This Thanksgiving, elevate your feast by trying out this Deep-Fried Turkey Recipe. It’s a guaranteed way to impress your guests and create lasting memories around the dinner table. Enjoy a crispy, succulent turkey that will have everyone coming back for seconds!
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Crispy Perfection: The Ultimate Deep Fried Turkey Recipe
As the leaves change color and the air turns crisp, the anticipation for one of the most beloved feasts of the year grows stronger: Thanksgiving. A holiday centered around gratitude and togetherness, Thanksgiving brings families and friends together to share a memorable meal. While the traditional roasted turkey holds a special place on every Thanksgiving table, it’s time to consider an alternative method that delivers unparalleled flavor and juiciness: deep frying. In this blog post, we’ll explore the art of deep frying a turkey, from equipment and precautions to serving suggestions.
Thanksgiving is a time-honored American holiday dating back to the early 17th century. It’s a day for expressing gratitude, enjoying the company of loved ones, and indulging in a feast that often revolves around a beautifully roasted or deep-fried turkey. This holiday, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, symbolizes unity, harvest, and the spirit of giving thanks.
The Magic of Deep Fried Turkeys
Deep frying a turkey has gained popularity over the years for good reason. The method produces a turkey that’s crispy on the outside and incredibly moist on the inside. The intense heat of the oil seals in the juices, resulting in a turkey that’s tender and flavorful. The deep-fried turkey has become a culinary sensation and a showstopper at Thanksgiving gatherings.
Still to this day I remember the first time my dad deep fried a turkey, it seemed so special. I remember sitting around the fryer out on the driveway watching the closed pot magically do its thing. Ironically it has come full circle as my husband and I have been out on the driveway watching the pot do it’s thing with out children, them just as excited as I remember being.
The best part of it all though it that it HANDS DOWN MAKES THE BEST TURKEY!
Before I get fully into the recipe I want to make sure you see the few safety precautions, because there are definitely some scary tales (and videos) out there about deep frying turkeys. Luckily it is really easy to stay super safe be just following few guidelines.
Using a deep fryer for a turkey requires caution:
- Ensure the turkey is completely thawed to prevent oil splatters. And I am not talking little splatters having parts of the turkey still frozen could result in huge exploding splatters. So make sure to no part of your turkey is still frozen. If you find your turkey is still frozen resort to plan B and just bake the turkey, find our what you need my recipe Easiest Thanksgiving Turkey.
- DO NOT OVERFILL WITH OIL. – Don’t go past the max line for the oil and follow the step to measure how much oil you need. If you just add a bunch of oil and then add the turkey and the hot oil starts to overflow onto the flames of the fryer you will have yourself a fire (that cannot be put out with water). So measure your oil properly and you will be goo to go! (As a extra precaution if you are nervous feel free to have a fire extinguisher close by).
- Be vigilant about oil temperature to avoid overheating. – Keep a dedicated thermometer in the oil measuring the temperature at all time. When frying the turkey I never let the temperature past 350ºF. Also this is a good place to have a reminder that it is a good idea to always have someone watching the deep fryer.
- Use protective gloves or oven mitts when handling hot oil. I love my silicone oven mitts, they have lasted me years and are so clutch for times like this, you can get them off of Amazon Here. It is also important to keep kids and dogs away from the deep fryer. I mentioned by a kid and my own kids outside while the turkey is cooking BUT we always take precautions to make sure that they aren’t close. Since we place ours on our driveway, which I also recommend, unless it as a super steep slope we draw a large chalk circle around the fryer that the kids aren’t allowed to go in, make sure everyone is on the same page and explain how dangerous it is and why the kids can’t go in the circle.
Now that I have completely scared you into making a deep fried turkey first let me rest assure you that nothing has ever gone wrong when I have made a deep fried turkey.
You still on board?? Great let’s make this!
