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4.2 out of 5 stars
Breville BDF500XL Smart Fryer
Price:$129.95 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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104 of 108 people found the following review helpful
From what I have been able to gather, this is the first ever review of the Breville BDF500XL Smart Fryer (here or otherwise), so I will do my best to provide a valuable assessment.

Over the years we have owned several fryers, but never found one that stood up to what we were looking for in an appliance. Either they did not get hot enough or they were a pain to clean or the failed after a few uses... it was always something. Inevitably, we would return to either pan or Dutch ovens for frying over the range. This was no picnic either as it was way too difficult to maintain a constant temperature. So how did we come about this unit from Breville?

Recently, our toaster oven of many years finally died on us. In our search for a replacement we ended up with the Breville Smart Oven and it is awesome! We were so impressed with the quality and performance of the toaster oven that we decided to take a gamble on the Smart Fryer. And boy was this a good bet. The fryer is every bit as well thought out as its cousin the oven and it is extremely well made too. I have to hand it to the folks at Breville - they seemed to have figured out how to make a top notch, reasonably priced product.

As for the fryer... It comes in 6 pieces: outer shell, inner hopper, heating element, cover, basket and power cord. This is a great set up when it comes time to disassemble and clean. Assembled it is a sturdy unit that holds a generous 1 gallon of oil. The lid fits snugly on top and does a great job controlling the steam. The heating element quickly gets the oil to temperature and best of all... keeps it there. Even when you load in a good portion of chicken, it quickly recovers the temperature drop and holds it without a tremendous over shoot. We verified the temperature using an instant read thermometer and we were very impressed with how well it could hold a temperature with little to no variance. Because of this, the food cooks quickly and evenly. I wish that the basket would hold more product, but it is my assessment that any change would compromise the well regulated temp control.

The controls are pretty slick too. For many applications you just select what you want to do and hit start. The temp & time are controlled for you. If you want to go manual it is easy to do that as well. Since we do not fry all that often it does take a moment to re-acquaint yourself with the functioning of the controls, but it only takes a minute to do this and you are up & running. We have found that the pre-programmed settings are right on target. So much so that you can start your frying and walk away without having to watch the product or a clock.
When the frying is all done, the lid does a great job keeping the odors in place so the house does not get all smelly waiting for the oil to cool. Once it is cool, you lift out the heating element and then remove the inner hopper which holds the oil. It is very easy (using a funnel) to pour the used oil back into the original container for storage until the next use. Everything is very easy to clean and can go into the dishwasher if that is what you desire (with the exception of the heating element & cord!).

Any downside? Yes, just one. The way the cord attaches to the unit is a pain. There are two magnets which help to anchor the electrodes to the unit; completing the circuit. The problem is that it is really easy to dislodge the chord with the slightest jiggle. Not that this happens a lot, but if and when it does it is a real pain and you will ask yourself "why did they do it this way? It is so lame!". But that is the only downside and it is easy to overlook when you consider how well made the rest of the unit is.
Bottom line - we love this and would replace it if we ever lost it.

PROS:
* Excellent heat control
* Fairly large capacity
* Super easy controls
* Great lid - controls steam & odors
* Easy set up and tear down - including cleaning
* Exceptionally well made
CONS:
* It is easy to dislodge the power cord.
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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2014
Verified Purchase
I am a classically-trained chef, and I found both the pros and cons of this unit impressive. Yes, you read that right. The pros are wonderful and the cons are mind-boggling, an impressive fail. Keep reading:

First, the pros:

1. Unlike a lot of other fryers, this one actually maintains temperature and is accurate when compared to a candy thermometer; the issue that some fryers appear to have with the temperature probe being too close to the heating elements causing a 30°- 40° F. differential between the stated temperature and the actual temperature is not present in this fryer, and the oil doesn't have to be stirred to bring it up to temp. And even better, the 1800 Watt heating element maintains the temperature well; I saw only a very quick drop of 60° F. and then back to 375° F. within 54 seconds when I dropped in 2.5 pounds of wings that were at refrigerator temperature.

