Have you ever deep-fried a frozen turkey? And lived to talk about it? Don’t freak out. I’m just starting with a little morbid humor. Why? I don’t know, sometimes stuff just pops into my head. Obviously, NEVER deep-fry a frozen turkey. The moisture in a frozen turkey and super hot oil spell disaster. ALWAYS follow proper safety precautions. That’s it for my somewhat weird and awkward introduction to trying to find the best turkey fryers.
Finding The Most Excellent Turkey Deep Fryers
Why Fry a Turkey?
I remember the first time that someone asked me if I’d ever had deep fried turkey. They seemed all excited about it. I thought, “big deal”. I told them that I had not only not had it, but why would I want to deep fry some turkey. I’m not much of a fan of fried foods. Why would I want to take a perfectly good and tasty piece of turkey and throw it in a damn fryer? Not only that, but turkey is a pretty healthy food. Now you want to screw that up too by frying the damn thing? I thought they were crazy with all this talk of deep frying turkey. I also thought if they keep frying everything, they are going to die way too soon.
If nothing else, the previous paragraph illustrates that I don’t know what the hell I am talking about. Let me amend that. It shows that I DIDN’T know what I was talking about. At the time. When it came to deep frying turkey. And whether or not it was healthy. Or tasty. Or anything else related to taking a turkey and dropping it in a superheated oil bath.
You know what? I learned. I learned about deep frying a turkey. Earlier, I learned about brining turkeys. Let’s have a hallelujah for humankind’s ability to learn. What a beautiful, enlightening thing to possess. Learning ability!
Are you thinking I’ve gone off the deep end on some off the wall cooking turkey, deep frying, good eating, people can learn stuff bizarreness? Could be, but no.
What I’m saying is that I found out that my ideas about frying turkeys belonged on the trash heap of human assumptions and human ignorance.
Tastes Good! Good For You!
I found out that deep fried turkey is not only delicious, but it is not bad for you. First the nutrition end of things. If you deep fry that bird in peanut oil, which is recommended, it does not change much nutritionally. Not even 2 grams of fat are added to a serving of turkey that has been deep fried. Only a little over 10 calories per serving are added. These are negligible amounts!
Now let’s go to flavor town! (Thank you, Guy Fieri) Deep fried turkeys are MORE delicious than roasted turkeys. Read that sentence again and believe it. It tastes better. The dark meat, which packs more flavor any which way you prepare that bird, is even more flavorful. How about the white mean? Have you ever had roasted turkey white meat that was dry? Hey, its a letdown and it is pretty common. Deep fried turkey white meat is not dry, it is moist. It is a joy to eat! No more slimy turkey skin either. I’m not saying that all that turkey skin is going to be super crispy, but the crisp factor is upped.
There are other advantages to deep frying a turkey. One is time. You can crank out two tasty deep-fried turkeys in less, that’s right less, time than you can roast one. Another advantage is that most folks only have one oven. Roasting a turkey ties up that oven which can hamper getting all your other dishes prepared well and in a timely manner. Unless you have a double oven, roasting a turkey can lead to meal prep pain and frustration.
Don’t overlook this next advantage. Plopping that turkey into hot as blazes oil is fun and men, like us, get a kick out of it. We get to go outside with the fryer. We get to heat oil to a dangerously high temperature. Unfortunately, we don’t get to dump that oil over the edge of the castle walls onto our enemies but we do get to use it to make something we can eat. Sure, its a tradeoff. But our stomachs are just about the most important thing to us modern men. I said “just about” and will leave it at that. Hot oil, danger, food, fun…I’m in!
A Look at an Assortment of Turkey Fryers
Deep frying turkeys has become very popular. The turkey fryers themselves have evolved with this popularity. There’s even turkey deep fryers made for indoor use too if you want to go that direction. I’m going to share some great information about a number of outdoor turkey fryers. It is my hope that this will provide a guide that aids you in finding one suited for your purposes. If I can help you enjoy some delicious food, I’m a happy guy. Before I forget, I mentioned brining a turkey earlier. Go ahead and click here to find out more about what is brining a turkey. Are you back? Great! Here we go…
Outdoor Turkey Fryers
Eastman Outdoors 37069 30
This Eastman Outdoors is, as the name points out, a fryer for use outdoors. This cooker can easily handle a 20 lb bird and cook it up perfectly.
You get a stock pot that is made from stainless steel. The stock pot will hold 30 quarts of oil. A matching stainless steel lid tops the pot. The included propane burner is a tripod style with a little foot on each leg. With a 65,000 BTU capacity, your oil will rapidly heat up.
They provide a 12-inch thermometer for checking the target temperature inside the turkey. That thermometer also comes in real handy to check your oil temperature so you don’t overheat the oil. A lift hook is provided as is a poultry stand and an injector so you can flavor up your turkey with your favorite marinade.
A nice safety feature is the automatic shut off. This also helps to prevent overheating your cooking oil.
On the downside, not having a drain valve on the stock pot is a hassle. Makes getting that used cooking oil out more of a task. Not having timer or indicator lights isn’t really such a problem. Having no online user manual is a drag.
The last things I’ll mention regarding this fryer is you need to be careful because there’s no vents in the lid. Vents are a real plus to release that super hot steam produced during cooking.
The warranty is not the best, but it could be worse. The Eastman Outdoors 37069 30 has a one year warranty.
You’ll spend a little under $200 for this turkey deep fryer.
Cabela’s Ultimate Turkey Fryer
Cabela’s Ultimate is a welded heavy duty unit made of stainless steel. It has a 29-quart oil capacity stock pot which is ample for deep trying a 20 lb turkey for dinner.
