It’s common knowledge the Thanksgiving meal traditionally centers around a roasted turkey, but the deep-fried turkey has certainly gained popularity. Deep-fried turkey has its roots in the southern United States, in Cajun Louisiana, when the first portable propane cookers were manufactured in the ’70s. At first, they used the propane cookers to boil crawfish, a real staple in Louisiana. But people got creative and began using oil to fry all kinds of dishes. Hence, the delicious deep-fried turkey. If you want a beautifully golden and crispy turkey for your feast, here are some turkey fryers we recommend.
Buying Guide for Turkey Fryers
Why buy a turkey fryer?
If you want deep-fried turkey, you need a turkey fryer. You could devise a fryer on your own, but as with many cooking methods, you’ll get better results if you use the equipment designed specifically for the process. Plus, it’s much safer to use a product made particularly for it. Manufactured turkey fryers feature things like temperature control and stable bases to prevent the fryer from tilting and potentially spilling hot oil. Many propane-fueled fryers have psi-adjustable regulators for safe pressure and gas flow and O-rings to prevent gas leakage. Other fryers are completely self-contained, so you avoid exposure to boiling oil, which is especially important if you have small children. Finally, built-in oil drain valves and tubes reduce oily buildup, which makes cleanup easier. Just make sure you wear protective gloves, long sleeves, and an apron to protect your skin, and be careful with your equipment to prevent potential burns.
What should you look for in a turkey fryer?
- Cooking Method: While submerging the turkey in oil is the traditional cooking method we explore in this article, there are actually numerous ways to fry a turkey. If you prefer to use as little oil as possible, check out the infrared radiation cooker, rotisserie fryer, and electrical fryer. You’ll be amazed by the designs behind these clever ‘healthier’ alternatives. There’s also the traditional Cajun method of frying turkey with a propane-fueled burner stove in a pot of oil.
- Indoor or Outdoor: Do you envision yourself and some friends or family having a turkey fry on a camping trip? If so, there are compact, lightweight burner stoves designed specifically for that purpose. Or perhaps you prefer to cook indoors but want the crisp and juicy deliciousness of an outdoor fried turkey. Keep your eyes out for those products; some are pretty impressive!
- Design: Though we’ve detailed the various turkey fryer methods and indoor/outdoor fryer options, it’s still important to talk about design. In some cases, it comes to what’s included with the burner. You’ll find simple propane burner stoves with no accessories and burner stoves that come with a stockpot and lid. You may want to explore multifunctional turkey fryers as well. Some of these fryers have steaming and broiling capabilities; others are even equipped with the accessories you need to fry sides, desserts, and more.
What are the advantages of deep-frying your turkey over roasting it?
The method spread beyond the South to the rest of the country for a reason: it’s delicious! Also, frying is an effective way to circumvent that dry white meat typical of roasted turkey. Deep-frying can give the meat even more flavor and the skin a delectable crispness. The cooking process takes up less space, too, which can be a major advantage when you’re making numerous side dishes that take up counter space. And guess what? In some cases, depending on the fuel source, frying instead of roasting can cut the cooking time in half!
Our Picks for the Best Turkey Fryers
Masterbuilt XL Electric Fryer
This electric fryer has steam and boil functions, large capacity for turkeys up to 20 pounds, and is easy to clean up.
Pros: There’s no need to take the Masterbuilt outside like you would a propane cooker. Just set it on the counter and plug it in, add oil, turn the dial to the correct temperature, use the lifting hook to lower the cooking basket with your turkey inside, and close the lid. It’ll take care of the rest! The built-in drain valve makes cleaning up a cinch, and all of the components are dishwasher safe. The Masterbuilt uses 1/3 less oil than most fryers, which is nice for health reasons and has a less oily taste. And you can do more than fry turkey with the Masterbuilt. You can clip the food basket to the inner rim to steam or boil veggies, crawfish, crab; you name it.
Cons: If you want to char-broil, smoke, or cook your turkey outside with a propane cooker, then you probably want to look for another product. Baking, roasting, and broiling are out, too.
Bottom Line: What the Masterbuilt sets out to do—fry, boil, and steam—it does well. It uses less oil, handles turkeys up to 20 pounds, is multifunctional, easy to use, and easy to clean. And it’s affordable!
Pros: Behold the Char-Broil’s The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker Roaster and Grill! It has big plans for your fried turkey dreams. The infrared method of cooking doesn’t cook food through direct contact with heat (like garlic in a pan) nor through a secondary medium, such as oil or smoke to cook food. The energy waves in infrared radiation are basically unaffected by external forces like wind, so the connection between the heat source and turkey is immediate. It also provides consistent heat throughout the cooker. But what does this mean for your turkey? It means you can ‘fry’ it without oil; the skin crisps and meat juices don’t dry up. The Big Easy can smoke, roast, and grill. The internal smoking and roasting basket holds up to a 21-pound turkey, and the 180-square-inch grill grate works great for grilling meats and veggies. For the smoker, just add aromatic apple, pecan, hickory, or another favorite type of wood chips into the side-mounted smoker box. Easy!
Cons: While the Big Easy features carrying handles to make portage manageable, it weighs a hefty 50 pounds fully assembled and doesn’t have wheels, which some users could consider a downside. For such a forward-thinking design, it might surprise some that the cooker has no digital temperature display. Some users might also find the assembly frustrating. Another downside: the essential propane tank doesn’t come with the cooker.
