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Turkey Fryer Oil FAQs

Preparing a turkey the traditional way in an oven requires careful planning, hours of baking and basting, and constant attention. As a result, cooking a turkey can turn your Thanksgiving from a fun holiday with the family to a stress-filled nightmare. So, rather than sitting in front of the oven all day, many adventurous cooks are choosing to deep fry their Thanksgiving turkey. The process of deep frying a turkey is relatively simple, but choosing the right oil for turkey deep fryers and figuring out how much to use is very important. If you're considering using a fryer for your next turkey, the useful information and tips below are a great place to start.

Which Oil Should You Use to Fry Turkey?

pulling a deep fried turkey out of a turkey fryer

As a general rule of thumb, you should use cooking oils that are low in saturated fat, as the turkey will absorb a small amount of oil as it cooks. Peanut oil is the best kind of oil for deep frying turkey, as its high flash point makes it less likely to catch on fire. Additionally, its higher smoke point ensures good flavor and allows it to be reused multiple times before disposal, which is ideal if you're preparing multiple turkeys for a Thanksgiving event. Best of all, peanut oil is cholesterol free.

Which Peanut Oil Should You Purchase?

Because peanut oil is expensive compared to some other types of oil, you should be sure to shop around for a good price. Purchasing peanut oil for frying turkeys in bulk is also a good option, as any extra can be stored for up to six months in a cool, dark place.

Can I Use Corn and Canola Oil to Deep Fry a Turkey?

When deep frying a turkey, you can use any cooking oil that has a smoke point above 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Corn oil works well, as it doesn't smoke until 440 degrees Fahrenheit. However, canola oil (also known as vegetable oil) isn't a good choice because it smokes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider using avocado oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, and, of course, peanut oil when deep frying a turkey, as they'll have no trouble taking the heat.

How Much Oil Does a Turkey Fryer Take?

Container of Peanut Oil

The amount of oil you'll need depends on the size of your pot and the turkey. The turkey fryer pot included in most turkey fryer kits will have a max fill line, so you can sometimes use these marks to determine how much oil to add. Keep in mind that you'll need enough to cover your turkey, but not so much that it spills over. For example, you should use 3 gallons of oil for a 30 qt. pot and 3 1/3 gallons of oil for a 32 qt. pot.

How Much Peanut Oil For Frying a Turkey?

Another way to gauge the amount of peanut oil you'll need to fry your turkey is to place the uncooked turkey in the turkey fryer pot, add water until it covers the bird, pull the turkey out, and take note of where the water line is. This level indicates how much oil you'll need. Keep in mind that turkey fryers are very different than a traditional deep fryer and that you should always follow the instructions provided with your fryer pot or kit.

Here are a few more specific turkey weights and oil quantities:

Turkey Size How Much Oil You Need How Long Your Turkey Needs to Fry
9 Pounds 3-4 Gallons of Oil 32 Minutes
13 Pounds 4-5 Gallons of Oil 44 Minutes
14 Pounds 5 Gallons of Oil 47 Minutes
15 Pounds 5 Gallons of Oil Fry the dark meat and white meat separately. Fry for 3 minutes per pound.
20 Pounds 5-6 Gallons Fry the dark meat and white meat separately. Fry for 3 minutes per pound.
22 Pounds 5-6 Gallons of Oil Fry the dark meat and white meat separately. Fry for 3 minutes per pound.

Putting a turkey into an outdoor turkey fryer

How Long Does it Take to Deep Fry a Turkey?

In general, cooking times for deep frying a turkey are calculated at a rate of three minutes per pound plus five minutes. For example, if you're deep frying a 15 lb. turkey, you should cook it for 50 minutes.

Keep in mind that larger turkeys take longer to cook, which can result in an exterior that's burned and an interior that's still undercooked. So, we recommend that if you're frying a large turkey, you cut it into pieces and fry them separately.

Can You Reuse Peanut Oil?

While individual opinions vary, the general consensus is that you can reuse peanut oil. Be sure to allow the oil to cool completely before removing it from the pot, and put it back into its original container(s) for storage. You should cover the oil during storage, and keep it in a cool, dark area. If you won't be using it within a month or so, experts recommend storing it in your refrigerator or freezer.

How Many Times Can You Reuse Peanut Oil?

When cared for and stored properly, you can reuse peanut oil three to five times. Keep in mind that you'll probably need to add fresh oil each time you deep fry a turkey to bring the oil level up to the amount needed for frying. Reusing the same peanut oil several times can also help you impart a deeper, richer flavor to your delicious turkeys because the flavors can build over time.


Deep frying your turkey is a great way to put an innovative spin on a classic recipe. While the process may be simpler than cooking your bird in the oven, factors such as the type of oil you use, the cooking time, and the amount of oil can affect the end result, so be sure to read through this guide carefully.

Posted in: Seasonal | Kitchen & Cooking Tips | By Richard Traylor
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