Looking for a Turkey Fryer

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by rowdyrawhide, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I really like the idea of smoking a turkey & then finishing it in the fryer. That has to be one good eating turkey.
  2. shtrdave

    shtrdave Smoking Fanatic

    Never tried an electric one, been doing turkeys, chickens, hams, wings pork roasts in my propane fryers for probably 15 years with no issues never even had a close call, used to do them in the basement in the winter when it was 10 degrees outside.

    Common sense is the most important thing when using one.

    SLOWLY Lower items in to the pot of oil, Have a good welding glove with a long cuff this will keep the heat from your hand as well as the little splatters you get as the first of the moisture cooks off,.

    Drying the item to be fried off before lowering it in to the oil will help with splatter and keep the oil expansion to a minimum.

    I usually will take  my oil to close to the 400 mark before lowering in a turkey (I do 10-12 pounders)  as the whole bird will lower the temp quite a bit, you want to keep the oil temp up, no lower than 325 lower than that and the turkey will take on more oil so 325 to 375 if you have a larger bird say 14# keep to the lower or the skin will get to dark until the internals cook with the higher temp.

    Peanut oil has a higher smoke point and different flavor, but for the added cost I just go with plain vegetable oil (soybean oil)

    I have 4 of them and if you have the extra coin go for the Stainless pot and basket, easier to clean than the aluminum and although I don't have one myself, get one with the spigot to drain I have seen a friend with one of these and it works well, do not rebottle the oil until it is under 100 degrees or the plastic bottle will melt I will get 2-3 fryings out of my oil before sending it off to the biodiesel people.

    Put you frozen turkey in the cooking pot like mentioned above and find out how many gallons of water it takes to cover it, if using a basket and not a stand for the bird also put that in, then take everything out and mark the pot with a scratch mark at the water level, if you do the same size birds most of the time you can just go by the mark you have inside the pot next time.

    I like the gas units because they recover the temp quicker than electric, based on past experience with electric fryers in general, not turkey fryers, you want the quick recovery so the food doesn't get oily,

    Good luck in choosing one.

    As always YMMV.

  3. coacher72

    coacher72 Smoking Fanatic

    All the above advice is great. I also like, when using the outdoor propane fryers, using the 2 people pole method of lowering the turkey into the oil. I had a near miss the first time I fried one several years ago when I tried lowering it by myself. 
  4. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I have one of those cajun types electric and its ok but I am upgrading to the NEW Butter Ball on that WW carries..You can fry a 12 lbs er or get the one for a 20lber...You can use them in the kitchen without any problems or trouble. You can also fry chickens , fish boil shrimp and other seafoods right inside they start at 112.00 for the 12 lber and 150 for the larger one....They are completely sealed up and disasimble for easy cleaning...
  5. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Rowdy, safety is what everyone is worried about, easy fix and will save you $50 bucks or so... when introducing the bird to the pre-heated oil, turn the gas off,that way if you spill some it won't catch fire. Re-light the gas after slow insertion.Turn the fire off when removing the bird too.

    The flavor is better (IMHO) and I love the taste of the "Fried" Bird. Plus,you can fish easier too, as for mess;yes a little,but not bad,the pot will fit into a dishwasher and you can save the oil after use if you want. You can keep it tightly closed with NO water in it,water spoils grease fast. When you need it again(for Christmas) you'll have the oil ready. I do both holidays with my oil and have no troubles . Then in the Summer I use and strain the oil for my Fish Frys and whatever I do ,like Onion Blossoms and Hushpuppies.

    Have fun and have a great holiday[​IMG]

    Stan    aka   oldschool
  6. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yup...I have all the outdoor propane gas for frying ....but the electric I just got will make life real easy..

    I like the new Butterball unit..  Sorta like having an MES/Amns combo and the guru on my WSM.

  7. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit

    No matter what, sounds like good meals are on the way!!!  I have a friend with the Butter Ball one, and she uses it constantly.  If you watch their commercials, they make it look like it can do it all.  Either way, keep on rolling with it, you will do a great job![​IMG]
  8. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I have a propane fired turkey fryer and it's most important to check the amount of oil you will need. Do do this put your turkey in the bag into the pot and fill the pot with water till you cover the bird by an inch or so. Remove the turkey and not the level of the liquid. I make a mark on the pot by scribing into the metal.Use this for reference. Always, always cook completely outside away from your house or garage. I cook under a tree and use a rope to slowly lower/raise the turkey basket into the oil making sure to stand back.  Using this method I can tie it off to drain also.

    Also putting some cardboard down on the ground around the area saves your driveway from stains or grass from dying....

    Just my 2 cents on this.[​IMG]
  9. mr500

    mr500 Meat Mopper

    I have had one for 10+ years. Done turkey, Boston Butts, fish, etc...

