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Crisp skin. Juicy meat. Ready in a fraction of the time it takes to roast it. If you have never had (or cooked) deep fried turkey, you might want to turn it into your next cooking adventure. Depending on the time of year, you can even do it outdoors! All you need is an appropriate deep fryer, and that’s where we come in. Check out our reviews of the best turkey deep fryers below!
Best Turkey Deep Fryer: Indoors vs Outdoors
This is the most straightforward way, and also the safest: you plug the fryer in, add the oil and the turkey, turn the appliance on and wait for the cooking to be done. The main drawback is capacity: you won’t get to fry too big a turkey.
Indoors turkey fryers are fairly similar to general purpose deep fryers, only bigger. There are a few other types to be found, but they fall into the next category.
Better suited for deep frying as big a turkey as you want it, although that also depends on the capacity your fryer provides. There are two types suitable for using outside, and they are both heated by propane: the conventional type consists of a pot on top of a burner, with the turkey submerged in oil; the oil-less type, on the other hand, fries by hot air, no submerging in oil required. The results, while not exactly the same as with conventional frying, are generally considered quite acceptable, with the additional perk of greatly cutting down oil consumption.
How Much Oil?
You don’t want your turkey to end up above oil level; you also don’t want the hot oil to overflow. To avoid these two scenarios, follow these steps prior to cooking:
1. Place your still packaged turkey in the pot you will be using
2. Add water until the turkey is completely submerged; there should be at least 5 inches between the water level and the top of the pot.
3. Remove the turkey and mark the water level. Now you know how much oil you need to pour.
Remember to remove every drop of moisture from the pot before cooking: water and hot oil don’t mix.
What Makes a Fryer Better
The bigger it is, the bigger the turkey you can fry. Consider the volume you really need to cook for your usual gatherings: it might make little sense getting the biggest fryer, with the consequent dent on your wallet and your storage… and then use only a fraction of its capacity.
Commonly measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. i.e., how powerful your heat source is. The higher this value, the faster your oil will reach cooking temperature, which means shorter preparation time for your feast.
Features & Accessories
An indoors electrical fryer can include functions such as timer, automatic shutdown and more; whereas an outdoors fryer will usually try to provide you with a few accessories to bolster your turkey frying kit if you’re starting out.
To Cook Safely Is To Cook Right
Frying a turkey outdoors can be fun, but it also requires extra precautions. Let’s begin with the stuff you’ll need:
You will likely find kits supplying you with most of what you need in a single purchase; however, you should still go over this list to make sure you’re not missing anything: safety is on the line.
- Fire extinguisher specifically designed for grease fires. A conventional refillable one is great to have, but smaller canisters, such as this one, will work too.
- Insulated cooking gloves.
- Sturdy closed-toe footwear.
- Long-sleeved shirt and pants.
- Stainless steel pot; the larger it is, the more distance it puts between you and the searing hot oil.
- Poultry rack with lifting hook; often favored over a basket because it keeps the turkey closer to the center of the pot. This way, it won’t get stuck to the pot’s wall while cooking.
- Cooking fork, stainless steel.
- Stainless steel sheet pan.
- Long stem deep-fry thermometer.
- Burner stand. We’ll be covering a pretty good option further down.
- Propane tank.
- Hose with pressure control valve; this will allow you to make adjustments should your oil come too close to overheating.
- Kitty litter, for absorbing spills before they create a stain on your floor.
The Propane Education & Research Council provides videos aimed at educating the public on how to handle propane; it is a resource worth relying on, for anyone who intends to cook using this fuel. Here are other recommendations to make deep frying a turkey the safest possible:
- Always do your frying outside: no walls, no roof. That means no garage, door open or not. No roofs or balconies either: any spills from up high could cause serious injury to passersby.
- Fryer should be on a firm, level surface, such as concrete or dirt, away from plants, walls and any foot traffic.
- Place the propane tank downwind from the flame, and as far away from it as you can; don’t stretch the line, and try not to place it where others might trip on it.
- Test your hose and connections beforehand: rub soapy water all over and let the gas flow; where there are bubbles, there’s a leak. Tighten the connections or replace the hose, depending on where the leak is.
- Choose your oil appropriately; the higher the smoke point, the better. Consider using refined peanut oil: it’s relatively cheap, neutral in flavor, and with a pretty high smoke point of 450°F.
- Prepare your turkey appropriately: no stuffing, no giblets, no plastics, no wrappings. Thaw it out completely; make sure there is no moisture on it before lowering it into the hot oil.
- When you lower the turkey, do so slowly: if you do it too fast, it might bubble aggressively and even catch fire. Remember to keep your face away.
- Never leave the fryer unsupervised while cooking; ensure people and animals stay away at all times.
- Do not forget to check the temperature at intervals, and keep the oil below its smoke point; letting it overheat might cause a fire.
