With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I was asked by Char-Broil to be one of a few reviewers of the Big Easy Oil-Less Turkey Fryer. Yes, you read that correctly… Oil-less frying. To help with the review, and as I’ve promised to be completely transparent about these things, Char-Broil did supply me with the fryer and a Flip camera to help with the review. However, my review is not based on getting those things for free (but thank you, Char-Broil).
A few things about the fryer before getting to the actual review… It seems to run about $100, though some deals may be found, and it cooks with propane. The design of the unit, though, takes the propane (16,000 BTUs) and converts it to infrared. It’s also designed well for drippings, allowing the drippings to fall through to an easy-to-clean drawer on the bottom. The good thing about this is that, unlike regular turkey frying, the drippings can be used for gravy… A big advantage. Add the drippings (after defatting) to Williams-Sonoma turkey gravy base, and you’ll have a fantastic gravy. And, trust me, the Williams-Sonoma turkey gravy base is great!
The unit comes unassembled, but it takes very little to put it together. Using nothing but a screwdriver and a pair of plyers, I had it all done in less than 20 minutes, with everything fitting well.
The advantages go beyond gravy base… There’s no danger of flare-ups (read infernos) from oil spilling over, and it’s easily cleaned without needing to do something with a couple gallons of oil. The capacity is great, holding up to a 16 lbs turkey (if you need more, you can do two turkeys in less time than roasting one in the oven).
I’ve always liked fried turkey. Even using oil, no oil really gets absorbed; it just provides an even, close temperature to get the turkey done but keeping it very moist. The Big Easy does a great job of doing this. It doesn’t do it quite 100% oil-less; it’s recommended to put a bit of oil on the outside of the bird. what this helps with, I think, is mostly the skin. If you like crispy turkey skin, use a bit of peanut oil on the outside of the bird, and it will crisp up nicely. I did this with the turkey breast I tried, and my wife approved of the skin. This is the one thing that she misses when I smoke turkeys.
Check out my quick video review, and let me know what you think of the Big Easy! I have used Char-Broil’s infrared grills, too, and they are way ahead on the infrared front. Maybe I’ll get lucky and get a chance to actually review one of those, too!
The verdict is…
if you’re looking for a great way to fry a turkey for Thanksgiving but feel it’s too dangerous, this is the way to go! It does a great job, producing very moist turkey or chicken, or anything else you’d like to put in there. It doesn’t have the versatility of a true turkey fryer (chilis, jambalaya, crab boils, etc) or the ability to fry chips or other smaller items, but for larger items, it takes all the danger away, which means you don’t have to worry while the bird is cooking this Thanksgiving. You can be in the house cooking other things, spending time with family, watching football, and the bird will cook away. All you have to do is make sure you have propane and check the temp according to the guidelines given with the fryer! Great job, Char-Broil!