2. The controls are easy to use and the display easy to read.

3. Cleanup was a breeze.

4. Pouring the oil through a strainer was easy because the lip around the oil bucket keeps the oil from running down the side.

The cons:

1. I have never seen a feature on any kitchen appliance that I despise more than the magnetic connection for the power cord. It takes so little to break the connection that a slight bump will dislodge it and the cord must by lying on the counter top or it will fall off under its own weight. To the designers: Kitchen appliances are tools, and in ANY tool, FORM MUST FOLLOW FUNCTION! Yes, the mag-connect is a cool feature, ON BLUETOOTH HEADSETS, not on a kitchen appliance, especially one containing hot grease and in a cooking area, where the end of the plug may fall into spilled liquid and cause someone to be electrocuted. This is what happens when the creative process is allowed to run amok without the filters of physics and reason. FIX IT. If this unit is UL-approved, someone at UL needs to lose their job; a grease burn sustained while trying to move a hot fryer because one was too stupid to unplug it first (the reason for the break-away cord) is far less likely than electrocution to kill someone.

2. There are a few sharp edges. They're not quite "raw" edges, but they have not been smoothed enough. I cut myself on the grease bucket during the first cleanup. Why such a nice unit was left in such unfinished condition is beyond me, as an additional ten seconds with a wire brush or 220 grit sanding mop would have easily fixed it.

3. The temperatures and cooking times in the recipe book and the default cooking times built in to the product are ridiculous. Wings at 355° for seven minutes? My first batch was under-cooked coming out of the refrigerator, so a second batch went in warmed to room temperature. Both batches produced chewy, under-cooked chicken and slimy skin. 375° for 9 minutes was better, but still not quite done enough, as only about half the wings had started to float at that point. So experiment and find out what works for you. To their credit, they did allow for the user to adjust time and temperature, quite easily I might add, from the defaults. To the Breville executives: tell your legal team to stay out of the recipe book. A grease burn at 355° is going to be just as painful as one at the correct temperature, and the longer foods cook in a deep fryer, the less they bubble, splash, and risk starting a fire, so lowering the temperatures and cooking time just makes your product look like an under-performer without protecting you from anything and confounds your customers.

4. The manual says not to use lard. This is utterly ridiculous. Cooking lard has a higher smoke point than most vegetable oils and is a heck of a lot healthier than polyunsaturated oils that break down into trans fats when heated. I've used lard in immersion fryers for 30+ years without incident. All that is required to do so is to make sure that the lard is in contact with the heating element, which is easily accomplished by storing your filtered lard in a metal or Pyrex container and preheating it just enough to soften it enough to pour (which is not even enough to make it turn clear). If you're putting new lard in the fryer (which usually comes in a plastic bucket that can only be safely heated by soaking in hot water, which is a pain in the neck), use a spatula to press the lard down around the heating element before turning it on. Lard cooks better and faster with less smell and without toxic trans fats forming while you cook. Big hint: stainless steel and Pyrex can be heated on the stove top, and plain glass and ceramic canisters can be heated in the microwave sufficiently without risk of breakage. Applying plastic film, wax paper, or parchment to the top to help keep air away from the surface of the filtered lard will extend its life considerably. Failure to filter through cloth, paper towels, or a coffee filter while still warm but not dangerously hot will reduce the smoke point and hasten the ruination of your lard, as proteins putrefy much faster than lard turns rancid.

Bottom line: If you already know quite a bit about deep frying or have an excellent recipe book and have an electrical outlet close enough to your exhaust fan that you can let the 3-foot long cord lie on the counter top while it's in use, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better fryer, idiotic power cord design notwithstanding.

UPDATE: Apparently the LCD was cracked during manufacturing or shipping; it was noticeable during cleanup after the first use but appeared at a glance to be a crack in the plastic display cover, not the LCD. After two uses, the LCD became nonfunctional. I called Breville and arranged for warranty exchange, and they sent the wrong one. I had opted for express exchange by securing shipment with a credit card, and calling them back to get the wrong one replaced required a second hold on my credit card. The smug attitude of both the people I talked to, as if I should just suck it up and being hassled with returning both a defective item and a wrong item was commonplace, and I should appreciate having someone waste my life like that, is both intolerable and inexcusable.

Hence, I may well have purchased my last Breville product of any kind, because I have ZERO tolerance for that kind of attitude. Yes, I realize that people make mistakes, but that doesn't mean that I have to like having my time wasted dealing with someone else's mistakes, and there's something about having to give someone my credit card info to cover THEIR mistake, not once, but TWICE, that just burns me up.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2014
After returning the Emeril Deep Fryer by T-fal because it would not heat higher than 40 degrees less than its highest setting, I then purchased the Breville Smart Fryer and I am very happy with it. Testing it with the same handheld thermometer I used on the Emeril fryer shows that it heats the oil right at the temperature of its setting. I had purchased the Emeril one because it had an automatic oil filtering system that people loved (except when it dumped oil all over their counter, which did not happen to me). So I was concerned that manually filtering the oil might be problematic. It turns out that with the right tools, it's no problem at all. I bought a fine mesh strainer (http://goo.gl/QEVJh5) and a four quart container (http://goo.gl/gQqQzi). After the oil cools, I simply place the strainer over the top of the container and pour the oil right through and put it in the fridge. It just takes a few seconds, no big deal.

The controls for temperature and timer give you complete control over your cooking. Even though it comes with pre-set temp and timer values for some common foods (fries, fish, wings, calamari, and donuts), both the temp and the timer can be easily changed for each setting. Or you may use the "Custom" setting to set any temperature (in 5 degree increments) and timer values you like. Any settings you change will be retained and become the new default setting the next time you use it. So if you often cook wings, for instance, set the timer and temp how you like it for wings and then you never have to set them again whenever you cook wings even if you have cooked other things using the other pre-set and custom settings.

The best feature about the pre-sets is the "FRIES TWICE-FRIED" setting. It heats the oil to a lower setting to cook the potatoes through on the "1st fry" (defaults to 265 degrees for 4 minutes, but can easily be changed) and then when you are ready, automatically heats the oil higher to create a crispy crust during the "2nd fry" (defaults to 355 degrees for 3 minutes). I did fry some potatoes using the default settings and they came out very well, if perhaps just a bit under cooked, but with a nice external crust. So next time I might increase the time on the 1st fry cycle. I have also fried shrimp at 375 degrees that came out crispy and delicious after just two minutes. And I cooked catfish that was to die for. Yum!

I love fried foods so much because I was raised in the South. I am concerned about health though so I can't continue using this thing every other night. But most of all I'm thrilled that it reaches the high temperatures required to avoid soaking up too much oil.

If there is anything to complain about, it is a small complaint. The manual tries to be so thorough that it gets confusing as well as challenges your limits of boredom to get through the instructions. All the details are there in full sentences. And I mean ALL the details. For example, Step 2 under the title "Proceeding to 2nd Fry" could say simply, "Use the SELECT knob to change '1st fry' to '2nd fry'. When the oil has finished heating to the correct temperature 'PRESS TIMER' will display." But here is what it actually says for Step 2 (and I am putting this last because I know your eyes will glaze over before you get to the end, if that hasn't already happened reading my review):

"2. Push the SCROLL/SELECT knob. 1ST FRY starts to flash and 2ND FRY is displayed. Turn the SCROLL/SELECT knob to highlight 2ND FRY. 2ND FRY starts to flash to show it has been highlighted. Press the SCROLL/SELECT knob to confirm. 1ST FRY will now disappear. The deep fryer will move to the heating stage until the correct temperature is reached. FRIES - TWICE FRIED, FRESH, 2ND FRY, HEATING and the actual temperature of the oil will show. When the oil has reached the correct temperature, PRESS TIMER will display."

