Divine Dinner Party

Quick and Dirty Turkey Deep Fryer
Recipe and Instruction Guide

Yep, you got it right-- the quick and dirty turkey deep fryer recipe and instruction guide. Why quick and dirty? Well, because to deep fry turkey is quick-quick-quick (a heck of a lot faster than roasting)... and pretty darn messy.

There is a ton of information out there about deep frying turkey-- recipes, methods, "never-do-this" advice, warnings, expert ideas... you get the picture. Ask anybody who’s fried a turkey more than once, and they'll swear they're the expert-- it’s a cooking method people seem to be passionate about.

Why? Well, if you’ve ever tried a turkey deep fryer recipe, you know that fried turkey is some of the tastiest, moistest, yummiest, drool-worthiest (sorry, I’m a little hungry) meat in the world. It's also way complicated to prepare, so if you you’re going to take on a turkey deep fryer recipe this Thanksgiving (or Christmas, or just because), you have to be prepared to:

  • Cook outside
  • Buy lots of equipment.
  • Make a big huge mess.
  • Ask for help.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher.
  • Spend about a bazillion dollars on peanut oil.

I'm not trying to talk you out of it-- just letting you know what you're in for in case you haven’t tackled a turkey deep fryer recipe before. Deep frying turkey is a pain in the butt, but heck! It's totally worth it.

Relatively Easy-to-Follow
Deep Fry Turkey Instructions

Buy a turkey fryer. These are just what they sound. Humongous fryers that are used for any turkey deep fryer recipe. You probably won't get to use it for much else, unless McDonald’s burns down and asks you to help out by making French fries. After all, what else is so big you need a 32-quart fryer?

Turkey fryers run from top-of-the-line (with propane connections, stove, and all the accessories), which will run you near $200, to a simple frying pot and basket for around $50 (this is great if you already have an outdoor propane burner).

Buy any extra supplies. Aside from the turkey and fixins, you’ll need:

Read the instructions. Wait... instructions? That's no fun. While you may skip them when figuring out how to use your new cell phone, you don't want to skip reading your fryer instructions when tackling a turkey deep fryer recipe. Before doing anything, read the instructions thoroughly and follow them to the letter. It'll help to avoid any accidents.

While nothing is a replacement for the instructions that come with your turkey fryer kit, you can find some more good instructions on how to fry a turkey here.

Choose a recipe. There are lots of great turkey deep fryer recipe ideas out there-- choose the one that sounds best to you. If it's your first time, try to pick one that's not too elaborate. Check out our turkey deep fryer recipe collection below. Each recipe is a tried and hand-picked (or tastebud-picked) favorite.

Choose an outdoor location and set up. Traditional turkey fryers must be used outdoors. Every year, buildings are burned to the ground because of fires caused by turkey fryers. Caution is very important-- really! Don't fry in a garage or closed area, or in or near any structure that's attached to a building. Do not fry on a wooden surface, such as a deck or porch. Accidents happen, so make sure that their consequences will be minimal. Nobody will thank you for burning down the house on Thanksgiving. It really does happen.

Deep Frying a Turkey. Watch out for Fire!
See what I mean?

Calculate the oil level. You don't want your hot oil to overflow when you put your turkey in the fryer! Here's a great way to make sure the oil level is perfect for your turkey. Before cooking or seasoning (or messing with the turkey at all), place it in the fryer basket and into the pot. Simply add water until it covers the turkey by 1 or 2 inches. Then remove the turkey and note down the new turkey-free water level. To be as exact as possible, just use a ruler to measure from the top of the fryer to the surface of the water.

Dry and prepare everything. If you've brined or marinated Mr. Turkey according to a recipe, make sure he is perfectly dry and room temperature before putting him in the oil. Do the same with your fryer. Make sure it's dry -- bone-dry, desert-dry, um, prohibition-era-dry. You know what happens when a drop of water splashes into the French fry pan? Well, imagine that mess on a super-huge (and rather dangerous) scale. Not nice.

Add and heat oil. Add the peanut oil to the level you previously determined, and heat it according to your recipe (generally 350 degrees F). If you don't want to use peanut oil because of expense (it's pricey stuff) or allergies, you can use corn or canola oil. Peanut's just tastier.

Set your turkey fryer up outside

Turkey time! Add the turkey to the oil. Easier said than done-- that sucker's going to splatter. Make sure the burner is turned off, as the oil has a tendancy to boil over. If the oil starts to bubble and boil over (and it probably will), simply lift the turkey partway from the oil, then settle him back in. It might take a few times before the oil will settle enough. And no matter what you do, the oil will splatter-- that’s why it’s so important to use fire-safe gloves, goggles, and all that protective stuff.

After he's settled in the pot, turn the burner back on, and cook the turkey for about 3 minutes a pound, or according to your recipe. Then check the internal temperature, turn off the burner, remove the turkey, and let it drain. Time to eat.