- Watch the oil level: if it rises too high, scoop some of it out with your ladle and transfer it to the bowl.
- Removing a cooked turkey must be done slowly as well. Hover it over the pot so the excess oil drips away. Place it on a cooking sheet and let it cool off for 20 to 30 minutes.
- While there are fryers with capacity for very big birds, it is recommended to not fry a turkey heavier than 12 pounds: if it is too large, it might burn on the outside before cooking inside. For big gatherings, it is better to fry two turkeys one after the other. Bring out the one that’s ready, wait until the oil reaches the required temperature, then lower the next bird and cook it while the previous one cools off.
- Remember to keep the fryer off-limits even after cooking: the oil will remain searing hot for several hours afterwards.
- Place kitty litter on top of any spills. Let it sit for a week, then sweep away.
The Top Picks Out There for The Best Turkey Deep Fryer
Total capacity is 44 quart, which makes it capable of handling just about any size of turkey you have in mind, over 25 pounds. Made in 20-gauge stainless steel, it’s also pretty strong. It is a good option if you’re starting out: aside from the pot, it includes a thermometer, aluminum rack with hook, seasoning injector and one insulated glove.
This one is generally praised for optimal performance; it should serve you well during the holidays and more.
- Appropriate for cooking large feasts.
- Good value in accessories included.
- Suitable for other uses beyond deep frying.
- It might be difficult to find adequate storage space.
No oil? No problem!, this is why fryers like this one exist. Its fully enclosed burners will generate 16,000 BTUs of heat to cook up to 16 lbs of turkey, chicken or cuts of meat at a rate of 8-10 minutes per pound. It gives you the additional advantage of accepting meats with rubs or marinades, which is off-limits for conventional fryers. Due to the absence of oil, it’s also easy to clean. Package includes: cooking basket with lifter, meat thermometer, lid and quick start cooking guide
- No oil needed.
- Seasoned-meat friendly.
- It can take twice as long to cook as an oil fryer.
- Difficult to put together.
Able to fit up to 10 liters of oil or water, the extra large basket can fit a turkey up to 20 lbs, or 5 lbs of chicken wings. The cord is magnetic breakaway, to keep you safe should there be a sudden pull. The valve at the bottom makes it easier to drain the chamber.
Unit is control through a single dial which turns the unit on and off, and adjusts the temperature. One indicator light signals when the unit is on, the other is for when the appliance is hot enough to cook. Drain valve, basket, pot, and lid are all dishwasher safe.
- Fairly easy to clean.
- Decent capacity.
- Cannot be left unsupervised.
Built in stainless steel, your turkey will fit in as long as it is no bigger than 14 lbs. Aside from your Thanksgiving main course, it can be used to fry and steam cook other types of food, such as seafood, dumplings, vegetables or a clambake.
Two dials operate this unit: one turns it on and off and controls the temperature, whereas the other is used to specify how long the timer should run, 120 minutes being the limit. Two handles on the sides allow to grip the unit more safely, although caution is still advised.
- Does not require as much supervision.
- Safer to handle.
- Solidly built.
- Somewhat limited capacity.
- Can be slow to heat up the oil.
If all you’re looking for is the heat source, then your search might be over: made in heavy duty cast iron with weather proof coating, its 16” width should accommodate even your biggest pot, and anything you want to heat up will reach optimal temperature in a short time thanks to its rather remarkable 200,000 BTU output. Able to endure up to 400 lbs or 200 qts, its solid build and size make it a good option for other tasks such as canning.
It does require some assembly, as the legs are detachable for easy storage. Package also includes: high pressure CSA Certified 20 PSI regulator, hose, and connector.
It should be noted that this unit weighs close to 30 pounds, which might make it harder to carry around.
- Optimal size and build for a variety of tasks beyond frying.
- Superb level of heat output.
- No accessories: requires buying the entire frying kit separately.
- Heavy; hard to move around.
Best For Your Feast: Masterbuilt MB23012418 Butterball XL
As enjoyable as frying a turkey outdoors may be, it also takes many additional precautions and equipment, and odds are you might not need to go to such trouble for your holiday dinner; which is why we leaned towards an indoors type.
It’s true that you can’t leave this one alone, as it has no timer, but other than that, it’s a solid choice: given its size, it should allow you to cook a good volume of food, and cook it right, as its performance has received consistently wide praise. It is, in fact, designed and tested to meet the commercial standards of commercial kitchens, and should therefore yield more than adequate results for a home.
Cleaning it is simple, too: everything down to the lid can go straight to the dishwasher when you’re done. When we’re talking the best turkey deep fryer, you need something that’s simple. Come the holidays, this trusty appliance should cover your needs quite nicely. May your feast be a good one, and your happy memories plentiful!