While the smell of roasting turkey wafting through a home can be wonderful to many, deep frying a turkey or any other whole bird like a goose, chicken, or duck brings new and delicious flavors to the table. Many cooks avoid this method, however, because it requires intimidating-looking special equipment—and because immersing such a heavy bird in gallons of hot oil can be kind of dangerous.
Turkey fryer fires and explosions—which can be seen on the internet—usually result from user error and beginner misunderstandings. Frying a turkey outdoors over a propane flame requires placing the frame and burner on a very smooth surface. Grass and soil can be unstable and are not good options because if there is any imbalance, the stockpot of boiling oil can unexpectedly tip when the weight of a bird is added. When we tested those styles, we placed them on the concrete deck near our pool, given the stability of that area (not because of the proximity to the water).
Electric and infrared (oilless) styles also need a level playing field to keep the cooking even, because they also use propane to fuel them and/or oil for cooking. Through our testing, we discovered that they’re a better option on patios or driveways built with pavers or bricks. If they’re indoor styles, they can be safely used on a counter in a well-ventilated space. Because of the setup, before deciding on the kind of turkey fryer to buy, consider where it will be used.
The type of food and quantity also has an effect on which fryer is best. While they’re billed as turkey fryers, any bird can cook in these babies, ranging from Cornish game hens and quail to ducks and geese. Plus, the biggest fryers can handle whopping 25-pound Thanksgiving birds. We tested several different kinds of poultry beyond just turkey, including game hens, chickens, and duck, and had delicious results with crisp skin and succulent flesh each time.
Turkey fryers aren’t limited to cooking just the fowl category, either. Depending on their size, many of these appliances can handle side dishes as well as holiday hams and briskets, game-day pulled pork shoulder, and pretty much any other cut of meat. In one of the smaller pots, we made sweet potato fries that turned out amazing.
Finding the best turkey fryer can be a challenge, but learning how to find and purchase the best turkey fryer for you and your family can help. Below are important features to consider and hands-on reviews of some of the best turkey fryers on the market organized by category.
- BEST OVERALL: Enterprises Turkey Deep Fryer Oversized 44 Quart
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: GasOne B-5155 Propane Burner with Steamer Pot-Turkey
- BEST KIT SET: Backyard Pro 30 Qt. Deluxe Aluminum Turkey Fryer Kit
- BEST TURKEY FRYER POT: Bayou Classic 1118 32-Quart Stainless Steel Turkey
- BEST OILLESS: Char-Broil The Big Easy Smoker Roaster & Grill
- BEST INDOOR FRYER: Masterbuilt MB20012420 Electric Fryer Boiler
- BEST MULTIFUNCTIONAL: King Kooker Propane Outdoor Fry Boil Package
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Turkey Fryer
After learning about the safest way to fry a turkey, consider the characteristics that separate so-so fowl fryers from the best of the best. Before purchasing a turkey fryer, get the facts about fryer features including type, materials, capacity, power source, cooking settings, and safety features.
Several types of turkey fryers are on today’s market, and the best fryer for each user’s needs depends on the intended use.
- Propane models are reliable and usually made of durable materials. When shopping, remember to factor in the additional cost of a propane tank and its refills.
- Oilless fryers use infrared or other cooking methods to heat and cook a turkey. Typically expensive, they usually can’t accommodate very large birds.
- Electric turkey fryers cook a turkey by radiating heat via a heating element. Generally used for indoor cooking, they’re smaller than propane fryers.
Cooking a turkey is a long process, and many fryers must be used outdoors to reduce the risk of fire or injury. Though a few indoor turkey fryers are available, most of them are smaller than outdoor models and can’t fit a large Thanksgiving turkey, for example. However, an indoor fryer is handy for smaller turkeys and other fowl, such as quail, chicken, game hens, or duck.
The turkey fryer’s material can be a factor in figuring out which model is best. Most turkey fryers are made from steel, aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, or a blend. However, smaller fryer parts may be made from plastic or rubber.
The fryer’s material and design affect its weight and bulk. Fryers are usually large appliances and can be difficult to maneuver and transport, especially if made with heavy steel or cast iron. The size and shape can determine where it can be stored, too, so consider the available storage space if the fryer must be moved.
