How To Fry A Turkey

Most people are afraid of frying a turkey on special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas or while out tailgating because, quite frankly, it can be a bit intimidating. After all, a big vat of boiling oil at 350 degrees can be a bit scary to some people and they would just rather bake the turkey the old fashioned way. But we are here to tell you that deep frying a turkey is a great way to have moist and juicy turkey and by frying it, it will cut your cooking time in half and sometimes more. Also, most think frying a turkey will turn it greasy and it will be akin to eating a bucket of KFC. That’s not true at all in our experiences.

So in order to reduce the anxiety that some tailgaters may have surrounding frying a turkey, we filmed this “How to Fry a Turkey” video on Thanksgiving 2011. You can see we filmed it in our backyard but you can pretty much take these hints and tips on frying a turkey and apply them to your own home or even out in the tailgating parking lot. With holidays upon us and turkey being one of the more popular meats to serve those days, we thought it a good idea to put together a “How to Fry a Turkey” tutorial for those that may want to try something a bit different.

YouTube video

Here is a rundown of some of the more important hints and tips on how to fry a turkey.

1) Frying time is normally 3 to 4 minutes per pound. A 16 pound turkey should take just about an hour to fry to perfection.
2) Always fry a turkey outdoors in an open area away from overhangs and walls. Even if it is cold outside, frying a turkey indoors, even in the garage with the door open, is dangerous. The potential fire danger could be catastrophic in case there is a fire.
3) NEVER attempt to fry a turkey that is frozen, partially frozen or not completely thawed out. This is not a joke. There are plenty of videos on YouTube of people trying to fry a frozen turkey and the results look like outtakes from the movie Backdraft. Don’t be that guy.
4) Make sure your turkey is patted dry before putting it in the oil. The water on the turkey will instantly boil and cause your oil to overflow. Same goes for trying to fry a turkey in any type of precipitation. The water from the sky will cause the oil to pop and boil over.
5) Have a fire extinguisher on hand. Hopefully you won’t need it is but better to have it and not need it than need it and not have one close by.
6) If you do have a grease fire as a result of frying your turkey, NEVER attempt to put it out by spraying water on it. It will only make it worse. A lot worse.
7) To gauge the level of oil you need for the size turkey you are going to fry, place the turkey in the pot and fill it with water until the top of the legs are under water. Remove the bird from the water and make note of where the water level now is. That is the exact same level you will need to fill your pot with oil in order to have your turkey completely covered but not too much oil that your pot will overflow.
8) When first placing the bird in the fryer, lower it slowly in increments of 25%, 50%, 75% and then all the way in. Don’t just drop the whole thing in there at once. This will cause a big splash and a possible fire.
9) The oil should be heated to and maintained between 300 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 325 is ideal to keep your oil at throughout the process but it is just something you will need to keep an eye on.
10) When first placing your turkey in the oil, you want the oil to be at the top end of the temperature range. You can even get your oil to about 375 because when you place in the bird at first, the temperature differential will bring your oil’s heat down by about 25 to 35 degrees. So make sure your oil is really hot in order to counterbalance the cold turkey bringing down the oil’s temperature.
11) Frying a turkey is not a “set it and forget it” type of cooking. It is not like putting it in the oven and taking it out hours later. When frying a turkey you will need to periodically adjust the amount of propane you are sending to the burner. Because the turkey will be cooking and will be absorbing the oil’s heat, you will need to turn it down every now and then so the oil does not get too hot. We suggest pulling out a tailgating chair, grabbing a cooler full of beers and have a friend join you outside while the turkey cooks. Depending on the size of your bird, it should only be an hour to an hour and a half.
12) Once your turkey has cooked for the total time (remember 3 to 4 minutes per pound) check it with a meat thermometer. Poultry is cooked thoroughly when it reaches 165 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

Enjoy frying your turkey.