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So You Want to Deep Fry A Turkey for Thanksgiving? A Complete How to Guide

So You Want to Deep Fry A Turkey for Thanksgiving? A Complete How to Guide

How to do Deep Fry a Turkey for Thanksgiving

A complete how to guide for your first Deep Fried Turkey

So you think you want to Deep Fry a Turkey for Thanksgiving? I salute you! A deep fried turkey is the most flavorful and juicy cooking methods to handle these massive land birds.

Deep Fried Turkey Instructions from  Tom's Foodie Blog

Deep Fried Turkey Instructions from Tom’s Foodie Blog

 

Deep Frying a whole turkey is relatively easy, but also easy to f%ck up and when I say F*ck Up!, I mean 3rd degree burns, house fire and crispy poodles.  Now I don’t want to scare you away from deep frying a turkey, as you will never go back to a regular oven baked turkey ever again!  After following these instructions,  you will be able to safely deliver a juicy fried feast to your family and friends without 3rd degree burns. This method I am about to teach  will require a little extra work, but your beast of the barnyard will not only make it to your table in one piece, but so will you.

Deep Fry Turkey Disaster

Follow my simple instructions so this deep fried turkey disaster does not happen to you. Tip: It is easy to do it right!!

Does your own independent research on safety, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the deep fryer. For the love of whatever God you pray to, follow ALL safety instructions. I mean it! Please see the attached picture to see what happens when you get lazy or cut corners. With that disclaimer, lets DEEP FRY a Turkey!!!!!!

Ingredients

1)    Turkey – No more than 15 pounds 

2)    Dry Seasoning Mix -Lawry’s seasoning , pepper, cayenne pepper (just a pinch), garlic powder, paprika,

3)    Container of Peanut Oil (They sell this at Costco) 25 pounds

Deep Fried Turkey Peanut Oil from Costco

I recommend you use a high smoke oil that adds flavor. The peanut oil from Costco is my recommendation, they provide the perfect ammount of oil for the task. Canola oil is acceptable for folks with peanut allergies

 

Equipment

 

1) Deep Fryer Set with 40-60 Quart Pot– You can get this from any hardware store (Home Depot, Lowes, ect. The set should include the burner apparatus, deep fryer pot, basket or turkey mounting perch, safety lift hook, deep fry thermometer.

 

Deep Fried Turkey Kit from Bayou Classic

This is the kit that I purchased from Home Depot. It costs around $100

5)    Full tank of propane – as most stores who sell full ones are closed on Thanksgiving. If you are unsure, don’t be lazy and buy an extra the day before.

6)    Instant Read Thermometer 

7)    Ladder - I don’t recommend a wooden lader

8)    Pulley system (homemade see instructions)

9)    Zip Ties (optional)

10) Three rolls of paper towels – To dry the turkey and clean (lots of oil splattering)

11) Large Serving Dish

12) Heavy Duty Foil

13) Fire Extinguisher suitable for Grease Fires (multi-purpose will due)


Flavor Injectors, NO! 

Many deep fry sets come with a food grade hypodermic needle to inject sauce into the muscle tissue of the meat.  Do NOT use them! Two Issues:

Deep Fried Turkey Flavor Injector

1) If you inject Mr. Tom Turkey with sauce, then you are tampering with his natural flavor profile and instead you will be tasting  Mrs. Sassy’s Secret Sauce. I vote Yes to Turkey and NO! to artificial injections.

2) You are introducing a little bit of safety hazard as injecting moisture to the party. Flavor injections are water based and will cause the oil to pop, send molten oil into the crowd and possibly starting a fire.

 Preparing the Turkey

1) Your turkey MUST be completely defrosted before you deep fry. This means you MUST transfer your turkey to the fridge several days before the big day.  Even the Department of Homeland Security agrees with me, read this article posted on 11/22/2011 by DHS, http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/dhs-issues-turkey-fryer-warning

2) Remove all packaging from the bird, including plastic wrapping, metal clasps in the turkey, plastic thermometers. Also be sure to reach inside the turkey and remove all packets, hearts, gizzards and whatever other goodies you find inside. 

