Part of Thanksgiving

How to Deep-Fry a Turkey

Frying isn’t just for chicken. Jazz up your turkey day with different take on deep-fried deliciousness.

Turkey is the obvious centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table. After all, 46 million people cook turkeys for Thanksgiving every year! Most of the time those are stuffed and slowly roasted, basted and then covered in gravy. But that was before deep-fried turkey.

A few years ago my mom bought a turkey fryer and, while she still roasted up her traditional turkey day fare, there was a bonus plate loaded with the most tender, juicy meat — all with a perfectly golden crisp skin. The drumsticks looked like a smaller version of those you tote around at the fair, and the wings? Well let’s just say I am SO glad I snagged one of the wings. I don’t think I ever had a turkey wing before that day and I can now say with confidence that frying a turkey changes things — in a really great way. The best part is that it’s actually really easy to fry a turkey. Don’t be intimidated, you just need to be prepared.

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I can give you tips, tricks and best practices, but the bottom line is that every turkey fryer is different. So before you get started, make sure you thoroughly read your instruction manual. Check to make sure it’s assembled properly. Check that your outlet can bear the amperage. Make sure you have a clear work area and you are adhering to all of the manufacturer’s recommendations. SAFETY FIRST!
Be extra sure to check instructions for minimum and maximum levels of oil and how long the oil will take to heat. My turkey fryer calls for 2 gallons of vegetable oil and 35 minutes to reach the desired turkey-frying temp of 375°F.



Your turkey fryer should also have a recommended size of bird to buy. Typically a 9-10 pound bird is optimum. Much smaller than the normal roaster.
We talked once before about How to Thaw a Turkey and to fry your turkey, it has to be COMPLETELY thawed. No ice lurking in the cavity or between the leg and the thigh. Water and hot oil will make a spitting, popping HOT hazard, so ice is a big no-no. You also want to pat your turkey completely dry. Use paper towels to remove any moisture inside and out. You can use an injection like this Turkey Injection Sauce with Honey and Herbs or this Fried Turkey Rub with Cajun Injection. This time around I opted to use a butter/herb mixture under the skin like in this Mouth-Watering Herb Roasted Turkey Recipe.

Then sprinkle kosher salt all over the turkey skin.


If you followed your manufacturer’s instructions in step 1, your oil should be heated (to the correct temperature) and ready.

To keep your turkey from sticking to the fryer basket, you can dip the empty basket into the hot oil. Then place your prepped turkey in the basket.

Wear oven mitts and sleeves. When you lower your turkey into the oil, it will spit and pop. Take precautions.

Very slowly lower the basket into the hot oil.

Close the lid and set the timer.
To fry a turkey you are looking for 4 minutes per pound. My turkey was 9.5 pounds. I set my timer for 38 minutes.


Put those oven mitts back on and gently lift the fryer basket out of the oil. My fryer has a little tab on the side meant to hold the turkey safely above the oil without making a mess.

Your turkey is done when your instant read thermometer read 165°F. Check to be sure your thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the breast or thigh, and is NOT touching any bone.
Let your turkey rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

About Heather T.

Heather, who runs, has been making messes in the kitchen since she was a little kid when her mom handed her a cook book and told her, “If you can read, you can cook.” Today she serves up fresh, healthy eats, easy weeknight meals and decadent sweet treats.