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Deep Fried Turkey

Deep-Fried TurkeyA great, basic recipe for deep-fried turkey with a simple, ordinary seasoning rub of salt, black pepper and garlic powder that yields extraordinary flavor.

In spite of the potential danger of lowering an unwieldy turkey into a small vat of boiling oil, fans of deep-fried turkey say it's worth the risk because the turkey comes out moist and juicy, and deep-frying cuts hours off the cooking time. Be sure to FIRST read the safety tips and helpful hints before beginning.

Recipe Ingredients:

Equipment Needed:
1 turkey cooker with a propane burner (also called a catfish cooker or crawfish boiler)
1 (36 to 40-quart) stockpot and basket
1 deep-fryer thermometer or candy thermometer
Elbow-length oven mitts

Simple Seasoning Rub:
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 to 6 gallons peanut oil (depending on size of stockpot and turkey)
1 (8 to 12-pound) turkey (neck and giblet package inside removed)

Cooking Directions:

  1. For Seasoning Rub: Combine all ingredients and mix well; set aside.
  2. For Turkey: Place the peanut oil in the stockpot on the turkey cooker and preheat to 350°F (175°C).
  3. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of seasoning rub inside, rub remainder on the outside of turkey.
  4. When the oil reaches 350°F (175°C), place the turkey in the basket and, wearing oven mitts, carefully lower it into the stockpot. Cook for 3 1/2 minutes per pound (for example, a 12-pound turkey will be done in 42 minutes). Remove the turkey from the oil and drain well.

Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Fryer Caution Safety Tips:

  • Remember you are dealing with gallons of dangerously hot oil, so make sure there are no kids or pets running around. And you want to wear some old shoes that you can slip out of easily and long pants just in case you do spill some oil on you.
  • Place fryer on level dirt or grassy area. Never fry a turkey indoors, in a garage or in any other structure attached to a building. Avoid frying on wood decks, which could catch fire, and concrete, which can be stained by the oil.
  • Never leave the hot oil unattended and don't allow children or pets near the cooking area.
  • Allow the oil to cool completely before disposing or storing.
  • Immediately wash hands, utensils, equipment and surfaces that have come in contact with raw turkey.
  • Turkey should be consumed immediately and leftovers stored in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking.

(Source for Safety Tips: The National Turkey Federation (202) 898-0100.)

Helpful Hints:

  • Use only oils with high smoke points, such as peanut, canola or safflower oil.
  • To determine the correct amount of oil, place the turkey in the pot before adding seasoning and add water until turkey is covered. Take turkey out of the water before marking the oil level. Measure the amount of water and use a corresponding amount of oil. Dry the pot thoroughly of all water.
  • Large containers of peanut oil are available at membership warehouse stores, supermarkets, discount department stores.
  • Turkey cookers with pots and propane burners can be bought at large supermarkets, sporting goods stores, restaurant suppliers, building-supply stores, and hardware stores.
  • Injectors are available at specialty cookware stores, department stores, and some of the outlets mentioned above.
  • If you don't have a cooker and stockpot and don't want to buy them, they can be rented at party supply stores.
  • The injector is easier to fill if you remove the needle.
  • The oil may be strained to remove food particles and reused. It may also be disposed of with regular garbage.

Recipe provided courtesy of the National Turkey Federation; photograph provided by