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Who doesn’t get excited when a delicious, golden brown turkey with all the trimmings makes an appearance on the dinner table? Many people reserve turkey for Thanksgiving and other holiday dinners, but you really don’t need a special occasion to enjoy it.
If you’re someone who can’t get enough of turkey any time of year, it may be time to try something different than the usual roasting.
Frying a turkey allows for an even crisper exterior, while keeping the meat inside tender and juicy, which is why it’s become such a popular cooking method.
But having the right equipment is an absolute necessity if you’re going to fry a turkey safely. It all starts with a high-quality turkey fryer to ensure that the bird is cooked to perfection, but with most of the hazards associated with frying kept in check.
There are a variety of fryers on the market, so choosing the right one can be a challenge. You have to get the right type, size, features, and other accessories to ensure that it’s the perfect fit for your kitchen or yard.
At BestReviews, we don’t accept products from manufacturers, so you can trust that our recommendations are 100% unbiased. We also conduct field and expert research to get to know the top fryers on the market, which allows us to provide all the info you need to make the most educated shopping decision.
If you’re ready to buy a turkey fryer, take a look at the matrix above for our top recommendations. For general info about choosing a turkey fryer, continue reading our shopping guide.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Char-Broil The Big Easy
Creative Cooking Options
You get some creative cooking options with the Char-Broil Big Easy. Whereas a keen outdoor cook could only use stuffings and injectable marinades with an oil fryer, the oil-free Char-Broil lends itself to the use of herb/spice surface rubs as well.
It takes significantly less time to fry a turkey than roast it in the oven. A 12 pound turkey can take as little as 30 minutes to fry, while roasting it in the oven often takes up to three hours.
By cooking your turkey in a fryer, you’ll free up the oven to prepare your side dishes, such as dressing, casseroles, and even pies for dessert.
You don’t have to worry about your turkey drying out in a fryer. Because it cooks so quickly, the meat stays extremely moist and juicy.
You don’t have to sacrifice a crisp, golden exterior with a fryer. The turkey is cooked from all sides, so the skin gets nice and crispy.
Oil-based fryers submerge the turkey completely in hot oil, which heats the proteins and sugars in the turkey skin, deepening the flavors, and giving you an extremely tasty bird.
It typically takes 3 to 4 minutes per pound to cook a turkey in a turkey fryer.
Propane turkey fryers typically offer the largest capacity, so they can accommodate extra large turkeys. They can only be used outdoors, and must be kept away from the house and other structures.
A propane turkey fryer requires a propane tank, which can be an added expense. They also require more oil than electric models.
You can often steam and boil in addition to frying in a propane turkey fryer. They usually don’t offer manual temperature controls, so the oil can easily overheat and become dangerous. Some models are also known to tip over easily.
For safety reasons, it’s best to choose a turkey that’s between eight and ten pounds when you’re using a turkey fryer.
Electric fryers are generally considered the safest turkey fryer option, and can be used indoors. They’re usually fairly easy to clean, because the parts are often dishwasher-safe.
Electric fryers can usually steam and boil food in addition to frying it. However, they usually don’t offer the same capacity as other fryer options. Electric fryers typically have manual temperature controls, which allow you to choose a precise temperature.
Turkey fryer pots are essentially large stockpots with thermometers and a rack, so they require an additional heating source. They usually offer a very large capacity to accommodate extra large birds. Because of their size, turkey fryer pots typically require outdoor cooking. LIke the propane fryers, you can steam and boil foods in a fryer pot, in addition to frying.
Electric turkey fryers are usually safer to use than a propane model. However, propane fryers usually have a larger capacity.
If you’re concerned about turkey fryer safety, an electric model is the best option. It will also allow you to fry your turkey indoors, so it works well if you want to fry turkey year round in a climate that gets cold in the fall and winter.
An electric fryer usually offers manual temperature control, so you can set the temperature more precisely than you can with propane models.
A propane model or fryer pot is an ideal choice if you prefer frying your turkey outdoors. In most cases, they also allow you to fry a larger bird, so they work well if you’re usually cooking for a large group.
Propane turkey fryers and fryer pots comes with added expense, though. With a propane turkey fryer, you’ll also need to purchase a propane tank to power it. A fryer pot requires some type of outdoor heating source, such as a propane stove.
If you’re using a fryer to cook your turkey, don’t stuff it. Cook the stuffing separately in the oven.
Traditional turkey fryers require filling a pot or other compartment with oil, which is heated by the appliance to cook the turkey.
However, some models are oil-free, and use radiant or infrared heat to “fry” the turkey. You can find oil-free models in both electric and propane options.
