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Turkey Frying Tips for a Flawless Thanksgiving

Deep-frying a turkey on Thanksgiving can be a fun and delicious alternative to the traditional baked version. If you choose to fill the pot instead of the oven this year, here are some helpful tips to help you safely fry the perfect turkey.

Measure with water first.

Always test how much oil you’re going to need by filling the pot with water first. This will tell you how much oil you will really need to cover your turkey without overflowing onto the burner – which could result in a fire. Place the bird in the pot and fill with water, leaving a half an inch of water above the turkey and a five inch fill line from the water to the top of the pot. Remove the bird and measure the remaining water to see how much oil you will need.

Prepare your bird.

While it’s fun to have bragging rights on the size of the turkey you cooked for Thanksgiving, turkeys on the smaller side tend to fry better (no larger than 14lbs). If you choose not to remove the wings and thighs to fry separately, tuck the wings behind the turkey and tie the legs together. This will help promote an evenly cooked bird. Never try to fry a turkey that is not fully thawed or is wet, and avoid water-based marinades – which could result in oil splattering. Always check the cavity to be sure there is no ice in between the rib bones and thoroughly dry the bird inside and out before putting it in the hot oil.

Choose the right oil.

You want to select an oil that is neutral – meaning it has a high smoke point. Peanut, canola, vegetable and safflower oil are some examples. With a mild flavor and very high smoke temperature rating, peanut oil is the most popular choice among experienced turkey fryers. You may also use half peanut, half vegetable oil.

Fry outside!

Never ever deep fry your turkey indoors. No matter how cold it is outside, you should always fry your turkey outdoors and at least 10 feet away from your house, garage, or any other structures. Make sure your fryer is set on a flat, level surface in an open area. Keep in mind that oil is hard to clean off of concrete.

Keep kids and pets inside.

Be sure to keep young children and pets away from the frying area. Keep a clear walk space around the fryer and be careful not to walk between the propane tank and the burner. Never leave the fryer unattended and recruit another adult to help with the frying process.

Have the right gear.

Using a pair of heat resistant gloves can help protect your hands and arms from oil splatter. Choose gloves that are heat, water, and grease proof. Keep a heavy blanket and grease-rated fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire.

Time your placement.

Heat your oil until it is around 350 degrees. Remember to turn your burner off before very slowly lowering your turkey into the oil.  Once the turkey is fully submerged, carefully relight the burner.

Don’t over-fry.

It’s recommended that you should fry your turkey for three to five minutes per pound – but using a thermometer will better help you gauge your cooking time. It’s easy to over-fry and end up with an overcooked turkey that is dry. The internal temperature of your turkey should be 165-170 degrees for white meat and 175-180 degrees for dark meat.

Carve smart.

You’ll want to have a large platter layered with paper towels ready to place the turkey on when you remove it from the fryer. As tempted as you will be to start carving, wait to carve the turkey for around 30 minutes after frying – this helps retain moisture and flavor. If you need tips on carving your turkey, check out this article from Taste of Home.


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