How to Fry a Turkey for the Holidays

Turkey day 2019, is coming! Better known as Thanksgiving. It’s no secret that the turkey is the centerpiece to most Thanksgiving Day meals. Frying a turkey can really make this Thanksgiving memorable. It truly brings an exquisite taste and tenderness to the bird. However, if not done properly it could ruin your feast. I know from firsthand experience about what can go right or wrong if you don’t fry your turkey properly, which is why we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to frying a turkey. 

Growing up, my father would traditionally fry a turkey every year and it was always the talk of the meal. The first year he did it was absolutely exquisite. It was perfectly crispy on the outside with a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness on the inside. He’d inject spices into the meat to round off the flavor within each bite, perfect!

But beware, if you don’t monitor the oil temperature and follow certain safety measures, your holiday could go up in smoke, literally. The last time he fried a turkey for Christmas dinner, he must’ve been a little distracted. He had lost track of how hot the oil had gotten, and when he returned to pull the turkey out, there was nothing left but a heaping lump of coal – BA HUMBUG!

To prevent disaster, I’d recommend you watch the video below to learn more about what could go wrong when trying to fry a turkey, and more about the tools, foods, and liquids that you will need, what cooking equipment is necessary, and essential safety gear you should have.  Since frying a turkey comes with a lot of flammable risks, always fry your turkey outside, away from your house and deck, or any awnings, trees or overhangs.  

YouTube video

Since you’re using oil to cook, make sure that you fry with care, avoid any spills, and have an extinguisher on hand just in case of grease fires. Most importantly, never leave the turkey or stock pot alone when the oil inside is hot (My family learned this one the hard way). 


One turkey 14 lb. or smaller 

3-5 gallons of peanut oil

3-5 gallons of water

Seasoning of your choice



1 propane burner and propane tank

1 giant stockpot (at least 30 quarts)

1 large frying basket or lift hook

1 temperature gauge

1 meat thermometer

1 large rod for lowering the turkey


Safety equipment

A pair of goggles for each cook

An apron for each cook, long sleeve shirt, and closed-toe shoes

1 pair of heat resistant gloves for each cook

A fire extinguisher (Wet Chemical is best for grease fires)

Preparing the turkey

  • Start by soaking the turkey in cold water and ensure that it has thawed completely before removing.
  • Cut off the turkey giblets, tail section, and neck skin.
  • Allocate an appropriate flat, outdoor surface to fry the turkey. Maintaining a distance from anything flammable is recommended, as is avoiding wooden decking.
  • Set up the propane burner, keeping the tank separated from the burner.
  • Make small cuts under the wings, legs, and neck of the bird from which the oil can drain after cooking.
  • Make sure you don’t overfill the pot with oil, and the turkey may cause it to displace and cause injury or even start a fire. Find out how much oil you need beforehand by putting the turkey in the pot, pouring water in until the turkey is covered, then remove the turkey. Mark with a knife or food-safe marker where the oil fill line is. Make sure to completely dry the pot and turkey as much as possible.
  • Apply your seasoning or marinade of choice to the turkey.
  • Fill the pot with peanut oil until it reaches the marked oil fill line.
  • Ignite the burner, attach the temperature gauge so that the tip is beneath the surface of the oil, and heat the oil up to 375 degrees..

Frying the turkey

  • Secure the turkey in the fry basket on the lift hook and make sure it’s in the right position with the head area facing down.
  • Turn off the propane burner.
  • Put on the safety gear and attach your rod to the fry basket or lift hook.
  • Lower the turkey carefully into the oil. You may need help with this so the oil doesn’t splash. 
  • Set a timer. For every pound of turkey, add 3.5 minutes. An 8 lb. turkey should cook for 35 minutes, for instance.
  • Turn the propane burner back on when the turkey is in to get it back up to 375 degrees.
  • As the time runs low, pull the turkey out enough so you can insert a meat thermometer. A turkey is safe to eat when the meat inside reaches a temperature at 165.

Taking the turkey out

  • Turn off the propane burner.
  • Lift the turkey carefully with the rod (and some help if you need it).
  • Hold the turkey over the pot, letting the oil drain from the slits you made earlier.
  • Put the turkey on a platter on top of paper towels and let it sit for 15-20 minutes to drain the oil out.
  • Carve up the turkey and serve.

Now you should have a perfectly cooked, crispy turkey that’s delicious and safe to eat. For safety’s sake, let the oil cool overnight. You can either get rid of it has cooled off or store it for later use. If you filter and store it properly, you can reuse oil to deep fry foods again and again. 

But for now, sit down and enjoy your turkey dinner with your friends and family and soak up the glory. If done right, you will be the hero of the day!

With deep frying, there’s no risk of overly dry, bland turkey, so you might find yourself making this a yearly tradition.

Always put your safety first, never leave the turkey or oil unattended when it’s hot and this tradition will continue to make positive memories.

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