Turkey fryers work just like any other deep fryer, but on a larger scale. There’s a big stainless steel stock pot, a stable base with legs and a big propane burner, and either a turkey rack or a large basket. Essentially, your big bird descends into a big vat of precisely temperature-controlled hot oil, cooks to perfection, and rises again like a featherless phoenix, ready for the fork. Most are powered by a standard 20 lb. propane gas tank, the same kind that you buy for your gas grill.
The biggest prep difference from traditional turkey-cooking methods is that you’re gonna need oil. Cooking oil isn’t difficult or expensive to get, and with proper management can be a simple and convenient cooking method. Here are the basics:
What type of oil is best?
For deep frying turkey, peanut oil is best. It has the highest flash point (temperature at which it burns) and is healthier and stays clear the longest. If you can’t get peanut oil, try vegetable or cotton seed oil instead.
What do I do with turkey fryer oil after cooking?
Oil can be stored and re-used. Once it is completely cooled (room temperature), filter the oil to remove any sediment, seasonings, and poultry parts. Common practice is to use a simple funnel to return the oil to its original container, or a new battery-powered turkey fryer oil filter pump. Oil needs to be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry place. Properly stored oil can last for up to 6 months.
How do I know if the oil is still good for cooking?
First of all, never let your oil reach temperatures above 375 degrees F. Most cooking oils begin to break down and turn rancid around 400 degrees, and that’ll ruin everything in a hurry. If your oil starts to smoke, it’s starting to overheat. If you’re not sure about the quality of your oil, do a small-batch test on some French fries or potato slices before you commit to a full turkey fry. If they taste good, go ahead!
How many times can I use the same oil? For how long?
Most cooking oils can be used for up to 6 hours at temperature, as long as it never gets too hot. That’s enough to cook 7 or 8 turkeys, so you should be fine. Always bring the oil back up to 350 degrees F before putting in another bird – this makes it sterile. You can re-use cooking oil many, many times within the recommended 6-month storing period, but be sure to be vigilant about sediment, particles, and other intrusions.
How do I get rid of used cooking oil?
Don’t pour it down the drain. Ever. Call restaurants or check web sources for your area – many restaurants will take your used cooking oil to sell to recycling companies. Alternatively, specialized recycling companies, rendering companies, and more may have use for it. Usually, a quick web search of “dispose cooking oil + your city” will net you a helpful resource.
Without a doubt, you’ve heard of the dangers of deep frying. Improper use of a turkey fryer will result in very dangerous spills and fires. But it’s not hard to stay safe! Proper maintenance and use of your turkey fryer will keep you and your home out of harm’s way. Follow these tips and you’ll be just fine.
Southern Dry Rub Deep Fried Turkey
This easy classic lets the natural flavor of a good turkey stand out.
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicier)
Mix ingredients, and rub well onto dry, room-temperature turkey. No need to wait; it can go immediately into the oil.
Hot Flash Turkey Recipe
- 1 cup Italian dressing
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp cayenne (more for spicier turkey)
- 1/2 can beer (optional)
- 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 4 dashes Tabasco or other favorite hot-hot sauce
Mix all ingredients. Using a marinade injector, stick it to the bird about every two inches or so.
Rub the remaining marinade lovingly over the skin, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.
Sage Molasses Brined Deep Fried Turkey
Brined turkey is amazingly moist and succulent, more so when cooked in your turkey fryer. It’s a snap if you can plan a day ahead, and it’s so good you might cry.
- 1-1/2 cups coarse salt
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup light molasses
- 1 handful each fresh thyme and sage
Open a roaster bag or a 30-gallon plastic bag in a large bowl. Put your cleaned, thawed turkey in the bag.
In another bowl, whisk all other ingredients with 4 quarts of water until salt and sugar are dissolved, then toss in a tray of ice cubes.
Pour this mixture into the turkey bag, and refrigerate for 20 hours.