Deep-fried turkey is crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside, and perfect for people who don’t like traditional roast turkey. The problem is that if it’s not done properly, it can be extremely hazardous, particularly if you’re cooking over an open flame. Even if there is no fire, boiling oil is serious business.
To be safe, the turkey should be completely thawed and as dry as possible before going into the oil. It’s also critical to have the right amount of oil in the pot so it covers the... turkey fully when it’s submerged, but it doesn’t spill over the sides of the pot or fryer when the turkey is place inside. To make sure you get the right amount of oil follow this trick for measuring how much you’ll need. Put the turkey in the pot or fryer, add water to the level the oil should be, and mark that level in some way or measure how much water you added. Then remove the turkey and empty and dry the pot. Replace the water with the same amount of oil, and you’ll be ready to fry. That is, of course, once you’ve chosen the best fryer for you. Here are the six best on the market today.
01 of 07
If you like the idea of fried turkey, but want nothing to do with large quantities of hot oil, the Char-Broil Oil-Less Turkey fryer will let you lose the oil but keep the “fry.” It can handle a turkey up to 16 pounds and cooks with infrared for a faster cooking time with no oil. You can also use the fryer for roasts, chickens, or other meats. And unlike fryers that use oil, you can coat the meat with a rub before cooking.
The cooking chamber has a double-wall construction for even heating and a... crisp crust. Chicken or turkey cook at about 8-10 minutes per pound, and overall cooking time is cut even further since you don’t need to wait for the oil to heat before you start. It uses propane as the heating source, so it must be used outdoors. Yes, the technique is a little different, but the turkey still tastes amazing.
This includes a cooking basket, lifter, and meat thermometer.
If you want to expand the versatility of the fryer, the Fryer + Accessory Kit includes four boneless rib hooks to hang long boneless cuts of meat, two leg racks so you can keep up to 12 chicken legs separate during cooking, six easy-out rib hooks to hang ribs, eight skewers for making kabobs, a holder to keep the kabobs upright in the cooker, and a basket lifter.
Other available accessories for this model (at an extra cost) include a bunk-bed basket that sits on top of the cooking basket to hold extra food, a cover for the fryer to keep it protected from weather, and a stackable oven insert for cooking up to three different items at the same time.
02 of 07
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.
03 of 07
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 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.
If you’re buying a pot separately, an aluminum pot will be lighter, but less versatile since you shouldn’t use... aluminum for foods that are highly acidic—just in case you wanted to use the pot for cooking a vat of tomato sauce. Stainless steel pots are more versatile, but are heavier for the same material thickness, and more expensive than aluminum. This cooker has a 360-degree wind screen and operates at a maximum 185,000 BTUs.
04 of 07
Cooking for a crowd? Then you'll want a turkey fryer that can handle a large turkey or multiple chickens at once, look no further. 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.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Sometimes cooking outside isn't always an option, but with an electric fryer you can bring the process indoors safely. It holds a turkey up to 14 pounds, and has a folding lid and a window that make it easy to check the food as it cooks. This is designed to use 1/3 less oil than typical fryers that use round pots.
Of course you can use this all year long for frying chickens, making family-sized batches of French fries, or making wings for parties. It’s not just for frying, though. You can... also use this for boiling or steaming.
The thermostat is adjustable, so it’s easy to manage the oil temperature, and there’s a tip-over detector that will turn the unit off in case there’s an accident. The heat is provided by a removable immersion heating element, and it has a drainage system that makes it easy to remove the oil from the unit.
The cooking container has a porcelain coating for easy cleaning, but it should be hand washed. This includes a plastic container for oil storage, a cooking basket with a drain clip, and a pour spout.
06 of 07
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.
This 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.
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.
07 of 07
Want all you need to get the turkey on the table in a jiffy? Look no further. This includes a cast iron propane burner that provides the heat you need, on a heavy duty steel stand with a handy side shelf.
The 30-quart aluminum pot comes with its own lid and strainer basket and can hold a turkey up to 18 pounds. A 10-quart pot with a basket is also included for cooking smaller items, and is ideal for frying fish. A lifter hook, a chrome-plated turkey rack, a heat shield, a marinade injector, and a... 12-inch thermometer are also included.
For safety, this has a timer control system as well as a flame sensor that automatic shuts the gas off under high-wind conditions.
At The Spruce, our expert writers are committed to researching and writing thoughtful and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your life and your family. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission.