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How to Fry a Turkey the Southern Way

Updated on October 11, 2011

How to fry a turkey

Frying a turkey is one of the best things you can do for a holiday meal. In fact, fried turkey is a wonderful treat any time of year. You don't need a special occasion for fried turkey. At our house, the fried turkey, or fried turkeys, are everyone's favorite things on the Thanksgiving table! They're picked clean, with no leftovers to worry about. How to fry a turkey? Read below!

Baked turkey is great, smoked turkey is amazingly wonderful, but deep-fried turkey is super-dooper delicious! I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but when we take one out of the fry pot and bring it into the kitchen, all the kids and grandkids attack it like it's a gazelle corpse and they're hungry hyenas. They don't even want to wait for it to cool - they'll chance second-degree burns just to grab a piece of the tantalizingly tasty bird. In fact, we have to cook two birds so that one will make it to the Thanksgiving table.

Why are deep fried turkey and Cajun fried turkey so good?

You know, here in the South, we deep fry a lot of stuff, and turkey is no exception. Deep fried turkey is awesome. It always turns out tender and moist. There's no need to brine a bird intended for turkey frying, either. Actually, little preparation is required. As a result, Southern fried turkey or Cajun fried turkey is almost a no-fail cooking method.

People who haven't eaten Southern fried turkey always ask me if the fried turkey is greasy. Fried turkey isn't greasy - it's just incredibly juicy and flavorful. The skin that always turns out rubbery on baked and smoked turkeys becomes a crunchy, yummy treat in and of itself on a Southern fried turkey or on a Cajun fried turkey. Once you learn how to fry a turkey and try the resulting fried turkey, that's how you'll always want your big bird prepared.

Frying a turkey isn't difficult, but there are some important steps you must take:

Turkey frying tips

* Buy the right size turkey. Your turkey fryer will tell you which size will work with your fryer. Most turkey fryers will cook birds from 12-14 pounds, but check to make sure.

* Once your turkey has thawed, place it in the turkey fryer pot and add cool water until the bird is covered by two inches of water. Remove the turkey and mark the water line in the turkey fryer. This way you'll know how much oil you'll need. Use peanut oil. It has a high flash point and gives the fried turkey a wonderful flavor.

* Make sure your propane tank is full and check any hoses and attachments. You don't want your fried turkey to be half-cooked. You don't want to have to stop frying halfway through and make a trip to the store for another tank, either.

* Place the cooker on cement or brick, away from any flammable materials. If you're cooking on a windy day, make sure you provide some sort of wind break. Every holiday season, a few cooks attempt to fry a turkey on their wooden deck. Bad idea!

* Have a fire extenguisher nearby. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

How to fry a turkey

* Fill the cooker with the proper amount of oil and place the thermometer in the oil, attached to the side of the cooker. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Have someone stay with the cooker as the oil heats. This will take about 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of your turkey frying pot.

* While your partner stays with the turkey fryer, go inside and remove the turkey from the refrigerator. It needs to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before it takes its hot oil bath. This gives you time to season the bird. You might want to use an injectable marinade. If you do, I suggest a large plastic injector. You can also rub the bird with Cajun spices for a Cajun fried turkey. For a Southern fried turkey, use garlic salt, black pepper, rosemary, red pepper, lemon pepper, and/or onion powder. Make sure the turkey is dry before seasoning, and be sure to season both the outside of the bird and the cavity. The turkey should be completely dry on the outside before it becomes a fried turkey.

* Place the bird in the basket, upside down, and using the handle that came with your cooker, s l o w l y lower the gobbler into the oil. Use gloves - the hot oil will hiss and spit a bit. Remove the handle and begin timing. Most cookers recommend 3 minutes of cooking time per pound, but we always cook ours for 3.5 minutes per pound. We like our fried turkey extra crispy!

* When the time is up, carefully remove the bird and place it on several layers of paper towels to drain. Let the fried turkey stand for about 20 minutes before carving - IF you can keep your guests away from it that long! For an extra treat, you might want to place some sliced sweet potatoes in the oil once the fried turkey comes out. They're great with the turkey! Yes, they're good with Cajun fried turkey, too.

When the turkey is done, immediately turn off the burner, unless you're cooking a second bird (which I highly recommend). Once the oil has cooled completely, use a funnel and a strainer and pour it into gallon jugs or back into the original oil containers for future use. Oil is expensive, so you want to take care of it. Store it in a cool dark place for best results.

A turkey fryer is a must-have for anyone who enjoys outdoor cooking. It can be used to fry fish, shrimp, and chicken and can also be used for boiling shrimp, crabs, ears of corn, and good ol' Southern boiled peanuts. You'll find all kinds of uses for the fryer, and they also make great gifts. Check out the great buys on turkey fryers below!

The turkey fryer: worth its weight in gold!
The turkey fryer: worth its weight in gold!
Our fried turkey is awesome!!
Our fried turkey is awesome!!


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    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Exactly right, Anne!

    • msannec profile image

      msannec 7 years ago from Mississippi (The Delta)

      I had my first fried turkey this past Thanksgiving; you are so right, it is great, and if you try it, you'll be hooked. Great hub!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      If they ever tried it just once, they'd be hooked! The turkey comes out juicy but not greasy. Thanks for reading!

    • HarperSmith profile image

      HarperSmith 8 years ago

      Sounds like a quick easy way to cook a delicious turkey, but I do'nt think a can get the rest of the family to go for it.