Make the Perfect Deep Fried Turkey with These Steps
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, there's no better time to deep fry a turkey! When a turkey is deep fried, it's better able to hold in juices, so the end result is moist, flavorful meat with crispy skin on the outside. If your mouth is already watering, read on for everything you need to know about deep frying a turkey!
Before you get started, please follow these safety tips for deep frying turkey:
- A turkey fryer should always be used outside on a flat surface in an open area. It’s important to place the fryer on level ground.
- Leave plenty of room to walk around the fryer. No one should need to walk between the propane tank and the burner. It's important to eliminate the possibility of anyone tripping over the hose, because it could cause the pot of hot oil to fall over.
- Position the fryer at least 10 feet away from buildings such as your house or garage, and away from anything flammable such as a wooden deck or furniture.
- Have a fire extinguisher ready. Hopefully, you won’t need it! Water doesn't work for grease fires, so have that extinguisher ready - just in case!
- To prevent overflowing the pot, measure the oil level ahead of time.
- If you're uncomfortable with frying, or frying your turkey for the first time, you can prevent splatter by starting at a lower oil temperature to add the turkey, then turning it up to 350°F.
Equipment for Deep Frying Turkey
In order to deep fry a turkey, you will need:
- A fryer big enough to fit a turkey.
- A deep fryer thermometer with a clip if your fryer doesn't come with one.
- A poultry hook and lifter to lower and lift the turkey in and out of the fryer.
- Heat-resistant gloves are the best way to protect your arms from hot oil splatter. You will want a pair that comes all the way up to your elbows, and they should also be heat-proof, waterproof and grease-proof.
- An instant-read meat thermometer for measuring the internal temperature of the turkey to know when it's finished.
- Finish it all off with a fire extinguisher... just in case!
Preparing Turkey for Deep Fryer
How big of a turkey can you fry?
A 14 lb turkey is about as big as a standard 30-quart pot fryer can hold. To fry a larger turkey, you would need to fry the parts separately. You'll also want to measure the oil level before frying your turkey. To do this, place your turkey in the pot, then fill the pot with water until the turkey is fully covered by about half an inch. Remove the turkey and mark a line where the water settles, then mark about 10% below that line. This will be your maximum fill line because oil expands when heated. It should end up somewhere around 3.5 gallons. If for any reason this new maximum fill line is higher than the manufacturer's fill line, you'll need to fry the turkey parts separately to prevent oil spill and a potential grease fire.
Spice it up!
Because moisture can increase the risk of splatter when placing the turkey in a deep fryer, we recommend using a dry brine or spice rub for your bird. Doing this the day before you're ready to fry your turkey will pack in the flavors. All of the salt and spices help to break down tough muscle proteins, resulting in very tender and juicy meat. We recommend refrigerating the turkey for 18 to 24 hours. There are plenty of dry brine and spice rub recipes out there, so just pick the one that sounds best to you!
Tie it up
Here's a quick video demo on how to truss a turkey. For even cooking, you will definitely want to tuck the wings behind the turkey and tie the legs together.
The Best Oil for Deep Fried Turkey
When choosing what oil to cook your turkey in, the most important thing to keep in mind it's smoke point. You'll want an oil with a high smoke point such as peanut oil, to prevent grease fires, and to prevent a burnt, smokey flavor in your turkey. If you can't use peanut oil, we have a whole list of substitutes for it here. Once you have opened up a container of oil, it should be used in the first two to three months, or up to one year if it's of high quality and stored in a dry, cool place with the lid tightly sealed.
If you're planning to deep fry a ham as well, you can use the same oil, assuming your ham is smaller than your turkey, after the turkey is finished frying.
Temperature to Deep Fry Turkey
When the oil is preheated, turn the burner on high until you reach 350°F. Depending on the oil you're using, you may need to adjust that temperature.
When you're ready to start deep frying, place the turkey breast side down, hooking the legs onto the lifter. Make sure you can hold the turkey securely on the hook without it slipping or falling.
With caution and a steady hand, lower the turkey into the hot oil, going slowly to keep the oil from bubbling over.