What is an Electric Turkey Fryer?

Cassie L. Damewood

An electric turkey fryer is considered a safer and arguably more efficient appliance in which to deep-fry a turkey. Before the relatively recent introduction of this machine, the only available turkey fryer models were heated by a burner attached to and powered by a tank of propane gas. The open flame created by the burner is generally considered much more dangerous than the enclosed coil unit on the electric turkey deep fryer.

A turkey.
A turkey.

Much like a propane-fueled turkey fryer, an electric turkey fryer is normally part of a turkey frying kit. In addition to the burner, the conventional kit typically includes a large aluminum or stainless steel pot with a lid. The pot must be deep enough to easily accommodate up to a 20-pound turkey as well as enough oil to completely cover the turkey. It conventionally has a valve in the bottom to facilitate the removal and storage of oil after use.

Other parts of the kit commonly include a basket or poultry holder to contain the bird as it is inserted into and removed from the pot. A sturdy lifter that attaches to the basket is normally part of the kit as well. Unlike propane models that use a simple thermometer to measure and control the temperature of the oil, an electric turkey fryer has a thermostat installed in it. Most electric versions also include timers and heat safety shut-off features.

Besides temperature controls and increased safety, an electric turkey fryer can be used inside, unlike their counterparts that can only safely be used outdoors. Both models require exemplary attention to handling the gallons of hot oil. The electric version’s lack of flames, which can be highly vulnerable to igniting the oil or other flammable substances, make it an increasingly popular choice among consumers.

Some rules for deep frying turkeys apply to both electric and propane models. The turkey should be placed into the pot before the cooking begins and covered with water. Before the turkey is removed, the water level should be measured and used as a guideline for how much oil is used for frying. The oil should just submerge the bird and not be high enough in the pot to risk overflow onto the burner.

The bird should be as dry as possible before it is lowered into the oil. Water hitting hot oil can create out-of-control flame-ups that are dangerous to the cook and anyone else in the area. These flames have frequently been reported to have seemingly jumped from pots and ignited nearby porches, decks and houses. Overcooking turkeys by both methods has occasionally caused the birds to explode, so using a thermometer to monitor the bird’s internal temperature is strongly suggested.

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