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How to Deep Fry a Turkey

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

Last updated on 10/4/2022

Deep frying a turkey is a delicious and flavorful way to prepare this classic holiday centerpiece. The process involves immersing a whole turkey in hot oil, resulting in a crispy, golden-brown skin and tender, juicy meat. While deep frying may seem intimidating, with the right equipment and precautions, it can be a safe and rewarding way to prepare a turkey. We'll walk you through the process of frying a whole turkey so you can add a new cooking method to your arsenal.

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Deep Fried Turkey

Ready to get started? Check out our video to learn how to deep fry a turkey with a turkey fryer kit:

How Long Does it Take to Deep Fry a Turkey?

Generally, it is recommended to deep fry a turkey for about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes per pound. So, for example, if you have a 15-pound turkey, it would take approximately 52 to 60 minutes to cook it through. However, it's important to note that this is just a rough estimate and you should always use a meat thermometer to ensure that the turkey is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F.

chef wearing heat protective gloves pulling a deep fried turkey out of an outdoor fryer pot

One of the main benefits of deep frying a turkey is the speed at which it cooks. Unlike traditional roasting methods that can take several hours, deep frying can produce a fully cooked turkey in just a fraction of the time. This is especially helpful when you have a large group of hungry guests eagerly awaiting their holiday feast.

Check out these general cook times for deep frying a whole turkey:

  • 10 pounds - 35 to 40 minutes
  • 12 pounds - 42 to 48 minutes
  • 14 pounds - 49 to 56 minutes
  • 16 pounds - 56 to 64 minutes
  • 18 pounds - 63 to 72 minutes
  • 20 pounds - 70 to 80 minutes

What Special Equipment Do I Need?

Before you get started, you'll need to gather the following materials:

  • Turkey, completely defrosted with giblets removed
  • Frying oil
  • Dry rub or marinade
  • Turkey fryer, which should include a stock pot, rack, stand, propane tank, skewers, probe thermometer, and injector
  • Paper towels
  • Kitchen shears
  • Oil thermometer
  • Gloves, goggles, long-sleeved clothing
  • Fire extinguisher

Learn more about choosing the right oil in our turkey fryer oil resource.

Deep Fried Turkey Recipe

Follow our step-by-step instructions to deep fry a whole turkey. Make sure to read all safety recommendations included in your turkey fryer manual. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case of an emergency.

  • stainless steel pot on turkey fryer with small flame outdoors1.

    Set up the turkey fryer kit and turn on the burner, but keep the flame low. Fill the cooking pot with the correct amount of oil and place it on the burner. Now, turn up the flame to start heating the oil.

  • oil thermometer on inside of turkey pot2.

    Attach an oil thermometer to the side of the pot and preheat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Submerge the tip of the thermometer but don't let it touch the wall of the pot.

  • hands patting down turkey on cutting board to become dry before deep frying turkey3.

    While the oil is preheating, start prepping the turkey. Pat down the fully defrosted bird with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.

  • man cuts excess fat from turkey before deep frying4.

    Using kitchen shears, remove excess fat and cut slits in the front of each leg.

  • sprinkling seasoning from container on turkey before deep frying5.

    Using dry rub, marinade, or a combination of both, add seasonings to the turkey. You can also try injecting the turkey with marinade to lock in the flavor.

  • man lifting turkey covered in seasoning6.

    Place the turkey on the lifter and attach the hook. Remove the thermometer from the fryer before lowering the turkey into the pot. Re-attach the thermometer to the pot once the turkey is lowered in.

  • man wearing safety gloves and apron lowers turkey into turkey fryer using hook7.

    Put on safety gloves, apron, and goggles. Lower the turkey inch-by-inch into the pot, making sure to go very slowly. You should be going so slow that it will take about a minute to get the bird fully inserted into the oil. This will help to prevent boil-over or splashing.

  • man submerges turkey into turkey fryer by holding hook attached to turkey8.

    Once the turkey is fully submerged, deep fry it for about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes per pound.

  • man removes deep fried turkey from pot9.

    Slowly remove the turkey from the fryer, letting any extra oil drain from the cavity.

  • hand sticking probe thermometer into deep fried turkey10.

    Check the temperature of the turkey using a probe thermometer. Its internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

When you’re finished, place the turkey in a pan or on paper towels. Just like you would rest a steak, rest the cooked turkey for 20-45 minutes to ensure it reabsorbs its juices. Check out our turkey carving tutorial to learn how to cut up your fried turkey the easiest way.

Turkey Fryer Safety Tips

Without the right preparation, deep frying a turkey does come with potential hazards. Follow our safety suggestions to help prevent fires, combustion, and oil spills.

  • Completely Thaw the Turkey - If the turkey isn't completely thawed, the oil could boil over and start a fire. Always defrost the turkey using a food-safe method. Remove all giblets and drain the cavity before frying. If water or slush is left behind, the oil may bubble or splash when the turkey is placed in the pot.
  • Don't Stuff the Turkey - Stuffing a turkey before cooking has the potential to cause cross-contamination.
  • Set Up the Fryer in a Safe Place - Always make sure the fryer is on a flat surface that’s far from any flammable objects, such as wood decks, trees, and buildings.
  • Check the Internal Temperature - The internal temperature of a fried turkey must be a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Handle the Fryer Oil Safely - Adding too much oil to your fryer can lead to spillovers. Also, choose an oil with a high smoke point so that it doesn't overheat.
  • Wear PPE - Wear protective clothing, including gloves, goggles, and long-sleeved shirts.

Deep Frying a Turkey FAQ

Below we go through some of the most common questions that arise when deep frying a turkey.

How Long Does It Take to Deep Fry a Turkey?

The general rule of thumb for deep frying a turkey is to cook it for 3 1/2 - 4 minutes per pound.

How Long Do You Deep Fry a 20 lb. Turkey?

Since turkeys should be deep fried for 3 1/2 - 4 minutes per pound, a 20 lb. turkey will take 70 to 80 minutes to cook all the way through.

What Is the Right Temperature for Deep Frying a Turkey?

For a deep fried turkey, the oil should be preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and the internal temperature of your turkey should reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Where Should You Check a Turkey's Temperature?

The best place to check the temperature of a turkey is in the meatiest part of the thigh. This is one of the thickest parts of the turkey and also cooks slowly. If this portion of the thigh is at the right temperature, then the rest of the turkey will be as well.

Deep frying a turkey offers several benefits that make it a popular cooking method. It's a quick process that results in a turkey that is incredibly moist and flavorful, with a crispy and golden brown skin. Deep frying allows for a versatile cooking experience, because you can experiment with different flavors and seasonings to create a unique and delicious turkey.

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