Deep fried turkey has been gaining in popularity for its incredible flavor, and tenderness. Deep frying a turkey is also vastly superior in regards to the time it takes to cook than other methods, making it an extremely convenient way of preparing your bird for the holidays. If you've been reluctant to prepare a turkey this way, this handy guide will walk you through the process, as well as provide you with some essential safety tips.

Why Should You Deep Fry A Turkey?

fried turkey

Many people will tell you that there is only one way to prepare a turkey and that's to fry it. It's fast, convenient and some prefer the flavor to the traditional roasted turkey, claiming that it's more flavorful, tender, with delicious crispy skin. Deep-fried foods are certainly are not on the healthy food list, so some may stray for that reason. Surprisingly, however, the differences between roasted turkey and fried turkey are not strikingly different in calories or fat.

A four ounce serving of roasted turkey contains 241 calories and 12 grams of fat, while in comparison a four-ounce serving of turkey fried in peanut oil contains 253 calories and 14 grams of fat. A difference of only 12 calories and two grams of fat. So, dig in!

What You'll Need

turkey and salad


  • One turkey, between 8 and 14 pounds.
  • Sprice rub or liquid seasoning
  • 3-5 gallons of peanut oil
  • 3-5 gallons of water (optional)


  • Turkey fryer with basket and hook
  • Rod for lowering bird
  • Propane burner
  • Filled propane tank
  • Instant-read meat thermometer
  • Deep fry oil thermometer
  • Injector for marinades and seasonings


  • Oven mitts or pan holders
  • Goggles (optional)
  • Apron
  • Gloves
  • Fire extinguisher

How To Fry Deep Fry A Turkey

grocery cart

1. Choose Correct Turkey Size

The first step in deep-frying a turkey is choosing a turkey that is appropriately sized for your turkey fryer. It's recommended not to choose a turkey exceeding 14 pounds in size, as this will risk displacing too much oil from the fryer, which would be a serious fire hazard. A smaller bird will also cook more evenly when deep-fried.

2. Thaw Turkey

vintage refrigerator

If your turkey is frozen, allow it to thaw out before proceeding to deep-fry. Just as you would with any turkey, thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours for every four pounds. For example, if you have a twelve-pound turkey, plan to allow your turkey three days to thaw out. Completely thawing your turkey is crucial for safety. Ice crystals left from an incomplete defrosting can result in oil splattering, which can result in burns or fire.

3. Remove Giblets And Make Small Incisions

raw turkey

Don't forget to remove the bag of giblets from the neck and body cavity of the bird, along with the pop-up timer, and other plastic wirings for trussing. After you've removed the giblets, take a knife and cut small incisions beneath the wings, legs, and neck. The incisions will ensure the oil will drain from the turkey after you've finished deep-frying.

4. Season Your Turkey

injecting turkey with marinade

Before seasoning your turkey it should be completely dry, and all cavities should be empty. How you season, your turkey is a personal preference. A spice rub may be used, or the turkey can be infused with liquid seasoning, with an injector. Extra care must be taken when injecting the turkey with a liquid seasoning as the excess liquid contained in the turkey can cause the oil in the fryer to splatter.

If you choose to use a liquid seasoning, the following metrics will ensure an even distribution of liquid in the bird. Inject 60 percent of the seasoning far into the breast of the turkey, 30 percent of the fluid should be placed into the leg and thigh. Inject the remaining 10 percent of the seasoning into the meatiest portion of the wing section. Take care not to inject the liquid seasoning just under the surface of the turkey's skin, as this will result in oil splattering, risking a fire hazard.

After seasoning your turkey place on a roasting pan, allow your turkey to rest for 45 minutes on the countertop to soak up the flavors of the seasonings. You may also let your turkey marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Remember to give the turkey time to come to room temperature before frying.

Setting Up The Fryer

turkey fryer

5. Find a Level Surface

It's imperative to find a flat surface to prevent any tipping of your fryer. Keep your fryer at least 10 feet away from any buildings or overhangs to avoid fire, in the event of oil splattering.

