What’s the difference between a pressure fryer and an open fryer?
Why a pressure fryer is better
There is no mistaking the fact that America loves fried foods — from chicken and fish to potatoes, onions, mushrooms, cheese … you name it. If it’s fried, you know people will love it.
What you might not know is there are different ways restaurants go about frying all of the foods people love. The two most common methods, open frying and pressure frying, have each been around for decades. Both get the job done, but in very different ways with varying degrees of efficiency and finished product quality.
An open fryer was first invented in the 1800s. This cooking method is based on submerging pieces of food in a big vat of cooking oil. Many open fryers include a basket the food is placed into before being lowered into the oil. This is the typical “deep fryer” setup at a quick-service restaurant that cranks out batches and batches of french fries.
A pressure fryer was first invented back in the 1950s. It cooks food under pressure within a sealed cooking well, usually around 12 to 14 psi.
Benefits of pressure fryers
Cook faster. One benefit to using a pressure fryer is that cook time is decreased. For instance, eight pieces of bone-in chicken can be cooked in 10-12 minutes whereas 16-18 minutes would be needed with an open fryer. That is a significant time savings that can result in considerably higher output over the course of a day. Customers will also be happier because they don’t have to wait as long for their chicken.
Better finished product. Another benefit to pressure frying is product quality. Pressure frying seals in all of those seasonings and natural juices, resulting in a piece of chicken that is more succulent, tender and flavorful. Pressure fryers also tend to cook product more consistently.
The design of the pressure frying equipment plays a big role in finished product quality. For instance, Broaster pressure fryers use a round cooking well. This allows for more uniform heat distribution by eliminating cold spots in the corners. The result is evenly cooked chicken, batch after batch.
Extend oil life. Pressure fryers allow food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Thus, the cooking oil won’t break down as quickly, which means you’ll be able to use the same oil for several more days. That reduces not only the hard cost of the oil itself, but also the labor required to change the oil since it doesn’t need to be changed as frequently.
It should be noted that open fryers do tend to produce a crunchier product. That makes sense, seeing as how a piece of food is swimming around in boiling hot oil for more than 15 minutes. If the crunch is what you and your customers are after, or all you want to cook is french fries, it might be best to stick with an old-fashioned open fryer. But if taste, juiciness, consistency and efficiency are what you’re after, a pressure fryer is the way to go.
From a cost perspective, the actual cost of ownership (purchase price) is just slightly higher for a pressure fryer. The cost of equipment maintenance is roughly the same, as well. But a pressure fryer gains a couple of advantages with respect to operating costs. As pointed out earlier, pressure fryers cook faster and at lower temperatures. The time and money a restaurant can save on cooking oil, energy to power the fryer, and labor can really add up over time, literally returning thousands of dollars to the bottom line over the course of the year.
Another thing to think about on the operating cost side is unexpected repairs. First of all, always ask about warranties when comparing brands and product models. Also, look for design elements that make a pressure fryer more durable and easy to clean. The easier a fryer is to maintain, the longer it will last — and the less money you’ll spend on labor to maintain it.