How to Deep Fry a Turkey

Frying turkey has a lot of advantages, both culinary and sanity-wise, especially on Thanksgiving. With limited oven room, you need all the space you can get for the side dishes. That makes frying the turkey all the better because you can do it outside. Furthermore, all of the men won’t be able to resist going out and frying it. So you have three great reasons to deep fry a turkey: it simultaneously clears the kitchen of the many taste testers, takes one chore off of your plate, and makes room in the oven for all those great Thanksgiving sides. 

sliced deep fried turkey on cutting board
Deep fry your turkey for speed, less hassle, and a crispy, moist bird.

Cook a turkey in under an hour?! Deep frying is the answer.

Yet another benefit to frying a turkey for Thanksgiving is that the cooking time for fried turkey is drastically reduced when compared to roasting or smoking it. In fact, depending on the size, you can have that bird on the table in under an hour!

Crispy, Moist Holiday Perfection

However, the very best part of frying a turkey is the delicious result: a turkey packed with flavor, crispness, tenderness, and the moistest meat that truly is to die for. 

whole roasted turkey

FAQs: How to Deep Fry the Perfect Turkey

How long does it take to fry a turkey?

When it comes to frying a turkey, the rule of thumb is that it takes on average 3-5 minutes per pound to cook. The best size turkey for frying is 12-14 pounds. With a turkey that size, you can have the main course for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner on the table in under an hour.

What oil do I use to deep fry a turkey?

The best oil for deep frying is peanut oil, as it has a super high burning point. However, if you or one of your guests has a nut allergy, canola or vegetable oil are also wonderful options.

How much peanut oil do I need to fry a turkey?

The amount of oil varies depending on the size of the bird. However, a good rule of thumb is that for every pound of meat, you’ll need about a third of a gallon of oil. This means that you’ll need 3-4 gallons of oil for a 12-14 pound turkey.

To know exactly how much oil you’ll need, a useful hack would be to put your turkey in the pot you’ll be frying in and fill it up with water. Remove the turkey from the pot and then measure the water. This will give you the exact amount of oil you’ll need to successfully fry your turkey.

Frying a whole turkey outdoors for the holiday feast

What do you do with the oil after frying a turkey?

After the turkey has finished frying, the oil is usually spent. Let the oil cool, and then carefully pour it into an old milk jug or the container it was brought in. Use a funnel to avoid spillage. This way, you can carefully dispose of the oil without the worry of it leaking everywhere or an animal getting into it.

How do I make my fried turkey skin crispy?

To produce crispy skin, the turkey needs to be thoroughly dried. This step cannot be skipped or cheated on. If the turkey is still wet, the moisture will cling to the turkey during the cooking process and not only will make the skin soggy but will prevent it from turning golden brown. Also, hot oil and water don’t tend to get along with each other. If you’re not careful to dry the turkey, a grease fire can start quickly.

How do you dry a turkey before frying it?

The best way to dry a turkey is to first remove it from the brine and lay it on a cutting board lined with paper towels. Pat the turkey with napkins inside and out until it’s as dry as you think it can get. Put the dry rub on the turkey, and then let it sit in a dry place for 10-20 minutes. That extra time allows the turkey to air out a bit more before frying.

How do you keep a turkey moist when frying?

Brining the turkey does wonders for keeping it super moist, tender, and flavorful. I highly recommend marinating all poultry, but especially turkey, as they tend to dry out in the cooking process more easily. Brining the turkey for 24-48 hours before cooking it will guarantee a spectacularly moist fried turkey to grace your Thanksgiving table.

At what temperature should I fry my turkey?

350 degrees is the sweet spot for frying turkeys. However, you will need to start the oil at 375 degrees because the temperature of the oil will drop dramatically when you lower the turkey into it. Cooking the turkey at 350 degrees will ensure the turkey is cooked through, while maintaining its moisture.

Is it safe to fry a turkey?

Many people wonder about the safety of deep frying a turkey. It is safe to fry a turkey as long as you follow all safety precautions. Here’s a list of turkey safety tips.

  • Fry your turkey at least 10 feet away from the house. Don’t try to fry under trees or on a wooden deck.
  • Be sure to place the fryer on a flat, even surface.
  • Keep pets and children away from the frying area.
  • Have a fire extinguisher in reach just in case the oil catches fire.
  • Gather all the necessary equipment before you begin frying. You will want to constantly attend to the turkey, so you will need to be completely prepared before you begin.
  • Be sure to use a completely thawed and dried turkey. Any water on the turkey can cause the oil to bubble up and overflow. The turkey needs to be dry to produce crispy skin as well.
  • Do not close the lid when frying your turkey.

For everything turkey, including cooking methods and lots of tips, check out my post Brine and Cook a Turkey Perfectly Every Time.

sliced deep fried turkey on cutting board

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

5 from 1 vote


  • 4-5 gallons cooking oil peanut oil for a 12-to-14-pound turkey in a 30-quart pot If anyone has allergies to peanuts, you can use canola or vegetable oil.
  • 1 12-14 pound turkey

Turkey Dry Rub

  • 2 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp rosemary


  • Bring oil in the fryer to 375 degrees.
  • Dry the brined turkey and cover with the dry rub, inside and out.
  • Once the oil reaches 375 degrees, SLOWLY lower the turkey into the hot oil until fully submerged. This should take at least 5 minutes. The temperature of the oil will drop. Bring the temperature of the oil back up to 350 degrees and continue to cook at 350 degrees until the turkey is done: 40-50 minutes or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees.
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Happy Thanksgiving from Stacy Lyn!

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