If you’ve never tried preparing your bird in a turkey fryer before, and enjoyed the ease and resulting flavour that go along with using one, then we’re very sorry to tell you that you’ve been missing out! Now, we understand that not everywhere customarily fries their turkey when they cook it but if you live in a place where this is common, then investing in an actual turkey fryer can be a total game changer. These simple appliances are a surprisingly affordable way to make preparing fried turkey simpler, less labour intensive, a lot safer, and most often more delicious as well.
Of course, not everyone is aware that some of the highest quality turkey fryers out there can be found online. In our research process, we also found that some of the best prices are the ones you’ll see online as well. Besides that, shopping online gives you a little more time to consider your options and compare and contrast the details of the different models that are within your budget. It can be a much less stressful process than standing in the countertop appliance aisle in the store, trying to read all the boxes in the moment. Even if you do decide to go pick up a store model in the end, we figured that a helpful list of pros and cons for some of the highest regarded turkey fryers might help you make your decision before you actually set out!
What is a turkey fryer?
A turkey fryer is a pot like appliance or cooking setup that lets you deep fry a whole turkey bird more easily than you would be able to on your stovetop. Fried turkey is a longstanding delicacy in the Souther United States but, depending on the size of the bird you’re trying to prepare, it can be a little bit difficult and risky to make. Using a turkey fryer gives you a designated pot and specific heat levels catered to the process of frying turkey, making the whole process much more streamlined and reducing the risk of oil burns while you’re frying.
What kinds of turkey fryers are there?
If you conduct a little search of your own, you’ll find that there are two main categories of turkey fryers. The first is the custom sized deep pot setup, in which the pot is not electrical but usually comes with a stand on which you can set it that features its own built-in heat source. The second type is the electrical countertop appliance that looks almost like a very large custom made slow cooker. This features an inner frying pot where your bird goes and has its own internal heating elements for frying. With the recent trending of air fryers, you’ll also find some models that use oil in the classic way and some that don’t.
Do you still feel like you could use a little bit of extra guidance when it comes to choosing the turkey fryer that’s right for you? Check out this perks and drawbacks list that we made of the best countertop options we came across in our search.
If you’re looking for an independent fryer that’s sizeable but also free of oil because you don’t like working with it, then Char-Broil might have just the kind of thing you’re looking for right off the bat. This fryer does not use oil, making the usual risk of oil burns zero. Instead, it’s powered by infrared cooking technology that provides a crisp outside without losing the juicy texture and flavour within. This fryer has a capacity for birds up to 16 pounds and will actually save you money since you don’t have to purchase oil for usage. The fryer comes with a cooking basket and lifter, a meat thermometer, a lid, and a cooking guide.
Keep in mind that, if you’re the kind of person who prefers to use propane powered machines (which this one is) outside, rather in your kitchen, you might face issues in the winter. Some people who live in very cold climates found that putting the machine outside in extremely cold temperatures slowed down its cook time, causing it to need a couple extra hours to get the bird cooked to perfection all the way through.View price on Amazon
- Oil free frying action thanks to infrared cooking technology (which also saves you money on cooking oil costs)
- Preserves flavour, keeps juicy texture inside, and crisps outside just right
- Fries birds weighing up to 16 pounds
- Comes with frying basket and lifter, meat thermometer, lid, and cooking guide
- People who live in very cold climates found that cooking time can slow if the machine is placed outside to cook for the sake of propane safety
Are you feeling pretty intent on investing in a pot that you can use for turkey frying very easily, but you’re not sure you want to commit to a piece that’s specifically dedicated primarily to that? Then you might prefer this more diverse jumbo pot from Bayou Classic. This 30 quart aluminum stockpot was designed partially with turkey frying in mind, but also dishes like soup, crab boils, gumbo, and anything else hat requires boiling in large portions. It comes with a stainless poultry rack and lift hook, a meat thermometer, and a flavour injector and it’s simple to use right on your stovetop.
Be aware that this model does use oil for frying, and also requires an external heat sources, as it does not feature its own. It’s also worth noting that some people experienced metal burning at the bottom centre of the pot when they put it straight onto a very high set and already heated burner, so consider gradual heating with the pot on the burner from the start instead to avoid this.View price on Amazon
- Impressie 30 quart capacity
- Diverse use; also good for large quantity soups, boiling crabs, etc
- Includes stainless poultry rack, lift hook, meat thermometer, flavour injector
- Shaped to fit easily on your stovetop despite generous size
- Requires separately purchased oil for frying
- Needs to be heated gradually with burner rather than placed oh high heat to avoid metal burning at bottom centre
Are you most interested in the idea of a turkey fryer that’s more like its own contained, independently heated appliance but you’re no opposed to the use of oil because you love the flavour results? Then you’ll appreciate this model from Masterbuilt. This fryer has a digital control panel and display for setting selection, complete with a timer. It features a convenient aluminum frying basket with drain clips, as well as an oil drain valve that’s easy to clean. The inner components and included accessories are also dishwasher safe.
