Can you cook 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)

We air-fry everything else, that is why not turkey?

Every year in the United States, families gather around a table full of carbs Side dishes, cranberry sauce and a golden turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. While preparation often begins days in advance, cooking the star of the show takes up valuable oven space on the big day and can take hours, depending on the actual size of the bird.

To free up space in their oven, some people roast or smoke their turkey outside. But air frying the main course is a big turkey trend on TikTok, which has some wondering 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 for Thanksgiving and how you can make a delicious air fryer turkey with just a few tweaks to the traditional oven 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 do it. “Cooking a whole turkey in an air fryer is a difficult and labor-intensive process,” says Brian Jupiter, executive chef at The Frontman and Ina Mae Tavern in Chicago, Illinois.

Jupiter explains that the biggest 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. “Also, each part of the turkey cooks for different times at different temperatures. This is often why the turkey thighs are perfectly cooked after the bird is roasted, but the breast is more than overcooked.”

Can you cook turkey breast in an air fryer?

If your family is smaller or you’re just cooking for yourself this year, Jupiter says you might want to find a turkey breast. “Just using 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 want.”

How do you cook a whole turkey in an air fryer?

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.

Just like with an oven-cooked turkey, you should add some flavor to the meat before you put it in the air fryer. “Rub the area between the skin and the flesh with it butter and herbs,” says Justus. “I like to use rosemary and thyme for this step. The butter penetrates and saturates the meat as it cooks, causing it to overcook in the event of overcooking [the turkey] something that fat provides a small buffer window. This technique is complicated, so take your time and be gentle.”

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

If you’re just cooking the breast, you can use the same buttering technique, but you don’t have to bind the meat.

At what temperature should you cook the turkey?

Just like with an oven, you should start your air fryer turkey at a higher temperature to get crispy skin and then turn the temperature down to finish the cooking process. Jupiter suggests starting your turkey at 350F for about 30 minutes, then turning it down to 300F for the rest of the cook time.

How long do you cook a turkey in an air fryer?

It is recommended to cook an unstuffed turkey at 350 F for 13 minutes per pound. However, for a 10- to 12-pound turkey that can serve six to eight people, the total cooking time is about two to two and a half hours. A digital thermometer will go a long way in helping you know when your turkey is done.

What internal temperature should the turkey be?

Jupiter says the internal temperature should reach 165 F. “For this reason, you should pull your turkey out at 155 F and let it come up to temperature during the rest period,” he explains.

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

Is Cooking A Whole Turkey In An Air Fryer Safe?

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

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

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