Bottom Line: Generally speaking, infrared temperatures can get as high as 900 degrees, but the Big Easy maxes at about 550 degrees and 18,000 BTUs. Is this a bad thing? No! You don’t want to set the main course on fire! And the infrared heat still cooks food faster than ordinary grills, smokers, roasters, and ovens.
GasOne 200, 000 BTU Single Burner Cooker
This high-heat cast iron propane gas burner is great for a deluxe camping trip. Just don't leave the turkey behind!
Pros: The GasOne 200,000 BTU Single Burner Propane Cooker has a lot going for it. Weighing only 2.2 pounds (without the propane tank), the GasOne cast iron stove is meant to be taken camping, fishing, or outside in your backyard. GasOne took safety into consideration, too. There’s a heat-adjustable regulator, an O-ring installed to prevent gas leakage, and a steel-braided hose with a 0-20 psi adjustable regulator to use with the propane tank. Safety features are important with a high-pressure burner that has an output of 200,000 BTUs! The GasOne stove is made to cook, grill, and boil just about anything you want. In fact, you can use the stove for homebrewing, maple syrup prep, and turkey frying, to name a few.
Cons: The GasOne propane cooker is only a stove and doesn’t come with a skillet, pot, or something to cook a turkey in, so users will have to come with something on their own. It’s likely that the paint will chip at some point, which could be disappointing.
Bottom Line: This high-pressure burner is ideal for use in the great outdoors. You have to do a little more work to fry a turkey with this product than you would with others, but with a lot of power behind it, it can get the job done.
Cuisinart Extra-Large Rotisserie Deep Fryer
This device features a removable spit and basket for frying rotisserie-style. It uses less oil than traditional fryers and comes with a fryer basket that can be used to steam veggies and more.
Pros: Cuisinart took a method of cooking meat from medieval cuisine where a large piece of meat rotates on a spit to cook the meat evenly its own juices, and they modernized it with this large rotisserie deep fryer. It’s more than modern; it’s ingenious! This appliance not only works as a rotisserie cooker but as a steamer and a fryer. It comes with a fryer basket that holds up to 2 pounds of whatever you want to fry, from potatoes and chicken to seafood to donuts. It also has a large stainless mesh basket and cool-touch handle to make frying easy. Use the mesh basket for steaming, too. The rotisserie cooks up to an entire 14-pound turkey in one and a half hours and with less oil than other fryers. Oven-roasted turkeys of the same weight require about three hours to finish. That’s a lot of time saved! The cooker features a 120-minute timer, adjustable temperature control, and a toggle switch to operate the rotisserie. The removable oil pan holds up to 5 liters of oil that’s easy to drain with the drain tube that attaches on the outside front of the cooker.
Cons: While reasonably priced for a professional-grade fryer, it might be too expensive for some users. Also, the Cuisinart can’t handle a turkey bigger than 14 pounds, which can be inconvenient for large gatherings. Users who want a turkey fryer only, a setup that does not require multiple cooking functions, might want to consider a different product. Finally, you’ll have to make gravy separately with no oven-roasted turkey drippings.
Bottom Line: The Cuisinart Extra-Large Rotisserie Deep Fryer has a lot to offer cooks who want a multifunctional cooking appliance. Buyers can choose between steaming, frying, and cooking meat via rotisserie. Just those three functions open the door to a world of recipes from desserts, sides, and main courses. As for turkey rotisserie frying, this appliance streamlines the process with its all-in-one design. The rotisserie basket with a spit, removable oil pan, and oil removal tube, fits right inside the Cuisinart. Lower the lid, wait an hour and a half, and voila! You’ll have a beautiful turkey.
GasOne Propane Burner with Steamer Pot
This lightweight portable propane stove burner can fry turkey, boil crawfish, and more. It comes with a 24-quart aluminum stockpot with a lid and steamer rack.
Pros: The GasOne Propane Burner with Steamer Pot has what you need to fry a turkey in the traditional way. And you can cook this bird just about anywhere you want to: tailgating, camping, or in your backyard. Without the propane tank, the burner weighs a meager 15 pounds, so it’s easily transportable. As with other GasOne burners, this product comes with a steel braided hose that you’ll use to hook up to a propane tank, and it’s equipped with a 0-5 psi adjustable regulator to ensure safe gas flow and pressure. Also included is an O-ring to prevent leakage. The high-heat propane burner makes for efficient cooking. This model comes with an essential component for turkey frying, crab boiling, or tamale frying: a 24-quart aluminum stockpot with a lid and steamer rack!
Cons: The burner is made of aluminum, not stainless steel or cast iron, so it won’t be as durable as other models.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a reliable high-heat propane burner with a stockpot and lid to fry some turkey, then this might be just the thing. Another selling point is that the burner is not limited to boiling and frying. The propane burner is great for grilling, too, as long as you have a skillet. If you have a turkey dinner coming up and want to try out the frying method, consider this efficient, affordable, compact burner!
If you want to try this delicious turkey cooking alternative, there are several options available. Plus, they’re equipped to make other dishes, be it steamed seafood, broiled veggies, or grilled steaks. These impressive cooking devices are a great investment for your future feasts.