Best Way to Fry a Turkey – turkey cooker vs. oil-less fryer

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I admit, I haven’t always raised my hand when it comes to hosting Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s a lot of preparation, not to mention the clean up. Plus, I don’t want any of that cutting into my football and couch time.  But the idea of deep-frying a turkey?  That’s a game changer.

Now maybe I’m late to the ol’ turkey frying party.  But you’re probably used to the traditional methods of frying them outdoors in specially made cooking systems, or turkey cookers.  I’m not knocking this method by any means.  You can prepare a delicious turkey this way, simply with oil and seasonings. I’ve even used my turkey cooker for seafood, onion rings and other fried goodness.

Outdoor cookers are designed to save oil while providing a convenient way to lower your turkey or food into the pot, and to remove it once cooking is complete. However, they can be dangerous so you should really invest some time in reading all warnings and directions before getting started (again, cutting into my football and couch time). Here are some other things to consider:

Pros

  • It’s fast.  A whole turkey requires only 3 minutes per pound to cook. Once your oil heats up, a 12-lb. turkey doesn’t take much more than a half hour.
  • It’s delicious.  Your turkey will be moist and delicious with a crispy skin, which allows for snacking while carving.
  • It doesn’t monopolize the oven all day.  You can cook side items simultaneously.
  • It’s entertaining. Cooking a turkey in a huge vat of hot oil is an event to watch. Your guests will gather in the backyard to catch a sight of you dodging hot oil.  

Cons

  • Lots and lots of oil is used.
    • Oil is unhealthy.  It won’t exactly help that already off-the-charts cholesterol.
    • It’s expensive – 5 gallons and 30 dollars later.
    • It’s inconvenient – Where can I put that five gallons of slightly used peanut oil when I’m done? (Hint: Not down the drain).
    • Most importantly, heating oil over an open flame can be dangerous.  Oil is guaranteed to splatter and can even catch on fire. Yes, fire!  So make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy and that you’re cooking in a pet and kid-free zone.
  • Since you have no choice but to cook outside, weather could be a factor.  There’s always a chance of rain and since it is November, maybe snow if you happen to live in the northern states.

There is also a new way to get that crispy fried turkey that’s not only safer, but cheaper and easier. The Answer:  the infrared deep fryer.

This surprisingly powerful “turkey fryer” is actually a pretty versatile cooker that can easily prepare a wide range of foods quickly. The “fryer” is actually nothing of the sort, but rather an infrared (radiant heat), propane powered cooking oven. It uses a circular propane burner in an enclosed chamber to heat a large metal pot. This pot then radiates infrared heat at your food with a great deal of power. Actually, the efficiency of this unit is pretty amazing. You would be hard pressed to cook this hot and this fast on any gas grill.

Pros

  • It is being marketed as an “oil-less fryer” because the food comes out very similar to deep fried (without all that oil).  And because it doesn’t use oil…it costs very little to use – just propane.
    • It’s safe to operate, even indoors
    • Your food will be naturally healthier
    • You can use sauces, rubs and seasonings
  • It’s still pretty fast.  Plan on about 10 minutes per pound to cook.  And you don’t have to heat up any oil.  You can cook a 12-lb. turkey in less than 2 hours, which is still about half the time of the traditional oven.  Plus, it cools down quickly and can be stored about an hour later.

Cons

  • The food basket is a little restrictive, or maybe not restrictive enough.  You’ll have to limit your turkey size to less than 20 lbs.  You will need to be creative to get smaller cuts to sit properly so they can cook evenly.
  • While there is a lot you can do with this unit like kebabs of beef, you can’t deep fry fries or fish.

If you’re sold on the infrared deep fryer, there are plenty of options to choose from, so read the reviews and find one in your price range.  Char-Broil makes a propane powered infrared roaster oven called The Big Easy that cooks food quickly and safely. Your turkey will not only look like it was fried but it will taste just as good!

So what do you think?   Will you try frying this year?  Or stick to your traditional oven and apron?

1 Comment

  1. The Airfryer idea is a fantastic machine for a quick, easy 2 person meal and plus cooking was much healthier.

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