When I first moved into my own house just over two years ago there were lots of essential kitchen pieces which we needed, and for my partner one of these was a fryer. In my house growing up we'd never really eaten fried food particularly but everyone's used to different things and the idea of having 'proper chips' did appeal to me.
The Cookworks Compact Fryer is available from Argos, as I'm sure many of you will know, Cookworks is one of their ranges. At the time I bought it on offer, and from memory it cost about £15. It's currently on offer again and costs a similar price, although at full price it's nearly £30 which is a bit more than I would like to pay. The main reason I picked this particular fryer was because it was a good price and it was nice and modern, meaning it would look nice when left out in the kitchen. Also, with it being just the two of us at home the majority of the time I knew we wouldn't need a large fryer so the 'compact' element attracted me.
As with all electrical appliances, the fryer comes boxed with full instructions and I was really pleased when I took it out of the box. Yes- it is only small, but for two or three people it's plenty big enough and it doesn't take up too much space on the work surface. As I said before, I wanted to leave the fryer out so it had to look good with my other kitchen accessories. The Body of the fryer is brushed stainless steel, with a black plastic base, handles, lid and buttons. I definitely think it looks more expensive than it is which is always a bonus.
The fryer heats up really quickly, it also cooks really quickly but well at the same time, I have to say the chips in this fryer are really delicious and pretty much everything I've made in it has come out well. The fryer is easy to use and although the basket inside doesn't hold much as I said previously it's the perfect size for two people. One thing I would say is that the fryer holds 1.5 litres of oil, I've found that if you fill the fryer to the max line with oil and have a lot in the frying basket the oil does come up very high. On occasions I've had to cook in batches to avoid this, it's not too annoying but it is a bit of a flaw in the design and could be quite dangerous for anyone who wasn't paying much attention. Changing the oil in the fryer isn't the easiest thing in the world, there isn't a separate tray inside so it does usually take two of us remove the oil (one lifting the fryer, one holding the jug to catch old oil still underneath).
Overall, as a basic fryer you can't go wrong with this, it looks good, is well priced and cooks well. There are a couple of minor issues, but they are only slight annoyances and can be avoided once you know about them. I have since replaced this fryer with a more expensive one, and although it has a few extra features essentially it does the same job. For two people or a small family this fryer is a really good buy.
We picked the Cookworks Signature Compact Deep Fat fryer as we wanted to start cooking our own chips but wanted something small and easy to use. We saw the Cookworks Compact on offer in Argos at the time for just £15.99 so decided to get that one.
The Cookworks Compact is very small at just 17 x 15 x 15 cm and a food capacity of 0.4kg. So it wouldn't be any good for a family's needs, but for just me and my boyfriend it is just enough. The temperature is controlled my a dial ranging from 130'C to 1.90'c and can hold 0.9l of oil.
The fryer has a removable lid, viewing window and filter. All removable parts are dishwasher safe. As it is such a compact design it can also easily fit into your kitchen cupboards. The fryer also has a cool wall feature so the fryer is safe and non-slip feet.
When we first used the fryer we were surprised at how small it actually was. If you are cooking chips then to cook the chips nicely you can only have just over a handful in the fryer at one time. We found that if we did only need a few chips each it would just hold enough.
The oil heats up quickly and cooks the chips fast too. The design of the fryer is stylish and modern, if a little basic. The controls are very basic and you only have a limited range in temperature. The food goes in a little basket inside the fryer and you have a handle that slots into this. The handle is beyond basic, and is just a rod with two hooks on the end that you squeeze into the basket. I found this dangerous especially when the oil is at cooking temperature. Also the hooks do not easily slide in to the basket and I have found myself lifting out the basket with a pair of forks instead!
Overall the fryer is very basic and looks nice. We have had to buy a new one as it was just not big enough for our needs. The basket and handle just did not feel safe enough to use. At the moment it is at only £12.99 in Argos and in this case you do pay for what you get! I wouldn't recommend this fryer to anyone as its safety is not up to scratch.
-- The Cookworks Signature Compact Fryer, a Comprehensive Review --
-- Price & Availability --
The Cookworks Signature Compact Fryer is available between £19.99 and £24.99 at Argos, Poundstretcher / InStore, B&M Bargains and in selected electrical retailers. It is also available online with Argos, Amazon, Co-Op Electrical and on eBay.
