The DeLonghi RotoFry is a traditional deep fat fryer with a twist: its basket rotates in and out of the hot oil. This means it needs half as much oil.
DeLonghi doesn't make any claims about this clever design making your food healthier, but it does mean less oil to buy and store, and it speeds up the heating, cooling and cleaning processes.
This RotoFry looks like a fairly compact conventional deep fat fryer. And it is, in one sense. Unlike the latest "health" fryers that use minimal amounts of oil, this uses 1-1.2 litres of the stuff. But rather than just plunging your basket into the oil for a few minutes, the basket is set at an angle and rotates – so your food spends some time in the oil and some time out of it.
The design is doubly clever because you close the RotoFry's lid with the basket raised, then lower the handle to lower the basket. This keeps the risk of hot bubbles and splashes to a minimum.
There's a large viewing window in the lid, so you can keep an eye on progress, although like any fryer the window often gets steamed up. The lid is also home to a large anti-odour filter, which the manufacturer suggests you replace after every 10-15 uses.
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It also boasts an "easy clean" system to make it simpler to drain the oil after use. First though, you must wait an hour or two for the oil to cool down. Then pull down a flap on the front to reveal a rubber pipe with a small cap on the end. Open this and the oil flows out so you can drain it into a jug.
Then you're advised to filter the oil before reusing because particles of food left in the oil burn and taint the flavour. You can do this by placing a paper filter (bought separately) in the RotoFry's basket and filtering the oil back into the fryer ready for reuse. The fryer also comes with a long, thin plastic probe – presumably to clean any blockages in the pipe. The fryer pan itself is non-stick and easy to clean.
Other features include an adjustable thermostat (150-190°C) controlled by a knob on the front. And "cold walls" so the side of the fryer isn't dangerous to touch. But there's no built-in timer.
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The RotoFry took a good five minutes to come up to cooking temperature after we filled it with a litre of oil. We then cooked 500g of fresh chips in it – it quotes a cooking time of 7-8 minutes for 500g and 14-16 minutes for 1kg of fresh chips, both at 190°C.
The instructions suggest placing food round the sides of the basket, rather than the middle, presumably to prevent uneven cooking. But we spread the chips throughout the basket and found they were cooked evenly.
The handle design impressed: you can close the lid and then fold down the handle to lower the basket into the oil. The lid was slightly hard to close with the basket in place, but it did feel safer than plunging the chips in with the lid off. The fryer generally felt very stable too.
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The chips cooked for 7 minutes were slightly underdone – we'd try 8 next time – but they tasted great. They were evenly cooked and tasted like they'd come fresh from the chip shop.
We also tried cooking prawn crackers in the RotoFry, just to see if that rotating basket got in the way. The ones we used are supposed to be cooked at 200-210°C so we cooked them at the RotoFry's max temperature of 190°C.
The results were surprisingly good – it was only possible to cook a few at a time – because only some of the basket is in the hot oil at any given time, and because the prawn crackers themselves expand so quickly – but, like the chips, they looked and tasted like the real deal.
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Yes – despite the unusual rotating design, the RotoFry is capable of cooking a wide range of fresh and frozen fried foods. It's affordable and fast, it uses less oil than deep fat fryers and it's easy to clean.
This speedy spinning fryer impressed us with chips that taste like they're straight from the chip shop.