Turkey fryer capacity is frequently measured by how many quarts it can hold, which usually ranges between 24 and 44 quarts. Fryers that are about 28 to 30 quarts and up can contain an average-size turkey. Fryer capacity is also listed in pounds, which is the weight of a bird that it can hold. Most indoor fryers can cook a 15-pound bird, but some extra-large ones can take heavier ones.
After testing several sizes, we feel that turkey fryers dipping below 27 quarts really aren’t large enough to confidently attempt cooking a turkey, despite what’s advertised. Trying to fry a turkey in a too-small pot is dangerous. Smaller pots are best used for frying game birds under 1 pound (i.e., Cornish hens) or fish, for boiling/steaming crabs or crawfish, or for frying potatoes or vegetables.
A turkey fryer’s power is measured in one of two ways: British thermal units (BTUs) or watts. Propane fryer power is measured in BTUs, which range between 50,000 to 200,000 BTUs for most fryers on the market. High BTUs allow the fryer to bring large quantities of oil or water to a boil. However, the higher the BTUs, the less control the cook has over the heat.
On some outdoor turkey fryers, another number appears: the pounds per square inch (psi) of the propane regulator. Most turkey fryers’ regulators produce 10 to 20 psi. Fryer power is also measured in watts. For instance, a typical indoor turkey fryer uses around 1,800 watts, which equals approximately 6,100 BTUs.
Depending on the type of turkey fryer, there can be a range of cooking settings available. In addition to frying, some models can roast, grill, or smoke turkeys and other food.
Like a gas stovetop or grill, an outdoor propane fryer has a simple knob to adjust the flame. Electric or oilless turkey fryers may have more than one setting, adding to their versatility. For example, an indoor fryer may have a rotisserie setting and a basket for deep frying. Air fryers, which don’t use any oil, are a healthier way to fry food. These infrared/oil-free options require seasoning beforehand, similar to a clay baking dish or cast-iron pan.
Keep in mind that assembly is required for even the most basic turkey fryer, although some have more parts than others. We recommend opening the box and assembling everything well before the day it is planned to be used, because it may take longer to set up or it could be missing parts. We were surprised to find there were missing parts or directions for at least two of the turkey fryers we tested.
Also, some options don’t come with a burner or base. Unless you already have a burner and tank of propane, opening the box the same day it will be used and finding only a large frying pot may result in disappointment.
Turkey-fryer horror stories abound on the internet and social media apps. Even electric and oilless fryers cook at temperatures high enough to cause third-degree burns or fires. When shopping for the best turkey fryer, ensure that the fryer has safety features. Other safety precautions include:
- Goggles to shield eyes from oil splatter.
- Gloves to help protect hands while maneuvering the turkey or the pot.
- An ABC fire extinguisher on hand can help put out oil-related fires. Never use water to put out a turkey fryer fire, and never leave the fryer unattended.
- An even oil level inside the pot. Fill the pot first with water and then put in the bird to see how much liquid it will displace. Use a food-safe marker to draw a fill line. Then remove the bird and dry the pot before refilling with oil.
- Paper towels help dry the bird as thoroughly as possible before frying. Remember that oil and water are not friends.
Some preparation is also involved in preparing the bird, including defrosting it and removing the giblets. In terms of flavoring it, a turkey can’t be stuffed and fried. Marinating it overnight is perfectly fine as long as the bird is as dry as possible going into the fryer—oil and liquids do not mix. Another prep step is wrapping a bird in paper towels to absorb any extra moisture and then popping it into the fridge for 20 minutes or so while the oil is warming (it takes about 45 minutes for oil to reach the right temperature).
Dropping a cold turkey into hot oil can cause extra splattering, so remove it from the fridge for 20 to 25 minutes beforehand so that it can reach room temperature. During the warming up period, feel free to dry-rub it with spices or herbs or inject it with flavorful concoctions using a large gauge syringe, which may or may not be included in a fryer kit.
Pro tip: Before frying a turkey, measure the oil, weigh the turkey, and prepare all of the supplies. With prep completed ahead of time, on the day of the event, cooks can keep their focus on that giant pot of boiling oil.
All of the options, add-ons, and additional equipment that come with turkey fryers can overwhelm even the most dedicated chef.
