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 of a deep-fried turkey. Traditional turkey fryers are large, outdoor pots that must be used carefully. While those turkey fryers still exist, newer deep fryers can be used indoors and some don't require any oil at all, offering a more convenient and safer alternative.
Our best reviewed Masterbuilt Butterball Professional Series Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer (Est. $150) can cook a turkey of up to 14 pounds and can be used indoors. It's easy to clean, say more than 1,000 owners posting reviews at Amazon.com, and it can be used for a wide variety of foods beyond just turkey. Editors at ConsumerReports.org use this turkey fryer for 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 right and time it right, reviewers say it produces perfectly browned and deliciously juicy turkey.
Another option is the more expensive Waring Pro Rotisserie Turkey Fryer/Steamer (Est. $250) . It's a newer model and doesn't have the vast number of reviews that the Masterbuilt does, but those we did see are mostly positive. Unlike the Masterbuilt, the Waring Pro is designed for steaming in addition to frying, making it a more versatile appliance right off the bat. This deep fryer requires 2.5 gallons of oil per use, and has an indicator light that signals when the oil reaches ideal temperatures. It features cool-touch handles for easy relocation.
The Waring Pro is packed with features, including an adjustable temperature control that runs from 175 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and an automatic safety shutoff if the oil temperature reaches 450 degrees. A 120-minute audible alert signals when it's time to check your turkey. With an aluminum frying basket and dishwasher-safe lid and basket, this fryer/steamer is worth the cost if convenience is a big priority.
If the thought of a deep-fried turkey makes your bathroom scale cringe, there are oil-free options. The Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Oil-less Turkey Fryer ($100) 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 healthier and safer alternative to traditional frying methods. 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 than the Masterbuilt, requiring about 10 minutes per pound of turkey. While The Big Easy might not be ideal for those who live in cooler climates and want an alternate turkey-cooking option at the next winter holiday gathering, reviewers say it's handy for tailgating and summertime parties.