Deep Fried Turkey: A Delicious Alternative to Roasting

Deep fried turkey is a popular dish that is often served during holidays and special occasions. It is a delicious and unique way to cook a turkey that results in crispy skin and juicy meat. The process involves immersing a whole turkey in hot oil and frying it until it is cooked to perfection.

While deep frying a turkey may seem intimidating, it is actually a simple process that can be done with the right equipment and safety precautions. It is important to use a turkey fryer that is specifically designed for this purpose and to follow the instructions carefully. Additionally, it is crucial to use the correct amount of oil and to monitor the temperature closely to prevent accidents and ensure that the turkey is cooked evenly.

Overall, deep fried turkey is a flavorful and exciting alternative to traditional roasted turkey that is sure to impress your guests. With the proper preparation and safety measures, anyone can master this cooking technique and enjoy a delicious and memorable meal.

History of Deep Frying Turkey

Deep-frying turkey has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that it became popular in the United States. According to Where Y’at New Orleans, the creation of portable propane cookers in the 1970s kick-started the deep-fried turkey craze. Propane cookers were developed that featured large gas burners sturdy enough to hold heavy aluminum pots.

The first person to publicly declare that he had seen someone deep-fry a turkey was the Cajun chef and personality Justin Wilson back in the 1930s, according to Vogue. The process involves lowering a turkey into a large pot of hot oil and cooking it until it’s golden brown and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

Originally, deep-fried turkey recipes called for cooking 12-15 pound turkeys in lard at 375 degree temperature, according to Wikipedia. However, most recipes now call for lighter oils due to health reasons, even though none of the oils penetrate the turkey because of the heat.

The cooks who first created the deep-fried turkey craze created a liquified blend of Italian dressing, mustard, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic salt and injected it into the turkey two days in advance of the frying, according to Serious Eats. This marinade not only added flavor to the turkey, but it also helped to keep it moist during the frying process.

Safety Precautions

When it comes to deep-frying a turkey, safety should always be our top priority. Here are some important safety precautions to keep in mind:

Proper Equipment

Before we start cooking, we need to make sure we have the proper equipment. This includes a sturdy fryer with a tight-fitting lid, a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature, and long tongs to safely lower and lift the turkey. It’s also important to use a fryer that is the appropriate size for the turkey we’re cooking.

Outdoor Cooking

Deep-frying a turkey should always be done outdoors in a well-ventilated area, away from any buildings, trees, or other flammable objects. We should also make sure the fryer is on a level surface, and that there are no children or pets nearby.

Oil Temperature Control

Maintaining the correct oil temperature is crucial for both safety and flavor. We should heat the oil slowly and carefully, and monitor the temperature with a thermometer throughout the cooking process. If the oil gets too hot, it can cause a fire or an explosion, so we should never leave the fryer unattended.

Avoiding Oil Spillover

One of the biggest risks of deep-frying a turkey is oil spillover, which can cause severe burns and start a fire. To avoid this, we should make sure the turkey is completely dry before lowering it into the hot oil, and we should never overfill the fryer with oil. If oil does spill over, we should immediately turn off the heat source and use a fire extinguisher to put out any flames.

By following these safety precautions, we can enjoy a delicious and safe deep-fried turkey with our family and friends.

Equipment and Tools

When it comes to deep frying a turkey, having the right equipment and tools is crucial to ensuring a safe and delicious cooking experience. In this section, we will cover the essential equipment and tools needed to deep fry a turkey.

Turkey Fryer

The most important piece of equipment for deep frying a turkey is a turkey fryer. This is a large pot specifically designed for deep frying turkeys. It is important to choose a fryer that is large enough to accommodate the size of the turkey you plan to cook. A general rule of thumb is to choose a pot that is at least 26 quarts in size for a 12-14 pound turkey.

When selecting a turkey fryer, consider the material it is made of. Stainless steel and aluminum are both good options. Stainless steel is durable and easy to clean, while aluminum heats up quickly and is lightweight.


A thermometer is an essential tool for deep frying a turkey. It is important to monitor the temperature of the oil to ensure that it is hot enough to cook the turkey, but not so hot that it causes a fire. A candy or deep-fry thermometer is the best option for this task.

Before you begin cooking, attach the thermometer to the side of the pot, making sure the tip of the thermometer is submerged in the oil. Monitor the temperature of the oil throughout the cooking process and adjust the heat as needed.

Protective Gear

Deep frying a turkey can be a dangerous task, so it is important to wear protective gear to prevent burns and other injuries. This includes:

  • Heat-resistant gloves: These will protect your hands and arms from the hot oil and steam.
  • Goggles: These will protect your eyes from splatters of hot oil.
  • Apron: This will protect your clothing from oil splatters.

