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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.
Whether you buy everything piecemeal or as a complete kit, we put together this list of the best turkey fryers on the market.
Best Overall: Bayou Classic 32-Quart Turkey Fryer
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.
Best Extra-Large Capacity Kit: Bayou Classic 44-Quart "Big Bird" Kit
Need a turkey fryer that can handle a large bird or multiple chickens at once? 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.
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. 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.
The legs are easy to attach and detach from the base with just a single bolt, making it easy to transport or store. This includes a high-pressure regulator to control the propane flow and a 48-inch hose so you can position the tank conveniently. While the pot is dishwasher safe, it’s unlikely it will fit in your home dishwasher.
Best Propane Cooker: Bayou Classic High-Pressure Propane Burner
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. It 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 185,000 BTUs.
Best Aluminum: Bayou Classic 30-Quart Aluminum Turkey Fryer Pot
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.
Best Electric: Masterbuilt Butterball Oil-Free Electric Turkey Roaster
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 a healthy alternative to the traditional turkey fryer, this is a great option.
Best Complete Kit: King Kooker 12RTF Turkey Fryer Package
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.
Best Oil-Less: Char-Broil The Big Easy Oil-Less Turkey Fryer
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. Customers say this fryer cooked their turkeys with excellent results: delectably crisp skin and juicy meat–the signature of a "fried" turkey.
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.
Best Electric: Masterbuilt Butterball XL Electric Turkey Fryer
Sometimes cooking outside isn't always an option, but with an electric fryer, you can bring the process indoors. This extra-large fryer can handle a turkey up to 20 pounds and is safe for use in your kitchen. For those that are health conscious, this fryer is designed to use 33 percent less oil so you can rest easy knowing you're eating something that's not soaked in grease. After you're finished cooking, the cooking basket makes it simple to remove the turkey and drain excess oil, and the removable parts are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
There’s no dangerous open flame with this fryer, and the temperature control is simple, with a dial that lets you set the temperature up to 375 degrees. A light lets you know when the oil has reached the proper temperature, and you can set a timer to remind you to check the turkey. This fryer is also extremely versatile, as it can be used for cooking foods in boiling water or for steaming.
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.
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.