For many of us, the best memory we remember from every last Thursday of November (USA national Thanksgiving Day) is the mouthwatering delicious taste of the golden skin, succulent, crispy deep-fried turkey. When we grow up, we start looking forward to our first time to deep fry a turkey. If this is your first time to undertake this vital activity, here, we share tips and tricks showing you how to deep fry a turkey without much hustle deep.
In this article, we also share some safety tips and answer several questions such as; How do you prepare a turkey to deep fry?; How much oil do you need to deep fry a turkey?; Do you deep fry turkey with the lid on or off? How long does it take to deep fry a turkey?; How do I know when my deep-fried turkey is done?; ; Can you deep fry turkey on the stove?; Is deep frying a turkey unhealthy?; And so much more.
Before we answer all those questions, let me first make a case for why you should deep fry your turkey. Why deep-frying a turkey is superior to other cooking methods such as roasting, grilling, or smoking turkey. For starters, fried turkey tastes better than roasted turkey – at least that is what many people who have tried both will tell you. Fried turkey has moister and flavorful meat compared to roasted or smoked turkey, and the skin, more crispy and never slimy or gross.
How do you make the best of the world deep-fried turkey, without making a mess of things?
First, here is a summary of it all – a hustle free way to deep fry a turkey.
1 – You should have all your materials and supplies to use in the turkey frying process. These will include;
Oil for deep frying. Peanut oil is preferable for deep frying turkey. It is the best oil for deep frying a turkey because peanut oil has a high flash point, which makes it less likely to catch fire. Peanut oil is also low in saturated fat. Hence, the turkey will absorb a small amount of oil as it cooks); Propane fired burner; a 5-gallon propane tank; a turkey fryer pot, turkey rack, lifting hook, a long-stemmed meat thermometer/temperature gauge; a rod; an apron; shoes; long pants to wear; long sleeves and long oven mitt. As a precaution, have a fire extinguisher on hand.
2 – You will then Prep the turkey and arrange/ready the cooking area and materials following the steps, guidelines, and cautions given below.
3 – With care and caution, you will then deep fry the turkey, avoiding any oil spills, accidental grease fires, and injuries.
Warning: If you don’t know already, one of the very, very dangerous activities during thanksgiving is that of deep-frying a turkey. It is messy, and with splattering oils, that can easily cause grease fires and burns. Any misstep and improper technique can cause real house fires and severe burn injuries. That is why deep-frying a turkey should be an outdoor activity. Don’t do it in the kitchen, garage, under the dry pine tree, carport, swing set, or backyard patio. No! Find a spot away from things that’ll catch fire. A concrete driveway or patio is a great place. Do not attempt to fry your turkey on a wooden deck. You don’t want to be that person who burns down their neighbourhood.
- Also, the propane tank should be set as far away from the propane burner as the connections can allow you.
4- Serve, Eat, and clean-up.
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How To Deep Fry a Turkey Without Making a Mess of Things – Recipe, Steps, Tips and Cautions
Materials and Supplies
Ingredients for a 10-14 pound turkey, no larger than 15 pounds (6.8 kg):
- 1 Turkey: You can order it on Amazon.
- 4 to 5 gallons of peanut oil. You can substitute with a different kind of oil, such as sunflower oil, which also has a high smoke point.
Tip: You need this much oil, but don’t worry, the oil can be strained and reused.
- 6 qt boiling water (5.5 L)
- 3 lb ice (1.3 kg)
- 4 qt cold water (3.8 L), enough water to cover turkey entirely
- Brine or injection marinade for fried turkey
Note: In the month leading up to Thanksgiving (October-November), many hardware and sporting goods stores will advertise kits for deep-frying a turkey. These kits usually include a couple of the hardware listed below (i.e., hook/basket, s-hook, retrieval handle). You can look for bargains.
- A propane-fired burner and propane tank
- A 5-gallon propane tank
- 1 Turkey fryer pot
- 1 Turkey rack/basket.
- A lifting hook or makeshift metal handle
- A long-stemmed meat thermometer (Probe thermometer)
- One temperature gauge
- One deep-fry thermometer
- A large rod for lowering the turkey
Gear For Your Safety
- Pair of safety goggles
- An apron
- Pair of Shoes
- Long sleeves
- Long pants to wear
- A pair of long oven mitt or rotisserie grade oven mitts
- A fire extinguisher
How do you prepare a turkey to deep fry?
Step 1 – Remove the turkey’s internal organs (giblets), cut off the extra neck skin, and the protruding tail section.
Step 2 – Make/Cut incisions under the neck, legs, and the wings of the turkey. These incisions allow brine solution and oil to drain out of the turkey once you have finished brining or deep frying.
Step 3 – Determine the amount of oil you will need before you start.
How much oil do you need to deep fry a turkey?
Ideally, to deep fry a 12 to 14-pound turkey in a 30-quart pot, you’ll need about 4 to 5 gallons of your chosen deep-frying oil.
How to determine the amount of oil you need to deep fry a turkey
Most turkey fryer pots have a line (max fill line) to indicate the maximum point to fill with oil. You can sometimes use these marks to determine how much oil to add.
If your fryer pot does not have this max fill line, you can manually determine the amount of peanut oil you need to deep fry a turkey. Just placing the raw turkey into the fryer pot, add water until it covers the bird. Then get out the turkey, noting where the water line/level ends when the turkey is pulled out. You can also measure the amount of water you have added. This water level or amount indicates how much oil you’ll need. That water level should also at least be 13 cm (5 inches) below the rim of your pot. Otherwise, you will need yo chose a taller pot because if you use too much oil, it could spill over when the turkey is lowered. This will cause a fire.