By using the right equipment and tools, and wearing protective gear, you can ensure a safe and delicious deep-fried turkey.

Choosing the Right Turkey

When it comes to preparing a deep-fried turkey, choosing the right turkey is crucial. Here are some factors to consider:

Size Considerations

The size of the turkey is an important consideration when deep-frying. A standard 30-quart pot can only handle a 14-pound turkey (or smaller). If your turkey is larger, you’ll need to remove the legs and thighs from the body and fry them separately. Don’t be afraid to ask your local butcher to help you with that.

Fresh vs. Frozen

Both fresh and frozen turkeys have their own advantages. Fresh turkeys are generally more expensive but have a shorter shelf life. They are also more flavorful and have a better texture. Frozen turkeys, on the other hand, are more affordable and can be stored for a longer period. They are also more widely available.

When choosing between fresh and frozen turkeys, consider your budget, storage space, and the time of year. If you’re planning to deep-fry a turkey during the holiday season, fresh turkeys may be more readily available. However, if you’re on a tight budget or don’t have much storage space, frozen turkeys may be a better option.

Regardless of whether you choose a fresh or frozen turkey, make sure it’s of high quality and free of any defects or blemishes. A good quality turkey will ensure that your deep-fried turkey comes out juicy, flavorful, and tender.

Preparation Techniques

When it comes to preparing a deep-fried turkey, there are a few key techniques to keep in mind. In this section, we’ll cover the basics of thawing and drying your turkey, as well as marinating and seasoning it to perfection. We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of injection versus rub methods of flavoring your bird.

Thawing and Drying

Before you can deep-fry your turkey, you’ll need to make sure it’s completely thawed and dried. We recommend thawing your turkey in the refrigerator for several days prior to cooking. This will ensure that the bird is fully defrosted and ready for cooking.

Once your turkey is thawed, it’s important to dry it thoroughly. Any excess moisture on the skin can cause the oil to splatter and create a dangerous situation. To dry your turkey, use paper towels to pat it down on all sides. Make sure to get into all the crevices and folds of the skin to remove any remaining moisture.

Marinating and Seasoning

One of the best things about deep-frying a turkey is the opportunity to infuse it with delicious flavors. There are a variety of marinades and seasonings you can use to enhance the taste of your bird. Some popular options include Cajun spices, garlic and herb blends, and citrus-based marinades.

When marinating your turkey, be sure to give it plenty of time to soak up the flavors. We recommend marinating for at least 12 hours, but you can go as long as 24 hours for maximum flavor. If you’re short on time, you can also use a dry rub to add flavor to your turkey.

Injection vs. Rub

When it comes to flavoring your turkey, you have two main options: injection or rub. Injection involves injecting a flavorful liquid directly into the meat of the turkey using a syringe. This method is great for infusing your turkey with bold flavors, but it can be messy and time-consuming.

Rub, on the other hand, involves coating the outside of the turkey with a flavorful seasoning blend. This method is quick and easy, but it won’t penetrate the meat as deeply as injection. Ultimately, the choice between injection and rub comes down to personal preference and the amount of time you have to prepare your turkey.

Deep Frying Process

Deep frying a turkey is a popular cooking method that yields a crispy outer layer and juicy, flavorful meat. However, it is important to follow safety precautions and proper technique to avoid accidents and ensure the best results. Here is a step-by-step guide to deep frying a turkey.

Oil Type and Quantity

The first step in deep frying a turkey is to choose the right type of oil and the right amount of it. We recommend using peanut oil or canola oil, as they have a high smoke point and neutral flavor. The amount of oil needed depends on the size of the turkey and the size of the pot. A general rule of thumb is to use 3 to 5 gallons of oil for a 12 to 14-pound turkey. It is important to never exceed the fill line of the pot to avoid oil spills and fires.

Heating the Oil

Once the oil is in the pot, it needs to be heated to the right temperature. We recommend using a thermometer to monitor the temperature and avoid overheating the oil. The ideal temperature for deep frying a turkey is 375°F (190°C). It is important to never leave the pot unattended while heating the oil and to keep children and pets away from the cooking area.

Lowering the Turkey

When the oil has reached the right temperature, it is time to lower the turkey into the pot. We recommend using a turkey fryer basket or a sturdy metal hook to lower the turkey slowly into the oil. It is important to never drop the turkey into the oil, as it can cause hot oil to splash and cause burns. Lower the turkey slowly and carefully until it is fully submerged in the oil.

