HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Deep-Fried turkey.. brine or not?

We're considering deep-frying a turkey this Thanksgiving. I always brine a bird headed for the oven, but was wondering if the additional moisture in the bird, if brined, would be a disaster in a deep fryer. Any experience or suggestions on this?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I would not brine the turkey. When it hits the grease it will overflow (explode) and burn you. We always use a fresh turkey that has never been frozen to help avoid this as well. The frozen ones are generally injected up to a 10% solution of brine or water. You can order fresh ones and do a nice rub on the outside. You don't have to worry about it not being moist on the inside when you fry. This will be the best turkey you have cooked. If you want more info on the rub let me know!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Judy Loves Entertaining

      YES!! I would love some more rub recipes, I seem to collect them since they're such an easy way to really flavor meat immediately. We always order fresh turkeys, so I'm covered there. Thanks, Judy! Also, any advice on what size bird fries up the best? We're thinking a 14 pounder?

    2. I once deep fried in a pan (per the instructions in the recipe) chunks of chicken breast that had already been cooked in a stew...It splattered something FIERCE and I have never repeated that. Anyhow, I thought deep frying a turkey was supposed to help keep the moisture in?

      1 Reply
      1. re: willownt

        I heard the same thing about sealing in the moisture when deep-frying, so I was tending toward not brining but wanted the voice of Chow experts. Good thing you weren't hurt with the chicken!

      2. Don't brine, too much liquid. My husband has been making them for years. He doesn'tput a rub on, he injects it with a mixture of half water, and half red wine vinegar, cajun spices, onion powder and garlic powder. Put in blender and puree it. Then inject in the bird in several places all over the bird. Do it a day before and put it a large plastic garbage bag in the fridge, just keeps it clean. Take out to bring to room temperature, make sure it's dry and then fry 3 minutes per pound plus 5 minutes,,,15 pound turkey equals 45 minutes plus 5 minutes, total of 50 minutes. It's great but you need to make more than one turkey, they go fast. He's done 15 in one day.

        1 Reply
        1. re: paprkutr

          Hello paprkutr,
          That sounds really good. I would like the recipe for your injcetion solution if you don't mind.

        2. Do not brine - but I would recommend if you can get a fresh kosher turkey -through the koshering process it is soaked in salt water and then drained and dried - so you do get a salt brine - other than that it is a great way to make a turkey - definitely do not go larger than 14 lbs - for the injection marinade you can also use your favorite salad dressing -

          1. Even Alton Brown, the King of Brine, did not brine his turkey on his fried turkey episode. I suspect that the post from Judy below is the reason. It will make a much more dangerous splatter.

            1 Reply
            1. re: RGC1982

              Alton's the man, but actually I think he brines his deep fried turkeys. So I gotta go with him (http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...).

              Also, regarding cooking time...I use a dual-probe meat thermometer (not very expensive) and I stick one in each breast after the turkey is in there and the boiling has settled down. Usually the very top of the bird sticks out of the oil, and the probes are long, so the cords of the probes are never immersed. This works great...all I have to worry about is keeping the temp at 350, and I never have to worry about 3min/lb or 4min/lb or anything like that. Perfect turkey every time!

            2. We deep fry every year and always brine. We did a taste test 2 years ago, did one not brined, and other brined, and the brined was way better. Usually experiment with different brines for each turkey too - (gotta mane more than one!)
              The key is to dry throughly, then no extra exploding oil ;)

              5 Replies
              1. re: cyber49

                I've brined, dried, and fried several times. One tip: if your brine is salty, be careful if you inject a prepared product in addition to brining. Make your own and leave out the salt and water, or at least a portion.

                I have a dilemma, though. I'm brining right now, and planned to fry, but we ended up with a 19.5 lb bird (fresh and uncured). I can see that it will actually fit in the fryer, but I'm a little worried about frying a bird this big. Any advice? I can always just roast it in the oven. I don't have an adequate smoker.

