Thanksgiving is almost here! Since sipping our first pumpkin spice latte in August, we have been gearing up for our favorite holiday of the year. Thanksgiving is centered around the ritual of preparing delicious food and enjoying it with the people we love. And whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, we all know turkey is the main event.
For Thanksgiving dinner, it is customary to roast the turkey. Sure, it's fantastic. But what if you want to try something new, like deep-fried turkey?
Deep frying a turkey ensures the crisp, golden brown skin that everyone craves. It evenly cooks the turkey, eliminating the risk of dry, overcooked meat. The flavor is unparalleled. Anyone who has tried it would agree that it outshines even the best roast turkey. The meat is succulent and flavorful, and the skin is perfectly crisp. Absolutely mouth-watering.
On the other hand, deep-frying produces splashes and oil spills. But that shouldn't put you off. We have gathered all the necessary resources to show you how to cook a fabulous meal without making a greasy mess.
- Why Turkey for Thanksgiving?
- What you'll need
- How to Season Deep-fried Turkey
- How to Brine a Turkey
- The Best Oil for Frying Turkey
- How much oil is required to deep fry a turkey?
- How hot should the oil be when deep frying a turkey?
- How long do you fry a Turkey?
- How to prevent turkey skin from burning or darkening?
- What to do with leftover turkey frying oil?
Before we begin, have you ever wondered how turkey became the Thanksgiving symbol?
Why Turkey During Thanksgiving
While Charles Dickens' book is widely credited for popularizing turkey as a holiday meal, Sarah Hale's book Northwood included an entire chapter dedicated to New England Thanksgivings with roast turkeys at the table. She also persuaded Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday after mailing him letters for 17 years. [Source]
Wild turkeys are also indigenous to the Americas, most notably Central America. Consequently, European explorers brought the birds to North America and across the Atlantic to their home countries.
Aside from being big enough to feed many people, farm turkeys were only raised for their meat, unlike chickens or cows, which also lay eggs or give milk. Thus, turkeys became famous as the main course for special occasions.
What you will need to make this dish
- A seasoned or marinated turkey
- Turkey fryer large enough to hold the fowl
- 3 gallons of oil (peanut or vegetable oil will do)
- probe thermometer to check the oil & turkey temperature
- propane burner
- timer (optional)
- Prepare the turkey two days in advance. A turkey that is well-seasoned tastes the best. (you may try our favorite recipe)
- Set up the propane burner and turkey pot in a safe and stable spot in your backyard. Because soil can absorb oil spills and prevent kitchen fires from starting, your yard is the most secure location for this activity. In any case, keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
- Put the oil in the pot and place it over high heat. Once it reaches 250℉, softly slide the bird into the oil. Increase the temperature to 350℉. Reduce the heat as necessary to keep it at that.
- Check the turkey's temperature using a probe thermometer after 35 minutes. When the breast reaches 151°F, remove it gently from the oil. Set it aside for at least 30 minutes before carving.
How to Season Deep-Fried Turkey
Like any other dish, the seasoning gives deep-fried turkey its flavor. Salt and pepper are necessary ingredients. But you can also experiment with different herbs and spices. We prefer our turkey-brined Southern style. This turkey dish has a sweet and spicy flavor that leaves us wanting more.
Whether you use store-bought or homemade fried turkey seasoning, the key is to evenly coat the entire turkey, including the skin underneath the wings, legs, and the cavity. Then, cover the seasoned turkey in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours to allow the flavors to penetrate fully. Aside from the rub, you can also make an injectable marinade to ensure a more tasty turkey.
If you brine the turkey, you will not need to rub or inject the marinade. Brining is the pinnacle of turkey preparation because it infuses every fiber with moisture and taste.
How to Brine A Turkey
- Mix the brown sugar, mustard, salt, and cayenne in a large stockpot. Whisk in the water gradually, then add the thyme and garlic. To dissolve the sugar, bring it to a boil. Allow cooling once fully dissolved.
- Pour the cooled brine mixture over the turkey, covering it completely. Cover and refrigerate for 35 hours to marinate.
- Keep the turkey fully submerged in the brine mixture and chilled in a fridge. If there isn’t enough space in the fridge, place the container with the turkey and brine in a large cooler. Surround it with ice to keep the turkey cool without diluting the brine itself. You may need to replenish the ice in your cooler periodically to keep the bird safe.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Thoroughly clean your sink after to avoid cross-contamination. If you have space in your refrigerator, let the turkey rest and dry uncovered for up to 8 hours. If time permits, allow an additional hour of rest before cooking.
The Best Oil for Deep Frying Turkey
Deep-frying should be done with oil with a high smoke point for optimal results, as it can withstand high temperatures without becoming charred or smoking. Some, such as peanut oil, can be pretty pricey, but there are viable alternatives. Find out which oil is ideal for frying by consulting this handy reference guide.
How much oil is needed to deep fry a turkey?
A quart of oil for every 4 pounds of turkey is a fair rule of thumb. Hence, for a 12-pound turkey, you'll need three quarts of frying oil.
Alternatively, you can fill the pot with water and submerge the turkey inside. If it's already seasoned, ensure it's completely wrapped in plastic to prevent the rub from washing away.
Once covered in water, remove the turkey but drain it atop the pot. When it no longer drips, mark the leftover water as your frying oil level. Then, throw away the water and completely dry the pot before adding the oil.
How hot should the oil be when deep frying a turkey?
When frying turkey, the recommended oil temperature is between 325 and 350 F. A cooking thermometer can test the oil and make any necessary adjustments. Be cautious when placing the turkey in the pot, as the hot oil can burn you. To avoid this, lower the turkey slowly to minimize splattering.
Keep in mind that if the oil becomes too hot, it will smoke and burn. However, if it is not hot enough, the turkey will not cook evenly and will be oily.
How long do you fry a Turkey?
When frying turkey, 3-5 minutes per pound is optimal. On the other hand, turkeys are capricious and dry out readily when overcooked. Hence, the turkey's internal temperature must be maintained at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, you should use a timer and a thermometer to keep track of the time and temperature.
When the turkey is done cooking, carefully remove it from the fryer. Its skin should be golden brown and crispy. Set it on a wire rack or a cookie sheet to drain and cool. Allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to circulate throughout the meat.
How to prevent turkey skin from burning or darkening?
To avoid scorching or browning the skin, place the turkey in the fryer before the oil reaches its cooking temperature, around 250 degrees Fahrenheit. It also helps to keep the oil from splattering.
Otherwise, remove the bird upon reaching an internal temperature of 155°F and set it aside to rest. The oil residue will cook it to the desired 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
What to do with excess turkey frying oil?
The remaining oil can be reused. After frying, allow it to cool before sifting to remove the turkey remains. Then, place it in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate or freeze it to prevent it from going rancid.
But if you wish to discard it, don't pour used oil down the drain. It can harm your pipes and the ecosystem.
Using a plant-based and non-toxic oil-solidifying powder is an easy way to dispose of used oil. It turns used cooking oil into a solid, making it easy and safe to throw away in the trash. For the large amount of oil used for deep frying a turkey, the FryAway Super Fry bundle is our best value.
Deep-fried turkeys make for an impressive presentation at holiday gatherings. And with our tips on deep frying without making a mess, you can enjoy all those benefits without the hassle. So this Thanksgiving, give it a shot and fry away with confidence! Your family and friends will be glad you did!
Have you made this festive recipe yet? Please let us know in the comments if you wish to contribute or if you have any unique recipes you'd like people to try.