As Corporate Executive Chef for Henny Penny, I get to work with the best-of-the-best in commercial fryers. But I can tell you that over my career, I’ve seen my fair share of commercial deep fryers that were costing their operators more in maintenance than it would cost to replace the fryer itself.
The truth is that nothing lasts forever. Your faithful, reliable workhorse of a fryer that’s cooked thousands of pieces of chicken to golden-brown perfection and countless batches of crunchy, crispy French fries will eventually need to be replaced.
Time to Say, ‘Goodbye’ to the Old & ‘Hello” to Your New Commercial Fryer
In general, a well maintained commercial deep fryer that’s serviced regularly should last between 10 and 15 years, maybe even longer. Forgive me for what may seem like a shameless plug, but I’ve had the privilege of meeting some restaurant operators who’ve told me that their Henny Penny fryer is 20+ years old and still going strong. We love to hear those stories because they’re real-world customer testimonials and validation that our products are truly ‘Engineered to Last’.
Eventually, every fryer will come to the end of its useful life or need upgraded at some point, and the restaurant operator is faced with choosing a replacement. The decision-making process isn’t easy because there are a variety of open fryers to choose from with many different features, sizes, and configurations. As an operator, you not only have to know what product you’ll be cooking and the volume, but then you’ve got to do your research.
Choosing the Right Commercial Open Fryer: Do Your Homework
When I’m on the road, restaurant operators frequently ask me, “What would you recommend as the best fryer for my operation?” This simple, at-a-glance guide is something you can use now to compare and contrast units and hopefully identify ‘The One’ that could become your commercial kitchen’s next workhorse.
I also consulted with the experts behind our award-winning products to get their insights on features and applications associated with each type of open fryer. As a bonus, I’ve also included real-life customer examples for each.
Evolution Elite Open Fryer
Customers: High Volume Quick Serve Restaurants (QSRs), like Arby’s, Wendy’s, Sonic, Zaxby’s, and more.
Applications: Best for freezer-to-fryer items like French fries, onion rings, chicken tenders and fish, as well as plant-based chicken substitutes.
Offers reduced oil-capacity frying. Uses 40% less oil with the same throughput as 50 lb. vat. Provides the greatest oil savings for high volume stores offering freezer-to-fryer products.
Smaller unit (single vat is just under 19 in. wide)
Offers Smart Touch FiltrationTM at the touch of a button ensuring that you can filter an individual vat in less than 4 minutes while continuing to cook uninterrupted in other vats.
Includes Sensor-activated Oil GuardianTM, which monitors oil levels and automatically replenishes oil from a reservoir inside the fryer cabinet.
Available Configurations: Electric (Data Sheet) or Gas (Data Sheet). Choose from 1, 2, 3, or 4-well, full or split vats.
Overview: If you’ve ever ordered French fries at any of the restaurants listed above, they were probably cooked using the Evolution EliteR. Although it’s one of our smaller open fryers, it’s a powerhouse! According to Matt Greear, one of our product experts, when it comes to freezer-to-fryer items, the Evolution Elite isn’t just a good choice, it’s the perfect choice!
“For QSRs, the open fryer is perhaps the most important piece of equipment in their kitchen. It’s got to be up and running the entire time you’re serving, and it has to be able to fry high volumes of product and filter quickly. This is exactly what the Evolution Elite delivers. Not only does it offer Smart Touch Filtration, allowing for individual vats to filter while other vats continue to cook uninterrupted, its smaller 30 lb. vat delivers the same throughput as a 50 lb. vat, while using 40 percent less oil. That’s significant because with cooking oil prices soaring, that reduction can translate into thousands of dollars in savings annually.”
These next two fryers tick pretty much every box, and they’re probably our most versatile open fryers. Basically, you can’t go wrong choosing either one of these.
320 Series Open Fryer
Customers: Kwik Trip, Zaxby’s, Raising Cane’s
Applications: Ideal for freshly-breaded chicken strips/tenders, as well as freshly-breaded appetizers and sides, like deep fried cauliflower, beer-battered broccoli, fried okra, and more.