                1. re: rudeboy

                  I would be leery of putting that big a bird into the turkey fryer unless you have an exceptionally large fryer. Look in your instruction manual and see what they suggest. Our fryer will not accommodate anything over 14 lb.

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    I no longer deep fry a whole turkey because the carcass is to big, and takes up all the room in the fryer. I fry a couple of breasts, a few thighs, and a few drumsticks. So, if I were you, I'd cut it up and then fry it.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      i have been frying 20+ lbs for years. before i do the frying in place the bird in and add water to know how much oil as a bigger bird will displace more of it. i also have a 30 qt pot and place the bird in at 225 and 250 to prevent over flow. just make sure you watch it and don't leave it. never had a problem with bigger birds and the right amount of oil.

                    2. re: cyber49

                      I agree with Cyber. Brining is the way to go, kids.

                      I think it goes w/out saying that the turkey must be thoroughly patted dry before going near hot oil. But brining gets to places the syringe simply doesn't. You can even eat the ribs when brined as EVERYTHING gets seasoned. Trick is brining for 36+ hrs. I too have done both, and yes, injected is nice, but making the perfect brine is the secret. As Rudeboy and others have said, if you're brining with salt, careful not to inject more of it or you'll have a crispy but inedible bird. Again, just to make sure I'm covering all common-sense scenarios, the turkey must be completely submerged. Any portions NOT in the brine, will be, well, brine-less. Turkey isn't naturally tasty, mkay? Cool.

                      Ok - here's the deale'o:

                      Very simple, bring a gallon of water to near boil, add your spices, garlic cloves, sugar,butter, everything you want to brine with. Simmer in low heat for 30mins or so. Cool to below room temp. Roll out your medium to large cooler, throw in 5lbs of ice, then place heavy plastic bag OVER the ice, dump brine in, if available, throw in some rosemary or 2-3 bay leaves, add turkey[s] then SEAL THE BAG! Throw another 5lbs of ice, over the sealed bag. I think it's common knowledge that cold travels down, heat travels up, so...if you're making just one turkey, I would scatter the 1st bag of ice under the bag, but leave that 2nd bag of ice SEALED, over the sealed turkey so the cold concentrates over it and not around, leaving the top to lose cool.

                      That's it! Lock the cooler up for 24hrs minimum and spend the injecting time on other things like, chillaxing, drinking, playing cards, whatever. Come "Fry-day", break that bad boy out, stand on tray to drain brine. The turkey, not you. Get down from there! Sheesh. :D Hanging it dry works best. Pat COMPLETELY DRY. With a whole roll of paper towel if necessary. Don't forget to dry the inside/cavity. A nice way to remember to remove any popup timers, gibblets, the butterball guy's watch, whatever. Beat some egg whites and brush on the COMPLETELY dry turkey. You don't want oil-wrestling, just enough to make the bird sticky. Spa-rub or sprinkle that fat boy with your favorite Cajun spice mix or leave as is. Sissy-dip into your pre-heated oil which should be @ around 380-400°F to compensate for dipping temp drop. This is tricky as peanut oil tends to have a smoke-point of about 400° so make it a "point" to raise it to 400° at the last possible moment so you don't burn your $40 worth of oil. Then regulate to 375°F. 3mins/lb plus 4-5mins per turkey once the frying begins. Folks, this is the hardest part about deep-frying. Temperature regulation is absolute key. If it falls below 345°, the oil may seep through. Over 360° and you might burn it. Keep an eye on that temp and you can't go wrong. Obviously, get a chair and sit outside with your turkey while sippin on whatever.

                      Has never failed me yet.

                      Important that it rests upright. Do Not place in a tray upon removal and leave it soaking it its juices - this obviously defeats the crisping process. Many turkey-frys go to waste with this last min f-up. Make an aluminium foil robe over it, then hang over tray if possible. For core temp checks, use the same hole, don't go swiss-cheesing the hell out of it. Core temp should be around 175°-180°F.

                      Enjoy the turkey & accolades. Last but definitely not least, Thank God! For everything; including Life, the internet, Fryday and everything in between. :P

                      God Bless!

