The Char-Broil Oil-less Turkey Fryer, I would have to say, isn't quite a fryer. The picture that I have in my mind of frying food isn't quite the result of this one. This isn't necessarily a bad thing unless, of course, that's what I was expecting. Below is our review on the Char-Broil oil-less turkey fryer review.
I received my turkey fryer as a gift from someone a couple of months ago and have used it a few times. I cooked a couple of chickens as practice for the big event, which was a turkey test. This past weekend I did my first turkey in the fryer. I cooked a 16-pound turkey, the manual states that it can accommodate a 25-pound turkey, but honestly, I'm not sure of that.
As with a lot of outdoor cooking gear, a small amount of preparation had to happen. The first thing was assembling the product. Assembly was pretty straightforward, but as with many products, the directions weren't that great. Most assembly instructions rely on images to tell you what to do, with few words. Just take your time, and it's not a big deal. The next thing you have to do is prep the inside metal liner. This liner is similar to a cast-iron skillet in that you have to treat it. You coat the inside with some vegetable oil, turn it on and let it cook in. The sides will turn a bronze color when it's ready - it should take about 15 minutes.
Cooking My Turkey
Cooking with the fryer is pretty simple. First, you turn on and preheat the cooker, which should take about 5 or 10 minutes. Then, once it's ready to go but the food in the basket, you put the drumsticks in first with the breast up top for a turkey. I usually cook with the temperature probe in the meat to monitor the results and understand where I am in my cook, so I insert the probe, and then I drop the basket into the cooker.
The above image is a 16-pound turkey that had been prepared for the fry (see below). I'm typically the cook in the house, and I pride myself on cooking a good Thanksgiving turkey. I usually cook at a temperature of 325 degrees, and this size turkey would typically take around 3 1/2 hours in the oven. However, this fryer took a bit under 2 1/2 hours to finish cooking the turkey to an internal temperature of 165-170 degrees, which is safe. I read the manual and understood that this would be quick, but I was still pretty surprised.
The image below is the finished product - there was a nice crispy skin, which was to me, and the most important thing to accomplish was the members of my household.
In addition to the turkey, there's a trap underneath the fryer to catch grease and liquid from the cook. After skimming off the fat from the liquid, we made a great gravy out of the drippings. We did need to cook it and prepare the gravy, but natural drippings must be at my house.
Preparing The Turkey For The Fryer
One of the most important things when cooking a turkey is preparation. The preparation for this turkey was about a week. This turkey was frozen (they're typically cheaper this way) and needed to be thawed. So I took the bird out of my freezer and put it into a refrigerator to thaw out. I wasn't sure when I would cook the bird, but I put it into the fridge on a Sunday with the intention that I would cook it on Saturday or Sunday. [I ended up doing it on Sunday due to the weather.]
On Saturday morning, before the cook, I prepared the bird by brining it for 24 hours. There's a lot of recipes for this, but I chose an apple-sage recipe. This recipe is primarily salt and sugar, but there's other stuff in it. After sitting in the brine in the refrigerator overnight, I took the bird out of the brine, rinsed it off thoroughly, placed it on a cooling rack, uncovered it, set it on a cooling rack, and put it back in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 hours. The purpose of doing this is to dry the skin out a bit - this ensures crispy skin.
The turkey came out with some fantastic crispy skin, very juicy meat, and it was done in about 2/3 the total cook time compared to an oven.
Thoughts on the Char-Broil Oil-less.
After a couple of cooks with the Char-Broil Oil-less Turkey Fryer, I want to reiterate that I don't think that this should be considered a fryer, but it's not an oven. This is more of a convection oven cooking style, but this is a fantastic accessory for you to add to your outdoor kitchen for the price. Compared to an oil-based deep fryer, this method is pretty safe, as long as you follow the precautions in the manual.
The most important things to consider with something like this are:
- Are the results what you want and expect?
- Is the price within your budget?
- Is the price worth the result?
The list price of this fryer on the Char-Broil website is $120; you might be able to find it for a few dollars less on Amazon, but figure on paying about this price. The results we got with both the chicken and the turkey were a bit better than I anticipated they'd be - it's not a nod to my cooking abilities, but you can't just toss it in and pray. Yes, I received this as a gift, but the price is very much worth the results, in all honesty. I don't know how often I'll end up using it, but I'll likely use it 5 or 6 times a year.
There are several accessories for the oil-less fryer that allows you to cook smaller things, like Cornish hens; you can get additional drip-pan liners, a cover, you can even get a rib rack (that I don't think I'd do). So the final word is that we believe this is a good accessory for our backyard cooking world.
Looking for another outdoor cooking tool?
Our Bottom Line:
- Great, quick results with a safe way of sort-of frying food.
- Nice crispy skin is easily achievable.
- Bottom receptacle catches juices for gravy.
- It's not really a true fryer, if you're looking to make fried chicken like you'd get at Popeye's, this isn't what you're looking for.
- Temperature control takes practice
The quick, excellent results definitely outweighed the fact that it's not really a fryer. We will definitely be using this as part of our arsenal moving forward.