What Should I Consider When Buying a Turkey Fryer?

Sherry Holetzky
Sherry Holetzky
Fried turkey is tender and juicy.
Fried turkey is tender and juicy.

The very best way to prepare a tender, juicy turkey in a fraction of the time it takes to roast one is to use a turkey fryer. In fact, once most people try it, they are reluctant to go back to the old-fashioned way of cooking turkey for a holiday meal, or anytime. With a turkey fryer, you can cook two turkeys or a whole bird plus a turkey breast in less time than it takes to cook one in the oven, and they are seared to golden perfection.

If you are considering purchasing a turkey fryer, find out which size and style best accommodates your needs. First, make sure you choose a fryer that has manual temperature controls. Some designs do not, and oil can reach extremely high temperatures quickly. Oil retains heat, and it takes a long time to get overheated oil back down to a manageable temperature. In addition, when oil is overheated it can lead to dangerous outcomes.

The average size cooking pot for a turkey fryer is between twenty-eight and thirty-two quarts (26.6 to 30.4 liters). These sound quite large, but remember, they have to be big enough to hold a turkey! Also, you may be thinking that such a large pot is going to be expensive to fill with oil, but you need far less oil than you might think. You will not have to fill the pot completely, since the turkey will take up most of the space.

The turkey fryer cooking pot may be made from aluminum or stainless steel, and smaller cooking pots can accommodate a turkey that weighs between twelve and eighteen pounds (5.4 to just over 8 kilograms). A large turkey fryer can cook turkeys up to twenty-five pounds (11.3 kilograms). For best results, do not attempt to cook a bird larger than the turkey fryer guidelines indicate is appropriate. Cook two if necessary, or cook an extra turkey breast.

The most popular turkey fryer is the gas model that uses a small propane tank to heat the oil, but there are also electric turkey fryers. These look similar to a fry basket typically used in home kitchens, but they are of course much larger. With this type of turkey fryer, be sure to choose one with a breakaway electric cord, and handles and lids that stay cool during cooking. This style usually provides adjustable temperature controls and may even have a light that appears when the oil has reached the desired temperature. They are generally not as large as outdoor models, so consider this fact before making your decision.

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Discussion Comments


So is there an ideal type of oil for using in a turkey fryer? I recently received one as a gift, but I really have no idea how to use it, or even what the best oil is for it.

Is there a standard type of turkey fryer oil, or am I on my own here?

I mean, if given the choice I think I would go with sunflower oil or canola oil or something that's cheap but still relatively healthy, but I worry about the smoking points of both of those oils when they're in the cooker.

So how about it? Is there a "best" turkey fryer oil, or is it a matter of personal preference?



Can anybody give me some advice on buying an electric turkey fryer? I have heard such great things about them that I thought I might try using one for Christmas this year, but man, I had no idea that there were so many different kinds.

I mean, you've got the stainless steel turkey fryer and the Masterbuilt electric turkey fryer and the Sunjoy turkey fryer and all the other kinds of fryers that you could possibly imagine.

So how do I choose? Is there some kind of standard for turkey fryers that I should know about, or is it just a matter of personal preference?

You can see I really am a newbie at this -- can somebody help me out?


I remember when I was little, my grandmother had the biggest turkey deep fryer in existence. I have absolutely no idea where she got it, but it must have been some sort of industrial or restaurant turkey fryer once, it was that big.

If I remember correctly, she could fit three birds into that thing with room to spare.

Hers was one of the propane turkey fryer models, of course -- which actually made me feel a little safer, because I think I'd be scared about an electrical fire if that thing actually had a cord, it was so old.

But I have to say, it made the best turkey that I have ever had -- and it's not just prejudice, everybody who came to visit her around Thanksgiving said so too.

To this day, I still love using a turkey deep fryer around holidays -- of course, mine isn't the grandfather of turkey deep fryers that hers was, mines just a normal Masterbuilt turkey fryer -- but you really do get the best taste out of it. Try it sometime, if you haven't -- you won't go back.

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    • Fried turkey is tender and juicy.
      Fried turkey is tender and juicy.