It's accurate and complete. But, man, is it hard to read!

Pros:
- Heats to correct temperature!
- Temperature can be set to any frying temp in 5 degree increments
- Heats quickly and recovers temp quickly after food is introduced
- Large capacity oil bucket (2.5 to 4.0 quart capacity) helps maintain temp when food is introduced
- Has built in timer
- Pre-sets are actually useful, especially the twice-cooked fries setting
- Clean up is not difficult with the removable oil bucket

Cons:
- Instruction booklet writing style is almost unbearable in its detail and repetition
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2014
Verified Purchase
We bought the Breville BDF500XL to replace our old cheap and increasingly awful thirty-buck plastic-body deep fryer. I say 'awful' because it's almost impossible to get those cheap fryers totally clean, plus the hinged lid on it would leave oil drips everywhere.

Pros for the Breville:
- Nearly all metal, certainly in all the parts that matter. Makes cleaning it relatively easy, as well as draining off and filtering the oil after each use
- Superb and accurate temperature control, and the little selection menu for temp/duration for each food type has been dead-on accurate every time we've used it so far.
- The temperature hardly drops at all when lowering even frozen fish or fries into the oil, and even after we've cooked the frozen pub-style fish and reset the temperature to do the chips/fries, it only takes about a minute to go from 320F to the recommended 350F for the fries. The resulting 'fish and chips' dinners have been consistently fantastic.
- Very large capacity basket. Big enough such that for the two of us, we can put the fish back in for a quick 30 second reheat top-up as the fries are finishing.

Cons:
- As other reviewers have remarked, the magnetic attachment for the power cord is way, way, WAY the heck too weak. Sometimes it takes several tries just to get it to stay at all. This is a major design flaw, in my opinion and the top reason why I deducted a star.
- The metal edges are too sharp and should've been rounded off. One day I might take a rasp to the thing.
- It can be a little awkward to attempt to use the controls when there's something cooking in the oil...best to keep the lid handy to avoid getting spattered.

Suggestions/Tips:
- Use high smoke-point oils only, such as peanut, soy, or canola. Olive oil is usually not suitable for deep frying.
- Buy a stainless steel funnel with strainer to filter your oil after each use. Not only will it last longer, allowing for several re-uses, you won't have flavors transferring nearly as much. We just wait until the oil is completely cooled, then filter it into the gallon-sized container it originally came from, and mark it as 'Used.' Some folks like to refrigerate or freeze the oil, but honestly we don't have the room for it, so we just wait until the oil starts to smell 'off,' then dispose of it.
- Note that most of the temp/time presets on the LCD control unit have both a regular and frozen setting, and it usually defaults to the non-frozen one. Just something to keep in mind.
- Conveniently, the oil capacity of the fryer itself is right around 1 gallon.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2013
Verified Purchase
I bought this for my husband who loves to fry foods. He tried it out Christmas Eve. He found it had consistent heating which made it easier and safer to cook the foods evenly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2014
Verified Purchase
This thing is awesome! I always thought that frying would be a mess and a pain.. not true at all with this fryer. Within 30 minutes of opening the box, we made corn dogs and french fries - both were incredibly good.. I'd tried making these with oil in a regular cast iron pan, but the problem was that its nearly impossible to gauge the proper temperature all the time.

This fryer has a digital temperature readout on the LCD display, so you know exactly where the heat is at.

I have a kitchen full of Breville small appliances, and have always been happy with the quality of their products. This fryer is no exception.

Highly recommended!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2014
Verified Purchase
Pros:
Works well.
Cleans easily.
Heats not slowly.
Handle separates from basked for compact storage and easy cleaning.
Steam Filter works decently (and does not require a replaceable part!)
Most of the fryer stays cool. Especially the handle.
Digital display is easy to read.
Backlight changes color to show when temperature is reached.
Includes timer.
Beeps when temperature is reached or timer ends.
When heating, temperature feedback is quick and current.
Long timer, can be set up to 9 hours!

