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Oct 31, 2011 07:09 AM

What is the best turkey deep frying technique?

I plan to deep fry my first turkey this thanks giving and have been searching the web for the best technique.

It seems the world of deep frying turkey's is totally torn over which of these two to use:

1.- Heat oil up to 250 degrees, lower turkey and once in bring oil up to 350 degrees


2.- Heat oil to about 360 degrees, lower turkey and then lower heat to maintain even 350 degrees.

What are your thoughts or experiences with these techniques? Any theories as to why one would be better than the other?

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  1. Deep frying a turkey is a VERY dangerous activity. The most common mistakes are putting too much oil into the cooking pot and/or depositing the turkey faster than the oil can recover from the change in state as the turkey enters to pot. That said, I prefer to bring the oil to cooking temperature to 400 degrees and lower the turkey VERY SLOWLY so that the bubbling oil doesn't flow out of the container - THE MOTHER OF ALL FIRE HAZARDS.
    Then I maintain a 350 degree cooking temperature.
    Starting with an oil temperature higher than the intended cooking temperature works best because cooled oil takes longer to regain its temperature. If you start at 350 degrees with a turkey of about twelve pounds you may never get the temperature back up to that level before cooking time (typically about 45 minutes) expires. Also, the higher starting temperature tends to crisp the skin for a better finished product.
    Be sure to read and follow every safety instruction you can find before trying this cooking method. I spent thirty years in public safety and I've seen some horrible things occur (some involving innocent children who were merely standing by to observe) when careless, clumsy or unskilled people tried to deep try a turkey.

    3 Replies
    1. re: todao

      I have deep fried many turkeys and agree with todao. One added thing be sure your bird is very dry and at room temp before inserting in oil. Injecting with flavor enhancer like "cajun or garlic butter" makes a big difference. Enjoy

      1. re: becks1

        todao's and becks1's instructions are right on! When putting in and taking turkey out, be very carefull, Main point, KEEP THE CHILDREN AWAY!!

        1. re: igorm

          Basically agree - I start at 375, lower slowly, and maintain 350 for the cook. I keep spectators at a distance and hold off on the second martini until it's done.

    2. Alton Brown has a very good episode of (I believe) Good Eats, giving specific safety instructions for this. Ditto on the safety warnings - I am friends with a family who went homeless over the holidays due to a turkey frying accident.

      That said, we follow method 2, as we find that the turkey lowers the temp by itself once it's in the oil. No one has ever complained about the results!!

      1. I've seen numerous techniques because I also know how dangerous it is. One I liked because of the safety is you turn off the burner right before starting to lower the bird. So in case it bubbles over there is no flame agent.

        As soon as the bird is completely submerged and the bubbling is controlled you turn it back on.

        1. What is the best turkey deep frying technique?


          Buying one from a restaurant.

          Doing it at home is both too cumbersome as well as dangerous.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Not at all. If you have at least a minimal idea of what you're doing and pay at least a minimal amount of attention, it's not hard at all. Yes, there are the annual YouTube videos of idiots blowing themselves up and the inevitable news flash of some dumbbell burning his house down. This is known as natural selection -- see Darwin, Charles.

            Heat 3 gallons of (preferably peanut) oil over a gas burner OUTSIDE to 340, gently lower the THOROUGHLY THAWED AND THOROUGHLY DRIED turkey into the oil. If it looks like it will overflow STOP UNTIL THE BUBBLING ABATES. Take it out when done -- about 45 minutes for a 16 lb bird if memory serves.

            It's worth doing once just to say you did it, but not really with the effort.