6. Determine How Much Oil You Need


If your turkey fryer has a "fill line" indicator, then you can simply fill your pot with peanut oil, until it reaches that level. If your fryer doesn't have this line, you have no way of knowing how much oil you'll need and guessing could be potentially dangerous.

Note: If your turkey fryer doesn't indicate a fill line, follow the rest of step 6 below, BEFORE seasoning your turkey.

Place your turkey in the fryer basket. Add water until the turkey is completely submerged. The oil level should be anywhere from 3 inches to 5 inches from the top of the fryer. Remove the turkey from the fryer, and make a note of the water level in the fryer. This will be the amount of oil you'll use. Drain the water from the pot and make sure your equipment is completely dry before you proceed with frying.

7. Fill Your Fryer With Oil

fryer with oil

Fill your fryer with oil to the fill line. Traditionally turkey's are fried in peanut oil for their high smoke point.

8. Ignite Your Fryer

man staring a turkey fryer

Attach your thermometer to the pot, making sure the tip is below the oil's surface. Start the burner on low, gradually allowing the gauge to reach 350 degrees.

9. Place Turkey In Fryer

raw turkey going in turkey fryer

Preheat your oil to 375 degrees and then turn off the burner. Turning off the burner will avoid the risk of fire in the event of an overspill if oil splatters. Secure the turkey in the center of the lift hook. Slowly lower your bird into the deep fryer. Once the bird is in the pot, you may turn the burner back on. Monitor the temperature levels throughout the frying, ensuring that it stays around 350 degrees.

10. Know How Long To Fry Your Turkey?

turkey deep frying

The time it takes to deep fry a turkey depends on the weight of the bird. Typically it takes around 3 minutes to 4 minutes per pound. Carefully lift your turkey out of the pot, when you believe its time to check the temperature according to the cooking time. Using your instant-read meat thermometer, check the temperature of the turkey in the thickest part of the bird to get an accurate reading. When the temperature reads 165 degrees, your turkey is done frying!

11. Removing and Resting The Turkey

removing fried turkey from fryer

Turn your burner off. Removing the turkey from the pot with the hook, let the turkey drain over the fryer for a few seconds before transferring to a platter to rest. Similar to any turkey, let it rest for about 30 minutes before carving giving it time to reabsorb moisture. To learn how to dispose of the oil from the turkey fryer click here.

Frying A Turkey Inside

electric turkey fryer

It's more common to fry a turkey outside, however, indoor fryers have been developed to accommodate folks that don't have the space to fry outdoors or they'd just rather be cooking inside. Inside fryers come in many different varieties. Most of them cook turkeys that are under 15 pounds and are fairly automated.

Safety Tips For Indoor and Outdoor Frying

fire extinguisher

If you're frying a turkey this year, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind whether you're frying indoors or outdoors:

1. Have A Fire Extinguisher On Hand
When working with a large amount of oil over a flame or other high heat source, a fire extinguisher is a must. Make sure it's rated to handle grease or oil fires.

2. Use Personal Protective Equipment
Wear an apron with gloves and goggles to prevent burns from oil splatters. Hot oil has extreme reactions to colder objects, even a bit of water can send fry oil into a frenzy. This is why you do not try to fry a frozen or cold turkey. Keep your skin covered as much as possible.

3. Make Sure The Fryer Surface is Level
Keeping the fryer on a stable and level surface will prevent the fryer from being knocked over. Keep outdoor fryers at least 10-feet from buildings or overhangs. Do not fry in garages or on wooden decks.

4. Do Not Overfill The Turkey Fryer
A large turkey will displace a lot of oil. Be sure to test how much oil you need with water before filling up the fryer with oil.

5. Never Fry A Frozen Turkey
Do not try to fry a frozen turkey. Completely thaw the turkey before frying it. If you only follow one safety rule this Thanksgiving, this is the one.

Frying a turkey this Thanksgiving is a perfect way to mix things up, and it's incredibly delicious. While it's more convenient and faster than roasting, be sure to take the proper precautions.

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