The Sage Smart Fryer is a big, industrial-style deep fat fryer with hi-tech digital programs to turn out twice-fried chips and other popular foods.
The large capacity and digital thermostat mean that it can cook 1kg of chips with ease – the programs even allow for the "thermal shock" of cold food being added, by making the oil a little bit hotter than needed before cooking. If you love chips, you'll love this fryer.
Your first impressions when you unbox the Smart Fryer is that it looks the business. It looks like a professional deep fat fryer. Which means that it's all stainless steel and very modular, made of five separate pieces: the outer housing, inner pan, heating element and controls, basket and lid.
This feels a bit strange in a domestic kitchen, for example the element has delicate wires that you don't want to break. But the Smart Fryer does look great and it breaks down to make it easy to clean.
There's cord storage on the back of the fryer. The lid is home to a mesh odour filter and a large viewing window, although the instructions suggest you leave the lid off if cooking lots, so the fryer isn't plagued by condensation dripping back in.
As with all Sage appliances, this is designed to be real foodie kit. In particular, it has a digital thermostat with six programs (twice-fried chips, chips, fish, nuggets, calamari, doughnuts) plus a custom program.
The fryer brings the oil up to the right temperature – in fact, slightly higher to allow for the "thermal shock" of the cold food being added to the oil – then you select the cooking time using the built-in digital timer.
Heston Blumenthal is famous for popularising "triple-cooked chips" – which involves simmering, cooling, then frying them twice at different temperatures. So it's no surprise that the Smart Fryer includes instructions for the first stage and then has a built-in program for the two frying stages. Although simmering first is by no means compulsory: the twice-fried program turns out superb chips even if they haven't been pre-cooked.
The instructions also include tips such as the importance of patting off oil the moment chips come out of the fryer – do this and they apparently absorb surprisingly little oil.
Speaking of oil, the Smart Fryer has a large capacity, using 2.5-4 litres of oil and capable of cooking 1-1.2kg of food at a time.
The Smart Fryer has suggested frying times for 500g and 1kg of twice-fried fresh chips. For 500g it proposes 5 minutes at 130°C then 6 minutes at 180°C; for 1kg it's 8 minutes then 9 minutes.
We cooked 1kg and although the instruction manual made the process seem complicated, the controls themselves are simple.
You choose the program (twice-fried chips first fry), press "start" and wait for it to come up to temperature, choose the cooking time, lower the basket and press "timer" and the digital display gives a countdown of the cooking time. You repeat the process for the second, hotter fry.
We followed the instructions, which said to keep the lid off for large jobs and the result was a very steamy kitchen. But the result was also superb chips.
We didn't agree with the suggested cooking times, though. The first fry was fine, but after just 4 minutes at 180°C the chips looked perfectly cooked, so we carefully stole a few from the basket.
Once all the chips were cool enough to eat, our instincts proved right: the ones cooked for the full time had a superb texture – fluffy in the middle and crunchy on the outside – but the flavour had a slight overcooked tang. The ones plucked out early were divine, definitely the best home-cooked chips we've tried.
Our one design quibble was with the way that the handle folds into the cooking basket for storage. As we lifted the chips out of the fryer and went to tip them out, they kept tipping back towards us because of the folding handle – this should have a way of locking in place.
We also tested the Smart Fryer on a 190°C custom program to fry prawn crackers. These were very good, although the crackers at the bottom browned a little – either they were in the oil for a fraction of a second longer than the ones on top or the oil temperature was uneven.
Cleaning up the Smart Fryer after use was fine because it breaks down so simply. But note that the large capacity has a down side: cooling down four litres of oil before emptying takes a long time.
Yes – this is the perfect deep fat fryer for foodies and gadget lovers. It cooks superb twice-fried chips and has built-in programs for all popular fresh and frozen fried foods, plus a custom program for anything else.
But if you would prefer something smaller and more affordable, consider the DeLonghi RotoFry F28311. And if you're looking for a healthier way to cook chips, consider the Philips Viva Airfryer HD9220.
This foodie fryer is a hi-tech workhorse from the king of triple-cooked chips.