How to Deep-Fry a Turkey for a Delicious Holiday Feast

Roasting is the classic way to cook a holiday bird, but this year try something new and serve deep-fried turkey. We're sharing the best temperature for deep-frying a turkey, how long to fry a turkey, plus delicious deep-fried turkey recipes.

We all know a turkey is a must for the traditional holiday table centerpiece, but if you've had the bird come out a little too try in the past or are looking to change things up for this year's meal, it might be time to give frying turkey a chance. It not only takes less time, but deep-frying the turkey yields tender, juicy results. Plus, you'll keep the oven free for more pies and sides. Try something new for your Thanksgiving entrée and serve a juicy, deep-fried turkey this year. Once you learn how to deep-fry a turkey to a perfect finish of crispy skin and juicy meat, you might never use your oven (for turkey) again.

Cajun Deep-Fried Turkey
Marty Baldwin

How to Deep-Fry a Turkey

To start, you'll want to prepare the turkey for frying by removing the neck and giblets as well as any plastic ties or pop-up timers. From there, use the following steps to make a deep-fried turkey.

  1. Preheat oil in a turkey fryer ($112, Amazon) to 350°F.
  2. Prepare your desired seasoning rub. (Snag our favorite turkey rub recipes here.) Loosen the skin from the breast and leg areas, and evenly distribute rub on the meat beneath the skin. Season the cavity with any remaining rub.
  3. Tie legs to the tail with cotton string. Twist wing tips under the back.
  4. Place turkey, breast side up, in the deep-fryer basket. Slowly lower basket into hot oil.
  5. Fry turkey for about 30 minutes (or 3 minutes per pound), maintaining oil temperature as close to 350°F as possible.
  6. Remove turkey from hot oil and insert a meat thermometer ($19, Amazon) into the meaty part of the thigh. Aim for a meat temperature of 180°F.
  7. Once the turkey reaches 180°F, drain the deep-fried turkey on a wire rack.
  8. Allow turkey to stand 15 minutes before carving.

Getting the Right Fried Turkey Temperature

Our Test Kitchen recommends frying the turkey in 350°F peanut oil or other vegetable oil for 3 minutes per pound. Take the internal temperature in the meaty part of the thigh (it should register 180°F).

Deep-Fried Turkey Safety

When cooking with hot oil—especially in the large amounts required to deep-fry turkey—it's important to always keep safety in mind. Avoid burns and fires this Thanksgiving by following these tips when you're deep-frying your turkey.

  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt, pants, thick gloves, and closed-toe shoes while frying.
  • Always keep your fryer outside, and be sure that kids and pets are indoors and away from the fryer. Be sure to place your fryer in an open area away from any awnings or overhanging branches.
  • Make sure to use the proper tools provided with your frying kit.
  • Never fill the oil above the indicated line in your fryer to prevent overflow.
  • Be sure your turkey is completely thawed and dry before frying. Never place a frozen turkey in your fryer.
  • Always turn the flame off before slowly lowering the turkey into the fryer, and never leave the fryer unattended while cooking.
  • Never fry a turkey that is too big for your fryer. As a general rule, select a turkey that weighs 12 pounds or less to fry. If you're serving more people, consider frying two smaller turkeys.

Looking for other ways to make your Thanksgiving bird taste (and look) amazing? Get our favorite turkey recipes for frying, roasting, and wrapping turkey, plus ways to use up leftovers (if they last that long!).

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