Mastering the Art of Air Fryer Turkey Preparation

The benefits of air frying a turkey are manifold. It offers a safer and easier way to achieve a crispy exterior compared to traditional frying


11/21/20233 min read

Cooking a Thanksgiving turkey can seem like a daunting task, featuring many meticulous decisions including choosing the right turkey, assessing its size, selecting the cooking method, and coordinating with the rest of your holiday dishes. A surprisingly convenient solution is using an air fryer to cook your turkey.

The benefits of air frying a turkey are manifold. It offers a safer and easier way to achieve a crispy exterior compared to traditional frying. If you were to bake your turkey in the oven, you'd monopolize most of the oven space to accommodate it, leaving little room for your selection of appetizers, side dishes, and desserts. An air fryer offers an efficient alternative, preserving your oven availability.

If you are curious about the logistics of air frying a turkey, this comprehensive guide in conversation with Chef Chris Nirschel from NY Catering Service will provide you with all the necessary information.

In the Beginning, Ensure Your Turkey is Air Fryer-Compatible

The first action point towards preparing a top-notch air fryer turkey involves ensuring the compatibility of your bird with your fryer. Like in any culinary undertaking, appropriate tools are pivotal. Given the size of a turkey, ensuring that it fits in your air fryer is essential.

Initially, identify the turkey size that suits your needs. Turkeys range from as small as 6 pounds to as large as 20 pounds. As a general guideline, aim for a turkey that provides approximately one pound of meat per guest rule of thumb.

Upon selecting a turkey, confirm that it accommodates your specific air fryer. Chef Nirschel recommends the Fritaire Glass Bowl Air Fryer for smaller-sized turkeys, but you may need larger appliances such as the Masterbuilt 20-Quart Outdoor Air Fryer or the Kalorik MAXX 26-Quart Air Fryer for larger turkeys.

Related: 12 Thanksgiving Side Dishes You Can Make in the Air Fryer

Immerse Your Turkey in a Brine and Apply Seasoning

Chef Nirschel suggests brining and seasoning as the next key step in your turkey air frying journey.

"For brining, immerse the turkey in a concoction of salt, water, and aromatic flavors for several hours or even overnight," he advises. "Upon completion, pat the turkey dry and lavish it with a generous layer of your chosen herbs and spices for a delectably flavorful turkey."

Related: 7 Tips to Expertly Brine a Turkey, According to Chefs

Locate the Optimum Cook Time and Temperature for Your Turkey

Post-brining and seasoning, you can "Pre-heat your air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for uniform and balanced cooking experience," recommends Chef Nirschel. "This will ensure your turkey comes out evenly cooked with a crispy skin and juicy interior.

Timing depends on the size of the turkey; however, a general rule is "20 minutes per pound at a steady 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Regularly check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer for accuracy," adds Chef Nirschel.

Maintain the Moistness by Basting

"To retain succulence in your turkey, intermittently baste it with its juice," guides Chef Nirschel. "This will enhance the flavor profile and the texture."

You can utilize a conventional turkey baster or a soup ladle if necessary. The key is to collect the juices from the bottom of the air fryer.

While it's common to cook a turkey using a turkey bag for moisture retention, it's not necessary with an air fryer according to Chef Nirschel. "The circulating hot air in the air fryer crisps the skin while keeping the juices locked in, ensuring a moist turkey," he says.

Related: The Best Way to Cook a Baked Potato in an Air Fryer

Deploying the Rotisserie Feature

Not all air fryers come with this, but if yours does, Chef Nirschel vouches for it.

"I personally prefer the Fritaire Air Fryer due to its rotisserie chicken option, which enables rotating the turkey for even cooking and a consistently crispy and golden brown skin," he shares.

Assess the Temperature, Carve Your Turkey and Relish Your Feast

While cooking a full bird the size of a turkey, a meat thermometer comes in handy to verify it's fully cooked.

"Ensure the internal temperature is at 165 degrees Fahrenheit," advises Chef Nirschel. "This assures safe consumption and a just-right cook."

And finally, "Once the internal temperature requirement is met, your air-fried turkey is ready for carving and serving," concludes Chef Nirschel.

So, buckle up and prepare to enjoy your perfectly cooked air fryer turkey!