If you have not fried much before, ipsedixit offers beginner’s advice: First, find an oil with a high smoke point. Peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil are all good choices. rworange likes Crisco best for frying, because of its neutral flavor. “A significant number of people find canola to be fishy-tasting, especially for high heat uses, due to its composition,” says Karl S. And things fried in lard are, reportedly, very tasty. “But the lard needs to be rendered the old-fashioned way (I render my own), not the hydrogenated white bricks on U.S. supermarket shelves,” says Karl S. earthygoat agrees: “Home-rendered lard is best!”

Next, “get a thermometer and aim to heat your oil—and maintain it—at 350 to 375 degrees F,” says ipsedixit. “If you don’t have a thermometer, the oil is ready when you stick the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and it bubbles.” Finally, don’t overcrowd your pan. Crowding will reduce the heat and make for less-than-ideal frying conditions. Finally, “just remember that like any other ability, you’ll get better at frying the more often you do it—just make sure to drain well all the stuff you fry,” says epabella.

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