Oversized for smaller birds
Poultry rack bends
Bayou Classic is a Mississippi-based company that specializes in outdoor cooking supplies with Louisiana flavor, from turkey fryers to homebrew boilers to ceramic grills. To see if its 44-Quart Turkey Fryer Kit, intended for birds up to a whopping 25 pounds, delivered everything you need for crispy, moist poultry at home, we tested it over several fry sessions at our home in Colorado. We assessed its durability, performance, and comprehensiveness as a kit. Read on to see what we discovered.
Design: Stainless steel quality (except for the poultry rack)
Though the Bayou Classic 44-Quart Stainless Steel Turkey Fryer Kit was designed for its stated purpose of frying turkeys, it can be used for many things, from boils (basket included) to homebrewing and even water-bath canning. The kit comes with high-quality stainless steel parts, including the 44-quart pot and vented lid, burner stand, and the injector for filling the bird with your marinade of choice.
While the 2-ounce seasoning injector worked great on turkeys, smaller chickens revealed a design issue. The needle has holes distributed up and down it to help ensure the marinade permeates throughout the flesh, which is great when injecting the larger turkeys. When attempting to fry 5-pound chickens, though, we quickly learned that the needle wouldn’t go into the bird completely except into the larger breast sections. This resulted in marinade squirting out of the exposed holes in the needle, rendering it fairly useless on chickens. We pivoted our plan and used an immersion brine on chickens after that.
Even after several frying sessions, we didn’t notice charring or staining on the metal, and the stand seemed stable and secure.
Overall, the parts feel like they’re built to last. Even after several frying sessions, we didn’t notice charring or staining on the metal, and the stand seemed stable and secure. One area where Bayou Classic seems to have skimped, though, is the poultry rack. This part of the kit appears to be aluminum and can be easily bent with your hands, not to mention heavy birds. When frying chickens using the included helpful skewers, we found the chickens would bend the skewers out, making the birds flail around a bit when lowering into the hot oil.
The rack worked despite the bending, but we would’ve preferred to have the stainless steel extend to this piece to give us confidence the rack will last as long as the rest of the kit.
Setup: Some assembly required
While the instructions include a ton of great information on preparation and cooking, the layout is messy and splattered with important but disjointed safety information (more on that later). This makes it difficult to find what you are looking for quickly. Additionally, the information on assembling the stand and rack is minimal, so you’re mostly on your own to figure those steps out.
We would’ve preferred to have the stainless steel extend to the poultry rack to give us confidence it will last as long as the rest of the kit.
That said, there are only a few steps—attach the legs, regulator, and frame on the burner, and attach the optional skewers to the poultry rack. If you’re reasonably handy and have access to basic hand tools, you’ll be fine.
Preparing for your first fry can be a bit intimidating, but reading and rereading the instructions and taking your time goes a long way. We recommend prepping the poultry before even touching the pot and oil.
Performance: Large capacity but heats up quickly
Even in fall temps below 50 degrees, it only took about 20 minutes to bring 5 gallons of oil to the recommended frying temperature of 325. Despite occasional gusts of wind, the burner stand’s wind-blocking exterior did its job and kept the flame relatively consistent.
In the fall temperatures, we found that we could open up the regulator (hose and valve that connect the burner stand to the sold-separately propane canister) almost completely for a full flame without worrying about the oil temperatures passing 350 and heading into more dangerous higher temperatures. We actually found that at a three-quarter flame, 4 to 5 gallons of oil would stabilize between 300 and 350. However, running the fryer in warmer or colder temperatures should yield different results, so always keep an eye on the oil temperature, and don’t leave your operation unattended.
Frying two 5-pound chickens worked well but required 5 gallons of oil since the smaller birds don’t take up as much volume as large turkeys (for which this larger-capacity pot is built). If you’re planning to fry mostly smaller birds, you may want to consider one of the smaller pots to save on oil (see Comparison section). Peanut oil, which the manual recommends for its higher flash point, isn’t cheap, and we spent nearly $50 on the oil we needed for a few frying sessions.
This turkey fryer produced reliably tender and moist birds with cracker-crisp skin.
Still, despite this and other minor annoyances (detailed next), we found that the kit delivered excellent capacity and performance. It produced reliably tender and moist birds with cracker-crisp skin when we followed the helpful preparation and cooking instructions included.
