Three best turkey fryers

Bob Beacham

Check if your turkey fryer includes a thermometer.

A good turkey fryer makes it simple to prepare one of your favorite meals at any time of year. Not only is it often faster than cooking a bird in the oven but it's also easy to make it part of a social event. There are lots of choices, too, from big traditional outdoor pots to compact indoor models.

But which is best? We've been comparing the options, and our turkey fryer buying guide should answer all your questions. We've also made a few suggestions -- turkey fryers that illustrate the wide range of features and prices available.

Considerations when choosing turkey fryers

Your main decision is how you want to cook your turkey: using propane with or without oil or using an electric fryer.

Traditional turkey frying is pretty basic. Get yourself a big stainless-steel pot, add oil, put the pot on a propane burner, dunk your turkey in the oil. It's still one of the fastest methods, and fans argue that no other way can match the juiciness of the flesh and the crispiness of the skin.

The downsides to this method are the danger inherent in a large pot of hot oil (especially if there are kids or pets around) and the hassle of cleaning up and disposing of that amount of oil.

Good-quality pots vary in price from around $40 to $100, depending on size. If you don't already have one, you'll need to buy a propane burner and gas bottle as well.

Oil-free, propane-fired turkey fryers have become popular. Rather than a separate pot and burner, the two are combined in a single unit. These use infrared heat to produce very similar results but without the mess. Because there's no oil, these fryers can be used for roasts, hams, ribs, and even vegetables.

Smoke boxes are often included, and you can also rub herbs and spices into the meat for additional flavor. The seasonings will be absorbed using this method rather than cooked off by oil. Drip trays are usually provided, so you can collect the juices to make sauces or gravy.

The only drawback with oil-free fryers is they lack the capacity of really big pots. You'll struggle to find one that will hold a bird larger than 18 pounds. Whether or not that's a problem will depend on the size of your party.

Prices for oil-free fryers range from $70 to $160, which looks more expensive at first, but don't forget that the burner is included (but you still need a separate gas bottle).

Outdoor electric turkey fryers replace the propane burner with a heating element. The big advantage here is that there's no gas bottle to lug around or refill. Just plug in and cook. Capacities are similar to infrared turkey fryers and they can also cook a variety of meats.

Unfortunately, electric turkey fryers tend to be very slow -- in many ways they're similar to using an oven. Critics also complain that the skin never gets as crispy. There are a few to choose from, with prices around $130 to $150.

The final option is the indoor electric turkey fryer that sits on your kitchen counter. These offer great versatility in that they can fry, steam, or boil, and the capacity isn't much below that of oil-free fryers. They're often more controllable, too, and may include a timer. This is certainly a consideration if you're looking for a multi-cooker option or you're short on outdoor space.

On the downside, cleanup can be a bit of a hassle, but it's no worse than any deep-fat fryer, and there can be residual odors to deal with.

Prices for indoor electric turkey fryers range from $100 to $200.

Finally, accessories such as a thermometer or lift hook are usually included no matter which turkey fryer you choose. If you need more, these items are relatively inexpensive.


Q. What's the best oil to use in a turkey fryer?

A. Peanut oil is popular because it has a high flashpoint. In other words, it reaches the necessary temperature (375°F) without burning or catching fire. Also, it has no particular flavor. Vegetable oil can also be used.

Q. How long should I cook my turkey?

A. On average, three to four minutes per pound in a traditional oil-filled turkey fryer. Other appliances typically take longer, so it's best to refer to manufacturer's instructions. Check your turkey with a meat thermometer. White meat should be around 170°F and dark meat around 180°F.

Turkey fryers we recommend

Best of the best: Char-Broil Big Easy Oil-less Liquid Propane Turkey Fryer 

Our take: Impressive unit provides safer, healthier way to "fry" your turkey.

What we like: Powerful and versatile infrared mimics traditional frying: succulent inside, crisp outside. Drip tray catches juices. Thermometer included.

What we dislike: Very little. 16-pound maximum might be small for some.

Best bang for your buck: Masterbuilt Butterball Oil-Free Electric Turkey Fryer and Roaster 

Our take: Clean and simple solution. Excellent value for the money.

What we like: Easy to use. Good capacity. Full accessory set (except thermometer). Smoking option.

What we dislike: Slow. Skin not as crisp as oil-fried.

Choice 3: Bayou Classic Grand Gobbler Turkey Fryer 

Our take: For some, there's just no substitute for a big, traditional fryer.

What we like: Comprehensive, high-quality kit includes poultry rack, lift hook, thermometer, seasoning injector, and leather glove. Takes 25-pound bird.

What we dislike: Propane heater not included. Needs a lot of oil.

Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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