Everything You Need to Deep-Fry a Turkey at Home — Safely!

published Nov 3, 2022
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Graphic collage showing 7 tools used for deep-frying a Thanksgiving turkey.
Credit: Amazon, Home Depot, Ace Hardware

Once you’ve decided to deep-fry your holiday turkey, your next move should be gathering the equipment you’ll need to get the job done. Some of the tools might be obvious — like a pot big enough to hold a 15-pound turkey or heat-resistant gloves — but some you might not think of until the turkey is already thawed. Don’t get caught outside without a poultry lifter! 

Thanks to the popularity of deep-frying turkeys, getting your hands on the right equipment isn’t hard. You’ll likely have some tools for turkey frying already, like a propane tank left over from barbecue season, and you can find the rest of what you need online at home improvement stores like Ace or Home Depot. Or if you’ve got the time to do some shopping, you can also find used equipment secondhand too.

What Equipment Do I Need to Deep-Fry a Turkey? 

The basic setup for frying a turkey is an outdoor fryer burner, large metal pot, regulator hose, poultry lifter, and long-stem thermometer. You can usually find these as a set, like this one from Master Built. We used this streamlined, budget-friendly set for our deep-fried turkey recipe.

Bayou Classic deep-fry sets are also well-known, but they can cost more than ones from Master Built and come with extra tools you may or may not need. This particular bundle comes with a fryer burner, pot, lifter, and thermometer as well as a seasoning injector and skewers, so it all comes down to your needs and budget.

In case you want to purchase the equipment piecemeal, let’s walk through the essentials and what to look for when you’re shopping. 

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An outdoor fryer burner with a regulator hose is really useful tool to have, and this GasOne pick is accessible and sturdy. Beyond frying turkey, you can use it for doing crab boils, frying fish, cooking with a wok, and even cloth-dyeing projects. Shapes vary from round to square, and you’ll want to make sure your pot diameter is compatible with the top of your pot — you don’t want a 50-quart pot sitting on top of a 12-inch-wide burner! Make sure the burner feels sturdy and sits level, especially if you’re shopping secondhand. Skip the burners with safety rails — while these rails might seem smart, they can actually get in the way if you need to move your hot pot and make any potential falls more dangerous. Plus, they’re annoying to clean.

Some things to know about the regulator hose: This controls the temperature of your burner so you want to make sure it's rated for at least 50,000 BTUs. Some of these hoses come with safety shut-off valves or more nuanced temperature controls. These valves give a sense of safety, but can also slow down your cooking if they shut off the pot and you don’t see or hear it. You don’t need these anyway because you’ll be staying with your fry pot the whole time you cook.

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For a turkey between 10 and 15 pounds, you'll need a 30- to 34-quart pot. If you need to feed a crowd, consider frying two turkeys back to back rather than one large bird all at once. This is easier on the cook, so you don’t need gallons of oil and a giant pot — and you get tastier turkeys, as they cook quickly without getting dry, too.

A 30-to 34-quart pot is also just compact enough for storing long-term. If you're shopping in a store, pick up the pot to feel how heavy it is and how well it sits on a level surface. Skip pots with valves for draining because they leak and are a pain to clean. If the pot comes with a lid, great, but I wouldn't go out of my way and buy a separate lid, as it isn't required for turkey frying.

In terms of materials, there are two main type: stainless steel and aluminum. Stainless steel pots are heavier and usually more expensive, while aluminum pots are lightweight and inexpensive.

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If you go with an aluminum pot, know that the material can dent easily so if you order a pot online, check for dents as soon as you can after it arrives. There's nothing more disappointing than realizing your crucial pot was dented in shipping.

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Academy Sports + Outdoors

This is the tool that ensures you can gently lower your turkey into hot oil and remove it safely. Poultry lifters have two pieces — a base with a stem that goes into and stays with the turkey during frying, and a hook for lowering and lifting the turkey. There are two common styles of lifters: a perforated plate style or a star and hook style. Both work well for frying, but if given the choice, grab the hook style, as they allow more direct contact for the turkey in the oil and, again, they are easier to clean.

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was $15.99

This inexpensive tool should have an easy-to-read face, long stem, and a hook that secures it to the pot.

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Home Depot

The one piece of equipment that you can’t get online? A 20-pound capacity propane tank. But it should be easy to find at a grocery store or home improvement store like Home Depot. To save yourself some time and guarantee a tank, place an online order for in-store pickup. If you go to a store, know that the tanks are usually stored outside the store for safety so you’ll have to pay inside first and a store associate will get a tank for you. Try not to drive around with the tank in your trunk forever and make sure you store it outside of your home as well.

What Other Tools Are Useful for Deep-Frying Turkey? 

For handling and safety, you’ll need a few other kitchen essentials, which you may already have. A digital probe thermometer and heat-resistant gloves are necessary for safety, as well as a roasting pan or disposable aluminum pan for thawing and transporting the turkey on fry day. The outdoor burner doesn’t automatically light, so make sure you’ve got a long-reach lighter for getting things started, too. A fire extinguisher is another safety essential, if you don’t have one already. Make sure it’s rated for grease fires and that you read the directions before you get busy frying. 

Here’s a handy shopping list.

Now You’re Ready to Deep-Fry a Turkey!

Don’t be intimated by this list — you can easily procure all the equipment and tools you need in a budget-friendly way, especially if you’ve got some of the tools already. If this list seems long, it’s only because frying anything in hot oil requires a bit of planning to ensure your own safety and make sure that your holiday dinner actually makes it to the table.

Are you planning to deep-fry your turkey this holiday? Let us know in the comments below!