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Deep-frying may not be the most traditional–or mess-free–way to cook a turkey, but it sure is one cooking method that produces delicious results. The bird emerges from the frying vat with juicy meat and skin so crispy you'll fight over who gets the leftovers.
For anyone who doesn't like keeping watch over a turkey in the oven for hours, deep frying will cook a turkey much faster than traditional roasting. Since you can't deep-fry a turkey on the stovetop, this way of cooking a turkey might be a good solution if you don't have a lot of kitchen or oven space to spare, especially when it comes to making holiday meals.
Of course, there's a lot to consider before frying up a turkey feast for Thanksgiving, tailgate, or another event, including the precautions you need to take and the products you need to purchase in order to pull it off safely. We've all heard horror stories about turkeys catching on fire in the fryer, but with the right gear and know-how, you can safely get cooking with minimal risk.
First, you'll need to gather the proper frying supplies, including a gas cooker, stockpot, grab hook, thermometer, and gloves. You have the option to buy everything you need piecemeal or as a complete kit.
Here are the best turkey fryers on the market.
Best Overall: Bayou Classic 32-Quart Turkey Fryer
Versatile accessories included
Burner not included
If you already have a heat source that’s sufficient for heating oil to fry a turkey, there’s no need to spend extra money—just buy the pot and accessories to fit that turkey.
This includes a 32-quart stainless steel pot that is very durable, non-reactive, and easy to keep clean. When you’re not using the pot for frying, it can be used as a very large stockpot for cooking soup, chili, or tomato sauce, or use it for boiling vegetables or steaming tamales.
The perforated basket can be used for steaming, and the lid is vented. The pot has heavy-duty handles, so you can move it, even when it’s full. This also includes a skewer set so you can fry three chickens at once. There’s an indent at the bottom of the pot that raises the basket 1 3/4 inches above the bottom of the pot for steaming.
While this is a great deal if you already have a heat source, if you’re new to turkey frying, you’ll need to buy a propane burner as well, or you can buy a complete kit that includes the burner and pot. Turkey frying can be dangerous, so be sure to read all of the safety instructions before starting.
Maximum Turkey Size: 18 pounds | Power Source: Propane Burner (sold separately) | Power: N/A | Dimensions: 14 x 14 x 18 inches | Warranty: 1 year
Best Propane Cooker: Bayou Classic High-Pressure Propane Burner
Wide, sturdy legs
Windscreen doesn't always work
If you already have a large, nearly 30-quart pot, this propane gas cooker can save you money over kits that include both a pot and accessories. It has a 14-inch diameter cooking surface and a low center of gravity to handle your largest stockpots and wide-set legs for stability.
The burner can handle the weight of cooking pots of up to 100 quarts—more than you’ll need for your average turkey. This cooker has a 360-degree windscreen and operates at a maximum 59,000 BTUs.
Power Source: Propane | Power: 185,000 BTUs | Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 13 inches | Warranty: 1 year
Best Extra-Large Capacity Kit: Bayou Classic 44-Quart "Big Bird" Kit
Oversized for smaller birds
Poultry rack bends
This has a 44-quart stainless pot made from 20-gauge commercial stainless steel that can hold a turkey in excess of 25 pounds, so you can feed the whole family and have enough leftovers for lunch. When you’re done making turkey, you can use this for boiling, steaming, frying, and home brewing.
Since the pot is non-reactive stainless steel, you can use it for cooking acidic foods like that giant batch of tomatoes you’ll be canning, and stainless steel is easy to sterilize, which home brewers will appreciate. While the pot is dishwasher safe, it’s unlikely it will fit in your home dishwasher.
This includes a vented stainless steel lid, a perforated aluminum poultry rack, an aluminum grab hook, a 12-inch thermometer that reads from 50-750 degrees, a stainless steel seasoning injector, and an insulated glove.
The included burner is the SS30, with a low profile (just 12 inches from ground level) for safety and for ease in adding and removing items from the large pot. This includes a high-pressure regulator to control the propane flow and a 48-inch hose so you can position the tank conveniently.