Ensure your turkey is completely dry, inside and out. Dont be shy with paper towels

3) Looks for signs of frozen sections: Reach your fist deep inside the cavity, like you are a fake proctologist. Feel around for signs of frozen meat at the bone level. If you come across frozen sections run cold water through the cavity.  If you want to be sure, I highly suggest using an instant read digital thermometer in the breast muscle and look for any sections below 32F.

3) Let your turkey rest at room temperature for a couple of hours before the deep fry. The goal is to not decrease the temperature of the boiling oil. If you put your turkey in cold, it will stop the oil from boiling and as a result, create oily or overcooked exterior.  When you place the turkey at close to room temperature, the oil will actually seal the exterior of the turkey and lock in juices. I place the resting turkey in a large container and cover it with paper towels. I would let the turkey warm up to at least 55 degrees

Measuring the Oil Level in the Pot

Use the turkey to measure how much oil you will need, by using water. Dont forget measure the water line after the turkey is removed

1) Place the turkey on its perch. This will either be a metal basket or a contraption that looks like a perforated base and a hook popping out. The turkey will look like it is “sitting” on the perch.Place the perched turkey into the pot. The turkey is used to measure how much oil is needed

2) Next, fill the pot with water, until the top of the turkey is completely covered, plus 2 inches.

3)Next, lift the turkey out of the pot and let all the water drip back into the pot.  Important step! Make a mark how high the water is AFTER the turkey is removed. This water line mark, will tell you how much oil you should place in the pot. AGAIN, measure the water line after the turkey is removed. This is a big rookie mistake that I have made almost every year.

4) Dry the pot thoroughly 

5) Next fill the pot with oil, up to the line you marked. Do this step now or you will forget. It is time to warm up the oil.

Setting up the Burner and Warming Up the Oil

Make sure the burner is set back at least 20 feet from structures, 30 feet is better. This is not my set up, notice how he put cardboard under the burner. Don’t do this! It is a combustible and just stupid

IMPORTANT!!! Set up the burner at least 20 feet away from any structure (including your house).  Yes it is common for deep fried turkey experiments to go horribly wrong, so be smart and keep the deep fried fun away from anything that can catch fire. In addition, place the burner on a flat area, preferable on grass or dirt. Also be sure to place your fire extinguisher near your deep fry station, just in case things get out of control.

Place the pot of oil on the burner and then turn the burner on to high. The goal is to get the oil to 325°F and no higher than 350°F. Either you can use the thermometer included in your deep fry kit or purchase a candy thermometer. Depending on the starting temperature of the oil, this heat up period can take from 30 minutes to 1 hour, plan ahead.

 

While the oil is heating up, season the turkey with your choice of dry seasonings. Be sure to season both the outside and the inside of the turkey. Be generous with your seasoning, such that there is a light seasoning crust forming on the turkey. The spices I prefer include Lawry’s seasoning salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper (just a little), garlic powder.

Prepping the Safety Hoist (not a required step but I highly recommend)

This is the pulley system I made. Notice how I use a locking carabiner to connect to the perch. I connect the pulley to the ladder using a bolt and hook piece (get all supplies from your hardware store)

Although using a safety hoist is not a mandatory step, it is a lot safer than lowering a turkey into scalding hot oil at crotch level (think about this for a few minutes). The day before, you will want to assemble your safety hoist. You will need some rope, a pulley, a hook and a carabiner and a ladder. The goal is to create a pulley system that will allow you to lower the turkey into the oil from a distance. . I used a carabiner to connect the turkey holder (perch) to the pulley system.  This set up allowed me to slowly lower the turkey into the oil without fear of burning my kiwis.

The Deep Fry Stud Tom Holmberg, from Tom’s Foodie Blog, showing off his Deep Fry Rig. He is ready to deep fry a turkey and talk about myself in the 3rd person.

 

I tie up one end of the rope while I secure the turkey perch hook to the carabiner. When everything is hooked up the Turkey is ready for a hot bath.

