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Picture of Deep Fried Turkey

The first time I was told about deep fried turkey, I recoiled in horror! My imagination ran over with thoughts of horrendous dry and greasy meat.... That said, I am currently living in North America so it seemed like something that I should do!! I am very pleased to report that my initial assessment could not have been more wrong, the end result was very moist meat that is not greasy and is a huge favourite in our household. The key is the short cooking time due to the high temperature of the oil. The temperature causes the skin of the bird to seal and oil doesn't go through the meat - the turkey is steamed from the inside.

WARNING: Deep frying a turkey is not without risk. Searching YouTube will provide many examples of fireballs, injuries and property destruction; however, there are a few rules that if followed will reduce (but not eliminate) the chances of injury:

  • Choose a well made and stable fryer.
  • Locate the fryer outside and on a non flammable surface.
  • Ensure the turkey is completely defrosted.
  • Keep the oil below 350° Fahrenheit.
  • Turn the burner off when lowering the turkey into the fryer.
  • Wear appropriate clothing.
  • Dont drink and fry.
  • If a fire develops, DO NOT use water to extinguish as this will just spread it.

This is still the possiblity of injury even if you follow the above as you will be dealing with a very hot, flamable liquid and a large mass of turkey. Ensure that you always make an assessment of your own safety and only continue if you are comfortable.

Step 1: Tools and Ingredients

Picture of Tools and Ingredients


Turkey - Ensure the turkey is smaller than the max size recommended for your fryer. If it is larger there is a chance that the oil will overflow or the turkey will not be submerged in the oil to allow even cooking.

Salt and Pepper - Other seasoning could be used but will flavour (taint) the oil and reduce its ability to be reused. I find that salt and pepper is all the seasoning that is required.

Canola Oil, approx 17lt - Ensure that you use an oil that is suitable for deep frying. I got a bulk pack of canola oil from Costco that was suitable and was also very reasonably priced!


Turkey fryer (

The fryer in the link above is not quite the same as the one that I purchased; however, it has the features that I consider essential:

  • wide and solid base to reduce the chance of tipping over.
  • adjustable regulator to allow the temperature of the oil to be kept within a safe working range.
  • flame timer to shut the gas off after a short period of time. I originally thought that this was a pain but it does ensure that you constantly monitor the fryer and do not become distracted and leave it alone to overheat / boil over / catch fire...

AmyandTanner2 months ago
I've tried it before and it was too dry... I'm going to try it again with your instructable and see what happens!
mattaw (author)  AmyandTanner2 months ago
hope it turns out well. Keep an eye on the temp and remove as soon as the bird gets to a safe temperature.
dejanf24 months ago
"Dont drink and fry",great advice! :)
LinnetNC4 months ago
Only comment I have is that down here below the Mason/Dixon line peanut oil is the preferred oil to fry turkeys in. And no it doesn't make it taste of peanut butter. It can be more expensive than canola but is much easier to find around Thanksgiving time.
I agree. 100% peanut oil... or at least a 50-50 mix using peanut oil gives the best result.
mattaw (author)  LinnetNC4 months ago
Thanks for the suggestion. I filter and save the oil after use so that I get a few frys out of it. This may mitigate the cost a little if alternative oils are a bit more expensive.
CourtneyS44 months ago
Great Instruct-able. I've been frying at least a couple of turkeys a year for thirty years, and I will never go back to roasting. If you haven't tried it you are missing out.
I think the author touched on all of the basics. In particular, turning the flame off when dropping the bird in the oil is the is the most important safety tip. This will stop a large percentage of the turkey frying accidents that you hear about. Its common sense but you should do that anytime you move the turkey, whether inserting it, checking its temp, or removing it when done.
To prepare the turkey, I recommend that you brine or flavor inject the bird. You can get good results without, but either process will definitely enhance the flavor and moistness of the meat. One note, if you do inject, use a butter or oil based injection to avoid the risk of boil up and splatter.
Finally, I would like to put in a good word for the Butterball/Masterbuilt indoor electric turkey fryer. This fryer works very well. The results are essentially identical. It is safer and requires less oil than an open flame burner. And it can be used safely indoors. I still use my open flame setup for outdoor events, but for Thanksgiving and other home events I use the Masterbuilt.
tercero4 months ago
Really good instructable. Covered all the bases regarding safety and taste. I've read some people brine their turkey, but it seems like over kill. I could be wrong.
Brining is not necessary, but you will get a better result with it.
the fundamentals that you place upon this recipe do not align with star sign that i have foreseen. to brine the turkey to add the full extent of the flavor available from the turkey. without brine, this taste is just not possible to form tender meat. as seen on page 5 of the Augustus road to plseure we can see that without the full extent of the brine the meat does not align with rules 3 and 6 leading me to inact the laws 3 and 4 against you. this will nt be the end of me
mattaw (author)  tercero4 months ago
Thanks for the feedback. I have never tried to brine the turkey but I don't think that it would be needed as the meat turns out moist and juicy naturally. I would definately recommend a brine if you were going to oven roast the bird.
srsabu mattaw4 months ago
I've deep fried turkeys both brined and not brined and I have a slight preference for brining. It seems like the brined stay juicy a little longer. Also, if you use some spices and some brown sugar in the brine, it makes the deep fried skin really tasty!
tercero srsabu4 months ago
I guess there's only one way for me to find out. I've never tried the brine'ing thing. I saw Alton Brown tackle this, so I guess it's time for me to give it a try. Thanks for the info.
JJmadigan4 months ago
This is faster than I thought it would be!
I have never had deep-fired turkey, so I thought you would have to batter it and end up with a giant piece of greasy KFC. XD
I am in VA, so it is not uncommon to hear of people frying their turkeys.
mattaw (author)  JJmadigan4 months ago
To be completely open: by the time you heat the oil, cook the turkey and then store the oil and clean the equipment, you have probably spend about the same amount of time as oven roasting. The benefit is that the turkey tastes fantastic!
bird2brain4 months ago
This can cook a bird beautifully and quickly, but I strongly recommend using a Turkey Derrick ( How to Build a Derrick - YouTube ), and maybe have a trained fire fighter nearby.
mattaw (author)  bird2brain4 months ago
Thanks for the comment. The use of a turkey derrick definately looks like a good way to keep your hands and body clear of the hot oil.
LSU19774 months ago
In the Oil Measurement Section, I suggest adding an instruction; after placing the turkey in, filling with water, turkey removal, etc., that a step be added to re-dry the turkey with paper towels to remove the excess water/moisture before placing the turkey in the hot oil.
mattaw (author)  LSU19774 months ago
Thanks for the suggestion. This is what I meant but agree that it wasn't clear, I will update to ensure that the turkey is dry as it is essential for safety.
Pa19634 months ago
Before you fire up your cooker, make sure that your lines are clear. Something about propane lines attracts spiders and they like to make webs in your lines. I didn't do this one year, and I got a yellow, sooty flame that took a long time to heat the oil. Then, the oil mixing with the soot coated the outside of the pot with something resembling road tar, and was really difficult to clean.
Pa19634 months ago
You don't need to cook a turkey to 180F. The bacteria will be killed at 140F. This might be more pertinent to oven roasting a bird, but if you cook to 160F, pull it from heat then wait 10 minutes, the bird will keep cooking until it hits 170F. This is called the "push". result? Juicy bird. 180F? Dry bird.
jessyratfink4 months ago
Great walkthrough! That looks amazing :)
mattaw (author)  jessyratfink4 months ago
Thanks, it tastes as good as it looks!