What is pressure frying?
Pressure frying is a cooking technique that uses hot oil under pressure to cook food quickly and evenly. It works by raising the boiling point of oil, allowing it to get hotter than typical deep frying without burning. This super hot oil transfers heat very quickly, resulting in crispy foods that are cooked through in a fraction of the normal frying time.
Pressure frying uses special equipment called a pressure fryer. Pressure fryers look similar to electric deep fryers, but have a tight sealing lid that allows pressure to build up inside. Modern electric models have built-in sensors and timers so pressure and cooking times can be precisely controlled. Small tabletop pressure fryers designed for home kitchen use are now widely available.
Benefits of pressure frying at home
Pressure frying at home offers several advantages over regular stovetop deep frying:
– Speed – Foods cook up to 70% faster compared to deep frying, saving time in the kitchen. Chicken pieces pressure fry to perfection in 10 minutes instead of 20-25 minutes.
– Tender and juicy interior – The combination of pressure and hot oil quickly penetrates food, cooking the interior without drying it out. Meats come out remarkably tender and moist.
– Reduced oil absorption – Foods absorb less oil compared to deep frying, resulting in healthier, lower-fat meals. Pressure fried chicken absorbs about 20% less oil than traditional methods.
– Crispy crust – The high heat gives foods an incredibly crispy, crunchy exterior. Pressure fried chicken gets that sought-after shatteringly crispy skin.
– Versatility – Almost anything you deep fry can also be pressure fried – chicken, seafood, fritters, etc. Speciality equipment like lifting racks allow batch cooking different foods.
– Safety – Modern electric pressure fryers have many built-in safety features, including locking lids, pressure and temperature controls. They contain hot oil splatter making them safer than stovetop frying.
Drawbacks of pressure frying at home
Pressure frying does have some disadvantages compared to traditional deep frying methods:
– Equipment cost – Quality electric pressure fryers designed for home use can cost $150 and up, more than basic deep fryers.
– Learning curve – There is a bit of a learning curve to figure out timing, oil amounts, etc for your favorite foods. Recipes and cookbooks help shorten the learning curve.
– Counter space – Pressure fryers take up more storage room than basic fryers due to their larger size.
– Can’t monitor cooking – Unlike stovetop frying, you can’t check and flip food while pressure frying since the unit is sealed. You have to rely on timers.
– Not ideal for small batches – Pressure fryers work best for larger batch cooking due to the time it takes for pressure to build up. Deep frying on the stovetop may be better for quick single servings.
Is a pressure fryer worth buying for home use?
For home cooks that enjoy fried foods but want to make them quicker and healthier, a pressure fryer can definitely be worth investing in. The advantages of faster cook times, tender and moist interiors, and reduced oil absorption make pressure frying an attractive alternative to deep frying everything from chicken to fritters.
The optimal crispy, crunchy exterior on foods like chicken and fries can be hard to achieve with stovetop deep frying, but effortless in a pressure fryer. For larger families that fry foods frequently, a pressure fryer can really save time spent cooking and monitoring foods on the stove.
However, for those that only occasionally fry up a small batch of food or prefer being able to check food while cooking, a basic deep fryer will suffice. The higher equipment cost and learning curve involved with pressure frying may not be justified if deep fried foods are not an integral part of your cooking.
Tips for successful pressure frying at home
It does take some trial and error to master pressure frying different foods correctly. Here are some handy tips:
– Start with an oil amount recommended by the manufacturer – Too little and the food may undercook, too much and the oil may overflow when heated.
– Let the oil fully preheat – Wait for the fryer to indicate the oil has reached optimal temperature before adding food. This ensures the oil is hot enough to quickly build pressure.
– Use relatively uniform food sizes – Cut pieces to roughly equal sizes so food cooks evenly.
– Avoid overcrowding – Fry in batches to allow steam and pressure to properly circulate and cook food through.
– Adjust cook times if needed – Increase or decrease pressure fry times depending on how cooked your test batches turn out.
– Let pressure fully release before opening – Manually releasing pressure too quickly can cause hot oil to sputter out.
– Track results – Note fry times, oil amounts, and doneness for your favorite foods. This makes adjusting easier next time.
Ideal foods for pressure frying
Almost any breaded and battered foods that are typically deep fried can also be pressure fried. Here are some of the foods best suited to pressure frying:
– Chicken pieces – Legs, wings, thighs, drumsticks all turn out juicy and tender on the inside with an incredibly crispy skin.
– Fish fillets – Fish fillets come out crispy with flaky interiors. Delicate fish hold together better than deep frying.
– Shrimp – Shelled, butterflied shrimp fry up plump and juicy in just 2-3 minutes.
– Fritters – Vegetable and seafood fritters puff up with tender moist interiors and crispy crusts.
– Potato rounds – Thin sliced potatoes make French fry-esque potato rounds with fluffy centers.
– Vegetable pakoras – Onion and vegetable pakoras get a crunchy outer texture while keeping ingredients tender.
– Breaded cutlets – Chicken, pork or veal cutlets bread and fry evenly and quickly.
Here is a table summarizing optimal pressure frying time ranges for different common foods:
|Food||Cook Time Range|
|Chicken pieces||8-12 minutes|
|Fish fillets||3-5 minutes|
|Potato rounds||4-7 minutes|
|Vegetable pakoras||3-5 minutes|
|Breaded cutlets||6-10 minutes|
Times vary slightly based on size of pieces, desired doneness, and your specific fryer model. Larger pieces may need max cook times.
Chicken wings are one of the most popular foods to pressure fry at home. They come out perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy inside in just 10 minutes, as opposed to 20-25 minutes by conventional frying.
