How to Deep Fry a Turkey
Time Required: Under 2 hours
Deep frying a turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving, but a year-round way to quickly prepare a delicious bird. To cook this holiday mainstay while following safety procedures, you must learn the ins and outs of how to deep fry a turkey.
Safety: Never fry a frozen turkey, which can cause the hot oil to boil over, potentially leading to injury and fires. Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before frying.
Turkey fryers are one of the most commonly misused types of outdoor cookers, often due to an unfamiliarity with their setup.
- Position at least one fire extinguisher rated for grease fires near the fryer setup. Though indoor fryers are safer to use, still have a fire extinguisher handy.
- Do not attempt to use an outdoor fryer indoors, nor an indoor fryer outdoors.
- Children and pets should not be allowed into the area in which a fryer is being used at any time.
- Do not drink alcohol while operating a turkey fryer.
- Never leave the fryer unattended, even for a moment.
- Be sure to choose an open space to set up your outdoor fryer on a flat, level hard surface that is at least 10-feet from the home in any direction. Make sure there is nothing overhead near the flame or the pot.
- Never walk between the propane tank and the turkey fryer as the gas line can be a tripping hazard and might knock over the pot.
- Plan on being outside for a couple of hours.
Safety: Frying a turkey involves heating oil to 375-degrees Fahrenheit. Before attempting to use a fryer, thoroughly read all manufacturer's instructions and warnings. Follow safety precautions regardless of whether you're deep frying a turkey indoors or out.
- Either use a fresh turkey or thoroughly thaw a frozen turkey.
- Unwrap the turkey and remove the neck and giblets from the body cavity. Discard the wrap and the organs.
- Investigate the thawed turkey carefully to be sure there are no pockets of hidden ice, including around the joints and between the rib bones.
- Remove any excess fat from the bird.
- Dry the bird well, inside and out. Any pockets of moisture will cause the oil to spatter violently.
- Add any seasonings or injected flavorings or marinades to the turkey according to your deep-fried turkey recipe.
- For an 18-pound turkey fryer, if the turkey is 14-pounds or less, you can deep-fry it whole. If the turkey is 15-pounds or more, separate the legs and thighs from the breast and fry them separately.
- Do not attempt to deep fry a stuffed turkey. Cook any stuffing separately.
- Making small incisions under the turkey’s neck, wings and legs will allow oil to drain from the bird more quickly after frying.
An indoor electric deep fryer is a great means of frying a turkey without having to set up outside. Check that your indoor turkey fryer is large enough to accommodate your bird.
- Add cooking oil to the fryer to just below the maximum fill line.
- Preheat oil to 375-degrees Fahrenheit.
- When the oil reaches the target temperature, don protective gloves and an apron and slowly lower the turkey by the lift hook into the fryer, breast side up.
- Set the timer for 3- to 4-minutes per pound. For example, if you’re trying to decide how long to deep fry a 20-pound turkey, 3 x 20 = 60-minutes minimum. Turkey fry time for a 10-pound bird should be 30- to 40-minutes. Use this formula to create your own deep-frying turkey time chart to your liking, depending on how crisp you like the skin.
- Dark meat must be cooked to an internal temperature of 175- to 180-degrees Fahrenheit and white meat should cook to 165- to 170-degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the meat reaches the safe fried turkey temperature.
- When the turkey is done, slowly lift it from the pot and place it on a rack in a pan or on paper towels to drain.
- Let the turkey stand undisturbed for 20-minutes before moving it to a carving board.
For safe outdoor cooking, determine how much oil to deep fry the turkey size you’ve chosen. You'll need to add to the pot the day before preparation. Place the thawed turkey into the fryer basket and put both in the fryer. Add water into the pot until the level just reaches the top of the turkey. Lift the turkey and fry basket and allow the water to drain off and back into the fryer.
- Once all the water has returned to the pot, mark the water level with a food-safe pencil or marker and use that line as a guide when adding oil. Discard the water, then wash and thoroughly dry the fryer pot and basket to prep for cooking. Be sure to pat the turkey dry inside and out and return to the refrigerator.
- Add oil to the fryer up to the marked fill line. The final oil level after the turkey is submerged should be at least three to five inches below the top of the pot.
- Preheat oil to 375-degrees Fahrenheit. Attach a fry thermometer to the side of the pot or use a digital read thermometer.
- Allow turkey to come to room temperature while oil heats.
- Once the oil is hot, turn off the burner and lower the empty basket into the pot for about 30-seconds.
- Remove the basket from the oil, place the seasoned turkey inside, then lower carefully and slowly back into the oil. Preheating the basket in this way will help keep the skin intact and prevent it from sticking to the basket.
- Turn the burner back on.
- Cook the turkey about 4- to 5-minutes per pound. For example, a 10-pound turkey will need to cook for approximately 40-to 50-minutes. Use this formula to create your own deep-frying turkey time chart to your liking, depending on how crisp you like the skin.
- Dark meat must be cooked to an internal temperature of 175- to 180-degrees Fahrenheit and white meat should be at an internal temperature of 165-to 170-degrees Fahrenheit.
- When the turkey is done, turn the burner off and slowly lift it from the pot and place it on a rack in a pan or on paper towels to drain.
- Let turkey stand undisturbed for 20-minutes before moving it to a carving board.
Properly using a fryer can ensure that your fried turkey recipe will result in a bird with crispy skin and juicy meat. Learning how to deep fry a turkey is great for Thanksgiving, but the skills can also be used for frying chicken, fish and even putting together shellfish boils. Choose from our online deep fryer selection and get it delivered. Just say when, where and how.