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What you need to fry a turkey without oil

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Deep fried AND little or no oil? Yes, it's possible to fry a turkey without oil!

Deep fried AND little or no oil? Yes, it’s possible to fry a turkey without oil!

I promise you, it’s for real. You can honestly and truly get all the crispy goodness and deep-fried flavor of traditional oil fried turkey with little or no oil. 

I know, I know. How can you have deep fried turkey without the oil, right? I had my doubts when I first heard about this, too. Visions of those pale, nasty microwaved turkeys of years past popped into my mind (hey, the instruction book said you could cook a turkey in it!) 

Not this time. This is something else entirely because this time the new way actually works. But before I get into the details, I want give you a quick review of the kinds of turkey fryers out there, from traditional deep fryers to newer options like the Big Easy oil-less fryer. 

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Electric Oil Fryers

These are popular with backyard cooks, where access to power is close at hand. They cook a turkey much faster than traditional all-day oven roasting, and in many cases can be taken apart for easy dishwasher cleaning. But they do tend to be small, making them a poor choice for the big family-sized bird so many people need for holidays and get-togethers. And they tend to smoke more than other types of turkey fryers. 

Propane Oil Fryers

A propane powered deep turkey fryer is more portable than electric models, so they’re often seen at camp outs, parks and picnics. And they can handle a larger bird than their electric cousins. Unfortunately, that extra capacity means they require a whole lot of oil. And many models are unsteady, making tip-over accidents a real concern. All that hot oil can cause serious injuries and has resulted in more than one house getting bar-b-qued, too. 

Infrared No-oil Fryers

So here’s where things are changing. New propane-powered infrared cookers like the Big Easy infrared turkey fryer use circulating air and infrared heat to cook turkeys with the crispy skin and deep flavor of an oil-based fryer, but without the oil. Like the propane oil fryers, these oil-less turkey cookers can handle big birds…typically up to 16 pounds. The turkey can be injected with maranades, coated with a rub or both before it’s cooked


For me, the fact that there’s no oil to buy, dispose of, or risk spilling is a great big plus for me. I was at a company picnic once where the brand new turkey fryer caught the picnic shelter on fire…not a great selling point in my book! 

And now the how to...

I found a super easy recipe for a Creole-herbed turkey on Custom Catering. They just made a simple rub of rosemary, pre-mixed Creole seasonings, lemon and a tablespoon (yup, just one!) of extra virgin olive oil. Tuck some of the seasonings under the skin, rub the rest on the skin, and you’re ready to cook.

You can also use your favorite traditional turkey seasonings like sage, thyme and rosemary. Or pick up a packet or two of regional poultry rubs and give those a try (almost always available in tourist shops if your local grocery store doesn’t have them.)  Just play around with flavors until you find a couple you and your family love. 

Do follow the directions for your cooker when it comes to pre-heating, the size of the bird it can cook, and how to use the cooking basket and lid. These can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so make sure you check out the steps for using your cooker. 

Now about those extra calories you’re saving….

If you opt fry a turkey without oil, there are going to be some serious calories saved so make sure you don’t let them go to waste. I suggested a nice rich chocolate cake for dessert…or maybe an extra slice of pumpkin pie. Hey, you’ve earned it for being smart! 


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