Many fryers have built-in tools and extras that come with the fryer that make cooking easier and safer. If you’ve been using other sets that don’t include these items, these extras may be overlooked. However, it is handy to have them arrive in a kit.
- Meat thermometers help cooks determine with certainty whether a turkey is fully cooked.
- A marinade syringe allows cooks to inject marinades into the bird.
- Timers help cooks know how long a turkey has cooked.
- Cool-to-touch handles make moving turkey fryer pots safer.
- Steamer and fryer racks help remove the turkey from the fryer.
- Safety glove(s) allow safe handling of the hot materials.
Our Top Picks
When comparing turkey fryers, many shoppers prioritize different safety features, capacities, and construction materials. This list includes a variety of hands-on tested fryers. All of these fryers have quality construction, and each can cook a succulent juicy bird.
The Enterprises Bayou Classic 44-quart “Big Bird” commercial-grade stainless steel outdoor fryer is sturdy enough to handle massive birds. The burner’s adjustable knob allows for control over the flame, and the 48-inch steel-braided hose keeps the tank a safe distance from the flame.
An insulated glove, aluminum perforated poultry rack, a grab hook, a 12-inch thermometer, and a stainless steel injector are included. They’re all necessary to ensure both safety and a properly cooked bird, which could take up to 3 hours for a 25-pounder. The grab hook is heavy duty so an extra-large turkey can be pulled. If using the three-pronged poultry rack, it can help when cooking a few smaller chickens/game birds without it bending or falling back into the oil and creating an arc of burning drops.
The tripod base is raised from the ground via three separate leg attachments. If using a turkey fryer intermittently, as many people do, check every leg before cooking to make sure they haven’t loosened or gotten bent in storage. Also, always make sure that this unit is on an extremely flat and even surface before using. Weighing in at 35 pounds, this fryer is a bit difficult to transport.
- Assembly: Moderate
- Difficulty level: Advanced
- Size: Extra-large
- Big enough for many of the biggest birds
- Accessories galore including safety glove and grab pull
- Insulated pot prevents accidental burns
- Vented lid for steam release
- Too big to wash in the average kitchen/laundry room sink
- Heavy; not portable
- Difficult to empty oil afterward
GasOne’s propane burner comes with a 24-quart aluminum stockpot and a steam rack to cook crab or lobster. Savvy bargain shoppers may also appreciate that the GasOne comes with a steel-braided hose with an adjustable regulator, which allows users to adjust the flame with precision. The regulator’s O-ring keeps propane from leaking so cooks stay safe. The steel-frame burner is coated with heat-resistant paint. However, this model arrived with no instructions on how to put it together. Fortunately, it wasn’t that difficult to figure out with the help of the internet.
While we found the frame and burner to be solid, the stockpot is not quite as reliable. Useful for a crab boil, a fish fry, or for frying smaller items—anything from mozzarella sticks to corn dogs to quail—it’s on the flimsy side. The steam rack gets stuck, and it doesn’t come with anything to help pull it up. It’s not helpful to repurpose a grab hook from another turkey fryer because the rack easily bends and could splatter the chef if they are trying to lift out a heavier turkey. Plus, the metal is so thin on the pot and lid that our set arrived already dented from transit.
For camping, fishing, and hunting, this is useful for frying a catch. But using it to fry a 10-to-12-pound turkey is a big risk that could send oil spilling out over the top and cause a fire. Also, frying takes anywhere from 3 to 4 minutes per pound for turkeys and single chickens and up to 9 minutes per pound for thicker-skinned, fattier ducks. Multiple birds may also take longer. So to keep oil boiling that long in a very thin-sided pot at a campsite can be dangerous. We’d stick to making French fries or boiling seafood with this one at a tailgate or replace the pot completely with something larger and more reinforced.
- Assembly: Minor
- Difficulty level: Beginner
- Size: Small
- Pot is light and portable
- The frame and burner are solid
- Heats up quickly
- Easily dented
- Steam rack gets stuck if not inserted evenly; it also expands unevenly
- Not sturdy enough to deep-fry for long periods of time
- No accessories are included such as thermometer or grab hook
- Not large enough to fry a turkey
Backyard Pro’s turkey fryer kit contains accessories similar to those in a deluxe set. It includes a lid for the 30-quart-capacity aluminum pot, and the set includes a marinating syringe, hanger, poultry rack, steam rack, meat thermometer, and an additional smaller pot with a steam rack. The propane burner’s steel frame is sturdy enough to hold almost any size food.