-- The Cookworks Brand --
I would say the Cookworks brand fills the gap between 'own brand' (Argos Value, Tesco Value, Sainsbury's Basics and so on) and 'well known' (Breville, Morphy Richards, Kenwood etc). It is basic and low cost but it does try to afford some style and add a little extra something for the money.
-- Looks --
The fryer is a compact design and is styled almost like a cube. It has a stainless steel cool wall (ie, you cannot burn your hands on it when it is in use) body, with black plastic accents, such as the temperature dial, side handles, lid and basket handles. It has a red light on the front to indicate when it has reached temperature, and a basic printed guide in black on the front to show which temperature to cook popular foods at. The black plastic lid has a viewing window and vents.
It has a black cable and plug. I would say it looks quite modern for the money and it's compact look will appeal to those with less space, those who fry less and those who don't want a huge round fryer in white plastic clogging up their minimalist kitchen!
-- Use --
The 0.9 litre oil capacity and 0.4kg food capacity are plenty for my husband and I a generous portion of chips each (and let's face it, chips are 95% of what most people fry!). The basket inside is generous and allows for more than enough for two adults to enjoy chips, scampi, fried bread, chicken and so on.
The temperature (which ranges from 130 - 190 degrees) is set using the dial, and once the light turns off, it is good to go. It's very easy to use indeed.
If you do happen to do fish products in it, however, you will need to change out the oil as it will smell - as this is a compact fryer with only that 0.9 litres of oil to change, this makes the task a lot easier and cheaper.
Foods emerge crisp, cooked and I cannot fault the fryer on results. In terms of cleaning it doesn't have too many greasy corners to clog up - it's easily wiped down.
-- Issues --
I can't really say we've had any issues whatsoever using the Cookworks Signature Compact Fryer. It is a basic, good looking fryer which is easy to use and gives good results. I've had issues with fryers in the past in that the have so many different buttons, vents and so on that I always seem to be wiping a layer of grease from the plastic but this one styled in black plastic and stainless steel is a lot easier to keep clean and keep maintained. We use ours about three times a week and have never had any problems whatsoever with it.
-- Recommend? --
Yes, I do recommend the fryer, but only if you are a 'low fry' family. This wouldn't work for more than two adults, it's a compact fryer, not a family fryer, and with it being compact, you can't fry larger items in it such as large battered fish, as they wouldn't fit.
For a mainly chip frying couple, though, it fits our needs down to the ground and we're really happy with our purchase. No more soggy oven chips for us! At £24.99 which is what we paid, I feel this is a fair price for a well made, long lasting fryer which doesn't take up too much space and looks good to boot. So I do recommend it, but only if a compact fryer is what you are looking for. Otherwise I'd suggest buying a larger supermarket own brand fryer for family use, should you not want to spend money on a well known brand or market leader.
-- Final Words --
For the money this is a solid fryer which works well. I will award it four stars out of five, purely because I feel for safety purposes I'd prefer it had a power light as well as a temperature light but that's a small niggle as I would never leave the fryer unattended.
Overall I do recommend it and am very pleased with my purchase (my waistline however may not agree..)
The Cookworks Signature Compact Fryer comes with a two year manufacturer's warranty, instructional leaflet, and fused plug.
Although I could take it or leave it, my family loves their fried food. My husband in particular would eat anything fried, but my sons also love their sausage and chips. We are fortunate enough to be able to use my husband's aunts caravan by the seaside free of charge - but we spent a fortunate at the local chippy, and what was worse, the children often did not eat it. When I noticed this at argos for only £11.99, it seemed like it might make a good investment for our trips to the caravan.
The Cookworks compact fryer is quite small. Not counting handles this is basically a cube shape with each side measuring roughly 6.5 inches. This also a very basic item. You get, the main fryer, the basket and the lid. That's it. There isn't even a filter in the lid as most pans would have. There is not a separate removable section for the oil either, which will make cleaning a bit more of a chore. The cord is a reasonable length at over 24".
As I am sure one would expect from a fryer this size, it will not cook enough chips in one go for a family. At best you can get two portions which would suit myself or the boys from one batch. My husband would often like more, so at times I cooked 3 batches of chips for our tea. He could eat the entire basket of chips on his own. We also made sausage, and you can fit 4 normal sized links at a time. On the plus side though, this does cook very quickly. By defrosting the chips first, I was able to cook a batch in about 3 minutes. Slightly less time was needed for fresh cut, parboiled chips. The oil itself heats in minutes as well.
