This amazing deep fried turkey recipe is what turned me from a turkey hater to a TURKEY LOVER… My fried turkey turns out tender, juicy, and flavorful EVERY TIME (thanks to a simple fried turkey rub + peanut oil). AND the cooking time is trimmed to under an hour by using an electric indoor turkey fryer!
The Best Deep Fried Turkey Recipe
I have a confession to make… I’ve never really been a fan of turkey. Shocking, huh?! In fact, there have been many years when I’ve opted to make a spiral ham for Thanksgiving dinner instead.
BUT I have a husband and three boys that all happen to love turkey. So several years ago I decided to try frying a turkey.
And you know what? It was kinda life changing! I’d never eaten turkey that wasn’t dry and flavorless, so I feel obligated to share my discovery with the world.
This deep fried turkey recipe produces a perfectly deep-fried turkey with golden brown, crispy skin. We’re talking a Thanksgiving turkey with meat that’s tender, juicy, and flavorful EVERY TIME!!
Meanwhile, I have way more room in the oven for our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. AND the cooking time is trimmed to under an hour! #winning
I know, I know — we’ve all heard the horror stories about propane tank turkey fryers and scary grease fires. Many of these situations happen because of simple user error, like adding too much oil. Or poor decisions, like placing the fryer on a wooden deck.
But don’t worry! I’ve got a far better solution…
Frying Turkey In An Indoor Turkey Deep Fryer
Did you know that you can actually purchase an electric indoor turkey fryer?!? Yep, and they’re MUCH safer to use. So safe that you can fry a whole turkey right on your kitchen countertop!! Of course, it’s always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies.
I upgraded to the larger model a few years ago, and it’s the one I would recommend for most households. Finding 12-lb. and under turkeys can be a bit difficult, and the price difference is negligible!
Not to mention they’re useful for more than frying whole turkeys! You can fry almost anything in your electric turkey fryer… Use it for frying fish, chicken wings, French fries, or even donuts. And it also has a steaming feature, making it much more versatile than at first glance.
Key Ingredients For A Perfect Deep-Fried Turkey
Deep-frying turkey produces the most juicy turkey you will ever eat. But the trifecta of juicy meat, crispy skin, and loads of flavor requires more than just dropping a turkey in a couple gallons of hot oil…
Two elements take this deep-fried turkey recipe to the next level — my homemade seasoning for turkey and my choice of fry oil!
The Turkey Seasoning
The turkey rub recipe is super simple to throw together. It’s ideal for seasoning the turkey both inside AND out, which is key for creating loads of flavor!
The best part? This turkey seasoning recipe goes BIG on flavor with only 4 ingredients:
Around here, prepping for Thanksgiving starts well before the big day. So even though it’s a minimal timesaver, one thing I always do early in the week is mix up my deep fried turkey rub.
Whisk the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Then transfer the turkey dry rub to an airtight container. Store it with the rest of your spices until you’re ready to season and fry your turkey.
The Turkey Fryer Oil
Any common cooking oil can be used to deep fry turkey. But if you want the best-tasting fried bird, there’s a clear winner in this category. My preferred turkey fryer oil is peanut oil for its rich flavor and high smoke point. In my opinion, it’s simply the best oil to fry turkey.
The downside? Well, peanut oil doesn’t come cheap! And you’re gonna need about 2.5 gallons of oil to fill up the large turkey fryer…
PRO TIP: Save the original peanut oil container after filling your turkey fryer pot. When you’ve finished deep frying your turkey, allow the peanut oil to cool completely. Then filter the cooled oil through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth back into the bottle. By doing this, you can reuse it several more times!
How To Prepare A Turkey For Deep Frying
Using an electric turkey fryer to make deep fried turkey is an easy and mostly hands off method. To achieve the best results, it’s important to prepare the turkey well!
You CAN season and fry the turkey the same day. But for the most flavorful turkey, I recommend following these steps the day before you plan to deep fry.
- Start with a fully thawed turkey: I cannot stress how important this is! Oil and water don’t mix, and neither do oil and ice. Depending on the size, a frozen turkey can take 4-5 days to thaw in the refrigerator. So be sure to move it early in the week to ensure it’s completely defrosted.