Here is a simple recipe and directions for pressure fried chicken wings:
– 3 lbs chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tbsp garlic powder
– 1 tbsp paprika
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp pepper
– Vegetable oil for frying
1. Combine flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a sealable plastic bag. Add chicken and toss to evenly coat wings.
2. Pour oil into pressure fryer pot up to max fill line. Heat oil to 375°F.
3. Fry wings in batches to avoid overcrowding, around 6-8 minutes per batch.
4. Drain wings on a cooling rack or paper towels. Serve hot with your desired sauces.
Adjust fry times slightly shorter or longer based on desired level of crispness and doneness. Pressure fried wings stay crispy for a good while after cooking.
Vegetable and seafood fritters come out with delightfully fluffy, moist interiors encased in a perfectly crisp, golden brown crust when pressure fried. Almost any fritter batter works wonderfully.
Try this easy corn fritter recipe pressure fried to perfection:
– 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/4 cup cornstarch
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp pepper
– 1 egg
– 1/4 cup milk
– Vegetable oil for frying
1. Combine corn, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and pepper in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and milk together. Pour over dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
3. Pour oil into pressure fryer to fill line. Heat to 375°F.
4. Carefully drop tablespoons of batter into hot oil. Fry in batches 3-5 minutes until deeply golden.
5. Drain fritters on paper towels. Serve warm with desired dipping sauce.
The wet batter puffs up perfectly into tender, corny fritters with crispy outer crusts. Adjust fry time slightly up or down if you prefer your fritters more or less browned.
Beyond savory fried foods, pressure frying also excels at making quick fried desserts. The hot pressurized oil cooks the exterior to a crisp while keeping interiors moist.
Fried doughnuts, fritters and dumplings come out with a perfect tender, cake-like crumb wrapped in a delicate crispy crust. Try this classic apple fritter recipe:
– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 tbsp granulated sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 egg
– 1/3 cup milk
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– 1 large apple, cored and chopped
– Vegetable oil for frying
– Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tbsp milk
1. In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
2. In another bowl, beat egg, milk, and 1 tbsp oil. Add wet ingredients to dry and fold in chopped apple pieces.
3. Pour oil into pressure fryer to fill line and heat to 375°F.
4. Carefully drop tablespoon scoops of batter into hot oil. Fry 4-5 minutes until deeply browned.
5. Drain fritters on a rack or paper towels. Dip into glaze while warm.
The batter puffs up around the apple pieces with a wonderfully tender, cake-like texture. For fried donuts, simply omit the apple from the batter. Adjust fry times longer for larger or more dense desserts.
Not all home pressure fryers work equally well. Here are some key features to look for when purchasing a home pressure fryer:
– 4-8 quart oil capacity – A larger oil reservoir heats more evenly and has room to cook larger batches of food. Avoid mini tabletop models.
– Temperature controls – The ability to set precise temperatures up to 400°F allows optimizing for different foods.
– Digital display – Digital screens clearly show temperature settings, cook times, and oil preheat status.
– Sealed lid – A heavy lid that locks securely is required to build up the internal pressure.
– Timer and auto shutoff – These safety features prevent overcooking or burning.
– Quick pressure release – A manual pressure release valve quickly drops pressure and temperature once cooking is done.
Proper care makes home pressure fryers last longer and perform better. Follow these tips:
– Clean after each use – Wipe the fryer housing and heating element clean after each use. Remove and filter oil after each use if cooking in batches.
– Clean lid regularly – Take apart and hand wash the lid gasket, valve and other parts. Ensure the lid seals tightly each use.
– Strain oil between uses – Run oil through a fine mesh strainer after each use to remove food particles that can burn.
– Filter oil frequently – Every 5-8 uses, filter oil through a paper filter or cheesecloth to absorb impurities and prolong life.
– Use dedicated frying oil – Opt for oils with high smoke points like peanut or canola oil. Don’t reuse oil from other cooking.
– Change oil regularly – Replace oil every 8-10 uses as it breaks down and smoking points decrease.
Is pressure frying healthier than deep frying?
Pressure frying is modestly healthier than conventional deep frying. Foods absorb slightly less oil due to quicker cook times, and the oil itself stays fresher longer due to less time spent at high temperatures. However, both methods add significant calories from oil.
What oil is best for pressure fryers?
Refined high heat oils like peanut, canola and vegetable oil work best to withstand pressure fry temperatures up to 400°F. Avoid unrefined oils like olive oil that have lower smoke points.
Can you pressure fry frozen food?
Yes, frozen breaded and battered foods can be pressure fried though they may require slightly longer cook times. Thaw any foods with thicker frozen interiors like wings or steaks before pressure frying.
Do you need special equipment or recipes?
Electric pressure fryers designed for home use are required. Never attempt pressure frying in an unpressurized deep fryer or pot. Use recipes formulated specifically for pressure frying, as stovetop deep frying times and cook methods vary.
How hot does oil get in a pressure fryer?
Pressure fryers bring the oil temperature up to 390-400°F. This is well above the typical 350°F used for conventional deep frying, allowing the super hot oil to quickly penetrate foods under pressure.
Pressure frying allows you to achieve deep fried flavors and textures conveniently at home. Modern electric pressure fryers have made this technique safe and accessible for home cooks. For those that enjoy the crispy crunch of deep fried foods but want quicker cooking times and slightly healthier results, pressure frying is an excellent alternative worth exploring. With some trial and error, you can easily pressure fry chicken, seafood, fritters, and more to crispy perfection. Just be sure to use caution, follow manufacturer guidelines, and protect yourself from hot oil splatter.