Frying a turkey without the use, clean-up and risk of cooking with a large amount of hot oil, is very appealing. Char-Broil's The Big Easy claims to do it well and without the deep-frying worry. I put this outdoor fryer to the test to see how it measured up when it comes to convenience, taste and presentation especially compared to other outdoor fryers.
Char-Broil Turkey Fryer Review in Depth
- Char-Broil The Big Easy is an oil-Less outdoor fryer that includes a cooking basket, lifting handle, marinade injector, mesh top cover, foil tray, propane connection and meat thermometer
- Uses infrared heat technology to lock in flavor and keep it moist
- Propane-powered, outdoor cooker
- Enclosed burner design with 16,000 BTU's
- Rotary Ignition
- Use mesh lid during the last 10-15 minutes if browner, crispier bird is desired
- Efficient design uses one third less propane
- Cool-touch handles
- Quality Stainless steel burner and cooking chamber
- Pull-out grease tray
- Safely cook a turkey or chicken up to 16 lbs in 8-10 minutes per lb; meats and roasts may take longer
- UL certified
- Cooking Guide included
There are optional accessories that can purchased: Custom cooker cover, hanging basket, easy-out hinged cooking basket, rib hooks and various marinades. The manufacturer's site also has more recipes and tips.
Assembly, Seasoning the Big Easy & Other Notes
There's nothing difficult about putting this cooker together or seasoning it. The manual details are clear except for one small 4" x 1" piece of metal. This may look like packaging, but it's a heat shield that must be installed on the cooker. The web site video provides details of where to place this part, along with good overall instructions. Assembly took us half an hour, but allow more time if not mechanically inclined. Proper assembly is crucial to it working properly. We were impressed with the quality-construction and found the fit and finish of the cooker to be excellent.
Once assembled, before you can cook in it, the stainless steel cooking chamber and cooking basket must be seasoned. Cooking oil is recommended (we used olive oil) and both parts must be greased, and the cooker hooked up to propane and turned on to season. After about 15 minutes, it stopped smoking and process was done.
There's no variable settings - only on/off so cooking time will vary depending on item cooked, as well as weather (wind/cold), so it means that dinner may be served a little later than expected, if weather is not ideal. In other words, gauge by the interior meat/poultry temperature to see how close you are to throwing the potatoes on the stove.
There is an optional basket that can be added to this cooker for vegetables and it would be worth getting. With use, the cooking chamber takes on a darker hue, to be expected and noted in the manual.
How The Big Easy Performed
The first item we cooked was a 14 lb turkey - took 2.5 hrs and came out tender and very juicy, with a crispy skin. We used a simple olive oil and BBQ chicken spice rub and didn't inject it with anything, to see how our budget-priced, non-basted turkey would come out. We applied the cover on the cooker for a few minutes to brown it more, near the end of the cooking. It was interesting to monitor the frying/browning process. You cannot stuff a turkey with dressing, because the bird must be inserted breast side up in the basket. No problem, we made slow cooker dressing. Results were amazing - tender with juice dripping as we sliced into it.
Using a simple rub of garlic and spices, we cooked a 4.5-lb blade shoulder pork roast in 2 hours (very windy/cold day). The result was amazing - so juicy that inserting a fork in the roast before slicing, caused juices to squirt out. It tasted and looked like a gourmet roast - the best tasting pork roast ever.
We also cooked 4-lbs of pork short ribs - 1.5 hours (windy day), after marinating them in our own recipe. We cut them in sections of 4, arranging them in the bottom and up the sides of the cooking basket, rotating them half way through (not sure if needed). They had a nice crispy exterior, were juicier than when done on the barbeque, tasted good but we prefer slowcooking these.
The grease pan size is adequate; it washes up easily, but adding foil makes clean-up quicker. You can make gravy (lots of drippings), but it must be done on the stovetop to reach a safe temperature.
Overall Impression of Char Broil Turkey Fryer
Results were amazing - the Big Easy does seal in flavor and juices. Using this fryer was much easier than expected, but you still need to occasionally monitor cooking, apply the cover or not, and watch the meat thermometer to ensure a safe internal cooking temperature or gauge serving time. Turn it off when done, lift out the cooking basket, let it rest for 15 minutes and slice/serve.
The best part overall is the fact that there is no oil to buy, use and store. And though some could argue that it is not really a fryer, results of the turkey alone proved comparable to frying in oil. I much prefer to fry without oil and save the hassle, cost and risk of handling a large amount of hot oil.
This fryer was tested in the fall with outdoor temperatures between 35 to 45 degrees F. Wind or cold did seem to affect cooking time. Clean-up was reasonable - light scrubbing with plastic scourer for the stainless cooking chamber, cooking basket and washed small grease tray, thermometer and handle. Even the larger items were able to sit in the kitchen sink for washing - bonus.
The Big Easy does an amazing job of frying, but cooking times will vary depending on poultry/meat and weather. I like the cooking technology and love the safety aspect. I recommend it if you want a safer option to outdoor oil frying. Whether you call it frying, roasting or cooking, it does brown nicely and produce tender, moist and great tasting results. Price of the Big Easy is reasonable.