Editor's Note: This review has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it no longer ranks as a top 10 product. The original review is below, but check out our current top 10 about Turkey Fryers here.
The Orion Cooker is difficult to classify. It isn’t a strictly a turkey fryer. It isn’t quite a smoker. It isn’t really a grill. But legions of fans rave about the super-tender results of meat that is cooked in it. So, what is the Orion Cooker exactly? Basically, it is a charcoal-fired roasting oven that will cook a turkey using steam, smoke and convection simultaneously. Technically you won't get true fried turkey with this oil-less cooker, but you'll get similarly tender and juicy turkey meat.
This outdoor cooker consists of a large, stainless steel cylinder that is heated from the bottom by a large tray of charcoals, and a few briquettes are also burned at the top. This creates convection, and the coals do not heat the meat directly, as the flames are completely separated from the food. If you want to smoke the meat, you can put woodchips in the bottom of the cylinder, on the outside ring of the drip pan. Additionally, the drippings drip down into the bottom of the cylinder and create steam, which keeps the meat moist. The meat cooks evenly and thoroughly, and there’s no flipping or turning.
Cooking time are longer for this cooker than they are with a traditional turkey fryer. A 20-pound turkey takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes to cook. Foods like ribs also turn out really well with this unit. Six full racks of ribs will cook in 1 hour and 15 minutes. In fact, this model does really well with anything where the classic southern barbecue ideal of “low and slow” would apply. It excels at getting a very tender result much faster than traditional barbecue.
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The Orion Cooker comes with some accessories that make your cooking experience smooth. You'll get a poultry stand and a lifting handle, as well as three rib hangers and three cooking grates. The cooker also comes with a cookbook.
While this outdoor cooker isn't a traditional turkey fryer, it does a good job making tender, slow-cooked turkey. The cooking time is certainly quicker than slow barbecue, but it is much slower than deep-frying a turkey. This is a good option outdoor turkey cooker, especially if the risks and cleanup involved in an oil-based turkey fryer are more than you want to take on.