The One Product That Makes Deep-Frying Less of a Pain

Lose your fear of frying clean-up.

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Kakiage Tempura frying in a pan with oil

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Deep frying scares even seasoned home cooks. While the technique isn’t hard, especially with the right equipment, frying is messy and the clean up is exhausting. You have to let your used oil cool before straining and storing or finding a suitable vessel for disposal. Wouldn’t it be more exciting to make fresh donuts or crispy fried chicken at home if cleaning up was a breeze? 

Oil solidifiers—sold under a number of names including FryAway, Hard Oil, and SolidiFry—promise to do exactly that! These oil hardeners take hot cooking oil (and grease) and make them a solid mass that can be easily trashed within an hour of frying (plenty of time to eat your fried morsels). As a big fan of frying at home, I just had to try one of these products out for myself. Here is what I learned about the products that promise to make frying less of a pain to clean up.

The Nitty Gritty on Deep-Fry Clean Up

There is almost no way to fry without making a little bit of a mess. Fans of frying, myself included, know that using a deep pot or Dutch oven with the right amount of oil (i.e. enough to cover the food without overflowing the pot) cuts down on splatter. You can also line your work surface with foil to make clean up easier.

Most frequent fryers don’t mind letting the pot of oil cool overnight so they can strain and reuse the oil for future frying. But after a few frying sessions, when the oil has darkened in color or taken on some odor (thanks fish fry!) and it’s time to trash the oil, things get a bit trickier. 

Used fry oil should be cooled completely and tossed inside a disposable vessel. Cooking oil should never be poured down the drain or dumped outside—even if it's completely cool and yes, even on your own property. Throwing your used cooking oil out in its original container feels wasteful. You can recycle some cooking oils, but not every city has a recycling center for oils and some charge a small fee for their services.

What Are Oil Solidifiers and How Do They Work?

Products like FryAway promise to cut down on the annoying task of discarding used fry oil. You sprinkle the flakes into the still hot oil and as the oil cools, it solidifies into a gelatinous disk. But FryAway isn’t gelatin at all. Instead, oil hardeners use plant-based hydrogenates to transform fluid cooking oils into semi-solids that are easy to dump directly into the trash. The process happening in your used fry oil with a solidifier is similar to what happens when liquid vegetable oils are turned into spreads like margarine.

My FryAway Tests and the Results

While there are several brands of oil solidifiers, FryAway was easily shipped to me via Amazon. A few days before its arrival I made my kids a batch of donuts as an after school treat. Later in the week I used the same pot of oil for making fried chicken sandwiches for dinner. At the end, the oil was dark with bits of fried chicken dredge and donut particulate at the bottom of the pot. 

I followed FryAway’s directions—using one of the two packets included—for hardening about a quart of oil. I sprinkled the flakes into the still-hot oil and walked away to enjoy those fried chicken sandwiches (in case a “watched pot” doesn’t harden either). When I returned, the oil had turned opaque and solid in the pot. I dreamed of picking up a solid puck of used oil to impress my kids but the solidified oil was more like cold shortening; It was easy to scrape away from the pan, but crumbled a bit under the pressure of the spatula. 

It is worth noting that solidified oil can be recycled (again check with your local center) and breaks down much more quickly in the landfill than used oil ever will in its original plastic container. More importantly, oil solidifiers make deep-frying less of a chore by cutting down on the clean up (and cooling) time so that you can enjoy your favorite fried treats at home without the mess.