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Cajun Frying Tips: How To Cook Deep Fried Turkey

Updated on November 1, 2010

Why People Love Frying Turkey

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and people are already beginning to think about what will be on the menu this year. Turkey is a typical meat of choice but many people find it hard to get their turkey's to turn out moist and juicy.

A common southern cooking technique--frying--has solved this problem for numerous people. This delicious Cajun method of cooking turkey has a number of perks: you can get a juicy, scrumptious turkey and you can free up space in your oven for all of your side dishes.

Turkey Frying Equipment

To start you will need the right tools.

  • Having a turkey frying pot is a great convenience but you can also use a large stockpot. If you use a stockpot it should be about 25 to 45 quarts.
  • You will also need a heavy-duty thermometer for this sizzling cooking project (candy thermometers work very well).
  • To get the oil hot you will need a portable propane burner. It should be a fairly heavy-duty burner.
  • Another piece of turkey frying hardware that you will need is a lifting rack, or some other safe piece of equipment that you can use to place the turkey in the hot oil and lift it out.
  • Lastly, you should keep a meat thermometer on hand.
  • You may also want to use gloves while you are doing this. 

Measuring Your Oil
A good way to measure the amount of oil you will need is to place your turkey in the pot and pour cold water over it. Fill it until the turkey is completely covered, with at least 2 to 3 inches of water above the turkey. When you remove the turkey, the level of water in the pot will be equivalent to the amount of oil that you will need.

Note: When you are done performing this measuring technique you should pat the turkey completely dry.

Peanut Oil & Allergies
Peanut oil is the most commonly used oil for frying turkey. It has a high smoking point and adds flavor to meat. However, if you are one of the 1000s of people with peanut allergies you can use another oil that has a high smoke point (about 450 degrees). Corn oil is a good option, for example. You will need about 3 to 5 gallons of whichever oil you choose.

Deep Fried Turkey How To

Turkey Seasoning
Like chicken, the skin in turkey can add a lot of flavor to the bird. This is another reason why fried turkey is so delicious. Here are some simple tips on marinating turkey.

  • When seasoning you can add a dry rub carefully underneath the skin of the turkey as well as to the outside.
  • You can also enhance the flavor of your turkey using a meat injector. Just take your marinade and injection it into various parts of the turkey.
  • A tip is to carefully lift the skin and inject directly into the meat underneath it--rather than to poke through the skin.

The turkey should be given a minimum of 10 hours to marinate and a maximum amount of 24 to 36 hours of marinating.

Turkey Size
When it comes to frying turkey remember that the birds should be between 10 and 15 pounds. It is best to fry smaller turkeys than to try and fry one large turkey. Remember that it takes approximately 3 minutes per pound to cook a turkey that is 12 pounds or more, and approximately 2 1/2 minutes per pound for a turkey that weighs less than that.

Heating Your Oil
First, you need to heat your oil to about 325 degrees. You do not want to let the temperature go over 350 degrees. You will probably find that other people site different temperature, but this is a safe temperature range to start with for a beginner. Use the thermometer to check the temperature. When the oil is up to temperature it is time to place your turkey in the pot.

Turkey Temperature
You will know the turkey is done when the breast has reached a temperature of about 170 degrees and the thigh has reached a temperature of approximately 180 degrees.

Avoid These Common Turkey Frying Errors

  1. When a turkey is fried you should let it stand for about 30 minutes before serving it. This will help to ensure that parts of the bird that need a little more time to cook are thorough done all the way through. When you let the meat set, the heat will continue to cook the bird even after it is taken out of the oil.
  2. Frying turkey is much quicker than baking. You never want to leave the turkey unattended and you should always keep track of the time. Over cooking fried turkey is a common beginners mistake. Don't stress if you do burn your first fried turkey. It is often reported that even when the outside of the turkey was burned black the inside was still delicious and perfectly cooked.
  3. Hopefully the order of the above points made this clear, but just to reiterate, measure the amount of oil that you will need before marinating your turkey--not the other way around.
  4. This project should be done outdoors only and preferably not on a deck or patio.
  5. If you notice that your turkey is floating then it is time to take it out and check the temperature. Floating turkeys are usually being overcooked.
  6. Don't waste the oil! If you filter it you can use it for other purposes in the future.

Food storage experts state that it is best to refrigerate a fried turkey within two hours after it is finished cooking. Deep fried turkey makes great home food storage! You will have delicious leftovers that you can use in all kinds of ways.


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