Philadelphia, PA - A few years ago, I decided to fry a turkey in addition to my conventionally roasted turkey. In effect, we had a taste panel where our twenty guests got to try both roasted and fried turkey. There was no question that the fried turkey tasted better. It was more savory and had a richer flavor. It gave new meaning to the saying: "anything fried tastes better.".
Six Essential Tips to Frying a Turkey
Fried turkeys are great, but frying the turkey is seriously dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, every year, deep-fryer fires are responsible for five deaths, 60 injuries, the destruction of 900 homes, and more than $15-million in property damage.
- Get a turkey that fits in your fryer - A turkey in the 12 to 15-pound range will work well. Most turkey fryers will fit a turkey of fewer than 15 pounds. Larger turkeys increase the chances of oil overflow. The smaller turkey also cooks quicker and more evenly. If you have a larger crowd, you may need to fry more than one turkey. The good news is that it only takes about 35 to 45 minutes to fry a turkey, so cooking two should be no problem.
- Make sure your turkey is fully defrosted and brought to room temperature - If you want a real disaster, try putting a frozen turkey in hot oil. Hint, do NOT do that! There are some hilarious videos on the internet. Still, if it happens in real life, the explosion isn't funny at all. I like to use a fresh turkey. Even with that, I will take the turkey out of the refrigerator for a couple of hours before frying to make sure it is at room temperature.
- Pre-measure how much oil to put in your fryer - I like to place my turkey in the cold fryer before cooking. Then I fill the fryer with water to get the turkey fully covered. You then pull the turkey out and mark how much water is in the fryer. Then empty the water out. Fully dry the pot and fill the fryer with oil up to your mark.
- Fry your turkey outside away from anything that will catch on fire - This seems like an obvious one, but you can't be too careful. Again there are stories where people have fried a turkey inside or even on a wooden deck that just didn't end well.
- Use a fry oil thermometer and take precaution when lowering the turkey into the oil - Heat your oil to 250 degrees and then slowly lower the turkey in. The most significant risk is the first time you lower the turkey into the oil, with the oil bubbling over and igniting with the flame. I use the hook unit that comes with the fryer and wearing heat resistant cooking gloves and a large, sturdy fork to lower the bird without getting burned. Once the turkey is in, I bring the oil temperature up to 350 degrees and cook for 35 minutes.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure the bird is done - After the bird has cooked for 35 minutes, I pull it out with the hook, gloves, and fork. Then, using an instant-read thermometer, I make sure the internal temp is 155 degrees. After the turkey is out of the oil, it will continue to cook and reach 165 degrees. The bird should rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
Again, use precaution if you decide to fry your turkey this Thanksgiving.