Deep Fried Turkey

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The first time I was told about deep fried turkey, I recoiled in horror! My imagination ran over with thoughts of horrendous dry and greasy meat.... That said, I am currently living in North America so it seemed like something that I should do!! I am very pleased to report that my initial assessment could not have been more wrong, the end result was very moist meat that is not greasy and is a huge favourite in our household. The key is the short cooking time due to the high temperature of the oil. The temperature causes the skin of the bird to seal and oil doesn't go through the meat - the turkey is steamed from the inside.

WARNING: Deep frying a turkey is not without risk. Searching YouTube will provide many examples of fireballs, injuries and property destruction; however, there are a few rules that if followed will reduce (but not eliminate) the chances of injury:

  • Choose a well made and stable fryer.
  • Locate the fryer outside and on a non flammable surface.
  • Ensure the turkey is completely defrosted.
  • Keep the oil below 350° Fahrenheit.
  • Turn the burner off when lowering the turkey into the fryer.
  • Wear appropriate clothing.
  • Dont drink and fry.
  • If a fire develops, DO NOT use water to extinguish as this will just spread it.

This is still the possiblity of injury even if you follow the above as you will be dealing with a very hot, flamable liquid and a large mass of turkey. Ensure that you always make an assessment of your own safety and only continue if you are comfortable.

Step 1: Tools and Ingredients

Ingredients

Turkey- Ensure the turkey is smaller than the max size recommended for your fryer. If it is larger there is a chance that the oil will overflow or the turkey will not be submerged in the oil to allow even cooking.

Salt and Pepper - Other seasoning could be used but will flavour (taint) the oil and reduce its ability to be reused. I find that salt and pepper is all the seasoning that is required.

Canola Oil, approx 17lt - Ensure that you use an oil that is suitable for deep frying. I got a bulk pack of canola oil from Costco that was suitable and was also very reasonably priced!

Tools

Turkey fryer (https://amzn.to/2KVGBBe)

The fryer in the link above is not quite the same as the one that I purchased; however, it has the features that I consider essential:

  • wide and solid base to reduce the chance of tipping over.
  • adjustable regulator to allow the temperature of the oil to be kept within a safe working range.
  • flame timer to shut the gas off after a short period of time. I originally thought that this was a pain but it does ensure that you constantly monitor the fryer and do not become distracted and leave it alone to overheat / boil over / catch fire...

Step 2: Preparation

Select a turkey that is large enough for your gathering but not larger than the maximum size recommended for your fryer. Don't be tempted to get one bigger than recommended as it will either not cook correctly or cause the oil to boil over.

Most of the year you will only be able to buy a frozen turkey. Ensure that you start defrosting the turkey a couple of days in advance of the day that you are going to fry. Removing the neck and giblets as soon as possible will speed up the defrosting process.

WARNING - The turkey MUST be completely defrozen. Any frozen flesh will increase the chance of a oil boilover and subsequent fire.

If the turkey isn't completely defrosted you can speed the process up by immersing it in water. Change the water as required to continue the process. I used a large bucket to maximise the thermal mass available.

Once the turkey is defrosted follow the following steps:

  • Remove the neck and the giblets from inside the turkey.
  • Determine the amount of oil needed, see below for details
  • Dry the turkey, both inside and out, with paper towels. All moisture must be removed to reduce the chance of the oil boiling over.
  • Rub a mixture of salt and pepper into the skin of the turkey.
  • Place the turkey onto the stand that comes with the fryer. Do not stuff the turkey, the cavity must be empty.

Oil Measurement

  • Place the turkey into the empty fryer and fill with water until covered. I have found that some of the turkey can be above the liquid level and still cook to perfection; however, there is a limit to how much can be exposed.
  • Remove the turkey. You will need to dry the turkey again with paper towels if you had already done this. The bird must be dry both inside and out prior to frying.
  • Take note of the water level, then empty and dry the fryer
  • Fill the fryer with oil up to the level noted. There will be a maximum fill line, ensure that this is not exceeded.

Step 3: Cook

Note: Ensure that appropriate clothing is worn when using a propane deep fryer. Long trousers, closed shoes and leather gloves are the minimum items required.

Place the deep fryer outside on a non flammable surface. If things go wrong, the flames could be significant so also ensure that you do not place it under the eaves of a house or a tree.

Place the oil filled fryer onto the propane burner and light it. Each burner will have a different method, use the instructions that came with your unit.

Heat the oil until it reaches 325° F, ensure that it does not exceed 350°. Leaving the lid on the pot while the oil is heating up to speed the process up. Allow approximately 40mins for the oil to come upto the correct temperature.

Turn the burner off and lower the turkey slowly into the oil using the hook that comes with the fryer. The oil will likely boil up and splatter a bit. Wearing gloves will minimise the chance of burning your hands.

DO NOT replace the lid at this point. The lid must remain off the oil whilst cooking.

Relight the propane burner and use the regulator to keep the oil at a temperature of approx 325 degrees F, again, ensure that it does not exceed 350°.

Cook the turkey for about three minutes per pound. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the meat in the thickest part of the turkey has reached 180° F.

Remove the turkey and cover with tin foil. Let it stand for approximately 20 minutes before carving and serving. Remember to turn off the burner when removing the turkey from the burner to minimise the chance of dripping oil onto the open flame.

Now is the perfect time to place some peeled and cube potatoes into the fryer whilst letting the turkey rest!