Cooking Time

The cooking time for a deep fried turkey depends on the size of the turkey and the temperature of the oil. We recommend cooking the turkey for 3 to 4 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). It is important to never leave the turkey unattended while cooking and to monitor the temperature of the oil to avoid overheating. Once the turkey is cooked, carefully remove it from the oil using the basket or hook and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

By following these steps, we can safely and successfully deep fry a turkey with crispy skin and juicy meat.

Serving and Presentation

Carving the Turkey

Once your deep-fried turkey is cooked to perfection, it’s time to carve it up for serving. Here’s how we like to do it:

  1. First, remove the twine that’s holding the legs together and separate them from the body. Then, remove the wings by cutting through the joint where they meet the body.
  2. Next, make a horizontal cut across the breast just above the wing joint. Then, make a vertical cut down the center of the breast, creating two halves.
  3. Slice each half of the breast crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Finally, remove the thighs and drumsticks by cutting through the joint where they meet the body.


A deep-fried turkey is a showstopper on its own, but it’s always nice to serve it with some delicious sides to round out the meal. Here are a few of our favorite accompaniments:

  • Mashed potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are the perfect complement to a rich, juicy turkey. Serve them with plenty of butter and gravy for a classic Thanksgiving feast.
  • Green beans: A simple side of blanched green beans dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic is a refreshing counterpoint to the richness of the turkey.
  • Cranberry sauce: Sweet-tart cranberry sauce is a classic accompaniment to turkey, and it’s easy to make from scratch. Just simmer fresh cranberries with sugar and orange juice until they burst and thicken.
  • Dinner rolls: Soft, buttery dinner rolls are the perfect vehicle for sopping up gravy and turkey juices. Serve them warm from the oven for maximum comfort.

With these simple tips and accompaniments, you’ll be able to serve up a delicious and impressive deep-fried turkey feast that’s sure to impress your guests.

Cleanup and Oil Disposal

Deep frying turkey is a delicious and popular way to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving or any other occasion. However, cleaning up and disposing of the used oil can be a challenge. In this section, we will provide some tips on how to properly clean up and dispose of the oil.

Cooling and Storing Oil

After deep frying your turkey, you should allow the oil to cool completely before attempting to handle it. This is important because hot oil can cause serious burns. Once the oil has cooled, you should strain it to remove any food particles or debris. This will help to extend the life of the oil.

Once the oil has been strained, it can be stored in a clean, airtight container for future use. It is important to label the container with the type of oil and the date it was used. This will help you keep track of how many times the oil has been used and when it should be discarded.

Disposal of Used Oil

When the oil is no longer usable, it must be disposed of properly. Pouring used oil down the drain or toilet is not recommended, as it can clog pipes and cause other plumbing problems. Instead, you should take the used oil to a recycling center or a hazardous waste disposal facility.

Many cities offer recycling services for used oil, so you can check with your local recycling center to see if they accept it. If they do, you can simply pour the used oil into a sealed container and take it to the recycling center. They will then recycle the oil into biodiesel fuel, which is a renewable energy source.

In conclusion, cleaning up and disposing of the used oil after deep frying a turkey is an important part of the process. By following these tips, you can ensure that the oil is properly stored and disposed of, which will help to keep your kitchen clean and safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of oil is best for deep frying a turkey?

When it comes to deep frying a turkey, it is important to use an oil with a high smoke point. This means that the oil can reach high temperatures without burning or smoking. Some of the best oils for deep frying a turkey include peanut oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil. Peanut oil is a popular choice due to its high smoke point and neutral flavor. However, it is important to note that peanut oil can be dangerous for those with peanut allergies. Canola oil is another great option due to its high smoke point and neutral taste. Vegetable oil is also a good choice, but it has a lower smoke point compared to peanut and canola oil.

What are the necessary components of a deep fryer kit for turkey?

To deep fry a turkey, you will need a deep fryer kit that includes a large pot, a burner, a thermometer, and a turkey holder. The pot should be large enough to hold the turkey and the oil. The burner should be sturdy and able to hold the pot securely. The thermometer is important to monitor the temperature of the oil, as well as the internal temperature of the turkey. The turkey holder is used to lower and lift the turkey into the hot oil. It is important to follow the instructions that come with the deep fryer kit to ensure safe and proper use.

How can I safely purchase a deep-fried turkey?

If you don’t want to deep fry your own turkey, you can purchase a pre-cooked deep-fried turkey from a local restaurant or grocery store. When purchasing a deep-fried turkey, it is important to make sure that it has been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). It is also important to transport the turkey safely and keep it at the correct temperature until it is ready to be served. If you are unsure about the safety of a pre-cooked deep-fried turkey, it is best to avoid it altogether and cook your own turkey at home.

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