Offers the greatest versatility. Well suited to prepare freshly-breaded products, from chicken tenders, bone-in chicken and appetizers to freezer-to-fryer side items.
Offers full and split vat configurations, giving you the flexibility to fry smaller batches of different products at the same time.
Features automatic programmable operation via a ‘push and cook’ LED display.
Offers onboard filtration and fast temperature recovery.
Earns the ENERGY STAR®
Available Configurations: Electric (Data Sheet) or Gas (Data Sheet). Choose from 1, 2, or 3-well, full, split or combination vats.
Overview: The 320 series is good for mid-level restaurants or convenience stores that offer hand-breaded fried chicken, like Kwik Trip, which has more than 700 convenience stores located throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.
After deciding to roll out a new fresh-fried chicken program, Kwik Trip tested nine different fryers before choosing our 320-Series 2-well gas open fryer with auto lift. Because hand-breaded products naturally have more ‘falloff (which is breading that doesn’t stick to the product and falls off into the oil) the 320 comes standard with a built-in filtration system that sifts out impurities and returns hot frying oil in minutes.
“The 320 Series is an all-purpose workhorse. You have the versatility to cook any number of freshly-breaded products, as well as freezer-to-fryer products. It’s a proven technology that’s been around for a long time that’s very durable and can withstand the rigors of the kitchen. Bottom line, you don’t have to worry about the 320. It’s going to work; it’s going to be the backbone of your operation. It’s going to be reliable and consistent.”
Matt Greear, Manager, Product Delivery, Henny Penny
340 Series Open Fryer
Customers: PDQ, Outback Steakhouse, KFC
Applications: Offers a wider frying area and is best suited for preparing large batches of bone-in chicken, onion blossoms, and items that float when fried, like poppers and veggies.
Offers wider, shallower vats that maximize surface area for more consistent results with large loads that float, like crispy chicken, wings, poppers and veggies.
Cold zone below heating elements helps extend oil life.
Onboard filtration, over-the-top oil return flushes out falloff.
Available Configurations: Electric (Data Sheet) or Gas (Data Sheet). Choose from 1, 2-well, single or twin full vats.
Overview: The 340 Series Open Fryer is for the restaurant operator that cooks a lot of hand-breaded product, like bone-in chicken. If I’m that operator, and I’m on the fence about whether to choose the 320 or the 340, I’d rather go heavier than lighter and choose the 340. It delivers the cooking capacity and the extra surface area needed to cook up to 2 head of chicken with room to allow the product to float, resulting in that all-important consistency and crispy texture customers want.
VelocityTM Series Open Fryer
Customers: High volume operators, like KFC, which require massive throughput and reliability.
Applications: Ideal for QSRs that fry high volumes of freshly-breaded tenders and bone-in chicken, especially extra-crispy.
This 8-head fryer helps operators cook more and save more.
Offers reduced oil-capacity frying. Uses 25% less oil with the same throughput as a 100 lb. vat. Provides the greatest oil savings for high volume stores requiring massive throughput.
Extends oil life by as much as 300% compared with our previous high-volume model.
Includes Sensor-activated Oil GuardianTM which monitors oil levels and automatically replenishes oil from a reservoir inside the fryer cabinet.
Available Configurations: The Velocity Series 8-head open fryer comes standard as an electric model. It’s also available as a pressure fryer.
Overview: You’ve heard it said ‘go big or go home.’ Well, with the Velocity you’re getting a premium 8-head open fryer with ‘Big Boy’ throughput, and when it’s combined with a heated holding cabinet, you can keep delivering hot and crispy product throughout your peak lunch and dinner rushes with ease.
Finally, remember, there are a lot of choices out there. Do your homework. Evaluate your operation. Think through what you’ll be cooking and your projected volume. Then compare what you need against the features associated with the open fryers you’re considering.
Our network of authorized distributors is always available to sit down with you to learn more about your business and develop a game plan together. Click here to find your Henny Penny distributor.
If frying is already a key part of your operation, here are free tips that will help improve menu items, productivity, and bottom line: The Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Frying Program.
The post Looking to Retire or Upgrade Your Commercial Deep Fryer? Read This Guide: “Choosing the Right Open Fryer” appeared first on Henny Penny.