What’s Cooking: Fried Turkey

This is obviously for the more daring and adventurous cooks.

Republished from November 23, 2010 for obvious timely reasons.

By now you should have defrosted that frozen turkey and it should be resting comfortably in the back of you refrigerator. If you haven’t, getteth your butt to the grocery store and buy a fresh one because even if you start defrosting today, your bird might not be defrosted in time. I discussed the how to cook your bird to perfection in a conventional oven, now for a method that’s a little daring, deep frying.

Alton Brown, is one of my favorite TV cooks. Good Eats funny and informative, plus, his recipes are easy and edible. I’ve done fried turkey and while I don’t recommend it for health reasons, once a year probably wont hurt. Alton’s “how to” videos are a must watch on safety tips, how to choose a turkey fryer, equipment and, finally, cooking directions. If you decide to try this, please follow all directions carefully and take all the safety precautions.

Below the fold are recipes and more safety tips.

Bon Apetite


Alton Brown’s Deep Fried Turkey


* 6 quarts hot water

* 1 pound kosher salt

* 1 pound dark brown sugar

* 5 pounds ice

* 1 (13 to 14-pound) turkey, with giblets removed

* Approximately 4 to 4 1/2 gallons peanut oil*

* *Cook’s Note: In order to determine the correct amount of oil, place the turkey into the pot that you will be frying it in, add water just until it barely covers the top of the turkey and is at least 4 to 5 inches below the top of the pot. This will be the amount of oil you use for frying the turkey.


Place the hot water, kosher salt and brown sugar into a 5-gallon upright drink cooler and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve completely. Add the ice and stir until the mixture is cool. Gently lower the turkey into the container. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure that it is fully immersed in the brine. Cover and set in a cool dry place for 8 to 16 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.

Place the oil into a 28 to 30-quart pot and set over high heat on an outside propane burner with a sturdy structure. Bring the temperature of the oil to 250 degrees F. Once the temperature has reached 250, slowly lower the bird into the oil and bring the temperature to 350 degrees F. Once it has reached 350, lower the heat in order to maintain 350 degrees F. After 35 minutes, check the temperature of the turkey using a probe thermometer. Once the breast reaches 151 degrees F, gently remove from the oil and allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to carving. The bird will reach an internal temperature of 161 degrees F due to carry over cooking. Carve as desired.

NYT Deep Fried Turkey

For the internal turkey brine:

* 3/4 cup chopped onion

* 3/4 cup chopped celery

* 3 to 6 tablespoons chopped garlic

* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

* 2 tablespoons (or more) chopped hot peppers from pepper vinegar

* 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

* 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt

* 1 tablespoon cayenne

* 1 tablespoon black pepper

* 1 cup chicken stock

For the turkey:

* 1 recipe for internal turkey brine

* 1 14-pound turkey

* 1 tablespoon of cayenne or favorite Cajun spice

* 5 gallons of peanut oil or lard (approximately)


1. Eight to 24 hours in advance, make the brine by sauteing onion, celery and garlic in butter until tender. Add hot peppers and Worcestershire, then stir in the salt, cayenne and black pepper. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

2. Strain into a bowl, pressing the solids to extract as much juice as possible, to yield about 1 1/2 cups.

3. With monster hypodermic, inject the turkey’s breast in five places and each leg in one place.

4. With your bare hands, rub the cayenne into the turkey’s breast under the skin. Omit if you don’t like the flavor — though it’s very mild in this quantity.

5. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 8 to 24 hours. Or if you prefer, you may fry the bird immediately.

6. On the day you plan to eat it, remove the turkey from the refrigerator, place it in the empty fryer pot and cover with water. Then empty the pot, measuring the water to find out how much oil you’ll need (usually about 5 gallons for a 14 pounder).

7. Fill pot with the same amount of oil or lard, attach the extra-long thermometer and heat the oil to 350 to 375 degrees. Just before lowering the bird, turn off the flame to make absolutely sure that Mr. Peanut’s essence won’t start a fire. Then pierce the turkey with its holder and lower slowly into the oil. Boil for 49 minutes or longer (3 to 3 1/2 minutes per pound).

8. Remove the turkey, drain excess oil and rest it on a platter for 10 to 30 minutes. Slice and dive in!

YIELD: 8 servings

Deep-fried turkey safety and cooking tips

Da Vinci worked in oils. Rodin worked in bronze and marble. I work in deep-fried turkeys. [..]

It’s a lot of fun and a great party trick that gets a lot of attention and “oohs” and “ahhs” from friends and passers-by in the parking lot. Makes you a culinary rock star, at least for a day. And it creates a darn tasty bird, too. So I break out deep-fried turkeys several times a year when entertaining.

And, of course, a lot of folks try the deep-fried turkey route for the first time on Thanksgiving.

But there is one problem: deep-frying turkeys is very, very dangerous! Especially for first timers. A lot of things can go wrong with a big pot full of 3 gallons of bubbling oil.