Step 1: Heat the Oil
Once you’ve selected a heart-healthy oil with a high smoke point (peanut oil and canola oils are good), place the oil in a large pan like a deep skillet or Dutch oven. The pan you should choose depends on the foods you’ll cook—you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. Clip a fry thermometer to the side of the pan. Heat the oil to 385 degrees and don’t let the temperature fall below 375 degrees during cooking.
Step 2: Coat Your Ingredients
Some foods, like doughnut holes, don’t require an exterior coating before they’re fried; the batter forms its own coating. Others like fish, chicken, or veggies, benefit from breading or a batter. If battered, simply dip and fry. If breaded, use a three-step process.
Step 3: Maintain the Temperature as You Cook
As you add foods, temperature can drop. Watch the thermometer, and slow the pace or adjust the heat. Too-hot oil will burn the exterior before the interior is fully cooked. Oil that’s not hot enough will slow the cooking process and result in greasy, soggy food. Maintain temperature between 375-385 degrees.
Step 4: Drain
Always use a slotted spoon to transfer foods into hot oil so the batter doesn’t clump. Then use that spoon to remove foods from the pan so they don’t sit in pools of oil. Drain fried foods on paper towels for a minute or two; the towels will absorb any exterior oil that may still be clinging to them.