It’s that time of year where the holiday meal planning is in full force. My absolute favorite family tradition is frying up a delicious Thanksgiving turkey! You’ll never want to eat turkey any other way once you get your hands on that melt in your mouth goodness. If you haven’t already, watch the video to see each step in the preparation and turkey frying process. Then, read the blog for more details and information on equipment used You’ll learn how to fry a turkey in no time!
I’m going to break the turkey frying process down into steps and safety procedures for each.
Step 1: Thaw the Turkey
This is the most important step! Far too often you hear horror stories of someone who didn’t think it was that big of a deal that the turkey was still a little frozen and then their house burned down. Thaw your turkey completely!
If you want to fry a turkey you really need to plan ahead. Most grocery stores only carry frozen turkeys and you’ll likely need a few days to properly thaw the turkey in the fridge.
- The recommended thaw time for a frozen turkey is 24 hours for every 5 pounds. To be on the safe side, you may want to give yourself a little breathing room and add an extra 12-24 hours just to be safe.
Step 2: Measure for Proper amount of Peanut Oil
Before I get into the measuring method, I’ll give a quick explanation about why most people fry food with peanut oil. The simple answer is that peanut oil has a high smoke point and neutral taste. It’s pricier than other oils but worth every penny.
Ok, back to the measuring…
It may seem tedious but the most sure fire way to know just how much oil you’ll need for your turkey is to actually place the turkey on the fry stand and into the fryer. Grab a gallon container and fill it with water. Then pour water by the gallon into the fryer. Count how many gallons of water it takes to just cover the turkey. You’ll also want to make sure your water line isn’t too close to the top of the fryer. It is very important to check your turkey fryer’s max fill guidelines. Some fryers will even have a max fill line directly on the fryer. Another measurement option is to remove the turkey once the necessary amount of water has been added and measure the exact depth of the water.
My measurement came in at 4 gallons with a depth of 9 inches.
One last piece of advice on this topic
From my experience, the average turkey fryer can’t handle a turkey more than 13 to 14 lbs. I’d actually recommend sticking to a 10 to 12 pound turkey. If you’re cooking for a large group, you can easily fry 2 turkeys one after the other. My family fries two 12 lb turkeys every thanksgiving. It only takes about 35-40 minutes to fry each one so it really isn’t an issue.
Step 3: Seasoning Methods
Once your turkey is thawed out and you’ve measured for oil, you’re ready to get it seasoned. Some seasoning will require added time. Your options are:
- Wet Brine
- This will require a soaking overnight. With a wet brine, you soak your turkey in a salt water bath. There are numerous brining recipes out there. Some are more complicated than others. For my demonstration video, I used a basic brine recipe from Alton Brown. You can find it here. This brine contained a pound of brown sugar and a pound of kosher salt dissolved into 6 quarts of water. You then add that mixture to 5 pounds of ice and let your turkey sit in it overnight.
- In my video, I used a food grade bucket from Lowes to brine the turkey in. You can also find one on Amazon but I did find it to be much pricier.
- Dry Brine
- A dry brine is just as it sounds, a brining method that does not entail soaking your turkey in liquid. Instead, you will apply a salt mixture directly to the bird and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. One thing to keep in mind with dry bringing is you cannot dry brine a pre-salted turkey.
- Inject with butter or marinade
- You can also inject your turkey with a butter mixture or a marinade. Injectors are easy to use and very inexpensive.
- Use a dry rub
- There are many dry rub recipes out there. For my turkey, I simply used some Cajun shake from Cajun Injector. It’s an easy way to season all kinds of fish and poultry.
Keep in mind, you can use a combination of these seasoning options. For the turkey frying video, I chose to wet brine and then season with cajun shake.
Once your turkey is seasoned and ready to fry, set it on the fry stand. You’ll probably want to tie the legs together with some butcher’s twine. The twine will be fine when frying in the hot oil.
Step 4: Fry the bird!
Finally, it’s time to fry the turkey.
Let’s go over some safety tips first
- Choose a flat fire safe surface a generous distance from your house to set up the fryer. NEVER fry indoors!
- When filling your turkey fryer with oil, be sure to follow the fryer’s max fill guidelines.
- When putting the turkey in the fryer, you can take an extra precaution by turning the propane tank off until the bird is safely in the fryer. Then you can turn the tank back on and relight the burner.
- Again, make sure your turkey is fully thawed before frying!
All you’ll need for the frying process is a turkey fryer such as this Brinkmann fryer, a fry stand, grab hook a filled propane tank. If you’re frying in a location where you don’t want to drip oil on the ground, you can grab a large cardboard box and place it under you fryer. If it’s windy out, you’ll want to place a brick or two on the corners to hold it down.
Heat the oil
Once your fryer is set up, add the peanut oil, light the burner and wait for the oil to heat to 250 degrees.
Once the oil reaches 250 degrees, I recommend grabbing a pair of insulated food gloves to lower the turkey into the fryer. I’ve got Steven Raichlen’s insulated gloves. They are perfect for barbequing and carving meat.
Once the turkey is in the fryer, turn up the flame and allow the oil temperature to reach 350 degrees.
Time for a little relaxation
Now for the best part, grab yourself a drink, a chair and sit a safe distance from the fryer and relax while the turkey cooks. You’ll want to let it fry for about 3 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature of the turkey breast is 150 degrees. You’ll want a good quick read thermometer. I love my ThermoWorks Instant Read Thermometer!
Once the turkey is cooked to 150 degrees, bring it inside and let it sit for about half an hour until the breast temperature reaches 160 degrees. Then, it will be ready to carve up and eat!