Note: Remember to dump the water and thoroughly clean and dry the stockpot before you put the real oil.
Step 4 – Prepare the brine solution in a large pot by dissolving the salt and brown sugar in the boiling water. Then let the brine cool down with ice.
How do you brine a turkey for deep frying?
Step 5 – Brine the turkey by placing it into the brine mixture and placing it in a refrigerator for 8-16 hours. Make sure the brine solution covers the turkey entirely. If the solution is not enough to cover the turkey entirely, you can add more cold water. Ensure the turkey is completely submerged in the brine solution for all the brining period. You can do this by Weighing it down with something heavy and then covering.
Step 6 – Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Use a paper towel to dry the turkey entirely inside and out. Remember: hot oil + sudden water = apocalypse!. Let the turkey stay at room temp for about 30 minutes before frying so it can dry out even more.
Step 7 (OPTIONAL) – For some, you may choose to apply/rub herbs into the skin or use a marinade injector to get your favourite flavour deep into the turkey.
Step 8 – While the turkey is coming to room temp, prepare your deep frying pot. Dry the fryer pot thoroughly to ensure no water/moisture is attached to the surfaces or bottom.
Any water will make the oil pop when it starts heating – a disaster!. Pour peanut oil into the fryer pot up to the max fill level (line) you predetermined in step 3. Ignite the propane burner and set the turkey fryer pot with the oil over it. Attach the temperature gauge to the pan so the tip is beneath the oil’s surface. Bring the temperature of the oil to 350°F (180°C).
Frying the turkey
If you bought the turkey deep-frying kit, use all the equipment that comes with it (i.e., hook/basket, s-hook, retrieval handle). Otherwise, have a makeshift stainless steel kitchen utensil having a wide bottom, long handle, and looped top.
Step 9 – Take the metal handle and drive it through the neck of the turkey, ensuring that the wide part of the kitchen utensil to rest inside the turkey’s cavity. Then loop the s-hook with a handle attachment through the loop part of the kitchen utensil.
ALTERNATIVELY: You can place the turkey in the turkey fryer basket.
Step 10 – After the oil has reached 350 degrees and you have made sure that the turkey is securely placed in the fry basket or on the lifting hook (With the turkeys upper part – or head facing down), slowly and gently lower the turkey into the oil and let turkey fry.
- Make sure you have put on your gloves, goggles, and apron
- Also, before you lower the turkey into the hot oil, first turn off the propane burner. This is a safety measure against any possibility of a fire that may be caused by overflowing oil.
How long does it take to deep fry a turkey?
It takes approximately 3-4 minutes to fry a pound (455 grams) of turkey in peanut oil maintained at 350°F (180°C). That means, for a 14 pound (6.37 kg) turkey, this will take 42 minutes.
Do you deep fry turkey with the lid on or off?
Fry the turkey with the lid off (down). It is best to deep fry the turkey when the lid is off (uncovered). This is because if you leave the lid on (covered) while deep frying, condensation will occur inside the closed pot creating water droplets, which then drips back into the oil. This can cause two problems. First, it could partially steam the bird, which defeats the point of deep-frying. Secondly, water plus hot oil = an apocalypse. Don’t create fire.
Step 11 – When the turkey is done cooking (after the 42 minutes for the 14 lb), turn off the burner. Then gently remove the turkey from the oil.
How do I know when my deep-fried turkey is done?
You can check if your fried turkey is done by inserting the long-stemmed meat thermometer (Probe thermometer) into the thickest part of the thigh. Towards the end of the cooking time, partially pull the turkey out of the oil (just enough to enable you to insert the thermometer). If the reading on the thermometer displays 165 degrees, the turkey is done, and you are good to go! If not, you should put it (the turkey) back into the oil and cook for a few more minutes until that temperature has been achieved.
How do I remove the fried turkey from the turkey fryer pot
- Turn of the propane burner.
- Use the retrieval rod or the same makeshift rod you use to lower it down.
- Pull out the turkey from the oil.
- Let the fried turkey linger over the pot for a minute so the oil can drain out through the incisions you made.
- Place the turkey onto a carving board or large baking sheet with several paper towels.
Step 12 – Leave the turkey to sit and rest on the carving board for about 20-30 minutes before carving. Then carve as desired with your favourite carving knife and serve.
Is deep frying a turkey unhealthy?
Is a deep-fried turkey healthy?
Here are the nutrition facts of deep-fried turkey.
Nutrition facts(per 1 pound deep-fried turkey):
Calories: 880 Fat: 65 grams Carbs: 16 grams Fiber: 0 grams Sugars: 16 grams Protein: 128 grams
As you can see, Nutritionally, when compared to a traditionally roasted turkey in fat and calorie count, there is not much difference. Hence, you can enjoy your deep-fried turkey, knowing that healthwise and nutritionally, it is similar to the traditional roasted turkey. The turkey does not absorb the oil during the deep-frying process because the moisture inside the turkey repels the oil rather than absorbing it.
Can I reuse the oil used to deep fry turkey?
Yes, you can reuse the oil to deep fry other food. Make sure that after deep frying, let the oil cool overnight and then filter it and store it properly.
Video Demonstrating How to Deep Fry a Turkey
Image sources (licensed under CC BY 2.0)