Can you cook a turkey in an air fryer? Get tips from a chef.

Everyone loves their air fryer these days, but can you cook this year's Thanksgiving turkey in it?  (Photos: Getty)

Everyone loves their air fryer these days, but can you cook this year’s Thanksgiving turkey in it? (Photos: Getty)

We fry everything else, so why not turkey?

Every year in the US, families gather for Thanksgiving dinner at a table full of carb-laden side dishes, cranberry sauce, and a golden turkey. While prep often starts days in advance, cooking the star of the show on the big day takes up precious oven space and can take hours depending on how big the bird really is.

To make more room in their oven, some people bake or smoke their turkey outside. But on TikTok, a big trend in turkeys is air-frying the main dish, which raises some questions Is this new turkey trend safe??

Yahoo Life reached out to a chef to find out if air frying really is the way to go this Thanksgiving, and how you can make a delicious turkey in the air fryer with just a few tweaks from the traditional oven cooking method.

Can you cook a whole turkey in an air fryer?

As the old saying goes, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. “Cooking a whole turkey in an air fryer is a difficult and laborious process,” says Brian Jupiter, executive chef at The Frontier and Ina Mae Tavern in Chicago, Illinois.

Jupiter explains that the main problem with most air fryers is that they are small compared to the size of a whole turkey. “Even cooking a whole chicken in an air fryer would be complicated,” he says. “Plus, each part of the turkey cooks at different temperatures for different times. This is often why the turkey legs are perfectly cooked after roasting the bird, but the breast is overcooked.”

Can you prepare a turkey breast in an airfryer?

If your family is smaller, or if you’re just cooking for yourself this year, Jupiter says you might want to look for a turkey breast. “Using just a turkey breast works even better than a whole turkey,” he explains, “because it fits in the air fryer and you can cook it to the exact temperature you desire.”

How do you fry a whole turkey in an airfryer?

If you can find a whole turkey small enough to fit in an air fryer (or an air fryer large enough to hold a whole turkey), cooking the bird is similar to the oven method.

Like a turkey cooked in the oven, you’ll want to add some flavor to the meat before you put it in the air fryer. “Rub the area between the skin and flesh with butter and spices,” says Jupiter. “I like to use rosemary and thyme for this step. The butter will seep into the meat as it cooks and saturate it so if you do overcook [the turkey] something, the fat creates a small buffer window. This technique is complicated, so take your time and be careful.”

Jupiter says to bunches (tie poultry with kitchen twine to keep bird’s wings and legs close to its body) a whole turkey to promote even cooking. “Tying the turkey may seem complicated, but if you do it often enough, it’s very simple,” he says.

If you’re only cooking the breast, you can use the same butter-buttering technique, but you don’t need to bind the meat.

What temperature should you cook the turkey at?

Similar to an oven, you’ll want to start the turkey from your Airfryer at a higher temperature to get a crispy skin, then lower the temperature to finish the cooking process. Jupiter suggests letting your turkey sit at 350 F for about 30 minutes, then turning it back to 300 F for the rest of the cooking time.

How long do you cook a turkey in an airfryer?

It is recommended that you cook an unstuffed turkey for 13 minutes per pound at 350 F. For a 10 to 12 pound turkey, which can serve six to eight people, the total cooking time is about two to two and a half hours, though a digital thermometer will help immensely in knowing when your turkey is done.

What should the turkey’s internal temperature be?

Jupiter says the internal temperature should be 165 F. “This is why you should pull your turkey out at 155 F and let it come to temperature during the resting period,” he explains.

The best way to check a turkey’s internal temperature is with a digital thermometer, which can give an accurate reading in just seconds. Place the thermometer in the crease between the leg and chest to get your reading, being careful not to touch the bone, which will give an inaccurate temperature.

Is it safe to cook a whole turkey in an air fryer?

“Cooking a whole turkey in an air fryer is safe, but using an oven may be the easier route,” he says. While Jupiter says the oven and air fryer will eventually give you the same results, if you really want to use your air fryer for your turkey, he suggests breaking it into ten pieces, which he lists as the two breasts divided in half, two legs, two thighs and two wings.

“Each part can be cooked in different ways and at different temperatures,” he says.

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