Before you embark on your deep frying adventure, make sure you have the following equipment on hand:
- Injection Syringe
- About 3 gallons of 100% Peanut Oil
- Deep Fryer with Accessories – I have the Loco Cookers Propane Turkey Fryer with Sure Spark. I bought mine at Lowe’s but I am pretty sure they are available at most home improvement stores. It does come with most of the accessories you need like a turkey stand, hook, and thermometer. Would highly recommend!
Ingredients for Deep Frying a Turkey
This list looks so long but it really isn’t that hard, most of this is for the marinade injection and then just a few things for the rub as well.
- Whole Turkey under 18 pounds
- Olive Oil
- Unsalted Butter
- Fresh Sage, Thyme, and/or Rosemary
- Chicken Broth
- Kosher Salt
- Onion Powder
- Apple Cider
- Lemon Juice
- Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- Garlic Powder
For a complete detailed list of the ingredients continue towards the bottom of the page.
For this recipe post I have decide to just put simplified instructions here and detailed instructions in the actual recipe card towards the bottom of the page. This way you can print out the detailed instructions!
So, yes a lot of steps but here is the simplified instructions on how to deep fry a turkey:
Ensure the turkey is completely thawed.
Determine the amount of oil needed by placing the turkey in the empty fryer, filling it with water until the turkey is covered, and marking the waterline.
Prepare the injection marinade, cool, and strain away solids.
Unwrap and pat dry the turkey, removing any plastics.
Inject the marinade into the turkey, concentrating on different parts while minimizing the number of holes.
Remove excess liquid from the outside of the turkey and rub it with the spice mix.
Refrigerate the turkey with the injection overnight.
Allow the turkey to come to room temperature before frying.
Preheat the oil to 275º F and lower the turkey slowly into the fryer.
Maintain oil temperature at 325º F, frying for approximately 3 minutes per pound or until the breast reaches 165º F internally.
Remove the turkey safely and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
Sounds easy right?!
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that you get to do all the prep work the day before. So on actual thanksgiving all you need to do is take the turkey out of the fridge and fry it! Plus everyone will be so happy that there is so much more oven space for all of the side dishes!
tips, tricks and questions
How big of turkey can I deep fry?
You can fry any size turkey as long as it is smaller than 18 pounds! I find that turkey’s right around 14 pounds seem to fit perfectly in the deep fryer.
How much turkey do I need for my guests?
Most people predict each person is 1.5 pounds of uncooked turkey. So 1.5 x the number of people= the size of turkey to buy. Because there is a size limit on deep frying a turkey with that math you would be able to feed about 11 people with a 17 pound turkey. So if you have a larger group a deep fried turkey might be out of the question (unless of course you have two fryers and two turkeys).
How does it take to deep fry a turkey?
You should count on about 3 minutes a pound. While this is approximately how long it will take you will want to go off the internal temperature of the turkey not the time. You will want the turkey breast to reach 165º F. On average the few 14 pound turkeys I tested this on cooked from 38 to 43 minutes. I highly suggest getting a good cooking thermometer. I have both the ThermoWorks Thermapen (Instant Read) and the Thermoworks Dot (Internal Probe). I highly suggest using both of them! The Thermoworks Dot you can leave in the turkey breast and set an alarm for when it hits your target temperature.
Adding the Turkey to the Deep Fryer:
I prefer to use the turkey stand and hook made for poultry that came with my Loco Deep Fryer but if your bird is nearer the large size it might make more sense for you to use the basket instead. Just keep in mind if you choose to use the basket you will want to account for that extra volume when adding the oil (this is why I prefer the stand).
Note: You can use 100% peanut oil over and over again. After it is cool simply strain and place back in the container. This is why the color of my oil in the photos seems so dark. It is the same oil I had used on my test turkeys before publishing this recipe.
What to Serve with Your Deep Fried Turkey
A deep-fried turkey pairs wonderfully with traditional Thanksgiving sides such as:
- Mashed Potatoes: Creamy, buttery, and comforting.
- Gravy: Drizzle it over the turkey and potatoes for extra flavor.
- Cranberry Sauce: A sweet and tangy contrast to the savory turkey.