Lowering the Turkey into the Deep Fryer! Now that I know I am playing it safe, it is time to summon the inner Beavis and Buthead and deep fry a turkey!!! The goal is to VERY slowly lower the turkey into the boiling oil. If you lower it too fast, then the oil WILL overflow and fly everywhere. So my advice is to lower the turkey 2 inches every 30 seconds, until the turkey hits the bottom of the pot. This is always my favorite step in the process. The sound created when you first lower the turkey is very loud and a little bit intimidating to watch…if not just a little exciting! If you are a guy, this step is the equivalent of watching a fight at a NASCAR crash or the fight scene of a Bruce Lee movie. If you F&*@ Up this step, congrats your video will make it on YouTube,  under “deep fried Turkey Disaster.” I will secretly laugh at you.

Let her FRY!

After the turkey is lowered in, I tie up the rope and constantly monitor the temperature of the oil to ensure it does not exceed 350 degrees. Adjust the burner to keep oil temperature between 325 -350 degrees.

With a whole turkey, you can estimate cooking time at three minutes per pound. The goal is a temperature of 170° F at the breast and 180° F in the thigh. Remember how I said, 3 minutes per pound? This rule can go out the window sometimes, so you might want to consider hoisting the turkey out and checking the temperature when you are at ½ ways through the estimated cooking time and again about 5 minutes before the estimated finish time. If the temperature is at or just a tad under, then remove it. If you were drinking beers and chatting with your friends and forgot to check the temperature….then you deserve burnt turkey. Put the beer down and monitor your turkey.

Hoisting the Turkey out of its Jacuzzi

When your set time has elapsed or the breast reaches 170 degrees. Hoist the Turkey out, tie off the rope securely, and use the retrieval hook that came with your kit to secure the bird while you unclip it. A second person is helpful for this step.

When the turkey is done, turn off the gas. Slowly hoist the turkey out of the pot and tie up the rope to the ladder, so that it is very secure.  Use the recovery hook, provided with your kit, and secure the turkey and move it away from the pot of hot oil to a nearby work station. Next, unhook the turkey and place it in a serving platter, cover it with heavy-duty foil and let the turkey rest for at least 10 minutes. This cool down period will allow the juices to pull back into the meat. If you cut open the turkey right away, the juices will just be lost on the cutting board.

 

How to deep fry a Turkey

The finished Deep Fried Turkey! Your Deep Fried Turkey will have a nice mahogany skin, juicy flesh and will fall off the bone. Don’t you wish your turkey was hot like mine!

Next Cut it up and enjoy.

I guarantee you will be the hero of the dinner table! Good Luck with your deep frying adventures!

Check out other Recipes that are great for Thanksgiving

Sweet and Nutty Brussels Sprouts

Baked Apple with Goat Cheese

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About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.

16 comments

  1. A good blog post. Something I always tell students is keep raw ingredients totally separate from ready to eat foods.
    Wash your hands well in soapy water after touching raw meat and raw vegetables. (Soil on raw vegetables is a major source of pathogenic organisms.
    Check the internal temperature of cooked foods to ensure it has reached at least 75°C or 167°F. This temperature will ensure that it is safe to eat.

  2. I have always wanted to do this, but do not have the guts to.. i have heard of so many bad things that went wrong when this was attempted..

  3. :-) I bet it tasks great but that looks like WAY too much much work for me!

  4. That is one massive deep fryer. Not a turkey fan myself though. =P

  5. My sister is the official turkey maker for our family. We’ve been asking about a fried turkey. With this post I’ll be able to show her exactly what she needs for “next “year’s deep fried turkey!!

  6. This is literally the tastiest recipe ever! I love he moistness of the turkey…this year only deep fried honey so we don’t all fight over deep fried and have lots of oven turkey leftovers!:-)

  7. I have never had a fried turkey but hear so many people rave about it. No one in my family really likes turkey but I sure know a lot of people who would love to have this recipe.

  8. I love fried turkey. So much moister than over baked.

  9. Do you know how many times you can use the oil? I’ve always wondered that. These are really good. Good article you’ve written here too.

  10. I would really like to give this a try. I saw the oil at the store and it was expensive. Guess it would be a good deal if you are going to fry several.

  11. Never in my life did i think it required SO much work to deep fry a turkey! I can’t say I will ever but looking at your final product I may get someone ELSE to do it for me lol. Thanks for all the detail tips on HOW to.

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