Turkey fryers provide an alternative cooking method that's convenient for holiday gatherings when the oven and range top are filled with side dishes and other foods. Even if it's not a holiday, many people simply prefer the flavor and texture of a deep-fried turkey. Traditional turkey fryers are large, outdoor pots that you fill with oil and heat over a separate heat source, such as a propane stove. Newer types of turkey fryers can be used indoors, run on electricity, and use less oil. Others use no oil at all. If you don't need something quite that large, see our discussion of the best deep fryers for the top choices in a wide variety of capacities for any family size.
The Masterbuilt 23011014 Butterball Indoor III Electric Fryer Cooker (Est. $100) can cook a turkey of up to 14 pounds and can be used in your kitchen -- no more shivering in a cold driveway. It's easy to clean, say owners, and it can be used for a wide variety of foods beyond just turkey. It also uses less than one-third the amount of oil than traditional turkey fryers. Editors at ConsumerReports.org use this home deep fryer for turkey, pizza fritta, pizza dough, chicken parts and whole chickens with great results.
Because of its large size, the Masterbuilt is slow to heat up initially and slow to recover. In general, the larger the turkey you fry, the slower the recovery time. However, if you use the fryer properly and time it right, reviewers say it produces perfectly browned and deliciously juicy turkey. Many reviewers also suggest cooking two smaller turkeys of about 10 to 12 pounds rather than one larger one for the best results. This turkey fryer also comes in an extra-large model that cooks up to a 20-pound turkey, the Masterbuilt 23011114 Butterball Indoor Gen III Electric Fryer Cooker Extra Large Capacity (Est. $150). That extra-large Masterbuilt is the #1 Best Sellers in Deep Fryers on Amazon.com.
Plenty of people prefer traditional, outdoor deep fryers. For them, the thrill of standing out in the driveway or on the patio over a bubbling vat of oil is part of the experience. The reward is crisp-skinned turkey with tender, juicy meat down to the bone, and experts and owners say the Bayou Classic 3025 30-Quart Aluminum Turkey Fryer Pot (Est. $50) will make those gastronomic dreams come true. Users say it makes a beautiful, evenly cooked turkey with a crisp skin and succulent, flavorful white and dark meat. Most say if you cook the turkey properly, it retains almost no oil, thus does not have a greasy or oily residue inside or out.
The Bayou Classic is, in essence, just a very large stockpot that comes with a thermometer, seasoning injector and poultry rack, so it needs to be placed upon a heat source. Most experts recommend some type of propane stove -- grills and open flames can be dangerous. One that many owners buy in conjunction with the deep fryer is the Bayou Classic Single Burner Patio Stove (Est. $50).
If you don't want the hassle of dealing with oil, or just prefer not to have a lot of oil-fried foods in your diet, the Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Oil-less Turkey Fryer (Est. $130) requires no oil other than what's needed to lubricate the sides and bottom of the main pot. This oil-less operation is designed to be a safer alternative to traditional frying methods -- some people feel it's healthier as well. The Big Easy can fry a larger turkey of up to 16 pounds compared to the Masterbuilt's 14-pound capacity.
Despite its oil-free operation, the Char-Broil can't be used indoors because it relies on propane, which is designed for outdoor-only situations. It also takes a bit longer to cook a turkey than the Masterbuilt, requiring about 10 minutes per pound. Many owners also love the highly portable Char-Broil for tailgating and summertime parties.
Elsewhere in this Report:
Best Reviewed Deep Fryers: Deep fryers can prepare restaurant-quality fried foods, without the restaurant prices. Here are the top oil and oil-free deep fryers, as well as the top turkey deep fryers. Some are even multitaskers, capable of steaming or stir-frying.
Best Deep Fryers: There's a deep fryer in every size and for every price range. These are the best home deep fryers -- including a few that don't even use oil!
Buying Guide: What kind of home deep fryer is best suited to what you like to eat and whether you want to cook indoors or out? Here is your guide to finding the best deep fryer to satisfy your taste buds.
Our Sources: We used these professional and user review sites to find the best turkey fryers. They are ranked in order of their expertise and helpfulness.