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3 Ways to Check Deep-Fry Oil Temp Without a Thermometer

John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.

If you don't have an oil thermometer, be sure to use one of these simple methods to check the oil temperature before you fry.

If you don't have an oil thermometer, be sure to use one of these simple methods to check the oil temperature before you fry.

Have you ever used a recipe that called for oil to be heated to 350°F or 370°F and wondered how, short of using a deep-frying thermometer, to know when the oil is hot enough for frying?

Well, I certainly have.

Deep-frying is normally done at between 360°F and 375°F. Here are three ways to test frying oil temperature to see if it’s ready without using an oil-safe thermometer. These methods are designed to indicate when the oil reaches this temperature range.

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Method One: Wood

Use the Handle of a Wooden Spoon or a Wooden Chopstick

When the oil has preheated, dip the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick into the oil. If the oil starts steadily bubbling, then the oil is hot enough for frying. If the oil bubbles very very vigorously, then the oil is too hot and needs to cool off a touch. If no or very few bubbles pop up, then it’s not hot enough.

Method Two: Bread

The Old "Joy of Cooking" Method

Drop a 1-inch square of bread into the oil. If it takes 60 seconds to brown, then the oil is at 365°F.

Method Three: Popcorn

The "Cooks Illustrated" Method

Drop a single kernel of popcorn into the oil as it is heating. The kernel will pop as the oil reaches between 350°F and 360°F. (Remove the kernel, eat it, and start frying!)

Tip: Don't Overcrowd Frying Food!

No matter what temperature you start at, remember that overcrowding the pan will result in a dramatic temperature drop and oily food. Don’t spend a lot of effort ensuring the correct temperature only to waste your effort by dumping in a mountain of frozen French fries, for example! Fry in small batches for the best results.

Delicious Recipes for Fried Food

Get Inspired and Deep-Fry a Turkey!

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