Traditional Outdoor Propane Turkey Fryers

Monday, October 24, 2011 @ 10:10 AM

So, now we get to the traditional turkey fryer. A stock pot, a jet cooker, and a propane tank. Simple, yet many people are frightened by them.

As long as you read the instructions, follow what they say, use sober, common sense, and have a bucket of sand and/or an all purpose fire extinguisher handy, everything should be fine. Oil and water don’t mix!! There is no need to be a hero either. If you find yourself in a situation that is out of your hands, call the local fire department.

Reading about other peoples bad experiences with traditional outdoor propane deep fryers can be good, but can also be bad. If you read them in order to find out what not to do, that is fine. But if you read them and they just make you more opposed to cooking this way, then you will want to go with a safer outdoor propane fryer, or go oil less.

As long as you follow certain guidelines, you can have a perfect, crispy, & juicy fried turkey in about a third of the the time it takes to roast the same size bird in your oven. Imagine having a fully cooked 14 lb. turkey in less than an hour as compared to taking more than 4 hours to roast the same bird.

Safety is the main thing with this style of fryer. It must be used outdoors, and not inside of your garage or on your wooden deck right next to your house. You want the unit away from buildings and combustible materials.

It should be placed on a sturdy level section of ground or concrete.

You want a good distance between your propane tank and your cooker. But you also want to make sure that the hose between the tank and the cooker are not in a walk through area.

Make sure that the kids, your buddies and the dog all have some place else to play. That goes for after you are done cooking as well. It will take quite a while for the frying oil to cool down once you are done.

If  there is any wind the day you are cooking, place your LP gas on the upside of the wind so that the heat of the burner is blowing in the opposite direction.

Make sure you are properly dressed. You want long sleeves, shoes, and pants. Shorts and flip flops are not a great idea here. You also want to have on a pair of protective gloves, preferably ones that can handle high temps. Safety goggles are not a bad idea either.

You want an oil with a high smoke point. For more on smoke point and cooking oils, see our past blog on Frying Oils.

Having all of your equipment right on hand is important. You want to have your thermometer to constantly monitor your temp. A conventional turkey fryer does not have a temperature gauge that will shut off when it reaches the desired temperature. It does not a safety shut off, or breakaway cord like a counter top deep fryer. You must constantly monitor an outdoor propane deep fat fryer. DO NOT EVER LEAVE THE FRYER UNATTENDED. Have your lifting hooks and everything right where you can get at them. If possible, have a friend that can assist in raising and lowering your turkey into the hot oil.

Make sure your poultry is fully thawed!!! Ice crystals and hot oil do not mix!

I like to start at about 400 degrees. Even though your bird should be at room temp. for about an hour before you fry it, the oil temp. is still going to drop down. Starting a little higher than optimum temp. will help speed temp. recovery time. When the oil has reached optimum temp. you want to raise and lower the bird into the hot oil just like a dunking tea bag. The oil will spit and bubble at this point. So take your time getting the turkey settled in before placing the lid on the unit. If you are worried about hot oil and flames coming in contact, shut the burner off while you are lowering the turkey into the pot. Once everything has settled, immediately turn your burner back on. Remember to monitor your temps. You don’t want the temperature too low, or too high.

Remember to let the unit cool before attempting cool filter and store your oil for future use.

Now, I can never stress the fact enough that a traditional turkey fryer is the perfect piece of outdoor cooking equipment for tailgaters, campers, and even the backyard social butterfly.

This unit not only deep fries. You can steam, boil, and stew with it. You can steam corn on the cob while you are grilling steaks in your back yard. You can have a whole Low Country Boil or New England Style Clam Bake at the beach. You can make beef stew for that cold weather tailgate, or a huge pot of hot chocolate, hot cider or mulled wine. Deep fry a huge mess of Buffalo wings for the Superbowl. Have a Friday Night Fish Fry at church. You can even make corned beef and cabbage for a Half Way to St. Patrick’s Day party at your fire department or in the stadium parking lot at a Notre Dame game. Menu options are endless.This kind of cooking equipment is a tailgater’s best friend.

And that’s not all. There are still at least 100 more applications that a turkey fryer can fit into. You can use them to can beets at harvest time. You can cook down maple sap to make syrup in the spring. Tie die shirts with the kids on a summer afternoon. There is no reason to pack your fryer away just because Thanksgiving is over.

As I have said before, if you are frightened of these wonderful cooking apparatuses due to past horror stories, then this cooker may not be for you. But, if you are willing to get out there and experiment, the options of this versatile piece of cooking equipment are astounding.

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