    When I drop the birrd in I ALWAYS cut OFF my burner for a min or two until the oil/meat stabalize..then relight the burner and keep an eye on her. Always with an Ext next to me. NO WATER lol.

    Follow all other advice from here as well. If your CAREFULL and repesct the burner danial son you will be ok.


  10. Have you ever left the used oil in for a year? We cooked a turkey last year in the fryer at my parents house and the fryer was left in the corner of the garage for a year. I'm not planning on using the oil, but does anyone think that there will be any issues getting it clean? The elements and baskets in the fryers are tough to get clean... Guess I'm just a little paranoid about getting it clean...
  11. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

     Good choice to toss the oil , as far as the cleaning,yes it going to be a PITA,but if you or a friend has a dishwasher,run it through a couple of times,you may have to scrub some but the Green Scrubbies at the grocer work wonders.

    If it's a propane burner, check the orifaces , bugs like to get up in there and plug the works.

    Hope this helps and...
  12. taylorc

    taylorc Newbie

  13. Definately makes for a good turkey but I saw all the videos and got scared and havent used my fryer in awhile but contemplating it. As one reply recommended some safety tips and you'll be fine. the trick is to not over fill the pot with oil and follow time per pound so you dont try to handle to look at the texture or whatever,. And always lift it out of the pot with one sure lift and swing it away from the grease asap in case it wants to drop back it into the pot of boiling oil. The only thing is to not get yourself burned then. And keep kids away, away for several hrs. It takes for ever for that grease to cool down.
  14. Just like a few mentioned above. I always turn the burner off before lowering the turkey into the oil. I love fried turkey. I just wish my wife ate more meat. I end up giving away more turkey than we consume. I have a burner from Camp Chef(60KBTU) and the SS pot and basket was a gift from my boss. Now that we have moved to Oregon, I've had to say goodbye to my crawfish boils, but the crab has turned out to be a swell alternative.
  15. I have been deep frying turkeys for Thanksgiving for about 10 years and never any catastrophies as of yet!  Both Daves mentioned great tips and advice above (as others have too!).  I have had two different fryers and both were propane fueled.  The first one was a three leg design which was warned to be a tip-over hazard the following year or two and Im not even sure the cheap ones come like this anymore.  I wanted something nicer so about 6 years ago I got something from Lowes called a Safety-Fryer which I have since seen several identical variations.  Basically is a tall pot that has a wide step and flares out at the top so the boiling hot oil is caught on the lip and rolls back down into the main section instead of boil out and roll down the side to potentially hit the flame.  Excellent design I must say and I would highly recommend this style!  I have deep fried about 20 turkeys, lots of big batches of chicken wings, french fries, it works great for everything.  Regardless the brand they do seem sensative to wind so plan on building some time of dam around a few sides to shield it, a few half sheets of plywood work fine and I prefer to lightly mist water on them so they are not dry.  I liked Alton Browns idea with the Ladder and board with a hook and I have used this method several times.  About 5  years ago my father-in-law jokingly suggested using my engine hoist to lower the bird down and pick it up..... The next few years I used it and made great pictures for conversation haha but cant beat being several feet away and not getting oil splattering on you! 

    I have never had any fires or major crisis's doing this.  The first year was the scariest- too much oil and what do you do with an extra gallon of 350 deg oil?!!!  Luckily we have a large metal bowl!  It was my first year, not much talk of frying yet, and definately did not know about filling with water FIRST- then put turkey in to get correct fluid level!  That was when they still sold peanut oil in 5 gallon containers- now they are much less and normally very close to the correct level..... they conviniently left the price alone year after year while reducing the volume but ohh well, just no fun finding out your are a half gallon short on turkey day so measure ahead of time if you can!

    My wife used to work at a local spice company and they have a great buttery garlic merinade and her boss said though the label suggests mixing with melted butter- he uses beer .  Every year I have deep fried a turkey we have used this merinade with a bottle of Sam Adams Octoberfest, great tasting bird that everyone always loves!  I also normally fry a second bird that is spicy cajon and use a lighter beer with and still very good with a little spice and heat.

    Good luck to you on this adventure!  Great tasting turkey, very juicy! 

    As mentioned several times above USE COMMON SENSE!!! DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE BIRD START TO FINISH!!!   I keep one long thermometer in the oil and another one just for the bird- and also mentioned above get a welding glove or long cooking mit!
  16. The five gallons of oil will cost more than the turkey.
  17. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Linguica , you really don't need "Peanut Oil". I go to the Dollar Gen. and get Veg. or Corn Oil to use, I know it doesn't have than peanut taste, but it's still goooood !!! Cost me maybe $12 to do a fry...

