patches that are hard to remove.

Filtering the oil to remove the residue can often be a messy and time-consuming task, too.

5. It Creates Harmful Acrylamide

Acrylamide is a highly toxic substance that can form when foods are cooked at high temperatures. It's caused by a chemical reaction between glucose and the amino acid asparagine.

The process doesn't only happen with frying; it can also occur with other cooking techniques such as baking and roasting. Boiling and steaming do not typically have the same effect. Acrylamide is usually found in higher concentrations in potato products, grain products, and coffee.

Some studies using animals have previously shown that acrylamide could pose a risk for several types of cancer. However, the amount of acrylamide that the animal studies used was huge, between 1,000–100,000 times as much as the amount humans are exposed to in their diet.

Studies involving humans have been much more mixed, with some concluding that there's no risk of any type of common cancer associated with dietary acrylamide.

What Is the Healthiest Oil for Frying?

Generally speaking, the best oils to use are those with lower levels of linoleic acid. These include: olive and canola oil.

Polyunsaturated oils are best used for dressings rather than cooking. These include: sunflower, corn, and safflower.

The smoke point of the oil always needs to be considered, however. This is the temperature at which an oil will break down and start smoking, potentially giving your food an unpleasant taste. Your oil therefore needs to be able to cope with the temperature that you are cooking at.

The taste and cost of the oil can also be influential factors in choosing the right one for your needs.

Healthy Alternatives to Deep Frying

Two cooking techniques that can produce tasty food without a high fat content are:

  • Air-frying: Air fryers enable the creation of food that's crispy on the outside and moist inside, as with deep fried, but the fat content is far lower, as they need little or no oil.
  • Roasting: Cooking your food in an oven at a high temperature can also produce food that is crispy on the outside and moist inside, while using little or no oil.
The T-fal Deep Fryer with Basket.

The T-fal Deep Fryer with Basket.

My Favorite Deep Fryer With Basket

If this article hasn't put you off buying a deep fryer and you're seeking a good one, then my suggestion would be to check out the T-fal Deep Fryer with Basket. I've owned one of these for a few two years and it's proved itself to be a reliable, efficient, and effective machine.

While it's not the most affordable fryer out there, it does offer excellent value for money and is worth every penny, in my opinion. This powerful fryer is straightforward to use, and the large capacity allows me to cook for friends and relatives when I need to.

Perhaps the only negative of the large capacity is that it does require a large amount of oil to fill the reservoir. However, the T-fal's oil filtration and storage system does mean that you don't have to change the oil all the time, saving money over time.

The deep fryers I've owned previously were awkward to clean, but the T-fal is easier. It still involves some disassembly to clean the parts, but it's not bad. The stainless steel design means that the overall appearance is easy to maintain. My fryer still looks as attractive as it did when I bought it.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Paul Goodman

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