Frying A Whole Turkey
Deep-frying a whole turkey is a
Cajun tradition that produces sensationally juicy meat
and delightfully crispy skin. An added advantage of
cooking a turkey this way is that it takes less than an
hour to cook the whole bird! Devotees of this
Thanksgiving tradition swear that once you try a
deep-fried turkey, you'll never cook your holiday birds
any other way!
Deep-frying a whole turkey is a messy proposition, and
presents some hazards, especially when doing it in an
enclosed space. For these reasons, the whole operation is
always moved outdoors. There is some special equipment
you need in order to take on this project, and we
recommend that you don't attempt this without the right
tools. You will need a heavy-duty portable propane burner
and a very large stockpot (26 to 40 quart capacity) or a
custom-made turkey-frying pot to begin with.
In addition to these things, you're
going to need some sort of contraption that will help you
SAFELY lower the turkey into a vat of boiling oil, and
remove it SAFELY once the turkey is done. To make your
life easier, you can simply buy a specially designed tool
for holding the turkey in place and moving it in and out
of the pot (There are many online specialty resources for
buying turkey-frying equipment).
Or if you're up for the added
challenge, you can fashion your own turkey holder and
lowering mechanism to help you dunk and lift the turkey
safely: Try a giant drain basket or a large vertical
roasting stand, and twist heavy wire around one end, and
around a broom handle at the other end.
Once you have decided how you're going to heft and fry
the turkey, you can proceed with getting and preparing
the turkey. The ideal size for a turkey to deep-fry is
between 10 and 15 pounds. You can, of course, choose a
smaller turkey if you like, but a bird that's any larger
than 15 pounds will be near impossible to handle in a
deep-frying situation. If you've got more people to feed
than a 15-pounder will provide for, prepare two turkeys
rather than attempting one monster. The turkey should
either be fresh, or completely thawed, before beginning.
Check right now to see if the bird has a plastic pop-up
doneness indicator. If it does, remove it.
The size of the bird you choose will
determine exactly how much oil you are going to need. The
most accurate way of measuring this is to place the bird
in the pot you intend to use for frying. Pour in cold
water until the turkey is covered by a couple of inches.
There should still be several inches between the surface
of the water and the top of the pot. If there's not, you
need a bigger pot. Now remove the turkey and pat it dry
with some paper towels. Measure the water that's in the
pot -- This is how much oil you'll need, so make a note
of it. To be genuinely Cajun, you need to use peanut oil
for frying that bird. This kind of oil is expensive, but
it gives the best flavor and will not smoke when it gets
hot the way some other oils will.
In preparation for frying, the turkey meat is
traditionally injected with a liquid seasoning blend
(marinade), then the outside is rubbed with a dry
seasoning blend (dry rub). To properly season your
turkey, place it in a pan and load your favorite marinade
(preferably a spicy one!) into a hypodermic meat
injector. Inject the marinade in several places on the
turkey. Do this by carefully lifting up the skin, rather
than poking the needle through it. When the turkey is
good and loaded up with spicy, succulent juices, massage
a nice big handful of dry rub onto the outside of the
bird and all around the cavity. This can be done as much
as 36 hours in advance, but you should allow at least 12
hours in to give the flavors time to mingle and penetrate
the turkey while it's kept in the refrigerator.
A couple of hours before dinnertime, put on old clothes
that you don't mind getting spattered with oil: It's time
to fry a turkey! Make sure your seasoned turkey is
completely dry. Pat it down with paper towels, if
necessary. Water and hot oil simply do not mix, and you
don't want to be burned by flying 400-degree oil. Now rig
up the turkey to the stand, cradle, vertical rack, basket
or whatever contraption you'll be using, and allow the
bird to come to room temperature. Bring out a big platter
with several layers of paper bags on it. This is where
the turkey will land and drain when it's done.
Clear all children, pets and other
flammable or well-loved material far away from the frying
area. Pour the right amount of oil into the pot and fire
up the burner. Stick a candy thermometer in the pot and
watch it closely. Once the temperature reaches 400
degrees F (205 degrees C), the moment of truth is upon
you. Get the turkey, get some heavy oven mitts and get
someone else to help you. Turn off the burner momentarily
so that any splattered oil will not cause flare-ups.
With one person on each side of the
pot, grasping the broom handle with oven-mitted hands,
and standing as far away from it as you can manage,
slowly lower the turkey partway into the oil. The oil
will bubble up fiercely. Hold the turkey suspended
partway into the oil and gently dunk it up and down a few
times. Lower the turkey a little more and dunk again.
Keep doing this until the turkey is completely submerged
and resting on the bottom of the pot. Now you can turn
the burner on again.
If the oil had a chance to cool down
to below 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), crank it up high
until the oil returns to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)
again, and then turn down the burner to maintain the
temperature. Pull up a chair and get comfortable now; you
should never, ever leave a pot of boiling oil unattended.
Give in to Turkey Temptation
Allow 3 to 3 1/2 minutes of cooking time per pound of
turkey. That means a 15-pound turkey will take about 45
minutes to cook. To check for doneness, turn off the
burner and call your assistant out to help you pull the
turkey partway out of the pot and insert a meat
thermometer into the thigh. If it reads 180 degrees F (82
degrees C), that bird is done!
