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Best Turkey Fryers of 2020
A turkey fryer helps you switch from roasted turkey to deep-fried turkey with ease. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best turkey fryer for your holiday feast.
Have You Tried Deep-Frying a Turkey?
There's nothing like a mouthwatering turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. The National Turkey Federation tells us that 88 percent of American households serve turkey on the fourth Thursday in November annually. But in truth, the king of poultry is a delicious and healthy meal choice any day of the year. While roasting has been the traditional way to prepare turkey, there's a newer method of preparation taking the country by storm: deep-frying.
If you're considering making the switch from roasted turkey to deep-fried turkey this year, BestReviews is here to help. We research every product we cover by talking with experts and listening to feedback from owners of the products in question. And we never accept manufacturer perks or free products in exchange for a good review. Our goal is to be the unbiased source of product information you turn to again and again.
If you're already familiar with the design and use of a turkey fryer, please check out the three turkey fryers in our matrix above. All are excellent products that we're proud to endorse. But if you'd like to learn more about the turkey-fryer method of cooking your Thanksgiving dinner, read on. We'll tell you how to choose a turkey fryer and use it safely.
Turkey Talk: Why Fry Instead of Roast?
If you're wondering why a person might fry a turkey instead of roasting it, there are several compelling reasons.
- Frying your turkey frees up your oven for other dishes, such as sides and desserts.
- Oven-roasting a turkey can sometimes lead to a dry platter of meat, but deep-frying a turkey seals in the juices, producing tender, moist results.
- Frying creates a crispy skin that tastes absolutely delicious.
- Frying is much faster than roasting. Depending on the turkey's size, it can take a quarter of the time to fry as it would to roast—or even less.
- Some people simply enjoy the fun of using a turkey fryer.
As with all things, however, there are a few negatives to frying a turkey too.
- When you use a turkey fryer, you're generally limited to a turkey no larger than 15 or 16 pounds. That said, there are some turkey fryers on the market that can accommodate a bird up to 20 pounds.
- You cannot fry stuffing inside a turkey.
- A turkey fryer can be dangerous. The risk of hot-oil burns and fire is real.
- Working with oil can lead to stains on any nearby surfaces or your clothing.
- You need large quantities of oil, which can get expensive if you fry frequently.
- You'll have to figure out what to do with the oil when you're done with it.
- You'll either need to fry outdoors or find a large, safe spot to fry the turkey indoors. Always consult your fryer's instructions and put safety first.
- Storing a bulky turkey fryer is an issue for some households.
Know Your Options: There's More Than One Way to Fry a Bird
For the most part, a turkey fryer is a simple device. There are three basic types of turkey fryers: the traditional turkey fryer; the electric or indoor fryer; and the no-oil, infrared turkey fryer. All produce a tasty turkey, but each has its pros and cons.
A traditional turkey fryer consists of a large metal pot, a frame to raise and lower the turkey, a deep-fry thermometer, and a metal frame to support the pot over a separate heat source—usually a propane tank. To use this type of fryer, you'll need a lot of cooking oil. The traditional turkey fryer is probably still the most popular type of turkey fryer, and it turns out a beautifully browned, tender, and moist bird.
On the downside, traditional turkey fryers can be dangerous. A pot filled with enough oil to cover a turkey is a fire risk if not handled carefully. Plus, you'll need to cook your bird outside in a safe location, meaning you'll have to stand outside keeping an eye on the flames until the turkey is done.
An indoor turkey fryer relies on electricity, not propane, to heat the oil. However, it still must be located in an area of your kitchen, covered patio, or garage that's a safe distance away from overhead cabinets, curtains, or anything else that's flammable. This means you could potentially cook your turkey indoors, but you would still need to keep a constant eye on the fryer.
Some indoor turkey fryers have a variety of options beyond frying, including steaming, boiling, and even rotisserie. Many also have convenient oil drains that simplify cleanup and thermostat controls to tailor the heat to your liking.
Oil-free turkey fryers are a new addition to the turkey-frying scene. These fryers use infrared light to cook the turkey, so you don't have to deal with gallons of oil. Plus, you'll save a few calories. As with oil fryers, an oil-free turkey fryer will create a bird that's golden and crispy on the outside yet moist and tender on the inside.
You need a propane tank to power an oil-free fryer, which means these appliances are only safe for outdoor use. Keep in mind that an oil-free turkey fryer takes a lot longer to preheat than an oil fryer does, and it doesn't cook the bird as quickly either.
Turkey Fryers 101: The Frying Process
Is your mouth watering yet? Ready to gobble down some delicious white or dark meat? Here are the general steps to follow for using a turkey fryer.
- Place your turkey fryer on a level, nonflammable surface. If cooking outdoors, dirt or grass are not desirable surfaces. You could fry on a concrete surface, but be aware that oil might cause stains. Do not use a turkey fryer on a wooden deck or porch.
- If you're using a traditional or indoor turkey fryer, you'll need to preheat the oil. As a rule of thumb, the oil should be heated to 375°F for a traditional fryer and 400°F for an indoor fryer, but you should always follow your specific product's recommendations. Use your frying thermometer to check the oil temperature.
- Use paper towels to dry your turkey both inside and out before frying. This reduces oil splatter.
- If you're using a traditional turkey fryer, turn off the burner right before placing your bird into the pot, and then turn it back on once the turkey is in place.
- When the oil is hot enough, use the turkey rack to slowly lower the bird into the oil. Don't rush; you're less likely to get burned or create splatter if you take your time. Wear oven mitts to protect your hands.
- With an instant-read meat thermometer, check if your turkey is done at the thickest part of the breast near the thigh. When the meat reaches at least 165°F, it's cooked. Don't let your turkey heat much beyond this temperature, or you could end up with dry or tough meat.
- Once the turkey is done, carefully remove it from the oil and set it on paper towels to blot the excess.
- Let the bird rest for 15 minutes before carving.
- Most turkey fryers have a fill line indicating the maximum oil level that's safe. Don't take chances; stay at or beneath that line.
- Before submerging your turkey in the cooking oil, make sure it is completely thawed and patted dry. Water on the bird could cause the oil to splatter.
- Never leave a turkey fryer unattended, and keep children and pets a safe distance away from the device.
- It's a good idea to have a fire extinguisher handy while using a turkey fryer, just in case. Make sure your fire extinguisher is the all-purpose type that can safely be used to douse the flames.
- Allow 3-1/2 minutes of frying time per pound of turkey. Always check the internal temperature of the bird before assuming it's done. The turkey should reach at least 165°F for safe eating.
Turkey Fryer FAQ
Q. How much should I expect to spend on a good turkey fryer?
A. You'll generally pay more for an indoor turkey fryer than a traditional turkey fryer. But regardless of the type of fryer you buy, expect to spend between $100 and $250 for a good one with plenty of safety features.
Q. Can I reuse the cooking oil I used to fry my turkey?
A. Just as you might reuse the cooking oil in a regular deep fryer, you can reuse the oil from a turkey fryer. First, let the oil cool down. Then, strain it through cheesecloth to remove bits of meat and fat. Finally, store your used oil in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can reuse the oil a few times, but it will pick up flavor from the meat. Never reuse oil that has a rancid smell, looks cloudy, or hasn't been stored properly.