You may have heard that deep frying turkeys produces the crispiest skin and the juiciest meat – which is definitely true. If you’re up for trying it out, how to use a turkey fryer, and how to get your turkey from the fridge to the table, via deep frying, is what we are here to discuss.
Setting the Turkey Fryer Up
One very important thing to note when using a turkey fryer is that these are strictly for outdoor use. However, there are indoor turkey fryers, such as small deep-frying units you would use to fry up some fish and chips, or something similar.
However, many of these fryers are going to be too small for a full-size turkey, and for this reason, people usually use propane burners and large metal pots.
This means that you do have to set up the turkey fryer outdoors because they are unfortunately not overly safe, and when used indoors, they pose great fire risk. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of housefires happen each year due to people setting up turkey fryers indoors. When that hot oil hits the flame, the result can be disastrous.
Either way, select a good spot outdoors, one that is at least 15 feet away from any structure or anything that can catch fire. The best place is on a driveway or in a large backyard.
Ensure that the turkey fryer, the burner and stand, are set up on flat and even ground. If the stand is not place on even and flat ground, when all of the oil and the turkey is in the fryer, the imbalance may cause oil spills or worse.
Prepping Your Turkey
Realistically, what you should have already done by the time you have the turkey fryer set up outdoors is to have a turkey fully defrosted, marinated and ready to go. What kind of marinade and flavors you choose for your turkey is completely up to you. However, be aware that for the best flavor, you want to marinate your bird for at least 24 hours before deep frying it.
On a side note, due to time and temperature constraints, you cannot deep fry a turkey with stuffing in it. There is also the fact that the turkey rack features a loop that goes through the middle of the turkey, right in the body cavity where the stuffing would go.
This makes it easier to insert and remove the turkey from the hot oil, but unfortunately it means that you cannot stuff it. Either way, get your marinated turkey ready by placing it on the turkey rack for easy insertion.
Heating Up the Oil and Inserting the Turkey
Here, most people are going to choose to use peanut oil. It has a great flavor and a very high smoke point, so it does not easily burn. It can easily get hot enough to deep fry a turkey without fear of smoking, burning, or even catching on fire.
Before you actually put the oil into the turkey fryer, you need to test how much you will need. Do this by putting the turkey in the cold fryer, then filling it up with water, up to around 3 inches below the rim, then remove the turkey. How much water you have left in the pot is how much oil you will need.
The next thing you need to do when deep frying a turkey is to get the oil up to temperature. What you need to know here is that how hot you heat the oil to is going to depend on the size of the turkey. Against what common sense might dictate, heavier turkeys actually need the oil to be cooler than smaller turkeys.
This is because oil is so hot, and turkeys take so little time to deep fry, that if the oil is too hot for a large turkey, the outside will cook too fast in comparison to the inside, potentially leaving you with a turkey that is raw on the inside and burned on the outside.
Turkeys between 10 and 13 pounds require the oil to be at 350°, and turkeys over 14 pounds require the oil to be 325°. Now, take the turkey that is ready on the turkey stand or poultry loop, and very slowly insert it into the oil.
How Long to Deep Fry Your Turkey
The final step in the process is of course frying the turkey. How long you deep fry the turkey per pound for is going to depend on the size of the turkey, just like with the heat of the oil.
Turkeys between 10 and 15 pounds will need 3 minutes per pound, and turkeys up to 20 pounds will need closer to 3.5 minutes per pound. When the time is up, carefully lift the turkey out and place it on a heat-proof surface, such as a serving pan or platter.
Please note: You should thoroughly read the instructions specific to your deep fryer. You want to be comfortable and knowledgeable operating your fryer. When cooking with hot oil it is important to exercise proper care. This article isn’t a replacement to the deep fryer manual.
As you can see, deep frying a turkey is not overly hard, but you do need to be safe and vigilant, as there are certain risks involved. That said, you will be hard-pressed to find a better turkey than one fried in hot peanut oil.