Decided you’re going to deep fry the turkey this Thanksgiving? It’s a worthy cooking method for sure, but it’s also just as dangerous as everyone says it is, so you need to take appropriate precautions. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fry turkey.
1. Gather All Your Equipment
Most likely, you’re using something like this King Kooker Portable Propane Outdoor Cooker, the classic style of turkey frying rig that places a big metal pot over a propane burner. This guide specifically pertains to this type of fryer, but all fryers are not created equal, so it’s important to thoroughly read the instructions that came with yours.
King Kooker Portable Propane Outdoor Cooker, $112.99 on Amazon
This outfit comes with the pot, portable burner, thermometer, turkey rack, lifting hook, aluminum fry pan, and a perforated fry basket.
In addition to the fryer itself (i.e., the pot and burner), you’ll need a turkey rack, lifting hook, deep fry thermometer (as you can see, some frying set-ups come with those items included), a baking sheet, heavy-duty gloves, and safety goggles or even a full face shield—and enough neutral oil with a high smoke point to submerge your bird. Oh, and a fire extinguisher, just in case (make sure it works for grease fires).
First Alert Fire Extinguisher, $19.97 on Amazon
Truly, you can never be too careful.
2. Decide Where to Place the Fryer
It should be set up outside, on a flat concrete or rock surface. No decks, no grass. It should be at least 10 feet from any trees or structures. Do not set up the fryer indoors (even in the garage) or near any overhanging eaves or tree branches. If you’re tempted to disregard this advice, just search for “deep fry turkey fail” on YouTube to see why you shouldn’t.
Related Reading: More Deep Fried Turkey Tips, Tricks, and Precautions
3. Measure Your Oil
Use this displacement trick: Before unwrapping your turkey, place it in the frying pot and add enough water to cover it completely. Remove the turkey from the pot and measure the water. That’s how much oil you should use (too much and it will spill over and ignite when you actually put the turkey in). Make sure the stem of your fryer’s deep-fat thermometer is submerged at least 1 inch into the oil. Do not fill your frying pot above the “maximum fill” line. Leave the pot off the burner.
4. Check the Connections and Hoses on Your Fryer
The manufacturer’s instructions will indicate how to do this. Make sure that both the cylinder valve on the propane canister and the regulator control valve on the hose are closed.
5. Now It’s Time to Light the Burner
It takes two people to do this safely. Wearing gloves and safety goggles, one person should hold a long-handled match or lighter over the burner. Light the burner from the bottom, keeping your hands and face away from the top of the cooker.
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Now the other person should turn the cylinder valve to the open position, then slowly open the regulator valve until the burner ignites. Place the pot filled with oil on the burner, and then adjust the air shutter on the cooker for a blue flame. Adjust the regulator control for flame height—you want a low, blue flame.
7. Heat the Oil and Submerge the Bird (Slowly!)
Let the oil heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You should be monitoring the oil temperature with the deep-fat thermometer that came with your fryer. This takes about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, place the prepared turkey* upside down on the frying rack, with the drumsticks pointing toward the sky. Let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before frying. Use the grab hook to lower the turkey into the heated oil very slowly—this takes at least 90 seconds. The oil will boil furiously; this is normal. Wear those heatproof gloves and safety goggles, and do not drop the turkey.
8. Fry It Up
Once the turkey is completely submerged, remove the hook. Fry the turkey for about three minutes per pound or until it is dark brown, the juices run clear, and a thermometer inserted into the inner part of the thigh reads 155 degrees Fahrenheit. During testing, our 17-pound turkeys took 40 to 45 minutes.
9. Remove the Turkey From the Oil (Again, Slowly)
Put on your gloves again and use the grab hook to slowly remove the turkey from the oil, allowing sufficient time for the hot oil to drain away. Do not pull the turkey out too fast or the oil may spill over and ignite.
10. Let the Turkey Rest
Place the turkey and rack on a rimmed baking sheet set on the ground and let it sit for a few minutes before moving it, to allow any extra oil to drain. Turn off the fryer by closing first the valve on the propane cylinder, then the regulator valve. Let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. Let the used oil cool down before attempting to dispose of it, too.
11. Enjoy Your Deep-Fried Poultry Masterpiece
You might find that you never want to go back to roasting a turkey again now that you know how to get crispy skin and juicy meat in about an hour! But if you decide frying is not your bag, you can always make a turkey cake, smoked turkey, turchetta, or basic roasted bird.
Header image courtesy of jkbowers / E+ / Getty Images