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How to Deep Fry a Turkey


By Prev Info - October 29, 2022

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

Deep-fried turkey became a nationwide phenomenon in the 1980s and 1990s as Cajun cooking grew in popularity. The technique yields a turkey that is incredibly moist and flavorful and not the least bit greasy.

However the combination of gallons of screaming hot peanut oil, open flames and unfamiliar techniques makes for an insurance adjusters nightmare. Every year around Thanksgiving dozens of home fires are caused by turkey frying accidents. Here are a few tips to keep it safe.

Locate your fryer as far from your home as possible.

Do NOT place your fryer on a wooden deck.

Use the right amount of oil, which looks like not enough. See the second step to find out how to measure the right amount.

Wear gloves when putting the turkey in the oil and taking it out. This is not the time to prove your heat resistance.

Other than a couple minor boil-overs in my early attempts, I've never had a serious turkey frying accident in about 20 years. Here's how I do it.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

1 - The caveman piece of gear for this project is a high BTU, double ring propane burner, along with a full 20-pound tank of propane. This is what Tim Allen had in mind when he coined the phrase, "More Power!"

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

2 - The turkey is supported in the pot by a perforated plate that keeps it off the bottom. A spindle runs up through the body cavity. Most turkey kits also include a handle with a hook on it to grab the spindle. To determine how much oil to use, put your turkey in the pot and fill with water until the turkey is completely submerged. Remove the turkey and mark the water level on the outside of the pot with a permanent marker. For my rig, for a 15 pound turkey, 3 gallons of oil is perfect.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

3 - Do NOT overfill. This is a 3 gallon container, so in this case I know to just pour it all in. The more typical 35 pound container is more than most any frying vessel needs and WILL cause a disastrous fire if you use it all. Do the water test. It makes the whole adventure much safer. Don't worry, I changed shoes after I got the oil in the fryer and the burner on.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

4 - Put the thermometer in the oil. The target temperature is 350 degrees. When you put the turkey in the oil, the temperature drops dramatically and you'll have to crank up the heat to bring it back up to 350.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

5 - Rinse your fully thawed turkey under running water. Let me repeat FULLY THAWED. Do not put an icy, partially frozen turkey in hot oil. Don't be a statistic.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

6 - Pat your bird dry with paper towels or clean dish towels. Water and oil do not mix well. The dryer your turkey is, the better your drop is going to go.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

7 - Place your dry turkey on a cookie sheet and season it. The traditional seasoning is an all-purpose cajun spice mix. My favorite is one called "Joe's Stuff", but I'm out, so we used my second favorite, which is Tony Chachere's Original (much easier to find than Joe's).

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

8 - Lower the seasoned turkey over the vertical turkey support with the legs pointing up. A pizza pan makes a great tray for moving the bird from the kitchen to the fryer.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

9 - Remove the thermometer and SLOWLY lower the turkey into the oil. Use the handle and wear gloves. I use welding gloves. They're heavily insulated and cover your arms half-way to your elbows.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

10 - As you're lowering the turkey in, the oil will begin to bubble violently. Consider that an understatement. It's just a little unnerving, even after you've done it dozens of times. While your survival instinct will suggest dropping the bird and backing up, stay calm and keep the pace slow.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

11 - It's in. The turkey is fully submerged, with a couple inches of pot to spare. Unhook the lifter and pop the top on the beverage of your choice. Now it's a matter of maintaining temperature and waiting 3 minutes per pound of bird.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

12 - As soon as the bubbling starts to subside, replace the thermometer. You may need to adjust the clip to keep it from stabbing the turkey. Maintaining temperature takes a little finesse. When you replace the thermometer, you'll probably find the temperature down around 300. Turn the fire up so that it starts recovering. However, don't let it over-shoot...and it will try. Not only is the fire heating the oil, but the oil is slowly heating the turkey, too. As the temperature reaches 325, start backing the fire down a little at a time so that it just sneaks up to 350 and doesn't blow by it. After 35 minutes or so, the temperature will start to rise again, because the turkey is no longer cooling the oil. Be ready to back the fire down again.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

13 - After 45 minutes (for a 15 pound turkey), take a look. If you've done a good job of temperature maintenance, your turkey will be perfectly done.

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

14 - While it looks a little over-done compared to a roast bird, it's not. When you carve it, you'll find the meat fully cooked and very moist. This can be enhanced further by brining the turkey before your fry it. See my other Spark board on turkey brining.






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