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Fried Turkey is Good for the Soul

Think you like turkey? A big, baked bird? Stick your neck out! Fried turkey is the revolution, and it's here to improve your Thanksgivings, Super Bowl Sundays, and New Year's Days. Deep-frying a turkey in the backyard is simple, easy, and incredibly juicy with a crisp, golden crust.

Published October 15, 2014 | By | Share

Turkey fryers work just like any other deep fryer, but on a larger scale. There's a big stainless steel stock pot, a stable last 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.

Common Necessities And Accessories Include:
Hose & Gas Regulator Assembly
Turkey Hanger/Rack
Basket For More Frying Options
Oil Thermometer
Meat Thermometer
All-Weather Cover
Turkey Fryer Oil

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.

Frying A Turkey
Frying A Turkey
Turkey Fryer Safety

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.

  • Always use your fryer outdoors, away from buildings and other combustible materials
  • Never use your fryer on a wooden deck or in a garage
  • Always place your turkey fryer on a completely flat surface
  • Your turkey must be completely thawed before going in the pot
  • Excess water in a partially frozen turkey will cause the pot to overflow
  • The National Turkey Federation recommends 24 hours of thawing per 5 lbs. of turkey
  • Don't overfill with oil. Oil spillover will engulf the fryer in flames.
  • Always use a thermostat and carefully monitor oil temperature
  • The pot is hot! Use mitts or potholders before touching the pot, lid, or handles.
  • Use protective eyewear to avoid dangerous splashing
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby at all times. Never use water to put out a grease fire. Be ready to call 9-1-1 if a fire is too large for your extinguisher.
  • Even after you're done, do not allow children or pets near the fryer. It remains hot for hours
  • NEVER leave a turkey fryer unattended!
Turkey Frying Safety
Turkey Frying Safety
Turkey Fryer Recipes

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 tips
  • Smaller birds (15 lbs. or less) will turn out best in your turkey fryer
  • Always remove the giblets to avoid a mess
  • Fry all turkeys with the legs pointed up
  • Make a small cut between the leg-thigh joint to drain oil
  • Lower the bird slowly to minimize splashing and spitting
Hot Flash Turkey

  • 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.