A deep-fried turkey can be perhaps one of the most flavorful, juicy turkeys you ever eat. Unfortunately, some of that taste comes with an inherent risk. It's one of the most dangerous ways of cooking the bird as well. It runs the risk of maiming, property damage, or even death if done improperly. The chances of doing it improperly are relatively high as well. Annually, turkey fryers are responsible for about five deaths and sixty injuries.
Just be warned, it's probably best to avoid it all together. That being said, if you're willing to risk the danger for some delicious bird, here is how to safely prepare one.
First, you need proper turkey frying hardware, a propane tank, a meat thermometer, lots of oil, and either a candy thermometer or a deep fry thermometer. The best oil is going to have a high smoke point, so use corn, peanut, or canola.
HAVE A FIRE EXTINGUISHER HANDY AT ALL TIMES. Make sure the cooking unit is stable as well. It should be on a level, flat surface far away from trees or the house, and properly weighted down to prevent tipping.
Do not cook in your garage or on a wooden deck.
Make sure to NOT over-fill the unit.Remember how much oil your turkey can displace, so filling it too high will result in oil spilling out and lighting everything (probably including you) on fire. To determine how much you will need, put the turkey in the basket, then place in the empty pot. Add water until it reaches one inch above the turkey. Lift the turkey out, then use a ruler to measure the distance from the water to the top of the fryer. (Alternatively, keep track of EXACTLY how much water you used by adding it one cup at a time, then add exactly that much oil.) Pour out the water, dry the fryer completely, then add in the EXACT amount of oil.
Use multiple oven mitts when handling the pot: It gets much hotter than you would suspect, and just one may not cut it. Safety goggles are a fantastic idea as well. In fact, for safety's sake, some would recommend full welder's outfits.
It can take a while to heat the oil: be patient and don't try and absurd methods for making it heat faster. The range is 20 minutes to an hour.
Before frying, pat the turkey try with paper towels to prevent the hot oil from spattering and popping.
Only get smaller turkeys no more than 12 pounds for frying. That's the MAX.
Do not truss the legs or tie them together: this prevent oil circulation. Cut off the wing tips and plump tail as well so they do not get caught in the fryer basket.
Do not leave the fryer unattended. These fryers have a poor habit of continually heating the oil until it catches on fire.
The oil may take a few hours to completely cool. Keep this in mind before handling.
Never ever allow anyone other than a RESPONSIBLE, SOBER ADULT near the turkey fryer, even after use.
Make sure the turkey is completely thawed. In its entirety. A still-frozen core can cause bubbling up and set everything on fire. The National Turkey Federation (yes, that's a thing) recommends refrigerator thawing and to allow about 24 hours of thawing for every five lbs. of bird. So a 12lb turkey (The MAX) should take about 58 to 60 hours to thaw, or a little less than three days in the refrigerator.
Keep 9-1-1 on speed dial.
If these warnings haven't scared you away, here's a delicious recipe and instructions for a properly fried turkey.
- 1 turkey 12lbs. MAXIMUM neck and giblets removed
- 3-4 gallons oil (use only as much as needed as per the safety instructions above)
- 1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, crushed
- 6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the turkey well with cold water, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Take care to dry the inside cavities as well. Fill the cavity with ginger, rosemary, and garlic cloves.
Mix minced garlic, salt, and pepper, then rub on the exterior of the bird. Allow it to marinate for an hour in the fridge.
Place the gas burner on a level dirt or grassy area in a location following the safety warnings above. Concrete can work, but it will be stained by the oil.
Add oil to the pot as recommended in the safety instructions using the exact amount of oil, then heat it to 350°F to 375°F. Use a candy or fryer thermometer.
Meanwhile, remove the ginger, rosemary and garlic from the cavity. Pat the bird dry with a paper towel. Place the turkey in a basket or securely on a rack, neck down. Slowly lower it down into the hot oil (which, again, should be between 350°F and 375°F). Take care about the rising oil due to the moisture of the turkey. It should stabilize after one minute. Some recommend using two people to slowly lower the turkey.
Immediately check the oil temperature and make sure the oil stays above 350°F. If it falls below, the oil will seep into the turkey.
Fry for about 3-4 minutes per pound, or 35-42 minutes for a 10lb. turkey. Stay with the cooker at all times to regulate the heat. Once the breast of the turkey registers 170°F, or the thigh registers 180°, carefully remove the turkey from the hot oil. Allow it to drain for a few minutes.
Remove the turkey from the rack and place on a serving platter. Allow it to stand for 20 minutes before carving.