    Just sayin' ; have fun and...
  18. cxthree

    cxthree Newbie

    I ordered that same butterball fryer this year.  Going to fry a 13 lb turkey and then smoke a large turkey breast.  Looking forward to trying out the fryer.  It looks to be far easier and safer then the propane ones I have used over the years. 
    electricfry likes this.
  19. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Fried my first gobbler more than 10 years ago. It can be done safely but requires attention to what you are doing.

    You've been given good info about putting water in first and marking the line that you will fill oil to. DO NOT OVER FILL !!

    Thaw the turkey for sure.

    You WILL get a little splash of oil so don't mess up your driveway. I always do mine on the lawn. I also keep a fire extinguisher handy. I don't really care if I burn up some grass but I want to be able to put out any oil that MIGHT land on me and flame up.

    Fried turkey is much, much better than one roasted in the oven, but I now prefer to smoke them. I did one for Thanksgiving and another for Christmas last year. SWMBO doesn't care much for turkey because one lasts far too long for just the 2 of us; so we generally do a chicken or pork roast for holidays, now.

    My turkey fryer came from Home Depot or Sam's. It is basically the Cajun Classic. Works good. Lasts a long time.

    Caution: Be sure you have plenty of propane. If in doubt go get a full one. You don't want to be messing with changing our bottles under hot oil.
  20. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    There are some great tips mentioned on yours that are on point:
    • Sability of frier. Make sure 4 legs and low to ground.
    • Test the amount of oil. remeber oil expands when heated.
    • Turn off the fire when adding the bird.
    • As with BBQ slow is the key to lowering the bird
    I have never used one the of the household electric friers, so no opinion on them. I have used a comercial frier and it is a pain to clean around the elements. It is not as likely, but you do still run some issues with fire and electric friers. As long as you take the time and pay attention either way can be safe.

    Below is a reply I had posted on this thread:


    I have fried over 200 birds in the past 15 years. It is a great way to cook and prepare turkeys in my opinion. I was reading through the thread and did not see a full process posted. I did see some great tips that I use myself.

    I agree the single most important thing with frying a turkey or anything, is safety. As mentioned in the video make sure you are on a hard level surface. You never set up one of those style fryers inside the house or on a deck, they do have some newer style indoor oil less fryers, I have never used one so have no opinion on them.

    If you choose to fry a turkey or anything else there are a few guidelines/rules to follow:
    • Never leave the fryer unattended while it is on or hot. Most likely the time you are doing this is a family/friend gathering. So lots of people and other distractions are around. Once you have committed to turning the fryer on. That has become someone’s single most import thing in the world! Someone had to be responsible for watching it and the area around it. You will have dogs running around, kids playing and even adults not paying attention to what they are doing. This is when people get burned and accidents happen.
    • I also would not recommend doing this while intoxicated, a drink is ok, but if too many are had it can skew judgment and accidents can happen. I do highly recommend a celebratory beverage after when everything has been taken care of…….only if that is your thing.
    • Setting up in the middle of where everyone will be is not a good idea. Set up your cooking station off to the side where people can see if they want, but you are in a safe controlled area.
    • Safety equipment needed: ABC fire extinguisher (20# worth minimum), heavy heat resistant gloves, a way to lower the bird into the oil (some kits come with a coat hanger looking thing, others have a handle with a hook, I have also used a wood pole about 3” in length and loop the butcher twin around it {more on that later})
    • Personal attire: close toe shoes (hot oil on your toes does not tickle), and apron or long pants and at least a t-shirt. Do not wear long dangly things that can get caught in the handle of the fryer or even dip into the hot oil. If you have long hair tie it back so it cannot get into the handle or oil.
    • Other items: long tongs, long stem metal thermometers for frying (metal candy thermometer with long probe stem will work too), long stem lighter, small table for work station, hose with spray tip, towels, clean pans and anything else you may feel you need.
    I know sound like a “do gooder nag”, but every year you hear of someone having an accident and they could have been avoided if they had just taken the time to set themselves up safely and paid attention to what they were doing.

    Fry area selection and set up:

    If you have a concrete pad or a level area in your yard those are preferred choices. Note that while the bird is cooking it will spit and splatter hot oil around the area. So make sure you are OK with either the concrete pad getting stained with the oil or the grass may die from the hot oil. I am fortunate to have areas around my house that have sandy spots, so I will set up there. I have used a sheet of old plywood to protect the surface, however if you have an accident you now have extra fuel for the fire. I have friend who uses large paving stones to make a concrete pad and then store them away when not in use. Inspect the area and make sure you do not have possible obstructions or trip hazards. Nothing could ruin a meal like tripping over a sprinkler head or kids toy. Set up the propane tank as far away as you can without putting a strain on the hose. Have a table or something stable to place the bird on while you are either setting up to place in the fryer or while you have the bird removed to temp or serve. Have a fire extinguisher handy. I also have a hose with a spray tip to use to wet down the grass if it has been dry out. Never spray the oil with the water, it will not end well!!!!