- Green Beans: Whether sautéed, roasted, or in a casserole, they add a pop of color and freshness.
- Stuffing: A must-have for many, with endless variations to suit your taste.
- Dinner Rolls: Perfect for sopping up that delicious gravy.
For the Turkey:
- 1 whole turkey under 18 pounds
- 1 injection syringe
- About 3 gallons of 100% peanut oil
- Deep Fryer with accessories
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 ounce of mixed fresh sage, thyme, and/or rosemary*
- 1 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
For the rub:
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Ensure turkey is completely thawed.
- While the Turkey is still wrapped add it to the empty deep fryer. Fill the deep fryer with water until the Turkey is completely covered. Take the wrapped Turkey out, let any extra water drip back into the fryer. Mark water line, this is how much oil you will need. Do not use more then the max fill line and do not use more than that amount needed otherwise you risk the oil overflowing and causing a fire. I find that my 14 pound Turkey usually needs about 3 1/4 gallons of 100% peanut oil.
- Prepare the injection marinade. Over medium heat add the olive oil to a saucepan. Once warm add the garlic and herbs. Cook stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, salt, onion powder, and apple cider and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the lemon juice. Let rest to cool 30 minutes and then strain away all of the solids.
- Prepare the turkey by unwrapping and patting dry, remove any plastics that come in the bird like a thermometer or piece to hold the legs together.
- Fill your syringe with the injection marinade. Starting with the turkey breasts poke 1 hole and move the needle to different positions as you push the marinade into the turkey. When pulling the syringe out do sl slowly to help prevent the marinade from coming out of the hole. Do this in the different parts of the bird trying to make as few holes as possible yet as much of the bird as you can.
- Gently Remove any access liquid from the outside of the turkey. Mix together the spices for the rub and then rub all over the bird concentrating on the breasts, thighs, and legs.
- Loosely wrap the turkey and place in the fridge (unless you are planning on cooking in the next two hours, keep it out you want your turkey close to room temperature). Place the turkey in the fridge, it is best to let it sit with the injection overnight.
- 1 to 2 hours before you are ready to fry remove the turkey from the fridge and unwrap let it sit at room temperature. Before cooking adding the stand/hook to the turkey. I prefer to place the neck hole on the bottom, so carefull bring the stand through the neck hole and into the emtpy inner cavity of the turkey, pull the turkey through the rest of the stand.
- When ready to fry fill the peanut oil to the line you found in step 1, ensure the fryer is dry from water before adding the oil. Turn on the fryer and preheat the oil to 275º F. This step can take about 30 minutes depending on your deep fryer. If using a probe thermometer insert it before it goes into the fryer.
- When the oil reaches the temperature slowly lower the turkey in using the hanger that comes with the deep fryer. It is best to wear protective gloves or oven mitts because the oil will splatter.
- Close the lid. Make sure that you are keeping track of the oil temperature, allow the oil to continue heating all the way up to 325º F. If the temperature starts to go over 325º F lower the burner. Fry the turkey for approximately 3 minutes per pound but starting checking a little early and go off of internal temperature for when to pull the turkey out. The turkey needs to hit an internal temperature of 165º F in the breast.
- Slowly remove the turkey from the oil, still using all the safety precautions of putting the turkey in the oil.
- Let the turkey rest 15 to 20 minutes before carving to serve.
*Especially during the holiday season many grocergies will sell a 'poultry blend' of fresh herbs this usually is a 1 ounce mix of sage, thyme, and rosemary. If you find this buy that and use that! Otherwise you can mix and match the three herbs to equal 1 ounce.
If you are using a basket to fry as opposed to the turkey stand make sure you take that into consideration when adding the oil as the basket does take up a lot more weight and volume than the turkey stand does.
If the end of the legs stick out of the oil a little bit that is okay, the turkey will shrink as it cooks and the legs will get cooked.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 9270Total Fat: 1047gSaturated Fat: 179gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 817gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 350mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g
Nutritional data is automated and might not be 100% accurate, final nutritional information will depend on ingredients used and any changes made.