Turkey Fryers – Electric or Propane?

Given the proximity of the up coming holidays, many people have been considering deep frying a turkey for the first time. There are many different kinds of turkey fryers out there to choose from. Primarily outdoor propane deep fryers or indoor counter top electric fryers. The differences between an outdoor deep fryer and an electric fryer vary greatly. We will start with electric turkey fryers.

First and foremost, electric fryers are made for indoors. You can take your electric fryer outdoors to use one day at a time. But you should bring it back indoors once everything has cooled, and put it away. It should never be left out on your patio like a backyard grill. The morning dew alone is enough to ruin the inner workings of an electric deep fryer.

You can take an electric deep fryer camping if you have electricity, but you can forget about tailgating with one unless you have a generator.

An electric turkey fryer can be a large counter top deep fryer. My first fryer was an electric counter top turkey fryer. It not only fries small turkeys as well as deep frying anything you want, but you can also steam and boil with it. I’ve been known to make Low Country Boil right in my house in the middle of the winter.

Not all so-called electric turkey fryers, are actually deep fryers. These units work with high radiant heat. They technically roast, not deep fry. There is really no oil involved. Less mess to clean up. You can roast other meats in these units, but you can not fry up a batch of french fries in one of these.

Most electric turkey fryers have a safety shut off feature if the oil becomes too hot. They mostly all have a thermometer or temperature gauge as well. This is a great feature because most of these units will tell you that your oil is up to temperature by a light on the gauge or unit. This is also good if you are frying things other than turkey. If you are frying up multiple batches of things, like Buffalo wings or onion rings, you should always let your oil come back up to temperature between batches.

Now, speaking of oil temperatures, electric fryers do take longer to heat oil than outdoor propane deep fryers. It also takes longer between batches to come back up to temperature. You want fried crispy food, not oil logged greasy food. So pay attention to your oil temperatures. Don’t get hasty and put food in before it’s time.

Lastly, you don’t have to worry about the kids and the dog needing to have somewhere else to play. Odds are they are not playing on the counter top or in the kitchen, so the odds of your indoor electric turkey fryer getting knocked over by a game of soccer or football are next to nil.

Now we’ve discussed electric turkey fryers. Let’s move on to outdoor propane turkey fryers.

There is the issue of LP gas. You must have a propane tank to cook with, but this affords portability and versatility. You can go anywhere! The beach, camping, tailgating, or even just a different place in your back yard. And speaking of versatility a traditional turkey fryer consists of a stock pot and an outdoor propane cooker. Not only can you deep fry with them, you can stew, boil and steam food. You can make chili for a cold weather camp out or have a New England clam bake right in your back yard. Always make sure you have an extra LP tank around, just in case.

Have you ever deep fried food in your house? The fact that your outdoors is great, because now your whole house won’t smell like you deep fried a turkey two or three days later.

Even though you are outdoors there are still safety features to keep in mind. You always want to be on stable, sturdy ground, and not near any buildings or materials that can catch fire. The kids and the dog will now have to find a different place to play than where you are set up. If it rains you cannot take your outdoor turkey fryer indoors. Do not take it on the porch or in the garage, as this could just end in a really bad day!!!

Frying oil will heat faster with a propane fryer than an electric one. Even after you put a whole turkey in the oil, it takes a significantly less time to come back up to temperature, than if you were using electricity. Most traditional outdoor fryers do not have a built-in temperature gauge though. You need a deep fryer thermometer and you need to monitor your temps. There will be no little light telling you that the oil is ready. There is no safety shut off either. Again you need to monitor your temperatures and turn your regulator valve down if need be.

Traditional turkey fryers always run the risk of overflow and flare ups. This can occur if placing the bird too quickly into the fryer, or if it is wet or not properly thawed. A way to avoid the danger of overflow and flare ups is to get a safer fryer. These units typically have the flame on the back side and self-contained fire tubes. Any overflow that may occur would happen at the front of the unit. No hot oil or flame should ever come in contact. All the same safety precautions should still be taken. Like having an all-purpose fire extinguisher handy at all times and protective gloves.

Electric or propane, indoors or outdoors, you should never use water on a hot oil fire.

Never leave your fryer unattended, indoors or outdoors.

Whether you decide on an indoor electric turkey fryer or an outdoor propane deep fryer, weigh your options, research, and make an informed decision. Which fryer is best? That decision can only be made by you.