Maximum Turkey Size: 25+ pounds | Power Source: Propane Burner | Power: 50,000 BTUs | Dimensions: 16 x 16 x 21 inches | Warranty: 1 year
"This turkey fryer produced reliably tender and moist birds with cracker-crisp skin when we followed the helpful preparation and cooking instructions included." - Justin Park, Product Tester
Best Aluminum: Bayou Classic 30-Quart Aluminum Turkey Fryer Pot
Includes frying accessories
Burner not included
If you’ve already got a propane burner or other method for heating a large pot of oil, all you need to fry your turkey is a pot that’s large enough. This 30-quart pot is made from sturdy 18-gauge commercial-grade aluminum that’s lighter in weight than stainless steel, and also less expensive.
The Bayou Classic Turkey Fryer Pot is also versatile. When you’re done with turkey frying, the pot will come in handy for boiling, steaming, or cooking large quantities of food. However, since aluminum is a reactive metal, this shouldn’t be used for cooking acidic foods.
This kit includes a 12-inch stainless steel thermometer that reads from 50-750 degrees, a vented lid, a perforated poultry rack, a grab hook, and a one-ounce trial seasoning injector.
Maximum Turkey Size: 18 pounds | Power Source: Propane Burner (sold separately) | Power: N/A | Dimensions: 12.75 x 15.75 inches | Warranty: 1 year
Best Complete Kit: King Kooker 12RTF Turkey Fryer Package
Includes a battery-operated timer
Pot is prone to dents
This complete set includes everything you need for turkey frying—and more! When it’s turkey time, the 12-inch outdoor cooker has a 38,000 BTU cast burner that can handle turkeys up to 20 pounds with ease. The turkey rack and lifting hook will help you slowly lower the turkey into the oil and remove it when cooking is done. While you won’t need the lid while cooking a turkey, it will come in handy while you’re preheating the oil or cooking other foods.
A thermometer with an extra-long probe lets you monitor the oil temperature while keeping your distance from the hot oil, and the regulator is adjustable so you can set the flame to maintain the temperature you need. This cooker also includes a battery-operated timer (requires 2 AAA batteries, not included), so it will remind you when it’s time to check the food.
Maximum Turkey Size: 20 pounds | Power Source: Propane Burner | Power: 38,000 BTUs | Dimensions: 13.38 x 13.38 x 27.5 inches | Warranty: 1 year
Best Electric: Masterbuilt Butterball Oil-Free Electric Turkey Roaster
Can also be used as a smoker
Taste and texture differs from oil-fried turkey
The Butterball Oil-Free Electric Turkey Roaster proves that the best turkey fryer doesn't have to include an open flame and lots of burning hot oil. The double-wall construction uses radiant heat to seal the outside of the turkey and minimize cooking time, and it can handle a turkey up to 18 pounds.
If you want to add an extra dose of flavor to your turkey, the included wood chip box allows you to add a wonderful smoked taste to your meat. The tempered lid allows you to watch your food as it cooks, which is another convenient feature.
When you purchase this model it includes a roasting basket with basket lifting hook, removable drip pan for easy cleaning, and thermostat for adjustable temperature control. Customers praise this fryer for being easy to assemble, easy to use, and extremely versatile (you can cook other meats in here as well). For an oil-free alternative to the traditional turkey fryer, this is a great option.
Maximum Turkey Size: 18 pounds | Power Source: Electric | Power: 1650 watts | Dimensions: 18 x 23.2 x 26.2 inches | Warranty: 90 days
Best Oil-Less: Char-Broil The Big Easy Oil-Less Turkey Fryer
Easy to use and clean
If you're craving the crispy exterior of a fried turkey but don't want to deal with the mess or precautions involved with oil frying, you'll appreciate the performance of this oil-less fryer. It should be used outdoors and connected to a propane tank, which you'll need to provide, and uses infrared technology to perfectly cook whole birds, rib roasts, pork tenderloins, and more.
It can hold up to a 16-pound turkey and, since there's no oil to dissolve seasoning, you can coat your bird with a rub for unique flavor. There are also lots of accessories, such as two-tier cooking baskets, available for separate purchase.
Customers say this fryer cooked their turkeys with excellent results: delectably crisp skin and juicy meat–the signature of a "fried" turkey.