Cons:
Setting dial is counter-intuitive: Clockwise is up, counter-clockwise is down. Should be the other way around.
Controls are confusing, turn the dial, press, now set time, press, now set temperature, press. It makes more sense to set the temperature first.
Even though there is an arrow showing what it is on, it has confounded me time after time until i concentrated on it.
The timer button is confusing. First it is set with the dial, by turning and pressing. Its own button controls start and stop. This sounds like it makes sense, but it seems counter-intuitive in use.
The display does not reflect the drops in temperature (such as when food is added). To fix, press start button twice to start heating oil again.
The controller's flaps (connecting it to the outer container) have holes underneath. This allows water in when cleaning. Ventilation holes should be on the back!
Instruction booklet is verbose, making it hard to quickly find something.
Instruction booklet does not describe all presets.

Ho-hums:
The temperature has a top limit of 385F. 400 or 425 would be nicer, to handle the drop in temperature when the food is added.
Controls are not far back enough and gets oily during usage.
Heating element is attached to controller via the connecting electrical wires and attached with screws. This makes it hard to clean. It would be much nicer if it was a pluggable element.
One of the screws on the back in a torx screw, probably for tamper resistance. This makes it harder to dry out if it gets wet.
The fryer is decent quality, but i would have expected thicker metal and plastic at a $130 price tag.

I have used this deep fryer to make french fries, both store bought and home made, and potato chips. I did not use the presets, i just took them out when they looked right. They came out quite well.

Fried onion is the main reason i bought the fryer, to help handle the amount in a short period of time. I am very happy with the results. Cleaning after that, as with any basket, is not as easy as i would like. To clean, boil water in fryer with basket inside then use brush with bristles.

Fried garlic, a substitute for roasted garlic, is delicious. Fried at 220F for 30-40 minutes. I have found it hard to know the exact done time when roasting garlic. Frying makes them easier to see. Roasting takes about an hour, frying takes about 40 minutes. Excellent results.

Overall, i am happy with this fryer, though it does seem a bit expensive.

---

Edit: Removed con about short timer. I did not realize how it shifted from minutes:seconds to hours:minutes.
Edit: Added hint about cleaning basket.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2014
Verified Purchase
I had been using a stove top fryer. It was very difficult to control the oil temperature using that method of frying. I purchased the Breville BDF500XL Smart Fryer to eliminate that issue. It worked. This fryer is a dream. Easy to fry and clean up afterwards. Large capacity. Timer availability. Small profile. I really wanted to give this 5 stars, but the plug connection on this fryer is ridiculous. It connects with a magnet, but any movement of the unit causes the cord to become unplugged. I understand the need for safety, but they have to be able to find a solid compromise to eliminate this problem.

06/02/14: After some input from a reader of my initial review, I decided to change my rating to 5 stars. While the "break away" cord can be annoying, it's designed that way for safety. Once the unit is set up, it doesn't get moved anyway. The fryer is awesome, so I believe that it deserves my modified rating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2015
Verified Purchase
Very disappointed in Breville on this one. Maybe it's bad product design. Maybe it's poor quality control. But I gave this unit three tries. Read the instructions thorougly, let it pre-heat properly every time, didn't overfill, etc., (I'm not an A-List Chef, but I'm a very experienced home cook.) This unit failed to deliver all three times. In fairness to Breville, it seems that this unit's problem is with the thermostat that controls the frying temperature. But for whatever reasons that might be, I'm going to have to send it back. Which I hate to burden Amazon with, because their return policies are very fair. (Thank you in advance, Amazon!) Anyway, I hope that those who might buy this have better luck with it. Wish I could recommend, but I can't.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2014
Verified Purchase
A very nice unit except for the power cord. When they molded that little key on the forward end of the plug they could just as easily

molded a footrest to bridge the key way at the beginning of the key way. This in no way would have negated the safety feature.

If you take a wooden match (with the head removed) and crazy glue it to the plug at this position it helps a lot. .115 thou seems to be

optimal.
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