Time to Deep Fry a Turkey! Here's What You Need to Know

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!

Safety First! 

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. 

Healthy Frying Oil Options >>

Equipment for Deep Frying Turkey

In order to deep fry a turkey, you will need:

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. 

Time to Deep Fry a Turkey

One nice thing about deep fried turkey is that it cooks very quickly. It only takes about 35 to 45 minutes (averaging at three to four minutes per pound). Set your timer and carefully lift the turkey out of the oil when it goes off. Use your instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat. The turkey needs to reach an internal temperature of 170°F to 175°F. Place the turkey back into the fryer if the temperature hasn't reached that height yet.

Resting Time for Deep Fried Turkey

Once the turkey reaches the proper temperature, it's time to take it out of the fryer and let it rest. We recommend putting it on a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack to let the excess oil drain off. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes before carving, because resting it will keep it juicy and moist. 

Carving a Deep Fried Turkey

You'll need a razor sharp knife to carve into that crispy skin! Present the turkey in any way you'd like, and enjoy digging in to all of your hard work. 

How to Dispose of Turkey Frying Oil

We cannot stress this enough - please do not pour your turkey frying oil down a drain! Pouring oil down the drain will not only clog your pipes (a very pricy plumbing problem to have), but it also causes major environmental problems. 
The best way to dispose of turkey frying oil is to let it cool completely, then pour it into a trash bag or some kind of container. You can also contact a local oil recycling company that can take your oil to turn it into clean-burning biofuel. 
Have a happy Thanksgiving and a magical holiday season from all of us at FreshFry!
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