Now my family love their chips, but not just any chips. They all tend to be rather selective, so I waited to see what their verdict would be. My husband came out with " delicious" immediately and my oldest son said "these are the best chips I have ever had!". My youngest meanwhile was too busy stuffing down his chips and everyone else's to say a word. Of course a good day at the seaside and a strong appetite make everything taste nicer - as they say hunger is the best relish. Still everything we cooked came out very nice and went down a treat with the whole family. The chips especially were light and crispy, and not overly greasy.
Of course this chip pan is not really the ideal pan for feeding a large family on a regular basis. For a caravan though, where space is very limited it really is a great item to have and more than paid for itself, allowing us to eat at home rather than the chippy on a number of nights during our 3 week stay. I think this would be perfect for a student as well, or for a couple without children. It would also be nice for a family that is mixed between vegetarian and meat eaters, as it could be used for meat only or vegetarian only, and would be nice to avoid frying in gravy that has had meat in it for vegetarian guests, or those who can not eat certain meats, like pork. It only uses a maximum of .8 litres of oil, so less then one bottle will fill this, even if only for a single use for guests. It takes up very little space, and produces lovely chips. I was not able to find any comparitive information on energy usage, but can only assume heating a smaller amount of oil would use less energy, making this ideal for smaller servings.
This advertises a "cool wall body" and I did find that the fryer did not get overly hot on the outside. I hope this means it using the heat efficiently heating the oil, not the outer casing. As far as safety though, it is not the outside of the chip pan I worry about, it is all that boiling oil inside. Obviously extreme caution is required with children, and I will not allow my boys near this when it is cooking or has been used recently. This does have a secure base, with "non slip feet", but in my experience, anything can be spillt , and better safe than sorry.
When I saw this compact little deep fat fryer on the internet I thought that it would be ideal for my kitchen that seams to have a serious lack of space to keep and store things. So I went along to the argos store and brought myself one. From the look of the box it looked a relatively good size however once you open the box you soon realise that it is quite deceptive. The fryer itself in fact tiny I was quite suprised really, however all is not lost the fryer is perfect for making enough home made chips for a small portion for one individual it is only when you need them for more than one person that the problem begins. I have found myself in a routine for making multiple portions part cooking the first portion, taking them out and keeping them warm while I fully cook the second portion before returning the first portion to the fryer to finish cooking while I serve up the second portion.
Therefore this size fryer would not be very practical for those needing more than a few chips, yet it would be ideal for those who have small portions or who only cook for themselves.
I have not owned a 'deep fat fryer' since the 1980s, to my mind it is a wholly unhealthy way of cooking and the majority of foods can be cooked using far less oil in either the oven or a standard frying pan. This was until I had a guest staying for a few days back in February, a Jamaican lady who made the most wonderful fried dumplings. She gave me the recipe and showed me how to cook them in my wok, but I found that after using such a deep layer of oil it was beginning to damage the surface of the wok. She had, by then, gone home so I was left to find a solution to this myself - and I found the ideal solution in this CookWorks Signature Compact Fryer.
Costing around £12.99 this is a very small fryer, suitable for cooking just one or two portions at a time. This was ideal for me as I rarely fry and none of my granddaughters' (who I cook for regularly) particularly enjoy greasy foods, so a single portion fryer seemed perfect.
The fryer is extremely simple to use, there being just a single knob on the front which is used to set the required temperature. This temperature control ranges from 90 to 190 degrees, rising in increments of ten degrees so it's always completely possible to be able to set an accurate cooking temperature.
Being so small the oil heats up very quickly, within just a few short minutes the oil is sizzling hot and ready for your food to be added. There is a guide printed on the front of the fryer which shows the optimum cooking temperatures for different types of food, this appears to be accurate enough although personally I find the 130 degree setting to be perfect for most items. There is no timer of any description on the fryer so you will need to lift the basket at intervals to check how your food is coming along, however as you use it more you should learn fairly quickly over time just how long your chips/chicken/dumplings are likely to take at your set temperature.
There is a small viewing window, but this only gives you a very small snapshot of the inside of the fryer so I wouldn't put my trust in this. After a few minutes it steams up to obscurity anyway so there actually seems very little point in this addition.
