You Can Do Eet: Fry Food at Home

Frying is one of those at-home cooking techniques that’s always intimidated me.

Plus, I’ve definitely found myself on the receiving end of a hot greasy death splatter, left dousing my affronted appendage with tap water while I unleash a tirade of four-letter words with such veracity that my cat runs to the office to hide under my desk.

Plus, I figured it was a technique I shouldn’t master, for health and whatnot. But, all things in balance, yo!

I’m here to tell you that you, yes YOU, can fry things at home (sans deep fryer). If I can, anyone can. Why? Because I score about 2/10 on ability to follow a recipe exactly as directed. I’m always halfway in, yelling, “What?!? I don’t have a sieve. Get outta here with that nonsense! UGH, like I’m gonna buy a kitchen thermometer. SHUTUP, recipe. How hot is ‘hot!?’”

Despite this, I somehow fried food at home and lived to tell about, all appendages intact.


TIP #1: Find a recipe that gets you jazzed about frying.

Might I suggest these buttermilk donuts or Carla Hall’s Nashville style hot chicken? Each recipe will have its own set of needs regarding oil type, temperature, and vessel, so default to that.

Armed with The Tao of Cooking from the library, I saw the opportunity to knock out two of my f-word kitchen bugaboos in one fell swoop: falafels* + frying.


TIP #2: Have a solid pot/pan/cooking vessel.

Acquiring a Dutch oven and a cast iron skillet has changed my life. Invest in one of these if you want to fry and live to tell about it. In the past, I’d relied on shallow, nonstick POS, and that’s just no way to go through life.

TIP #3: Don’t be shy about that oil.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an ass-curling grease splatter, you’re probably wanting to slap me across the face right now for suggesting that you should use MORE oil. But more oil makes the difference. (It’s also why you need a legit, non-shallow cooking vessel.)

You see, when you only have a little bit of oil in a pan, it gets skin-blistering hot. But, if that heat can spread out across a greater amount of oil, it won’t get as hot. Along the same lines, don’t fry too much at once, or you’ll lower your oil temp and jack with cooking times. Science.

Before you heat the oil, ready your tongs and your plate lined with paper towels.I didn’t bother with a thermometer (though that’s totally a reasonable option), so I just confirmed that my oil was hot enough by dropping a few small bits of batter into the oil and seeing what happened.


TIP #4: Think “Baker’s Dozen”

Don’t count on 100% perfection when you’re frying something. Some of them might get burnt, or the oil might not be hot enough and your little babies will get soggy with oil.

TIP #5: Watch that ish like a hawk.

Devote your attention to this. Don’t leave the room. Don’t go chop some other things. Don’t start cleaning up the dishes. You need to watch your items, be there to flip them, etc.

Other Warnings:

  • You have to be patient and vigilant, at the same time.
  • Your house, depending on its size, will smell like a fast food joint for roughly three days.
  • Your face skin will be nice and greased up too. Just because you dared look at the oil.


Finished Falafels: Yep, the payoff of frying at home is totally worth it. 

* The Tao of Cooking spells it “felafel,” but I’m going with “falafel” because I don’t like seeing the red squiggles of misspelling.


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