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.
I reviewed the options available on the market and identified three that are the top performers in their categories. Since not much has changed in the turkey fryer category, for 2018, my picks remain largely the same as last year, though I have updated the Bayou burner to a more wind-resistant model. And all of these models were available via Amazon Prime at the time of publishing. So if you're in a rush, you can get them shipped for free in as little as two days for Prime members.
For traditional outdoor deep frying, the Bayou Classic 3025 30-Quart Aluminum Turkey Fryer Pot & Bayou Classic SP10 High-Pressure Outdoor Gas Cooker 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 23010118 Butterball Indoor 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.
Best Turkey Fryer: Bayou Classic 3025 30-Quart Aluminum Turkey Fryer Pot with Accessories & Bayou Classic SP10 High-Pressure Outdoor Gas Cooker
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 around 4.5 out of 5 stars. 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 Indoor 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!
Consumer Reports was very fond of the older model Butterball Fryer's performance back in 2010, when it last did a turkey fryer review, and Amazon reviewers give it between 4.1 and 4.4 stars, depending on size.. The Butterball Fryer can be used as a deep fryer year-round to give your arteries a constant workout.
The Butterball comes in two sizes: large (for turkeys up to 14lbs) and X-large (for turkeys up to 20 pounds).
Masterbuilt Butterball Indoor Electric Fryer 23010018 (large-14lb): $132.99 MSRP (check lowest price on Amazon)
Masterbuilt Butterball Indoor Electric Fryer 23011114 (X-large-20lb): $149.99 MSRP (check lowest 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. 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 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Char-Broil Big Easy TRU Infrared Smoker, Roaster & Grill: $179.99 MSRP (check lowest price on Amazon)
(Recommendations and pricing updated 11/14/2018)
[Image Credit: Amazon]