Note: The fryer should be monitored at all times while you are heating and cooking the turkey. It may be tempting to have a beer or wine while doing this but I recommend that you avoid drinking and frying.

Step 4: Carve and Serve

After the turkey has rested for 20 minute, carve and serve.

It is up to you what is best to serve with the meat. I prefer salads and a dinner roll but you can always go traditional with cooked veges or completely relaxed with some hamburger buns or panini so your guests can make sandwiches.

I hope that you enjoy this as much as my family and I do. Please remember to stay safe and the precautions that I listed may not cover all situations. Ensure that you do your own research and make your own decisions on how to stay safe and cook delicious turkey!

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    23 Discussions

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    AmyandTanner

    18 days ago

    I've tried it before and it was too dry... I'm going to try it again with your instructable and see what happens!

    1 reply
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    mattawAmyandTanner

    Reply 16 days ago

    hope it turns out well. Keep an eye on the temp and remove as soon as the bird gets to a safe temperature.

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    dejanf2

    2 months ago

    "Dont drink and fry",great advice! :)

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    LinnetNC

    2 months ago

    Only comment I have is that down here below the Mason/Dixon line peanut oil is the preferred oil to fry turkeys in. And no it doesn't make it taste of peanut butter. It can be more expensive than canola but is much easier to find around Thanksgiving time.

    2 replies
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    CourtneyS4LinnetNC

    Reply 2 months ago

    I agree. 100% peanut oil... or at least a 50-50 mix using peanut oil gives the best result.

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    mattawLinnetNC

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thanks for the suggestion. I filter and save the oil after use so that I get a few frys out of it. This may mitigate the cost a little if alternative oils are a bit more expensive.

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    CourtneyS4

    2 months ago

    Great Instruct-able. I've been frying at least a couple of turkeys a year for thirty years, and I will never go back to roasting. If you haven't tried it you are missing out.
    I think the author touched on all of the basics. In particular, turning the flame off when dropping the bird in the oil is the is the most important safety tip. This will stop a large percentage of the turkey frying accidents that you hear about. Its common sense but you should do that anytime you move the turkey, whether inserting it, checking its temp, or removing it when done.
    To prepare the turkey, I recommend that you brine or flavor inject the bird. You can get good results without, but either process will definitely enhance the flavor and moistness of the meat. One note, if you do inject, use a butter or oil based injection to avoid the risk of boil up and splatter.
    Finally, I would like to put in a good word for the Butterball/Masterbuilt indoor electric turkey fryer. This fryer works very well. The results are essentially identical. It is safer and requires less oil than an open flame burner. And it can be used safely indoors. I still use my open flame setup for outdoor events, but for Thanksgiving and other home events I use the Masterbuilt.

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    tercero

    2 months ago

    Really good instructable. Covered all the bases regarding safety and taste. I've read some people brine their turkey, but it seems like over kill. I could be wrong.

    5 replies
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    CourtneyS4tercero

    Reply 2 months ago

    Brining is not necessary, but you will get a better result with it.

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    the fundamentals that you place upon this recipe do not align with star sign that i have foreseen. to brine the turkey to add the full extent of the flavor available from the turkey. without brine, this taste is just not possible to form tender meat. as seen on page 5 of the Augustus road to plseure we can see that without the full extent of the brine the meat does not align with rules 3 and 6 leading me to inact the laws 3 and 4 against you. this will nt be the end of me

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    mattawtercero

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thanks for the feedback. I have never tried to brine the turkey but I don't think that it would be needed as the meat turns out moist and juicy naturally. I would definately recommend a brine if you were going to oven roast the bird.

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    srsabumattaw

    Reply 2 months ago

    I've deep fried turkeys both brined and not brined and I have a slight preference for brining. It seems like the brined stay juicy a little longer. Also, if you use some spices and some brown sugar in the brine, it makes the deep fried skin really tasty!

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    tercerosrsabu

    Reply 2 months ago

    I guess there's only one way for me to find out. I've never tried the brine'ing thing. I saw Alton Brown tackle this, so I guess it's time for me to give it a try. Thanks for the info.

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    JJmadigan

    2 months ago

    This is faster than I thought it would be!
    I have never had deep-fired turkey, so I thought you would have to batter it and end up with a giant piece of greasy KFC. XD
    I am in VA, so it is not uncommon to hear of people frying their turkeys.

    1 reply
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    mattawJJmadigan

    Reply 2 months ago

    To be completely open: by the time you heat the oil, cook the turkey and then store the oil and clean the equipment, you have probably spend about the same amount of time as oven roasting. The benefit is that the turkey tastes fantastic!

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    mattawbird2brain

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thanks for the comment. The use of a turkey derrick definately looks like a good way to keep your hands and body clear of the hot oil.

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    LSU1977

    2 months ago

    In the Oil Measurement Section, I suggest adding an instruction; after placing the turkey in, filling with water, turkey removal, etc., that a step be added to re-dry the turkey with paper towels to remove the excess water/moisture before placing the turkey in the hot oil.

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    mattawLSU1977

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thanks for the suggestion. This is what I meant but agree that it wasn't clear, I will update to ensure that the turkey is dry as it is essential for safety.

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    Pa1963

    Tip 2 months ago

    Before you fire up your cooker, make sure that your lines are clear. Something about propane lines attracts spiders and they like to make webs in your lines. I didn't do this one year, and I got a yellow, sooty flame that took a long time to heat the oil. Then, the oil mixing with the soot coated the outside of the pot with something resembling road tar, and was really difficult to clean.