                    3. Brine it, fry it, eat it. Like a couple of others have recommended, I'd leave out the injectable marinade. Just be sure you add the herbs to the brining liquid, and you'll have a great bird.

                      1. Please be careful when deep frying anything! I made some fried shrimp the other day. Preheating about a quarter inch canola oil in a deep pan at about halfway around the dial on the stovetop, actually a little less than that. it started coming to heat and I was about to drop the shrimp. The oil started popping and bubbling, and a little actually popped out of the pan! Scared the hell outta me! I immediately took the pan off the burner but slowly so as not to spill any oil. It reminded me of when I was a kid and my mom was deep frying something in a pan and it actually started a fire in the burner, we had to get the fire extinguisher and everything.

                        But anyway I had to let it cool down a bit and put it back on the burner and put the shrimp in one by one to avoid making the oil gods angry again! The last thing you want is an oil fire, and have a fire extinguisher ready, and maybe some people to be around if anything goes awry!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: food_eater79

                          Brining, marinating, or none of the above. Regardless of what your frying, you have to make sure that there is NO Dripping water, and NO ICE or frozen content in what you are frying. Any amount of "loose" moisture, and especially ICE, will create a an oil crisis of its very own!! WE are brining our turkey as usual, in a very simple recipe of Alton's - and boy oh boy is it good, moist, and tender!!! Just make sure its skin is COMPLETELY dry before enetering the pot! -I say, fry away. But make sure its dry, before you fry!-

                        2. I have deep fried turkeys for over 20 years. I do not brine them and they are very juicy.

                          One thing I do is mark your pot by filling with water to see how much displacement the normal size bird will cause. You will see this tip from all turkey fryers.
                          Then when I have my oil heated just prior to lowering the bird I take a pot with a handle I wear a cooking glove and remove one to one and a half pots of hot oil. Since they are hot be careful, set them aside for reentry to the process if needed later. After the bird is lowered and the initial turbulence has subsided, if it is not completely covered add some of the hot oil back into the process and monitor the frying. Three to three and a half min. per pound and everyone will think you are the greatest. Ps, don't let the oil splash over the top of your pot. hat's when you start a fire. Keep an extinguisher handy.

                          1. Here's a valuable resource to have handy if you plan to deep fry a Turkey:


                            3 Replies
                            1. re: acgold7

                              Not sure what you meant by the Lowe's link, have you clicked on it since you posted?

                              1. re: EWSflash


                                Sorry you didn't get the joke. It's for rebuilding your deck.

                              2. re: acgold7

                                Ha! That's genuinely funny. I wonder how many folks have burned down their decks frying a turkey? I bet it's dozens every year, at minimum.

                              3. After some reading through here, I feel compelled to reiterate: Hot oil doesn't play well with any other liquid. Whatever you fry must be moisture-free. This should be common knowledge. 400° oil will react even to cool oil. A turkey or chicken is no exception. After all the spattering and reaction is the aftermath of the skin sealing onto the bird.

                                That being said, Deep Frying is an OUTDOOR activity. In fact, any frying that involves dipping your food half or more, should be done outside. No exceptions. I do flash-frying, fish or bacon frying outside on my grill's burner. Never, NEVER, should be done not only indoors, but under any cover unless you have a maximum of two walls surrounding you and said walls are at least 25 feet away and the cover is at least 6 feet above fryer. Outdoors in a Grassy Area preferably as spilled oil will travel down concrete and turn your neighborhood into Battle LA in a matter of seconds. Out on the wooden deck you ask? Well, you might as well have fried inside. Always take the necessary precautions. If a fire sparks, resist the urge to run for the hose, it will make things worse. Instead have a fire extinguisher right by your side. And check that it works. No running dogs, children, Velociraptors or victims nearby. Wear long sleeves and pants, use welding or heavy gloves to handle dipping and removing. Goggles are good but I use a welders face-mask. Easy to put on, take off with gloves.

                                Lastly - mind common sense. If it sounds iffy, don't do it.