    Bird Selection and Prep:

    Before selecting your bird you need to look at the pot you are using. Most kits will tell you the max size you can fit in the pot. I will try to keep it to around 10#-12# with the kits that are sold. If you get a pot from a restaurant depot or something like that you will have to play around with it. You need to have enough room for the oil to get the convection heat movement going. If you over pack it you will run into issues of the oil getting too cold and never recovering.

    Once you have determined the size of bird you are looking for and have purchased it. Before you take it out of the bag it is sealed in. You need to mark your oil level. As suggested previously place the bird in the pot you plan to use fill with water to no more than 4” below the lip, you really only want to be about 1”-2” above the tips of the legs. Remove the bird and mark where the water level is. If you can measure the amount of water that is in the pot and that will tell you how much oil you will need to start. Some will notice that this was done with the packaging on and realize that we have the cavity to fill with oil as well, so that volume is accounted for with the expansion of the oil when it heats up. I usually will keep some extra oil on hand if I need to adjust the level a bit on the fly.

    I do not brine my birds I fry, you can but that will give you extra water to mix with hot oil. It makes a bigger mess to clean up. I will take my bird out of the packaging and inject with a mixture of (OJ, sea salt, fine ground black pepper, rosemary and EVOO) I will place all of the ingredients in a blender and get it to a smooth consistency, taste, adjust and the let sit over night and strain before injecting it into the bird. I do not rub the outside of the bird with anything, if I do anything I will take the stuff I strained out of the injection marinade and rub on the inside of the cavity. I find that if anything is on the outside it will burn and look bad on the bird. I am fortunate enough to have multiple fridges, so I can designate one to meat prep for the holidays. So I will leave my bird uncovered to allow the skin to dry out a bit. I find it gives me less splattering and a crispier skin.

    If you buy or have one of the kits, they have a stand that you mount the bird on. They are pretty straight forward. The metal bar assembly goes through the cavity and the bird will be head first. I usually will not tie my birds, some do. However if you do not have the kit or have lost this assembly, this is how I do mine. I have an old wok ring that I place on the bottom of the pot to keep the bird from touching the bottom and getting burnt. I will take butcher twine and run it through the cavity. Then tie it to form a big loop that has the bird in it. I leave the extra twin to tie off onto the handle of the pot so I don’t lose it while the bird is cooking.


    So you have your station set up, taken all the safety precautions, fryer turned on and heating the oil. Depending on how big the pot is, how much oil and the outside temperature is, will determine how long to heat the oil. I find it takes about 30-45min. At this time is when I pull the bird from the fridge. I usually do not temper my meats before cooking. Since this is a fast cooking and will be through the TDZ in plenty of time, I will for this. It also will help not kill your oil temp when put in the bird. So you have your oil to 350-360 degrees F and the bird is next to the fryer. You lift the bird in hold it over the oil and slowly lower it into the oil, using the hook provided in the kit or loop the string over a wood pole, you will see the oil start to splatter, spit and bubble. I will go about 3”-4” at a time, each time I lower the bird in, I wait till the oil settles down. You DO NOT want to lower the bird as fast as they did in the video!!!! When you get to the top of the cavity, if it has not already, it will fill quickly with the oil; just watch your hands and face. I have seen the oil splash up. Your oil temperature will drop, bring it back to about 325 degreesF and adjust to flame to maintain this temperature. At 325 degreesF it will take about 3min per pound. You want to reach an internal cook temp of 165-170 degreesF. When you need to remove the bird to temp it, remove it slowly to allow all of the oil to drain out of the cavity (huge mess if you don’t and can burn your feet). Place in a clean pan and temp as you would normally. Your bird will float as it cooks, that is ok. Just rotate it so it gets cooked all over. When done cooking allow the bird to rest for 20-30min before carving. You can hold in an oven if needed, just do not cover with foil or something that will hold moisture, you will lose the crispy skin.

    Clean Up:

    So you’re going to want to eat with the other and not baby sit the hot oil. I will place the pot in a shed or garage on a heat safe pad to allow cooling down before I place back into the bottles to discard or reuse for frying other things. You can store it in a cool dark place for about a month. I have gone longer, but would not recommend it. We usually we set up fish fries or something else before the month is up.

    Other Tid Bits:

    I prefer a fresh bird, really up to you and what is available.

    I use vegetable oil, due to cost of peanut. But peanut is very nice. At times you can get from BJ’s, Sam’s or Costco the fryer oil used in commercial kitchens. That has some stabilizers added into it and will last a bit longer than regular cooking oils.

    I was trying to be as detailed as I could remember. I think I got most everything. If something is not clear or I missed something please feel free to ask.

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