Deep-fried turkey is the best possible way to serve up Thanksgiving. Yes, you need to buy a dedicated turkey fryer to make one. And yes, the process comes with a number of risks. But here’s why it’s all worth it.
The Best Turkey Fryers
The best turkey fryers produce excellent fried turkey and are durable and powerful. (They're also great for other non-turkey frying purposes, such as cook a seafood boil.) Find out which turkey fryer won our equipment test.
1. It's Dinner and a Show
When you deep-fry a turkey, you provide your guests with dinner and a show. There’s a whiff of danger as you lower the big bird into the oil. (Follow our safety guidelines and all will be well.) The anticipation as you await the results, sensing catastrophe at any moment. And finally the awe and relief from your dining companions as you hoist the turkey from its molten bath, unbelievably crisp and more deeply and evenly bronzed than anything you could pull out of the oven.
This is cooking as spectacle, and as fine a family entertainment as you’re going to get, short of watching your uncle throw a tantrum because he lost at charades again. In some ways, surviving a turkey fry is a nod to the spirit of Thanksgiving: Nothing will make you quite as thankful for what you have as the knowledge that your loved ones and possessions are all safe and well after such a potentially treacherous event.
2. Crackling Skin, Juicy Meat
We're burying the lead here. Deep frying a turkey yields super delicious results. At its best, a fried turkey is a thing of beauty, the highest form a turkey can take. Perfectly bronzed, crackling-like skin; tender, juicy meat.
How to Fry a Turkey Without Burning Down Your Neighborhood
There’s no getting around it: Frying a turkey is dangerous. Many scenarios can cause the fryer and anything around it to catch fire. Read our step-by-step guide to how to safely use a turkey fryer.
3. Frees Up Your Oven
With your turkey in the fryer, your oven is freed up for other, nobler purposes: pies, rolls, stuffing, green bean casseroles. You’ll still have to do the old dance to make sure that everything rotates in and out of the oven in a timely fashion, of course. But the dance will be less complicated than usual since the turkey—the biggest resource hog—will be percolating elsewhere.
The turkey frying process is fast. Deep-frying is thermodynamically efficient. Oil surrounds the bird inside and out, ensuring that everything cooks thoroughly and evenly. Budgeting 3 to 4 minutes per pound, a 12-lb bird will be done in 48 minutes, tops. With that kind of turnaround, you could even cook two turkeys in the time it takes you to finish making all your sides. (Some folks do.) It’s this quick, efficient cooking that helps makes the bird so succulent; there’s no time for it to dry out.
So fry your turkey, and give your friends and family something to be thankful about this year.
Photo: grandriver, Getty Images
Want to be a smarter shopper and become a better cook? Start a free trial to access all of our rigorous, unbiased product reviews.