Have you ever wondered how to fry a turkey? Let me rephrase that… have you ever wondered how to safely fry a turkey?
After years of fried turkey recipes, I’m here to share our easy step-by-step instructions for the perfect bird.
What's In This Article
Deep Fried Turkey
Why should you fry a turkey? Fried turkey is faster, some would argue easier and results in the best crispy turkey skin ever!
The downside to deep frying is that it can be dangerous, so making sure you remain safe is key. Did you know that the majority of emergency room visits on Thanksgiving are from fried turkey injuries?
With that said, don’t be discouraged. There are millions of safely fried and delicious turkeys every year!
Fried Turkey Recipes
The first thing you need to do is decide on a recipe. The recipe can be as simple as a salt and pepper rub, simple turkey injection.
At our house, we throw a Friendsgiving and use a 24 hour brine and turkey rub. You can also do a traditional dry brine or citrus dry brine.
Here are my tips to HOW TO FRY A TURKEY and ensure you will NOT burn your house down or end up in the emergency room. Read ALL of the directions prior to starting. The biggest key to frying a turkey safely is to be prepared.
How to Fry a Turkey:
Make sure you have all of the correct equipment. I recommend buying a fryer pot specific for turkey frying. Around thanksgiving you can find these anywhere.
The only three essential items it does not come with are the propane tank, work gloves and a Class B Fire Extinguisher (for chemical fires). It will have the correct hoses, fry basket, hook and thermometer. This can be used for other things throughout the year.
We have steamed oysters, clams and lobsters. We have also used it to fry large quantities of food for other large parties. You can make bags of frozen french fries in under 10 minutes or even a large vat of chili.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.
Choose the correct place. Under NO circumstances should you fry a turkey indoors, EVER!
Don’t even do this in your garage. I recommend a nice open space. If you are outside in an area with a covering, make sure it is at least 10 feet high and there is ample air circulation around the area.
You want to be at least 10 feet away from any building or item that could catch on fire. Water + hot oil = a hot mess. If it is raining, cancel your turkey frying and come up with a back-up plan.
Make sure the surface you set the fryer on is flat and even. To avoid grease stains you can lay down cardboard directly under the fryer. If it is windy on the day you fry you can anchor the fryer with large rocks (do not use anything that is flammable).
Lastly, make sure there are no children or pets allowed near the fryer or area where you are frying. All you need is Fido to go chasing after a squirrel and you will have a serious problem on your hands.
Be safe by wearing clothing with no exposed skin. Even the best prepared turkey fryers get hit with a spit of grease once and while.
Wear closed toe shoes, long sleeves and pants. If you have long hair, tie it back. Wear heavy duty grilling gloves to protect your hands as they will be in the closest contact with the oil.
I like these because they move better than all rubber or latex. Having better control means less chance of an accident.
Turkey preparation is key for fried turkey. First and foremost, make sure you turkey is FULLY defrosted. I can’t stress this enough.
Either buy a fresh, never frozen bird or defrost in the refrigerator for 2-3 days prior to frying depending on the size. A turkey ice cube will literally torpedo out of your pot and cause damage and fire.
Remove all giblets and the plastic tie for the legs, replace this with cooking twine or metal (plastic melts.) For the same reason that you can not fry in the rain, you want to make sure any excess liquid is patted off the turkey surface both inside and out with a paper towel.
Depending on the preparation you choose: brining, marinating, rubbing or injecting, the liquids inside the turkey flesh are okay, just make sure any exposed areas outside and inside cavity are as dry as possible.
Of course, this is impossible to complete, just do the best you can. If you use a rub, it needs to be a dry rub applied after the turkey has been patted dry, for best results, rub it under the skin so it doesn’t just fall off into the grease.
TURKEY FRYING OIL.
First comes the type of oil. Nearly everyone will recommend using peanut oil. It has a high smoke point so it won’t burn and despite being from peanuts, has a neutral flavor. It is also low in saturated fats so it won’t absorb into the turkey and make it feel greasy wafter resting.
Vegetable oil would be the alternative if someone has an allergy to peanut oil.
