Can you deep fry in a Dutch oven? Yes, is the simple answer but there are a few more considerations you need to make.
Given that the level of danger is increased when dealing with very hot oil, you need to consider whether this is the right course of action you are taking. If you are adamant that this is your only option, please proceed but with extreme care.
If your Dutch oven is enameled, such as those made by Le Creuset or Staub, then you can use these without hurting the enamel in them. They can take the high heat.
Interestingly, Le Creuset state on their website that their Dutch ovens are not to be used for frying, yet there is plenty of testament from users of them doing so without any detrimental effects. This is down to the possibility of discoloration rather than the ability.
Staub on the other hand state that their Dutch ovens can be used for frying at a medium to high heat.
As with any cast iron Dutch ovens, it is always recommended that you heat them up slowly rather than on the highest heat setting. The same applies when heating the oil to the temperature you need. This prevents scorching of the pan and allows for a steady heat which is all important.
Can you deep fry in a Dutch oven?
Can you deep fry in a Dutch oven…How to fry in a Dutch Oven properly!
Firstly, it is important that you consider safety. It is always recommended that you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen should the worst happen. It is all the more important if you are open frying.
If you do not have one, then I would recommend that you have a large tea towel or even a towel ready to use should a fire break out. In this scenario, use a damp towel to place it over the Dutch oven in case of fire. Never throw water on an oil fire. The results can be catastrophic.
How high should I fill it with oil?
Firstly, your Dutch oven should be at least 5 inches deep. Ideally it will be at least a 6 quart Dutch oven. You will need at least 3 inches to deep fry successfully. In terms of oil, you will need at least 4 cups and possibly up to 6.
If you are not sure how high your oven is or the capacity, fill it with 1/3 oil. This should leave plenty of room for it to rise when the oil is placed inside safely.
How do I know the temperature of the Dutch oven?
It is important that you fry at the right temperature. If the temperature is too low, your food will end up greasy as the food absorbs the oil.
Electric fryers are easy, they tell you exactly what temperature the oil is and switch on and off as required. You do not have this luxury here.
You need a thermometer and meat thermometers are great for this task, as the dial is at the top and they are relatively long.
Remember that Dutch oven does not come with any frying accessories to make the job simpler. You will either need to draft in other utensils or improvise…always remembering safety of course.
Perhaps you may have a steel basket that you could lower into your oven or a pair of tongs. Whatever method you choose, remember that the food needs to come out. The oil is hot so whatever method you choose, make sure it is safe.
Want to know what the best Dutch ovens are?
Tips for Dutch oven frying greatness
- Always leave enough room for your food to float and move around. This will deliver you better results.
- You may be frying several batches so its important you are patient. Wait until the oil heats back up once you have removed the food and before you put in your next batch.
- Heat your oil up slowly, it can take up to 10 mins on a medium heat.
- You may want to reuse your oil. The way I store the oil for reuse is to wait until it cools right down, then use a funnel with a cheesecloth inside it. This catches all the bits while I pour it into Tupperware. I can then store the clean oil for reuse.
- If you want to leave your oil in your Dutch oven, frying an onion in it can freshen it up.
- Remember to squeeze out or pat dry any excess water.
How do I deep fry in a Dutch oven?
It is important to follow the process in order to increase your safety and make the experience more efficient;
- Place a cooling rack with some parchment paper to catch the oil next to the Dutch oven.
- Heat your oil for up to 10 mins, use the thermometer to check the temperature. Use a medium heat, do not use a high heat thinking it will be quicker. It will be but the results will not be good.
- The thermometer should be used in the center of the fryer. It should read 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 177 C and 400 Fahrenheit, 205 C. Thinner foods can cook on a higher heat, thick foods need a lower heat otherwise the outside will cook before the inside does.
- Use a medium heat. If your oil is not getting hot, raise the heat slightly until it does. Then return it to medium heat.
- Only put enough food in so that the food can float around freely. This will give you the best results and even cooking.
- Leave your food in there until it is golden brown.
- Remove your food safely using whatever method you have chosen and place it on the cooling rack.
- Wait until the oil heats up again before you fry a second batch. Be patient!
Benefits of deep frying in a Dutch oven
- Keeps heat at a nice even temperature.
- Heat retention in cast iron properties.
- If maintained, the interior will not discolor.
- Consistently good frying results.
- High sides mean less splatter
Disadvantages of frying using a Dutch Oven
- Not as safe as a covered electric fryer
- Ovens tend to be heavy so clean up afterwards can be awkward
- Can take some time to reheat oil back to temperature
- Risk of enamel discoloring at high heat
- Takes time to initially heat up
- Constant use of thermometer to ensure correct heat of oil
Alternatives to using a Dutch oven
The alternatives really depend on what you are frying. You could for example use a cast iron skillet. That choice carries its own risks as the sides are low but if you do not need too much oil, it could be used.
You should consider that it is a little riskier doing so in a low sided pan.
The best alternative would always be an electric fryer. They are safer as they are covered and they are very convenient for regulating temperature.
Can you deep fry in a Dutch oven…of course, you can. It may result in a great cooking experience but as we described earlier, you need to mitigate the risks and make sure you follow the correct process.
Failure to minimize the risks can be dangerous, but this is also the case for any cooking with oil.
If your Dutch oven is the only pan you have appropriate, use it with confidence.
If you are looking to buy a new Dutch oven, have a look at our article on the best Dutch ovens. We have done the research for you…the best buys for all budgets.
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