A fryer that uses oil produces the crispiest skin, which many people prefer for their fried turkeys. However, oil-free fryers are typically safer and provide healthier meals because the finished turkey is lower in fat.
Oil-free fryers also result in turkey drippings that you can use to make gravy.
Oil-free fryers are usually safer than models that use oil. However, they don’t deliver the same crispy turkey skin.
When you’re purchasing an electric turkey fryer for indoor use, it’s likely you’ll want a model that fits easily on your countertop. You may have to sacrifice capacity a bit, though — most electric fryers can only accommodate up to 14 pound turkeys.
Propane fryers and fryer pots can vary in capacity. Some accommodate birds up to 18 pounds, while others can fit a 20 pound turkey.
The size and capacity that works best for you depends on the how many people you usually cook for. In general, a 14 pound turkey feeds about 10 people. An 18 pound turkey can usually feed 12 people, and a 20 pound bird can feed up to 14 people.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Masterbuilt Butterball Oil-Free
The Masterbuilt Butterball Oil-Free Fryer is worth a serious look if you're interested in oil-free, outdoor cooking. We particularly like the optional wood chip box for adding the smoky flavor that some people love, and many owners compliment the succulent meat and crispy skin this unit produces. Notably, the cooking rate appears to be around ten minutes per pound, which is twice the time of a traditional oil fryer.
Most turkey fryers come with a wire cooking basket, a hook to easily lift the turkey into oil, and a meat thermometer to ensure the bird is fully cooked.
Some models also include a marinade injector that allow you to infuse the turkey with your favorite marinade before frying it. You can also find sets that include skewers for chickens and other smaller birds.
To make cleaning easier, many fryers feature a drain valve, allowing you to easily remove the oil once it’s cooled. Some electric models feature built-in timers, so you can be sure not to overcook your turkey.
Electric turkey fryers can be used indoors, but you should place them on a surface that’s a safe distance from overhead cabinets.
Turkey fryers vary in price based on the type, size, and features, but you can typically expect to pay between $30 and $200.
Some propane fryers can tip over easily, so make sure that your fryer is secure before adding the oil.
Many turkey fryers have fill lines, so you know how much oil to add. If yours doesn’t, place the turkey in the fryer pot with its legs up. Use a measuring cup to pour enough water into the pot to completely cover the turkey, so you know exactly much oil you’ll need when you replace the water. Drain the water, dry the pot, and add the necessary oil.
Propane turkey fryers must be used outdoors, and you should place yours at a safe distance from your house, garage, and any other structures. You shouldn’t place it on a wooden deck either.
Oil and water don’t mix, so thaw the turkey and thoroughly dry it before adding it to the fryer.
Peanut oil is usually the best choice for use in a turkey fryer, because it has a high flash point and neutral flavor. Vegetable oil can work well, too.
If you’re using an electric turkey fryer indoors, heat the oil to 400°F. If you’re using a propane turkey fryer outdoors, heat the oil to 375°F.
Most propane turkey fryers don’t have built-in thermometers. Buy a deep fry thermometer, so you can monitor the temperature at all times.
Never leave a turkey fryer unattended. Fires can occur without warning.
If a fire occurs, don’t try to put it out with water. Always have an all-purpose fire extinguisher on hand when you’re using your turkey fryer.
It’s a good idea to wear protective goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from oil splashes when you’re frying.
The exterior parts of a turkey fryer can get very hot during operation. Always use potholders or mitts to touch the lid, pot, and handle.
Make sure to cook the turkey to the proper internal temperature. Dark meat should be between 175°F and 180°F, and white meat should register between 165°F and 170°F.
Once the turkey is finished cooking, let it stand for 20 minutes before taking it off the fryer’s rack or out of the basket for carving.
Q. Are turkey fryers safe?
A. There are some risks involved with using a turkey fryer. However, if you use it properly, it’s usually safe. Keep propane fryers outdoors and away from your home, wood deck, and other structures. If you’re cooking in a fryer that uses oil, monitor the temperature carefully, so it doesn’t go above 400°F. Have a fire extinguisher nearby, in case any flames do occur.
Q. Can you use a turkey fryer for cooking anything else?
A. Depending on the model that you purchase, you can often steam and boil in a turkey fryer, too. You can also use it deep fry smaller food items, such as French fries, onion rings, and chicken wings.
Q. What features make a turkey fryer easier to clean?
A. Look for a turkey fryer with an easy-to-use oil drain valve for emptying the oil. Make sure that the interior components are non-stick too, so you can easily wipe them clean with soap and water after cooking.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.