If you're looking for a change of pace from the typical roast turkey, frying is a great way to go. You'll get moist meat, extra-crispy skin and tons of flavor—at least if you use the right fryer. The wrong models will simply leave you with a greasy mess and a soggy bird. I reviewed the options avaIlable on the market and identified three that are the top performers in their categories.
For traditional outdoor deep frying, the Bayou Classic 3025 30-Quart Aluminum Turkey Fryer Pot & Bayou Classic Single Burner Patio Stove is the way to go. No other model gives you the results this one will as far as a crispy bird and short cooking time. Just be prepared to shell out for about 3 gallons of peanut oil and brave the cold while it cooks (unless you're fortunate enough to live in warm weather environs).
Want to do your frying indoors? The Masterbuilt 23011014 Butterball Indoor Gen III Electric Fryer does its job, while you stay warm.
And for oil-less "frying", the Char-Broil Big Easy TRU Infrared Smoker, Roaster & Grill gives a better-than-roasted result without the cost and mess from gallons of oil.
(Prices as of 11/20/14)
Best Turkey Fryer: Bayou Classic 3025 30-Quart Aluminum Turkey Fryer Pot with Accessories & Bayou Classic Single Burner Patio Stove
This combo from Bayou gives you exactly what you need for proper turkey frying, at a very affordable price. The 30-quart pot is large enough to hold up to a 20lb turkey. It includes the accessories you'll need, including a 12-inch stainless-steel thermometer for maintaining oil temperature and a rack and hook for moving the turkey. The companion Bayou Patio Stove is made from a heavy-duty steel frame and has four legs for extra stability (many burners have a three-leg configuration). Runs on standard propane tanks.
Owners on Amazon love both products, giving each 4.4 out of 5 stars. And this combo was also the top pick from The Sweethome. Would work well for a lobster boil in the summer, too!
Best Indoor Turkey Fryer: Masterbuilt Butterball Indoor Gen III Electric Fryer
Standing outside in sub-freezing weather is not my idea of fun. And if it's raining on Thanksgiving, an outdoor fryer is completely out of the question. The Masterbuilt 23011014 Butterball Indoor Gen III Electric Fryer gives you results that are a step below the Bayou in terms of crispiness, but makes up for that with convenience, including thermostat temperature control and a front drain valve for easily removing the oil. And hey, you can actually talk to your party guests while the turkey is frying! The Butterball Gen III comes in two sizes: large (for turkeys up to 14lbs) and X-large (for turkeys up to 20 pounds).
Consumer Reports was very fond of the Butterball Fryer's performance in its testing and Amazon reviewers give it an excellent 4.5 out of 5 stars. And the Butterball Fryer can be used as a deep fryer year-round to give your arteries a constant workout.
Best Oil-less Turkey Fryer: Char-Broil Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker, Roaster & Grill
Okay, I get it. If it's "oil-less" it's not really frying. But the "infrared" heating of the Char-Broil Big Easy, powered by propane, provides a better-than-roasted result in faster time, just like frying. While saving you the calories, cost and mess from gallons of peanut oil. And the 25lb capacity is larger than either of the frying models. It's also the most versatile of the "fryers", doubling as a grill or smoker.
Serious Eats tested the smaller model of the Char-Broil Big Easy (16lb capacity, roasting only, no smoker or grill) with solid results. And Amazon reviewers love the larger model, too, giving the Char-Broil Big Easy 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Char-Broil Big Easy TRU Infrared Smoker, Roaster & Grill: $165.20 on Amazon