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.
The Masterbuilt Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer (Est. $150) 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. As noted in a free article at the site, editors at ConsumerReports.org use this home deep fryer for turkey, donuts, 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 once food is added. In general, the larger the turkey you fry, the slower the recovery time will be. 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 that you will have better results if you stick to turkeys of about 10 to 12 pounds. Quite a few cooks say if they need more turkey, they fry two, although that must be done at separate times. This turkey fryer also comes in an extra-large model that cooks up to a 20-pound turkey, but it costs about $30 more.
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. $40) 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. $85) 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. Many owners also love the highly portable Char-Broil for tailgating and summertime parties.
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.