Although the machine is built quite durably, some customers found that it wasn’t well insulated enough to effectively hold some of its higher heat settings. This heat loss resulted in the need for slightly longer cooking times than initially outlined in the cooking guide, or a less crispy outside if you don’t have time to leave your turkey for longer.View price on Amazon
- Digital display and controls that are easy to both set and read
- Includes frying basket with drain clips, and all accessories are dishwasher safe
- Oil drain valve is easy to clean and not messy
- Machine isn’t well enough insulated to accurately hold all highest cooking temperatures, sometimes requiring longer than initially planned cooking times for ideally crisp results
If you appreciate the design above but you can’t help feeling like you’d do better with a slightly more durable option, then Masterbuilt still has you covered with this stainless steel alternative. Once again, this design comes with an aluminum frying basket and drain clips, which can be washed nice and easily in the dishwasher, as can the inner pot, lid, and drain valve. The machine also features a magnetic breakaway cord for safety, in the event that it suddenly needs to be cut off immediately from its power source. This appliance can be used with oil for frying or with water for boiling and steaming.
Some users expressed discontent, once again, with this electrical unit’s ability to hold the highest heat settings well and accurately in the same way that their old propane model did. They did appreciate that this was a much safer option, but they cautioned future buyers to pay attention and use the meat thermometer to see if additional cooking time might be necessary.View price on Amazon
- Dishwasher safe accessories, including frying basket, lid, inner pot, and drain valve
- Magnetic breakaway cord for safety
- Capabilities for oil frying or boiling
- Easy to navigate temperature dial and digital display with timer
- Has trouble holding highest heat settings as accurately and strongly as propane models; might require additional cooking time
If you’re still thinking about how much you liked the idea of a turkey fryer that uses a more classic pot but you’re also intrigued by the idea of an independent heat source, then you might get along better with this outdoor setup from King Kooker. This outdoor setup provides you with a strong metal stand that easily bears the weight of the filled pot, and that’s powered by its own refillable propane burner. With the kit, you’ll get a 29 quart aluminum pot, lid, frying basket, turkey rack, and lifting hook, all of which are dishwasher safe. The handles on the pot and basket are durable, solid, and heat resistant for safety.
The propane burner is built with an automatic shutoff feature that’s intended for safety, but that many people actually found very annoying upon use. In some units, the sensor is overly sensitive and shuts the heat off when overheating hasn’t actually occurred. Those who had walked away and left the pot to boil came back to find that nothing was cooked because the safety feature’s flaw had ceased their heat source.View price on Amazon
- Durable, weight bearing stand with its own refillable propane burner
- Strong, heat resistant handles on pot and basket
- Dishwasher safe accessories and features
- Automatic shutoff safety feature has an oversensitivity flaw in some units that causes shutoff when overheating hasn’t actually occurred, interrupting cookin
If you’re interested in the basic concept of the fryer above but you’re not sure that stand looks quite sturdy enough for you, here’s a great design from Stark for your consideration. This propane powered heating stand features sturdy bracing sides that are custom made to the size of the pot. The pot itself, as well as its accessories, are made from stainless steel that’s dishwasher safe and heats quickly and evenly. The kits includes a frying basket, lifting hook, meat thermometer, and marinade injector.
Although the complaint is minor, some previous buyers reported that the outer coating on the stand is not very durable. This doesn’t really affect the function of the kit at all, but rather just makes things look a little shabbier than they started out. After the first use on its highest heat settings, the coating on the metal began to peel off.View price on Amazon
- Sturdy stand with custom sized stabilizing sides and independent propane heating
- Dishwasher safe pot and features
- Comes with frying basket, lifting hook, meat thermometer, marinade injector
- Coating on stand might begin to peel after use on the highest heat settings
If you’re looking for a slightly more thorough and well equipped kit then this last option offered by Cooper & Co. might be just the kind of thing you’ve been holding out for. This kit provides you a heavy duty welded cooker with a solid square cast iron stand that is also a propane burner. In addition to the 30 quart turkey pot and custom sized frying basket, you’ll also receive a smaller 11 quart frying pan with its own basket insert as well. Additionally, you’ll receive a turkey hanger, a sauce syringe, and a meat thermometer.
It’s worth noting that some previous buyers reported a dissatisfaction with the quality of the pots. Although the base is good and durable, the pots are prone to denting and the occasional unit has been known to arrive with a lid that does not quite fit the opening, even though it’s supposed to fit both pots equally.View price on Amazon
- Durable cast iron base stand and burner with independent propane heater
- Good range of accessories and two different size of pot, all of which are dishwasher safe
- Heavy duty, heat resistant handles to make maneuvering safer
- Pots are prone to denting
- Lid is supposed to fit both pots but doesn’t entirely fit either on select flawed units
Why use a turkey fryer?
Of course, you don’t have to buy a turkey fryer to enjoy fried turkey; people have been making it on their stovetop in their biggest pot for generations. There are plenty of perks, however, that make investing in and using a turkey fryer a fantastic option. Turkey fryers:
- Are generally safer and most often reduce the risk of burns and spills in the use of hot frying oil
- Are custom sized to fit large turkey birds, ranging to dimensions larger than the average’s person’s biggest pot
- Free up space on your conventional stovetop so you can still be cooking other things while your turkey fries
- Generally cause less mess than trying to fry a large bird in a big, regular pot of oil right there in your kitchen
- Often result in better flavour and better preservation of texture
What else can you make in a turkey fryer?
Believe it or not, large turkey birds aren’t actually the only thing you can use your turkey fryer for. There are plenty of other things you can prepare in it as well. Essentially, if it’s something that can be fried, it’s something that can also be prepared in your turkey fryer. These things include, but are not limited to:
- Crawfish boil
- Maple syrup
- Home canned goods (like fruit and preserves)
- Prime rib roast
- Homemade donuts
- Laundry (yes, we’re totally serious; you can use your clean turkey fryer to boil water for sanitizing laundry)