Next is the amount of oil and this will depend on the size of your fryer and then also your turkey. Generally speaking, you’ll need 3 gallons of oil for a 30 qt. pot and 3 1/3 gallons of oil for a 32 qt. pot.
HOW TO MEASURE THE OIL.
Buy enough oil, but make sure you measure it out BEFORE you cook.
Most fires come from people lowering the bird into the oil and the oil overflowing. Instead, put your bird in the fryer before you start preparing it and then pour water over top until the water covers the bird, plus one inch.
Remove the bird and make a mental note of how high the water is. That is how much oil you will need to prepare when you are ready to start frying. Don’t “wing it”, it may take more time, but it will prevent serious injury or damage in the long run.
HOW LONG TO FRY A TURKEY.
Heat oil to 350 degrees. The temperature of the oil can take up to 30 minutes to build, so plan accordingly.
Carefully lower the turkey into the fryer. Deep fry for 3 minutes per pound.
Some recommend adding an extra 5 minutes to account for the drop in temperature when the turkey is initially entered. The skin will be dark and crispy if you used the rub.
You’ll want to check the internal temperature of the turkey at the thickest part of the thigh to measure doneness. Aim for 165 degrees.
A rub-less turkey will be a lighter brown, but still crispy. I like to be super sure it is fully cooked by using a meat thermometer (away from bone) to make sure it registers at 165 degrees.
Some turkeys will still have a slight pink around the bones. This is okay, especially for a young turkey, as long as it has reached the proper temperature.
Remove the whole basket very slowly, being careful to not spill oil. Transfer turkey to a rimmed baking sheet and leave the hot basket outdoors until cool.
Allow that bird to rest for a good, long time; a minimum of 15 minutes. Don’t worry, your fried turkey will still be hot.
At my house, the bird usually gets devoured before anyone has a chance to artistically plate it, but can also carve it!
How to Put out a Turkey Fire (just in case…):
- Turn off propane.
- Cover with lid; fire can’t continue to burn without oxygen.
- Use a Class B Fire Extinguisher.
- Leave the area and call 911.
And you are looking for some delicious sides to serve with turkey or desserts for Thanksgiving, we have you covered. These are our most popular holiday recipes:
- Instant Pot Baked Potatoes
- Candied Carrots
- Creamed Onions
- Cream Cheese Cheese Ball
- Easy Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Deep Fried Turkey Recipe
- 12 pound turkey , fully defrosted
- 1/2 cup homemade turkey rub
- 1/2 cup homemade turkey injection
- Red Wine Gravy
- Oil, for cooking
- If frozen, fully defrost turkey for at least 2 days in the refrigerator.
- Remove giblets and any other pieces inside the cavity, including any binding or plastic. Dab turkey dry. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, to ensure the skin is very dry. This can be 1-24 hours.
- Rub turkey generously with turkey rub. Inject generously with turkey injection recipe.
- Heat oil to 350 degrees. The skin will be dark and crispy if you used the rub.
- Carefully lower the turkey into the fryer. Fry turkey for 3 minutes per pound. Some recommend adding an extra 5 minutes to account for the drop in temperature when the turkey is initially entered.
- Check to make sure your turkey is fully cooked by using a meat thermometer (away from bone) to make sure it registers at 165 degrees. Some turkeys will still have a slight pink around the bones. This is okay, especially for a young turkey, as long as it has reached the proper temperature.
- Remove the whole basket very slowly, being careful to not spill oil. Transfer turkey to a rimmed baking sheet and leave the hot basket outdoors until cool.
- Allow your turkey to rest for a minimum of 15 minutes before carving and serving. I serve mine with Red Wine Gravy.
I have never had a fried turkey, but ever since watching Gilmore Girls, I really want to try it! Thanks for the awesome how-to!
I’ve never tried deep fried turkey, but I hear it’s amazing! Thank you for all the tips!
I love deep-fried turkey! I need not wait for Thanksgiving or Christmas to enjoy the dish. With my turkey fryer, I can fry one anytime. This is helpful for one to be reminded of his safety when deep-frying a turkey. Thanks!
Enjoy! It is the best!
All about the deep fried turkeys! There really is no other way to do it to make it so moist and delicious on the inside, but crispy on the outside.