Raise the turkey out of the pot and
let the oil drip from it for a minute. The cavity may be
full of hot oil, so use extreme caution when handling the
turkey. Carefully transfer it to the platter you cleverly
covered with paper bags, let it drain for a few minutes
longer and make sure that cavity is drained.
Try to resist picking at the
crackling brown skin and the succulent, tender meat that
lies beneath -- at least until it cools down enough to
bring to the dinner table. Or maybe you should just fry
Turkey Deep-Frying Checklist
Heavy-duty portable propane burner
26 to 40 quart stockpot
Turkey holder (e.g., stand, cradle, vertical rack or
metal drain basket)
Lowering mechanism (e.g., broom handle)
Hypodermic meat injector
Heavy oven mitts
A comfy chair
Recipes for Deep-Frying
When you're ready to deep-fry a turkey, try these recipes
for the big bird as well as marinades and dry rubs for
This is an awesome Cajun recipe. Deep-frying makes the
turkey crispy on the outside and super juicy on the
inside (even the white meat). It also leaves the heat
outside! You can deep-fry the turkey in either peanut or
vegetable oil, your choice. We use a 26 quart aluminum
pot with a drain basket.
Prep Time: approx. 30 Minutes.
Cook Time: approx. 45 Minutes.
Ready in: approx. 1 Hour 30 Minutes.
Makes 1 (12 pound) turkey (16 servings).
3 gallons peanut oil for frying, or as needed
1 (12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
1/4 cup Creole seasoning
1 white onion
1. In a large stockpot or turkey fryer, heat oil to 400
degrees F (200 degrees C). Be sure to leave room for the
turkey, or the oil will spill over. Layer a large platter
with food-safe paper bags.
2. Rinse turkey, and thoroughly pat dry with paper
towels. Rub Creole seasoning over turkey inside and out.
Make sure the hole at the neck is open at least 2 inches
so the oil can flow freely through the bird.
3. Place the whole onion and turkey in drain basket. The
turkey should be placed in basket neck end first. Slowly
lower basket into hot oil to completely cover turkey.
Maintain the temperature of the oil at 350 degrees F (175
degrees C), and cook turkey for 3 1/2 minutes per pound,
about 45 minutes.
4. Carefully remove basket from oil, and drain turkey.
Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the
thigh; the internal temperature must be 180 degrees F (80
degrees C). Finish draining turkey on the prepared
Sauces and Rubs
Best Carolina BBQ Meat Sauce
I can't take all the credit for this stuff. I have had to
search, and snoop and experiment to get it right. I've
had barbeque in some of the best little places in the
Carolina's, and this stuff rules there! Fantastic on
pork! Or try brushing some on chicken as it finishes off
the grill! Use fresh ground peppers for the best flavor.
This will keep in fridge for a couple of weeks.
Prep Time: approx. 5 Minutes.
Cook Time: approx. 40 Minutes.
Ready in: approx. 50 Minutes.
Makes 3 cups (12 servings).
1 1/2 cups prepared mustard
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup beer
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring
1 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 In a heavy non-reactive saucepan, combine mustard,
brown sugar, vinegar and beer. Season with chili powder,
black, white and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer over
medium high heat. DO NOT BOIL, or you will scorch the
sugar and peppers. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20
2. Mix in the Worcestershire sauce, butter, and liquid
smoke. Simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes. Add a few
dashes of .the hot sauce to taste. Pour into an airtight
jar and refrigerate over night to allow flavors to blend.
Honey Bourbon Fire Sauce
This recipe is not for weak-hearted individuals! This
marinade/sauce will light your fire! A flavor unequaled
by even Kenny Rogers.
Prep Time: approx. 10 Minutes.
Cook Time: approx. 40 Minutes.
Ready in: approx. 50 Minutes.
Makes 14 cups (28 servings).
1 onion, chopped
4 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup premium bourbon
32 ounces honey
1 (16 ounce) jar picante sauce
1 (16 ounce) jar hot salsa
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 cup tomato-vegetable juice cocktail
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion
and garlic for 10 to 15 minutes, or until onion is
caramelized. Reduce heat to low and pour in about 1 cup
of bourbon to deglaze the pan. Return saucepan to medium
high heat, add the remaining bourbon, and bring to a slow
boil for 5 to 10 minutes, allowing the alcohol to cook
out of the bourbon.
2. Add the honey, picante sauce, hot pepper sauce, tomato
paste, tomato-vegetable juice and ground black pepper and
stir well. Bring this mixture to a slow, rolling boil for
about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and cool
in the refrigerator.
3. Marinate your meat in a separate large, nonporous bowl
for 3 to 4 hours, pouring sauce over meat. Boil remaining
sauce for 10 minutes and serve with meat, if desired.
Discard any excess marinade.
Hugh's Dry Rub
Use this dry rub on your favorite meat before grilling.
It stores well in an airtight container, and I've had a
lot of positive feedback no matter what I cook it on.
Prep Time: approx. 15 Minutes.
Ready in: approx. 15 Minutes.
Makes 2 cups (36 servings).
8 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
6 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder
6 tablespoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 In a medium bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne pepper,
ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, salt,
oregano and thyme. Mix all together well and store in a
cool, dry place in an airtight container.
Rub for Meat
The Staff at Allrecipes