Maximum Turkey Size: 16 pounds | Power Source: Propane | Power: 16,000 BTUs | Dimensions: 20.75 x 23.5 x 16.3 inches | Warranty: 1 year
The Bayou Classic 32-Quart Turkey Fryer (view at Amazon) is our top pick for those who already have a propane burner and only need to fry up to an 18-pound turkey. If a larger bird is on the menu, go with the Bayou Classic 44-Quart Big Bird Kit (view at Amazon), which comes with everything you need to prepare a massive turkey feast, including a pot lid, rack, grab hook, thermometer, burner, propane hose and pressure regulator, seasoning injector, and an insulated glove.
What to Look for When Buying a Turkey Fryer
Is a small fried turkey sufficient, or do you want to feed a large family without cooking in batches? While a large fryer will take up more storage space, if a large deep-fried turkey is your Thanksgiving dream, it’s best to get one that can hold your bird with room to spare.
Turkey fryers usually include basic necessities, like a turkey lifter to get the bird in and out of the oil. However, there are many more accessories that you might find useful—like a long thermometer, a fryer basket, or a turkey injector.
The appeal of deep-fried turkey is hard to deny, but cooking with hot oil can be dangerous. When you’re choosing a fryer, it’s wise to consider its safety features, like temperature gauges, easy-to-use turkey lifters, timers, automatic shut-off features, wind guards, and sturdy stands that won’t tip easily.
How much oil do you need for a turkey fryer?
The amount of oil you need depends on the size of your pot and how large of a turkey you're frying. A general rule of thumb is 4 to 5 gallons of oil are needed to fry a 10- to 15-pound turkey.
The turkey should be completely submerged in oil, with a few inches of clearance from the top of the pot. A quick way to "measure" how much oil you'll need is to put your bird in the pot and add water to cover. Then remove the turkey and mark the top of the water level on the pot so you'll have a guideline when you fill the pot with oil.
How do you use a turkey fryer?
Set your turkey fryer up according to manufacturer's directions on a level surface, then fill the pot with your preferred cooking oil and turn the heat on. Use a frying thermometer to check the oil temperature. When it reaches 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, turn the burner off, and use the basket to slowly lower the turkey into the pot.
Turn the burner back on and cook 3 to 4 minutes per pound. Check the internal temperature of the meat for doneness. White meat is cooked when it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit and dark meat is cooked when it reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the turkey and let it drain and rest for about 15-20 minutes before slicing.
How do you strain turkey fryer oil?
Turkey fryers require quite a bit of oil, which can become costly if you use it frequently. Luckily, the cooking oil can be saved and reused to help you save money.
The first step in reusing oil is letting it cool completely. Then, the oil needs to be strained through cheesecloth or a fine meshed sieve to remove bits of food. This can be done carefully by hand, if you're patient, but the easiest and quickest way to transfer large volumes of oil is with an electric oil pump.
It can be stored in its original packaging and should keep up to 6 months in cool, dry conditions. If the used oil smells or looks off when you go to reuse it, it should be discarded.
When you're ready to dispose of cooking oil, pour it in a disposable container and place in the trash. You can also check with your local waste management for oil disposal programs. Cooking oil should never be poured down the sink, toilet, or any other plumbing since it can clog pipes.
What else can you use a turkey fryer for?
Since turkey fryers are essentially extra-large stockpots, they can also be used to cook large batches of one-pot meals, like soups, stews, chilis, and seafood boils. You can also use it to boil large batches of potatoes or corn on the cob.
You can use the fryer to fry other meats, like roasts and whole chickens, as well as traditional deep-fried recipes, like chicken wings and fries,
Can you use a turkey fryer indoors?
Most turkey fryers are designed for outdoor use. Turkey fryers that use propane as their power source, including some oil-less models. must be used outdoors for safety.
Oil-free electric fryers are the only exception that may be used indoors or under a covered overhang. Always check the product manual for instructions and safety protocols.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a cookbook author, as well as a writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats, specializing in all the latest kitchen gadgets. She's tested over 90 products for the brand.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that make cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.