The one problem I have had with this fryer is the design of the basket. It has a removable handle, which is ideal for when you are not using the fryer - well, it would be ideal if it weren't such a silly design! You see, to remove the handle you simply squeeze the two sides together, yet when lifting the basket it is sometimes possible to inadvertently squeeze them - resulting in the filled basket crashing down into the boiling hot oil and creating splatters. Luckily I have not burned myself when this has happened (yet!) but I imagine it is only a matter of time.
The filter within the lid works fairly well, my home still smells of hot oil for a time after I have used the fryer but this is to be expected. This obviously isn't such a problem when using this small fryer, in the past (circa 1980) I had a much larger catering style fryer which used so much oil that I simply could not stand the smell in the house - and the extra oil meant the awful oily smell lasted for much longer than happens with this CookWorks version.
The body of the fryer remains cool during use, something which is common for the majority of small kitchen appliances these days. Do not let this fool you, however, as the oil does take an awfully long time to cool so it's still an extremely dangerous appliance to own should you have young children or even pets running around your home. Personally, my cats are banned from the kitchen at all times and my granddaughters' know to leave me alone while I am cooking so this isn't too much of a problem Last month however, when I was having my internal kitchen door replaced, I found I had to sit in the kitchen for no less than two hours to allow the oil to cool - the reason being my three year old granddaughter and two year old nephew were visiting and I have a great terror of these two mischievous little imps when they are together, I simply could not trust them to not go into the kitchen with no door to act as a barrier!
Overall I am very happy with this compact fryer. The small capacity is ideal for someone living alone, such as myself, and a single one litre bottle of oil will usually stay clean for upwards of a month. Cleaning the appliance is somewhat of an irritation as the 'bowl' the oil goes in does not come out of the fryer. This means you have to tip the entire unit upside down to empty it, being such a small appliance this shouldn't pose too many problems for most people but as someone who suffers with arthritis in my hands and arms I do find it a bit of a bind sometimes.
For the low price I certainly do recommend this CookWorks Fryer, admittedly it will not be much use to a family but in all honesty the days of 'fried food with everything' are thankfully long gone. I do not imagine for one minute that this would hold enough food to serve even two adults, in fact it will only comfortably cook two of my (not overly large) dumplings at a time and a single serving of fresh chips.
I bought the cook works signature compact fryer from Argos in the sale which meant it cost less than £10 .It is currently on offer for £12.99 and its RRP is £19.59. Cook works is Argos own brand and so is only available at Argos.
After pruchasing it from Argos I kept it boxed for a few days expecting it to need a large bottle of oil but found it took less than a small litre bottle.
When I removes it from the box it was much smaller than I expected and a small stainless steel casing.I rinsed out the fat compartment then filled with oil. It was pretty simple to figure out the fill level as there is a minimum and maximum line .The minimum is 0.6 litres and a maximum of 0.8 litres.
There is a temperature guide that suggests the temperature of various items ranging from 90 to190 degrees. There's a dial on the front of the fryer for setting the temperature which is turned with very little pressure.
One thing I do really like about this is that is only seems to take a couple of minutes to heat up. It has a red indicator light which is illuminated until up to temperature. The safety feature of having a thermostat was one of the reasons I wanted this product over a traditional chip pan as I have heard too many stories of chip pan fires.
The basket has a removable handle which is attached by squeezing the handles together. This for me is the big design fault with this product as a few times when I have gone to take chips out the fryer I have squeezed the handle causing the basket to drop.
The other thing I do find is that lifting the lid I have almost scalded myself a couple of times so now remove the lid with a tea towel to protect my lid
I have cooked fresh and frozen chips as well as making butternut squash and carrot chips all of which have worked out well. There is something very satisfying about making home cooked chips.
The guide makes suggestions for cooking, doughnuts, fish, vegetables, and chicken nuggets .I haven't tried cooking these as I generally cook these items in the cooker.
This is definitely a one portion fryer as even for my toddler and I have to cook two portions. This can be very good for portion control and has meant on occasions I have cooked chips for my son but not bothered for myself and have had a salad or jacket potato instead.
To empty and change oil you need to tip the whole appliance upside down which is light enough as it doesn't contain a lot of oil. I have only needed to change it once in two months but it is about due now. I used kitchen towel to wipe it out as for obvious reasons it can't be immersed in water.
If I was in the position to buy another I would look for a slightly larger version although I do like the fact it doesn't take up much space in my kitchen
I did find initially I would use it but after having it for a couple of months I probably use it only once a week and have gone back to buying oven chips.
Overall a nice idea but a little too small and a couple of areas that needs addressing to make a perfect product.