Our set arrived with only a marinating syringe, hanger, and base of the poultry rack, however. We were missing the poultry rack tines, steam rack, meat thermometer, and an additional smaller pot with a steam rack. We were able to test it by appropriating items from another almost identical kit. (Some of these fryers are nearly indistinguishable from one another, down to the factory imprinting on the pots.)
While it produces an impressive quick and high heat of 55,000 BTU, there are no temperature knobs, so there’s less control over the flame. The propane hose is only about 3 feet long, which may be a bit short for some users. In case of accidents, getting the flame and oil a bit farther away from the tank is important.
Given the thinness of the metal on the pot, we also question the overall longevity of the accessory. Nevertheless, this is a decent option for those who aren’t frying every weekend. Peanut oil is expensive and can be reused only a few times if stored in the refrigerator (and storing 4 to 6 gallons of peanut oil is a big ask for any fridge). So the poultry rack, hanger, and multiple pan options—if they arrive—help capitalize on using the oil while it’s hot.
- Assembly: Moderate
- Difficulty level: Advanced
- Size: Large
- Solid frame and burner
- Burns hot and quickly
- Lightweight stockpot
- Missing numerous accessories
- Aluminum pot and lid construction durability is questionable
- May not withstand high heat for the long run
Bayou Classic’s stainless steel pot comes with a lot of useful gear, including a perforated basket, frying rack, hanger, marinade syringe, 12-inch meat thermometer, and a vented lid. It weighs about 14 pounds, and heavy-duty stainless steel handles make it easier to transport.
With thick-walled stainless steel supporting the boiling oil, this fryer can last a long time. It’s versatile, so users can switch from steaming to frying, even in the same afternoon. If the plan is to cook a crab boil for an appetizer before Thanksgiving dinner, this is a good pick. The pot can also be used by itself to cook stews or soups for a crowd.
There’s one problem with this unit: It doesn’t come with a frame and burner. Those, as well as an insulated fry glove, have to be ordered separately. Users can order the whole shebang, which comes complete with a high-pressure burner with a 14-inch-diameter cooking surface, a 13-inch welded steel frame, and a 48-inch LPG stainless braided hose (plus a bigger pot!), with the brand’s Oversized Turkey Deep Fryer Kit 42 Quart Aluminum Grand Gobbler.
- Assembly: None
- Difficulty level: Beginner
- Size: Large
- Accessories allow different methods of cooking
- Can accommodate several smaller birds or one medium bird
- Nicely packaged
- No setup required
- Comes without a frame or burner
- Injector gets plugged up and is hard to use
Cook with it and they will come—relatives, friends, and friends of friends. That’s because this solid piece of smoking/roasting/grilling equipment produces the equivalent of a fried turkey without oil.
Powered by propane and with temperature control that provides a range from 9,000 to 18,000 BTUs, this missile-shaped cooker offers space for big birds: the interior cooking basket holds a 21-pounder. Grilling also can be done on the 180-square-inch top, or side dishes can be cooked while the silo-like lid is closed. Want more flavor? Add some pellets or wood chips to the smoking box.
We liked how solid and safe this model feels. Because it uses Char-Broil TRU-Infrared cooking technology instead of oil, there is no worry about flames shooting up and blackening a dish or a worse situation like a submersion causing an oil spillover.
That said, this is such a big piece of equipment that it takes a long time to build, and we found the directions were misleading. It’s also on the heavier side of turkey fryers. Once it’s put together, it’s likely going to stay where it was built. If purchasing this appliance, we suggest looking into grill covers.
- Assembly: Major
- Difficulty level: Expert
- Size: Extra-large
- Solid and heavy duty
- Several different cooking methods make this an all-purpose model
- No oil means healthier cuisine
- Safer than other propane-based fryers
- Took more than an hour to assemble
- Heavy and not easily moved
- No way to disassemble and store
The idea of laying an electric coil underneath liquid might sound scary. Maybe frying a turkey inside a kitchen does, too. And when the instruction manual states that the product is “For Commercial Use Only,” it can be concerning.
