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 — or worse, pose a severe fire hazard.
We've updated our options for 2020, and beyond a newer (and cheaper!) version of the Masterbuilt, our prior top picks remain the same. All of these models were available via Amazon Prime at the time of publishing, for quick shipping in time for Thanksgiving.
Best Turkey Fryer: Bayou Classic 30-Quart Aluminum Turkey Fryer Pot & Bayou Classic High-Pressure Outdoor Gas Cooker
The Bayou combo Classic 30-Quart Aluminum Turkey Fryer Pot & Bayou Classic High-Pressure Outdoor Gas Cooker 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 20-pound 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, continuing to give each well over 4 stars, year after year. The would work well for a lobster boil in the summer, too!
Best Indoor Turkey Fryer: Masterbuilt Butterball Indoor 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 Butterball XL Electric Fryer (#Masterbuilt MB20012420) 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. The extra large size handles turkeys up to 20 pounds.
Consumers have given the Masterbuilt models high ratings for years, and the latest version is no exception, with Amazon reviewers giving it 4.6 stars across more than 2,000 reviews, as of the time of this writing. Better yet, the Masterbuilt Butterball Fryer is cheaper than last year at only $99.99. The Butterball Fryer can be used as a deep fryer year-round to give your arteries a constant workout with chicken, french fries, tempura and whatever else your heart (but not your cardiologist) desires. And it works as a steamer, too, if your cardiologist wins the battle.
Masterbuilt Butterball Indoor Electric Fryer MB20012420: $99.99 (check price on Amazon)
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. It saves you the calories, cost, and mess from gallons of peanut oil. And, the 25-pound capacity is larger than either of the frying models. It's also the most versatile of the "fryers," doubling as a grill or smoker. Amazon reviewers love it, giving the Char-Broil Big Easy 4.7 out of 5 stars as of the time of writing.
Unfortunately, what was a $180 product last year is a $250 product this year. So you may want to consider the smaller model of the Char-Broil Big Easy, with a 16-pound capacity and a much more pocket-friendly $120 price tag. It offers the same infrared roasting experience, but doesn't grill or smoke. Serious Eats tested this smaller model of the Char-Broil Big Easy with solid results.
(Recommendations and pricing updated 11/16/2020)
[Image Credit: Amazon, Char-Broil, Masterbuilt]