Want a Simpler Option?
The Electric Turkey Deep Fryer

If you have a great turkey deep fryer recipe but don't want to go through the hassle of frying outdoors, you could think about picking up an electric turkey deep fryer. These fryers are a new addition to the market, and allow you to do this whole process in the comfort of your kitchen. Which is probably a relief if you live in Minnesota instead of Louisiana. They also control temperature automatically, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Want to know how much time you save with a turkey deep fryer recipe? Check out our page about traditional turkey roasting times.

You can also find a lot of great recipes for fried turkey injections to use with your turkey fryer here!

Cajun Fried Recipe for Turkey

This is a scrumptious turkey deep fryer recipe for classic Cajun fried turkey. The injection of spices and honey fills the bird with moistness and flavor. One great thing about this recipe is that the injection isn't made with butter-- so it's a bit heart healthier than most Cajun deep fried turkey recipes.

Recipe: Emeril Lagasse's Cajun Fried Turkey

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(Makes enough for two 8-14 pound turkeys)

2 8 to 14 pound turkeys
Draining the Fried Turkey 10 gallons peanut oil
1 C. salt
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tbsp black pepper

Cajun Injection
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp crab boil
1/4 C. apple cider
3/4 C. honey
1 bottle of light beer
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp allspice
1/2 C. Emeril’s essence or other Creole spice
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 pinch ground cloves

Instructions: Combine salt, pepper and cayenne. Rub into skin and refrigerate overnight.

For Marinade: The marinade makes this Cajun turkey recipe. Combine all the wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients. Puree in blender on high speed for approximately 4 to 6 minutes. Puree all ingredients completely. Place into turkey injector.

Heat oil to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit). This usually takes anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour, depending on quantity of oil.

While oil heats, inject turkey with marinade. You can find in-depth instructions on how to project inject a turkey with your marinade here.

Once the oil has reached 350, place turkey in basket and slowly lower into oil. Fry turkey for approximately 3 minutes per pound. When correct amount of time has passed, lift turkey from oil and check its internal temperature with a meat thermometer. The breast temperature should reach 170 degrees and the thigh 180 degrees F.

Tasty-but-Traditional Fried Turkey Recipe

Do you drool over a perfect traditional Thanksgiving turkey (moist and mild and perfect accompaniment with salty potatoes and meaty gravy) but still want to use a turkey deep fryer recipe?

If so, you'll probably want to skip the Cajun spices and go for something a bit simpler. This turkey deep fryer recipe uses a brining method combined with slower, lower-temperature frying. The end result is a moist, juicy, crisp turkey full of turkey flavor-- without that over-cooked, mummified turkey appearance you often see when you deep fry turkey.

Recipe: Moist and Simple Deep Fried Turkey

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6 quarts hot water
1 lb kosher salt
1 lb dark brown sugar
5 lbs ice
1 (13 to 14 lb) turkey, giblets removed
4 to 4 1/2 gallons peanut oil

Instructions: Combine hot water, salt, and sugar in a 5-gallon container (try a clean bucket or even a drink cooler) and stir until salt and sugar have dissolved. Add ice, stirring until the mixture is cold.

Place turkey in brine mixture. If your bird wants to float, it's fine to weight it down with something. Cover container. Place in a cool, dry place for anywhere from eight to 16 hours.

Remove the turkey from liquid, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Allow turkey to sit (at room temperature) for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Heat the oil in the turkey fryer to 250 degrees F. When the temperature is 250, slowly and carefully lower the turkey into the oil. Bring the oil temperature up to 350 degrees F (this may take some time). Once the temperature has reached 350, you’ll need to lower the heat in order to maintain 350 degrees F.

After 35 minutes or so, check the internal temperature of the turkey with a thermometer. Once the breast meat reaches 151 degrees F, it's time to remove the bird from the fryer. Let turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Resting the turkey will allow the internal temperature to rise to a safe 161 degrees F. Carve and devour.

Quick and Tasty Recipe:
Deep Fried Turkey Seasoning Ideas

If you want to add an injection of flavor into your current turkey deep fryer recipe, check out the recipes below. These sauce mixes will truly perk up your bird-- and can be used whether you deep fry or not. What's better?

Recipe: Spicy Deep Fried Turkey Injection

8 oz. unsalted butter
2 1/2 oz. red pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/2 C. water
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves

Instructions: Combine butter, water, pepper sauce, garlic, and bay leaves over medium-high heat. Boil for approximately ten minutes, allowing sauce to darken and reduce. Let cool. Inject into turkey at least 12 hours before frying.

Recipe: Cajun Deep Fried Turkey Injection

2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp white pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 C. melted butter

Instructions: Melt butter on stovetop or in microwave on low heat. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Inject into turkey. Allow to sit for at least one hour before frying.

Hint: Make sure to use kosher salt and white pepper-- substituting may clog your injector.

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Not convinced about using a turkey deep fry recipe? Check out our guide to turkey cooking methods.

Cooking a Whole Turkey
or Some Drumsticks?

Free Holiday Turkey Recipe Guide to How to Cook a Turkey

If it's a fat bird with a beard (no, I don't mean your Aunt Marjorie), we can help you cook it. Click on the icon above or click here to get started with recipes and tips on how to cook a turkey for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any time of year.



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