Fried Turkey Brined in Cayenne and Brown Sugar

Total Time
Prep 1 hr
Cook 36 hrs

Deep-frying a turkey is not as hard as it sounds and it yields an exquisitely moist and crispy bird much quicker then roasting. Use a deep fryer that is made for a turkey that comes with a thermostat and a metal basket for lowering and removing the turkey. Heating the oil can take up to an hour, so plan accordingly. A 12-pound turkey cooks in just 36 minutes (3 minutes per pound). Recipe by Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing from Rushing Home for Thanksgiving. 36 hours for brining. WINE: A medium-light Gewürztraminer is ideally suited to the spicy brine and the deep fried turkey. Try a Lynskeys Gewürztraminer Marlborough Wairau Peaks Vineyard 2002 or the German, Machmer Bechtheimer Stein Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2003.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. In a whole-turkey-size stockpot, whisk brown sugar, mustard, salt and cayenne.
  2. Gradually whisk in water, and then add thyme and garlic.
  3. Add turkey, cover and brine in refrigerator for 35 hours.
  4. If you cannot fit the pot in your refrigerator, you can place it in an ice chest or other container (keep an eye on your ice).
  5. Bring the oil to 375° in your turkey fryer - this can take up to an hour.
  6. Remove turkey from brine and pat it dry inside and out with paper towels.
  7. If your family or guests are salt-sensitive wash the turkey thoroughly then pat until it is dry as you can get it with paper towels.
  8. Transfer the turkey to a frying basket, breast side up.
  9. Lower into oil and fry for 3 minutes per pound, 36 minutes.
  10. Lift the basket out of the fryer and drain the turkey on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet or pan for about 15 minutes.
  11. Carve and serve.
  12. Take extra care with the hot oil - Any hotter than 375F and you risk it catching fire.


Most Helpful

I can't believe I forgot to review this recipe! We used this for our first fried turkey and it was amazing! I have tried several other methods, and this one is definitely our favorite. This one goes in my favorites cookbook.

Rhi's Mama August 20, 2013

This made the absolute best Thanksgiving Turkey I have ever had!!!! I'm drooling thinking about it still. If you can even imagine (it's the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) and I'm considering making another one while all the stuff for deep frying is still out. The only thing I changed is I added more salt to the brine probably closer to 1-1 1/4 cups just because every other brine recipe I've made had so much more salt in it. This will be the only way I cook my whole turkey from now on. Thanks for an exceptional recipe!

Peacefulone December 02, 2008

SUPERB for the HOLIDAY! Made this again and it is so fantastic! I increased the cayenne to 3 Tbsp this time. YUM! Was not too spicy at all. I had a 12 lb bird and it took 38 minutes to reach the correct temp. Allowed it to rest for about 20 minutes before slicing. The outside may look burnt but it SO is not! The skin forms a wonderful crusty 'seal' that keeps the meat so most and juicy you will be knocked out! hehehe in a good way! This BIRD ROCKS! 11/29/07 WOW! THIS is an AMAZING recipe! We fried a turkey using this recipe for a get together with friends and we had a BLAST. The turkey came out beautifully and was so moist, juicy and had an awesome flavor! When frying a turkey you want to be sure that it does not exceed 12 lbs as any larger and it will be too large to cook well inside and out- you will get an overdone outside and an underdone inside. This was EASY and perfect. The cayenne and brown sugar were wonderful flavors to blend with the turkey. The cayenne was not spicy at all in the finished product. We are chili heads so I think next time I will double the cayenne- personal preference only. This BIRD ROCKS! Thanks NCM for another fantabulous recipe!

Mama's Kitchen (Hope) December 12, 2007

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