Thermometer: Accurate but short
One gripe we had with temperature regulation was the included 12-inch thermometer. While it appeared accurate and durable (we knocked it into the oil several times with no apparent effect on its readings), we quickly discovered that it wasn’t long enough to submerge in the oil before adding the poultry. Some of Bayou Classic’s other pots have a thermometer built into the exterior of the pot, and this seems like a more reliable design that we wish would’ve made it into this kit.
The short thermometer makes it more difficult and unnecessarily dangerous to keep an eye on the oil temperature when preparing it for the bird(s). We’d actually have to grab the thermometer and hold it in the oil long enough to get a reading. If the probe was just a few inches longer or built-in, you could eliminate this somewhat dicey move. Once you add the poultry, the oil should be high enough for the thermometer to be submerged and read accurately, but the heat-up period is arguably the more important time for monitoring temperature.
Additionally, the thermometer clip isn’t very secure, and the probe sticks out from the side of the pot a bit too far. As a result, we often knocked the thermometer off the pot when pulling birds out of the pot, with it occasionally falling into the oil—a pain to fish out.
Safety: Read the manual before beginning
It’s worth noting here that turkey frying is an inherently dangerous affair, considering that you’re bringing at least a few gallons of oil to very high temperatures over an open flame. Ensuring that you don’t get the oil too hot or splash it onto yourself or the flame is just one serious concern. Whether brining or injecting birds, always make sure to dry the bird as thoroughly as possible before slowly lowering in your hot oil. Water introduced to the hot oil is what produces pops and splatters that can do serious damage to clothing or skin.
We were pleased to learn that this turkey fryer, along with all by Bayou Classic, is certified by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), an organization dedicated to advancing safety, sustainability, and social good. The instruction manual lays out most of the dangers and offers suggestions for minimizing risk; it’s worth reading cover-to-cover before your first fry.
The large size of the frying pot and the included leather welder’s glove made us feel more at ease getting close to the roiling oil. We found that the splashing wasn’t so aggressive as to shoot beyond the pot’s rim, which is high thanks to a tall and narrow pot design. The included lift hook for the poultry rack gives you another 10 inches of distance as well.
Price: This kit’s sum is lower cost than its parts
At the time of our review, this kit was available for anywhere from about $130 to $250. While it’s not the cheapest option for frying turkeys, the cost seemed worth it to us because of how comprehensive the kit is.
You can buy a pot and poultry rack for much less, but if you need all the extras (a regulator/stand, protective glove, perforated basket, etc.), you’ll be hard-pressed to get all that for less than this kit’s total cost.
While this particular kit isn’t currently available on the brand’s website, it’s still sold on other retailers. You can find a similar kit at BayouClassicDepot.com—just note that it doesn’t come with a glove.
Bayou Classic 44-Quart Turkey Fryer Kit vs. Bayou Classic 32-Quart Turkey Fryer
While the kit we tested was great and fully included everything we needed to fry besides fuel, oil, and poultry, it isn’t cheap and might be more than many people need. For half the cost, you can pick up the brand’s smaller 32-quart kit, which should handle most turkeys just as well.
The largest turkey we could even find during our testing was 13 pounds, so we barely touched half of the 44-Quart kit’s stated 25-pound bird capacity. Most birds should be under the 32-quart pot’s 20-pound listed capacity for frying.
One drawback for some is that this smaller kit doesn’t include a few items that the larger one does, most notably the propane burner stand. If you don’t already own one, you’ll need to fork over an additional $50 or so for a burner/regulator/stand.
A great starter set that'll get you frying.
The Bayou Classic 44-Quart Stainless Steel Turkey Fryer Kit is a well-made, reasonably priced set that gives you everything you need to start frying big birds. The additional options of homebrewing and cooking big pots of chili, soup, or low-country boils add function and value beyond the occasional holiday poultry fry.
- Product Name 44-Quart Stainless Steel Turkey Fryer Kit
- Product Brand Bayou Classic
- MPN KDS-144
- Price $254.99
- Weight 35 lbs.
- What’s Included 44-quart stainless steel stockpot w/lid, strainer basket, poultry rack with lift hook, cast aluminum burner with regulator, heat-resistant glove, flavor injector kit, clip-on thermometer
- Volume 44 qts.
- Materials Stainless steel, aluminum
- Warranty 1 year, limited