Top critical review
Switching from propane frying to electric - some good and not so good.
December 3, 2013
I have a lot of experience with frying turkey using the propane and the frying pot method. This year I decided to try an electric fryer.
I primarily switched to the electric fryer as I was getting tired of spending hours out in the cold (sometimes rain) frying turkeys on Thanksgiving. The drawbacks of the propane method at the time were exposure to the weather, wind blowing out the flame, and having to use a large amount of peanut oil (5 gallons - Thanksgiving 2012 peanut oil hit $60 for almost 5 gallons), cleanup of equipment, and safety,
I decided to give the XL Masterbuilt Butterball fryer a try for Thanksgiving 2013 and cooked two turkeys in it Thanksgiving Day.
Here is what I liked about this electric fryer:
1) Safer (no open flame) and you use it indoors (out of the weather and wind).
2) Drain port makes it easy to clean up when you are finished.
3) Built in timer to let you know when to take the turkey out of the fryer (or at least check it).
4) Can cook the same size turkey with less oil.
5) Hot oil remains covered while turkey is frying so no spatter.
Here is what I did not like about this electric fryer compared to propane turkey frying:
1) Limited to 375 degrees. Propane can go up to 400 degrees. This is important as when adding a room temperature turkey to the fryer the oil temperature is reduced significantly.
2) The electrical cord is ridiculously short and since the cord must come from the front of the unit and proceed to an outlet you are limited on where you can use this fryer. Using an extension cord is not recommended as it will steal power away from the the heating element (and you cannot afford this with this fryer).
3) The heating element is not powerful enough to get the oil back up to 375 degrees after a 14 pound turkey is added. I also cooked wings and found this to be true as well.
4) You must extend the cooking time of the turkey. Do not use the standard formula of 3.5 minutes per pound at 375 degrees. I found that the turkey probably spent most of its cooking time at 250-270 degrees on average. There was no way to get the oil temperature back up to 375 once the meat was added. This was a bit frustrating.
5) If you like the turkey skin to be crisped (like it is in a propane fryer at 375 degrees) then this fryer will disappoint. I found the turkey skin could not crisp when the frying temperature was less than 300 degrees. However, I could not tell any difference in taste between one cooked on propane at the higher 375 degree temperature or the one fried at the lower electric fryer temperature.
The most annoying thing I found was the drop in oil temperature when the turkey was added. I will probably go to a smaller turkey (less than 14 pounds) in the hopes that it will not reduce the temperature of the hot oil as much. I found this quite frustrating because we had to start estimating cooking time extensions and take a lot more meat temperature measurements to make sure the meat was in the correct 165 degree range. Again, the taste was excellent and I have no complaints there.
Plan ahead and locate a container that can hold the used oil (for disposal). When using propane, since I was using all the oil in the container I just saved the empty container to hold the used oil. Since the electric fryer uses less oil you don't have the empty oil container available.
The longer electric cooking time still beats the oven cooking time so it isn't a big detractor.
I would recommend this fryer but it is not the same as cooking on propane at the higher temperature.