“Frying a turkey is probably the most dangerous - yet delicious - way to cook one.”

How To: Deep Fry A Turkey

Rachel/November 18, 2012

Whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving, a deep fried turkey is delicious on any day of the year. And because frying a turkey is probably the most dangerous – yet delicious – way to cook one, here is our tutorial on the proper frying techniques. Let’s get started.

You will need:

  • A turkey. Duh.
  • A 40 – 60 quart pot with basket, and a propane gas tank and burner
  • 3.5 – 5 gallons of oil (peanut or canola oil is best)
  • A meat thermometer and a thermometer for the oil
  • Heavy duty pot holders and a fire extinguisher
  • Safety goggles, just in case
  • A good Tennessee whiskey

Step 1: Go outside. Seriously. Don’t burn your house down. Don’t fry on your deck either – go all the way outside.

Step 2: Your turkey. Size matters – smaller turkeys (8-12 lbs) or turkey parts are best for frying. 12-14 lbs is about as large as you should go. If your bird is bigger than that, you should break it down into parts and please, don’t burn your house down.

Step 3: The oil. Many turkey fryers feature a ‘fill line’ for the amount of oil you should use, but some do not. You must determine your fill line before frying, or things could get ugly. You can use your thawed turkey to measure your oil line with water. Simply put the turkey in your pot and cover with water, then remove the turkey and let the water drain off. Note the water level; this is now your fill line. The minimum oil level should be 3-5 inches from the top of the pot. Make sure to dry out every drop of water from your pot before adding the oil; water and oil don’t mix, and we’re trying to avoid explosions here.

Step 4: Turkey prep. Note the weight of your turkey, you will need this to determine cooking time. Thaw the turkey completely. Seriously, all the way. You don’t want to burn your house down. Remove the neck and giblets from the body cavities, and preheat the oil to 375° F.

Prepare your turkey as desired, but remember: if injecting any sort of marinade, strain or puree the mixture and inject it all the way into the muscles. Placing it just under the skin will result in hot oil popping and splattering, and possibly a visit to the emergency room, which will totally ruin your frying time.

Some somewhat obvious but nevertheless important safety notes about preparing your turkey to fry:

  • Remove the wrapper from your turkey.
  • Also remove any wire or plastic holding the legs in place and the pop up timer from the breast if there is one. Clip the wings and tail.
  • Do not stuff turkeys for deep frying.
  • Thoroughly dry the interior and exterior of the bird and again, make sure it is completely thawed.

Step 5: Fry the turkey! But don’t burn your house down. In fact, you should probably place a fire extinguisher nearby. Maybe you should wear safety goggles, just in case.

Turn off the burner and slowly lower the turkey into the pot. Immediately turn the burner back on, and maintain the oil’s temperature at 350°F. Cook 3-4 minutes per pound for whole turkeys, or 4-5 minutes per pound for turkey parts. Remove your turkey and let drain. The internal temperature should be 165-170°F in the breast and 175-180°F in the thigh.

Step 6: Take a shot of whiskey, and pat yourself on the back. You did it! You just deep fried a turkey, and you didn’t burn your house down. Cheers.

Illustrated by Will Godwin.

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