BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper Kitchen

Turkey fryers vs. deep fryers

How these two popular cooking appliances differ?

“If you fry it, they will eat it.”

That may be a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s clearly true that most people find fried food absolutely delicious. When it comes to cooking foods in hot oil, though, there are plenty of ways to go about it, and some tools and methods work far better for frying some foods than others.

Two big categories of frying equipment are general deep fryers and more specialized turkey fryers. While they’re both designed to heat large amounts of oil for quickly frying the food of your choice, they have very different applications.

Turkey fryers

Turkey fryers are, in a word, simple. Generally speaking, a turkey fryer kit includes a burner, pot, regulator and hook or hanging tray (or both) meant to accommodate a turkey. Turkey fryer burners run almost exclusively on full-size, 20-pound propane tanks and deliver tens of thousands of BTUs. Your most important consideration in picking the right one is construction quality, because these tools need to handle large amounts of extremely hot oil.

Turkey fryer pros

Turkey fryers heat up quickly due to their huge and hot burners. The actual act of frying a turkey is also considerably faster than roasting. Thanks to their simple nature, there aren’t a lot of things that can go wrong with a turkey fryer; as long as you take reasonable care of it (that is, don’t leave it sitting outside where it can get corroded and the fittings gummed up). Finally, you can get a decent one without totally breaking the bank.

Turkey fryer cons

The big drawback to getting a turkey fryer is that they’re generally not good for much else aside from frying large poultry. They’re usually very bulky, to the point where it would be more of a hassle than anything to fry a smaller bird like a chicken. They’re basically unitaskers (as in, a cooking tool with just a single use), but if you fry whole turkeys a lot, then you’ll be okay with that. Another big drawback is that turkey fryers can only be used outdoors because there’s a risk of carbon monoxide getting indoors from propane gas as well as a fire hazard risk.

What are the best turkey fryers to buy?

Bayou Classic 800-144

One look and it’s easy to see how this one’s different from most other turkey fryers. The tubular legs are as durable as anything out there and the overall construction is as resilient as can be. It’s very much worth the investment, because with just a minor amount of upkeep it should last for many years.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Gas One Turkey Fryer

This is one of the most straightforward turkey fryers on the market. Its capacity of 30 quarts should accommodate most birds, and its low price makes it attractive for people who only use it occasionally. It comes with everything you need to get started aside from the propane and turkey.

Sold by Amazon

Char-Broil Big Easy

This one’s a bit different from the rest. Instead of actually deep-frying the turkey, it uses a large infrared element to deliver consistent and high heat to every square inch of poultry. Therefore, it won’t quite produce the same flavor as a true turkey fryer, but your end product will be considerably lower in fat.

Sold by Amazon

Deep fryers

Unlike turkey fryers, most deep fryers are meant for indoor use and utilize electric elements rather than gas flames (although there are plenty of gas-powered models meant for commercial use.) Basically none of them have a big enough capacity to accommodate the biggest holiday birds, but on the other side of the coin, they’re suitable for a huge range of tasks that don’t involve whole poultry.

Deep fryer pros

The two biggest reasons to work with a deep fryer in your home kitchen are speed and flavor, and if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant before, you know how powerful both of those are. A true deep fryer blows even the air fryer out of the water in terms of putting crispy, browned, flavorful crusts on a huge range of foods.

Deep fryer cons

Deep fryers meant for generalized use are nowhere near big enough to accommodate a family-size turkey on Thanksgiving day, but of course that’s not what they’re built for. The main real-world drawback to owning your own high-efficiency home deep fryer is that it will make it far easier for you to deep-fry food with minimal effort. While everybody knows deep-fried food is delicious, it’s also a well-known fact that fried food is not exactly healthy, to put it lightly.

What are the best deep fryers to buy?

Cuisinart CDF-500

The CDF-500 is part of an extensive lineup of home deep fryers. Some of its counterparts, for example the CDF-130, are smaller and better for kitchens where there’s not a ton of room. The CDF-500, though, is notable for the integrated rotisserie mechanism, which can fry the outer layers of chickens, ducks and small turkeys without flooding the entire bird with oil. For this reason, the CDF-500 may be the most versatile deep fryer on the market.

Sold by Amazon

Elite Gourmet EDF-401T

If you have a family or large friend group to cook for and want to maximize their culinary experience, this budget-friendly deep fryer is perfect for you. It heats up quickly, has a high capacity and requires little to no major maintenance as long as you clean it regularly.

Sold by Amazon

Bayou Classic 700-709 9 Gallon

If you frequently throw block parties or cook for any large group of people, this freestanding deep fryer can help. Three baskets, a high-powered burner and a remarkably durable construction make this one perfect for whipping up huge batches of wings, fries and other tasty foods.

Sold by Amazon

Should you get a turkey fryer or deep fryer?

The answer here is pretty simple. If you want to fry a turkey, get a turkey fryer. If you want to fry pretty much anything else – and do it indoors – pick up a deep fryer. In fact, nobody will blame you if you get one of each — because they do very different things, and the right model of either one should last you for years of regular use.


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Share this post: