Deep Frying Turkey: A Delicious, But Dangerous Task

Deep Frying Turkey: A Delicious, But Dangerous Task

Deep frying turkey has grown in popularity in recent years, thanks to its crispy skin, juicy meat, and the ability to cook a large bird quickly. However, it’s important to recognize that deep frying a turkey can be extremely dangerous if not done properly. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to safely and successfully deep fry your turkey.

Tips for Preparing the Turkey

Before you start frying your turkey, it’s essential to prepare it properly. These tips will help ensure your turkey turns out perfectly:

Choose the Right Turkey Size and Weight

The ideal turkey size for deep frying is around 12-14 pounds. A larger turkey can take too long to cook, while a smaller one could dry out quickly. When choosing your turkey, make sure to check the label and verify that it is “nuisance-free” with no added water or seasoning.

How to Thaw and Dry the Turkey

Your turkey must be completely thawed and dried before frying. Allow the turkey to sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of meat. Once your turkey is thawed, remove it from the packaging and pat it dry with paper towels. Any excess moisture could cause the oil to splatter and create a dangerous situation.

Tips for Injecting the Turkey with Marinade

Marinades are a great way to add flavor to your turkey. Before frying, use a turkey injector to inject the marinade into the meat, being careful not to inject it too close to the skin. This will ensure that the marinade distributes evenly. Once you have finished injecting the turkey, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours so the flavors can absorb.

How to Set up for Frying

Before you start frying your turkey, it’s important to have the right equipment and take safety precautions:

What Equipment You’ll Need

Here’s what you’ll need to deep fry your turkey:

  • A propane-powered deep fryer with a stand and burner
  • A propane tank
  • Thermometer to measure the temperature of the oil and the internal temperature of the turkey
  • Turkey lifter or heavy-duty tongs to handle the bird
  • A fire extinguisher (in case of emergency)

Safety Precautions to Take

Frying a turkey can be dangerous, so taking the proper safety precautions is extremely important:

  • Set up the frying station on a flat surface to reduce the risk of spills
  • Use the fryer outdoors, away from your house, deck, trees, and anything else that could catch fire
  • Wear long sleeves, gloves, and protective eyewear to avoid burns from the hot oil
  • Never leave the fryer unattended while it’s heating up or cooking
  • Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times

How to Properly Set up the Outdoor Frying Station

When setting up the frying station, follow these steps:

  • Choose a location outdoors, at least 10 feet away from any buildings or flammable materials
  • Place the propane burner on a level, non-flammable surface (like concrete or gravel)
  • Connect the propane tank to the burner and ensure it’s secure
  • Fill the fryer with oil, making sure to not exceed the maximum fill line
  • Heat the oil to the proper temperature (usually between 325°F and 375°F, depending on the recipe)

Step-by-Step Instructions for Frying the Turkey

Follow these steps to fry your turkey:

  1. Place the turkey in the fryer basket or on the turkey lifter
  2. Gently lower the turkey into the hot oil
  3. Fry the turkey for 3-4 minutes per pound (so a 12-pound turkey would take approximately 36-48 minutes)
  4. Use a thermometer to make sure the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F
  5. Remove the turkey from the fryer and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before carving

Make sure to refer to your specific recipe for more detailed instructions on cooking time and temperature.

Creative Marinades for Your Deep Fried Turkey

Marinades can completely change the flavor of your deep fried turkey. Try these ideas:

Dry Rub

A dry rub can work incredibly well with deep fried turkey. Mix together salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder, then rub the mixture under the turkey’s skin for maximum flavor.

Cajun Style

Looking for a little heat? Mix together cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, and thyme, then rub it all over the turkey.


Add fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage to your marinade to infuse your turkey with delicious flavor.

How to Cook Multiple Turkeys for a Crowd

If cooking for a crowd, you might need to prepare multiple turkeys. Here’s how to do it:

Tips for Preparing Multiple Turkeys Ahead of Time

If you need to prepare multiple turkeys, follow these tips:

  • Make sure to have enough fryers, propane tanks, and thermometers for each turkey
  • Cook turkeys of the same size and weight so that they cook evenly
  • Prepare all turkeys ahead of time so that you can fry them one after another without needing to pause to prepare each one individually

Equipment Needed for Frying Multiple Turkeys

For frying multiple turkeys, you’ll need:

  • Multiple propane-powered deep fryers with stands and burners
  • Multiple propane tanks
  • Thermometers to measure the temperature of the oil and the internal temperature of the turkeys
  • Turkey lifters or heavy-duty tongs to handle the birds
  • A fire extinguisher for each fryer (in case of emergency)

How to Properly Time the Frying of Multiple Turkeys

Here’s a general rule of thumb for cooking multiple turkeys:

  • Cook each turkey for approximately 3-4 minutes per pound, depending on the recipe and the weight of the turkey
  • Start with the lightest turkey and work your way up to the heaviest
  • If using multiple fryers, stagger the frying times so that the turkeys finish at the same time

How to Know When Your Turkey is Done

The key to a perfectly cooked turkey is to make sure the internal temperature has reached at least 165°F. To ensure your turkey is cooked evenly:

  • Measure the temperature deep inside the bird, near the thigh bone
  • Double-check the temperature in several different places
  • Avoid overcooking or undercooking the turkey by following the recommended cooking time and temperature guidelines


Deep frying a turkey can be a delicious way to cook a large bird for a crowd, but it’s important to follow proper safety precautions and cooking instructions. By choosing the right turkey size and weight, preparing the turkey properly, and cooking it to the correct temperature, you can safely enjoy a delicious deep-fried turkey that is sure to please your family and friends.

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