Cast all those concerns to the side. The way this extra-large unit is constructed will make logistical and safe sense when it’s put together, which takes about 5 minutes. Not only does it have temperature control but it also has an automatic shutoff if the oil is heated but not cooking anything. Then the shut-off valve can be disengaged with a toothpick.
Once it’s cooking, whether with water to steam or oil to fry, the steam can be seen coming out from the top. It’s not smoke. (Open a window or turn on an oven fan for extra peace of mind.) And while a big piece of equipment (16.46 by 18.43 by 14.8 inches) may not be needed for everyday cooking, the way this 10-liter model handles a 15-pound turkey in 45 minutes may persuade a cook from ever roasting one again. Plus, the drain valve is exceptional.
- Assembly: Minor
- Difficulty level: Intermediate
- Size: Medium
- Minimum and maximum fill lines for oil or water are easy to see
- Temperature control and safety shutoff
- Clip system allows hanging the basket for draining
- Drain valve underneath releases oil and water for easy cleanup
- Takes up a lot of counter space
- Needs 45 minutes for oil to reach ideal temperature
- May need extension cord; cord is just shy of 3 feet long
Boasting a welded frame with a high-pressure 33,000-BTU cast burner, this model features what many turkey fryers love to see: a battery-operated timer and a 15-minute safety regulator on the LP hose leading to the Type 1 connector. If the oil comes to a boiling temperature while the cook is distracted with a side dish, it shuts itself down before a fire can start.
With a couple of different-size pots and steamers, along with a grab hook, hangers, handles, and a thermometer for the oil temperature, this package is highly versatile. Steam a batch of clams and fry a turkey in the same afternoon. (Just make sure to dry everything well when switching from water to oil.) Or fry a bird—or a couple of birds, as we did—and then some potatoes. If the user keeps the propane flowing and the peanut oil hot, the pans can go in and out with different items.
We also appreciate how easy these pans are to clean. The aluminum holds on to very little grease and soaps up nicely in a conventional sink; even the 29-quart stockpot fits. The drawback is that aluminum is not as strong as stainless steel, and the chance of incurring marks and dimples is high as use continues. But for the seasonal fryer, this package is a good deal that is an all-around workhorse.
- Assembly: Minor
- Difficulty level: Advanced
- Size: Large
- Limited construction
- Portable burner
- Timer with automatic shutoff
- Accessories interchangeable with those of other popular brands
- Base not as sturdy as others
- Aluminum pots and steamers easily dented
- May not withstand high heat for the long run
For best overall outdoor turkey frying using propane, we recommend the Enterprises Turkey Deep Fryer Oversized 44 Quart. After assessing all the concerns, user errors, and safety issues that cooks have with frying, we feel this set is among the safest available. But for cooks who are OK with not having the taste of oil, consider the Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker Roaster & Grill. With this fryer, money is saved by not having to buy peanut oil, and the result is still an ultra crisp-skinned bird that is an overall healthier option for everyone eating.
How We Tested the Best Turkey Fryers
When testing these turkey fryers, we asked several questions: How safe are they to use? How effective are they at cooking turkeys or other kinds of fowl? How versatile are they? What kinds of accessories came with them? Are they worth the money? And, most importantly, is the quality there? Will they last?
In order to find out the answers to these questions, we opened each box, examined each item, and built each fryer according to the directions and parts that were sent (or, in some cases, without the directions or parts). Then we cooked with each fryer as directed, first testing for safety. We also ate the results. Finally, we calculated our findings on a scale of 1 to 4 in each category, with 1 being the lowest score and 4 being the highest in each category.
Since people understandably have safety concerns about cooking with a turkey fryer, there may be some lingering questions. To help navigate the search for the best turkey fryer, below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Q. How large of a turkey can fit in a 30-quart fryer?
The maximum recommended weight for a 30-quart fryer is 18 pounds.
Q. What is the oil temperature for frying a turkey?
The ideal oil temperature for frying a turkey is 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Q. How long should I fry a turkey?
The total frying time varies depending on the size of the turkey. Experts recommend cooking the turkey 3 to 4 minutes per pound.
Q. How do I clean my turkey fryer?
After removing the used cooking oil, add degreasing dishwashing soap and fill the pot with hot water. Make sure cooking tools, such as fryer racks or steaming racks, are covered with hot water, too. Then use a rough sponge or brush to scrub away any grime.