- Rinse and dry: Remove the neck and giblets, as well as any plastic leg ties and/or the pop-up cooking indicator. Rinse the thawed bird with cold water inside and out, then set the turkey on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Pat it completely dry inside and out. If you’re using a fresh turkey, you can obviously skip the thawing part and proceed right to the rinsing step.
- Trim the excess bits: Using a pair of sturdy poultry shears, trim any excess skin and fat from around the neck area. This will ensure that the hot peanut oil can easily fill the inside of the turkey.
- Season turkey inside and out: Rub the seasoning into the turkey’s skin. Then sprinkle the remainder inside the body cavity.
Place the turkey in the refrigerator uncovered for 12-24 hours to allow the spices to infuse the meat.
How To Fry A Turkey In Peanut Oil
When you’re ready to fry your turkey, remove the turkey from the refrigerator. This will allow it to start to come to room temperature while the oil is heating up.
Fill the turkey fryer pot up to the maximum fill line with peanut oil. Then switch the fryer on, and heat the oil to 375 degrees. When the oil temperature reaches 375 degrees, transfer the prepared turkey to the fryer basket.
Wearing a pair of silicone mitts, very slowly lower turkey into the oil. Make sure it’s fully submerged and that the oil has filled the cavity. Sometimes the turkey will need to “burp” to get it to fill with oil. It’s handy to have a pair of rubber-tipped tongs that you can use to to gently nudge and tilt it until you’re sure it’s filled.
Calculate The Turkey Frying Time
You can determine how long to fry a turkey by multiplying the weight of the turkey in pounds by 3.5-4 minutes per pound. So if you have a 14 pound turkey, you should fry it for approximately 49-56 minutes. If you’re wondering how long do you deep fry a 20lb turkey, you’ll want to leave it in for 70-80 minutes. See the printable chart above for a quick estimate.
Fried turkey internal temperature
The easiest way to tell if your turkey is cooked through is by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. The recommended turkey internal temperature is 165 degrees.
When the turkey reaches the recommended temperature, put your silicone gloves back on. Carefully lift the fryer basket out of the oil, allowing the excess oil to drip back into the fryer.
Clip the basket on the draining holes to drip and rest in the basket for about 10 minutes. Then transfer the turkey to a platter lined with paper towels for an additional 10 minutes or so to soak up any excess oil.
Once the turkey is cool enough to handle, you can carve and serve it! I highly recommend using an electric knife for carving. It makes cutting precise slices effortless.
Safety Tips For Deep Frying Turkey
Using an indoor turkey fryer is far safer than an outdoor model. But you’ll still want to follow a few safety precautions when deep frying turkey.
A few we’ve already covered, such as making sure your turkey is completely thawed. Also, always use silicone gloves to protect your hands. And take care to go very slowly when lowering and lifting the turkey.
- Be sure to place the fryer on a flat surface with plenty of clearance around and above it. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for specifics on your model.
- Don’t use an extension cord to plug the fryer in. Not only is it a trip hazard, but it can also cause the fryer to heat inconsistently.
- Keep pets and children a safe distance away during and after use. The sides of the fryer will get extremely hot!
- Once you’ve started heating the oil, don’t try to move the fryer.
- And finally, don’t leave the fryer unattended.
My family thinks this is literally the BEST deep fried turkey recipe… They may be a little biased, but I hope yours enjoys it as much as mine!
If you’re curious what we serve alongside it, I’ve listed out my exact Thanksgiving menu. Or keep scrolling after the printable recipe for some of our favorite easy sides.
Our Favorite Turkey Side Dishes
Check out these EASY side dishes to complement your fried turkey! Each has a unique twist to make it a little new and different and/or to save time in the kitchen!
And who doesn’t want to be able to spend more time with family and friends outside of the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day?!?
- Creamed Corn Casserole
- Easy Green Bean Casserole
- Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- Stuffing Muffins
- Cranberry Jello Salad
Did you make this recipe?
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