This propane operated fryer comes with a 12 inch made for the outdoors portable cooker manufactured from black steel. The cast burner is built for high pressure and puts out 34,000 BTUs.
Check the cooking oil temp with the included thermometer. You’ll also get a lid for the stock pot, a lifting hook, and a rack for your dinner bird. It has a metal stand which is square shaped on the bottom which is very stable.
A few nice features of this set up include an auto shut off which prevents the cooking oil to get hotter than 475 degrees, an adjustable regulator to set the flame to your desired height, and a drain valve which makes emptying the oil out of the stock pot a breeze.
In the thumbs down column, there’s no timer. There’s also no indicator lights. These are both minor complaints as that’s pretty standard for outdoor cookers.
Other than not having a vented lid, there’s not much they got wrong with this fryer. The 34,000 BTU output is on the low side so it may take a little longer to heat the oil which can add to your overall prep and cook time.
This outfit runs about $180 normally and I’ve seen it on sale for a little under $145. It has a one year warranty. Instructional videos are available online.
Bayou Classic 44 Quart Stainless Steel Big Bird Kit
With a stock pot made from 20 gauge commercial stainless steel and a 44-quart oil capacity, it is easy to see why this fryer outfit is referred to as a “Big Bird” kit! You can fit a 25-pound turkey in this deep fryer, maybe even a little larger.
The supplied high-pressure burner “stove” is also made from stainless steel. The 48-inch long hose that comes with this kit is really handy. Having that length gives you more flexibility to place your propane tank in a convenient spot.
Back to the burner, it is a low profile propane burner which sets just about a foot off of the ground. The reason for this is twofold. The first is safety. 44 quarts of oil in a 20 gauge stock pot equals quite a bit of weight. Keeping it low to the ground means the whole set up with be stable.
Ease of use is the other factor for having this big rig sit low to the ground. It is much easier to fill the pot with oil and to put your food in and out when you don’t have to reach up or heft anything up.
The manufacturer sets you up quite well with all the included accessories. They supply a stainless steel lid which is vented, a twelve inch long thermometer which provides a reading up to 750 degrees (not that you want to go anywhere near that high with your turkey cooking oil!),
an aluminum cooking rack which is perforated, and an aluminum hook to grab ahold of your turkey and fish it out safely out of the hot oil.
A pair of heat resistant gloves come with this kit. A little protection goes a long way. For those who like to “flavor up” their turkey, an injector is included too. With all you get, do you see why this is called a “kit”?
Being thick, quality stainless steel, the huge stock pot can be used to boil water for lobster, to make a whole bunch of red sauce, or for your next beer home brewing project.
The base has detachable legs. This makes it both easy to store and easy to transport if you want to, say, pack it in your camper and have a turkey fry right at your campsite or RV space.
For a little over $200 you will be well set up to cook about as big of a turkey that you, your family, and your friends will need. Plus, with the portability of this unit, you’ll be able to fry that bird just about anywhere.
King Kooker SS1267SBSP
From King Kooker, we have a turkey deep fryer boasting a 30-quart stainless steel stockpot. A pot that size will accommodate up to about a 20-pound turkey.
The propane cooker that comes with this product is made for the outdoors, it is manufactured from stainless steel. It is heavy duty and is a 12-inch unit. The burner itself is cast and is 38,000 BTUs. A couple nice safety features are that is has a recessed top ring to set your pot into and the base is large which makes it stable. Stability is very important because we’re talking a lot of weight between the weight of the oil and then adding 20 pounds of bird to it.
Another nice feature of the King Kooker is a wind guard to protect the flame from getting blown out. That would be a real drag if you were distracted and then found out 20 minutes later that your oil wasn’t being heated.
A lifting hook is an essential tool that you get when you buy this product. You also get a rack for your turkey and a deep-fry thermometer. Instructions are included so you know just how to use this equipment and how best to cook your family dinner’s main course. A nice touch is the recipe booklet that is part of the package.
I wanted to mention the spigot at the bottom of the stockpot. That is something I’m a fan of because it makes dealing with your used cooking oil so much easier. However, I’ve heard quite a few complaints about the quality of the welds on this particular product. That is a big red flag for me.
Another feature of this fryer is a built-in timer. I’m not really sold on that. Don’t get me wrong, timers are essential when you’re cooking. Just glancing at your watch and noting the time is not necessarily the best system and it is easy to get confused when meal prep is happening. Why make it harder on yourself.
The aspect of the built-in timer that bothers me a bit is the “built-in” part. Sometimes an electrical part like this battery operated timer may not last or can easily malfunction. I’d prefer using my own timer that I can keep well away from the heat, oil, and everything else.
This model of the King Kooker will run you around $200 bucks give or take.
My Final Words on Deep Fryers for Turkeys
I know there are many fryers out there to choose from. Choosing the highest quality turkey deep fryer can be a little tricky. Whether you go with one I discussed above or a different one, I believe there are a few things you should keep in mind.
A stainless steel post. Stainless steel is durable and it is non-reactive. Non-reactive, if you’re not familiar with the term, means that acids won’t pit it. Maybe you’ve had an aluminum pot in your kitchen? No me. No thanks. Stainless, especially for the uses we’ve discussed here is the way to go.
I like a drain valve or spigot at the bottom of the stockpot. But the manufacturing has to be top notch. If you are familiar with such things, examine the workmanship yourself. If not, do your due diligence online to see what people have to say in their reviews of the product you are considering. A drain valve is handy, but it can also be the weakest link.
Stability is also a necessity. A tripod stand makes me worry much more than a four-legged stand or one with a squared off base.
Good luck and happy turkey frying!