Making Deep Fried Turkey
This is the first Thanksgiving that DH and I will be celebrating together. Not just the first one as a married couple, but the first one ever. Despite being together for 12 years before tying the knot, we actually never did the “split the holidays” thing until now. For Thanksgiving, we’re actually going to visit both families.
So this weekend was filled with a lot of recipe testing, including trying to make out first ever deep fried turkey! Our first deep fried turkey ended up being quite easy, painless and a big success, even for the normally cooking-phobic DH. The turkey was very moist and delicious. And contrary to some of the myths out there, it is possible to do it safely indoors with very little effort needed.
When I text messaged my brothers to tell them I was deep frying a turkey they were convinced I’d burn the house down. I’m glad I was able to prove them wrong. Our experience frying it was nothing close to the horror stories you hear every year of fires caused by people trying to fry turkeys. I thought I’d document our experience to share with others who might want to try it too.
For years now, I’ve been wanting to know what a deep fried turkey tastes like. I didn’t actually want to try to make one myself because it seemed awfully messy and complicated. I was just hoping to be invited to a Thanksgiving dinner where someone would serve deep fried turkey. No such luck. One year, I even contemplated ordering one from KFC, but thought it was kind of expensive and didn’t know how it would turn out.
Then I was introduced to the Masterbuilt Butterball indoor turkey fryer when I was provided a complimentary unit for review. The reviews I read on Amazon were very positive. Yes, it is possible to safely fry a turkey indoors in this self-contained unit. All you do is fill your fryer with some oil, place your turkey in, and take it out when it’s done cooking. Okay of course there’s a little more details into it to ensure you fry the turkey safely, but that’s basically what it sums up to.
Step #1: Defrost your turkey.
If you’re buying a frozen turkey, make sure you by it ahead of time because the turkey must fully completely defrost before frying. Anyone who has fried anything before knows that water and oil do not mix.
We bought our turkey the day before. There are instructions for safely and completely defrosting a turkey using the fridge, but since we were pressed for time, we let ours thaw out in the sink for 24 hours. The Masterbuilt Turkey Fryer we had can fry a turkey up to 14 lbs. We bought one that was a little more than 10 lbs and it needed roughly the full 24 hours to defrost.
Step #2: Give the turkey a warm water bath.
I never thought I would utter such words in conversation, but last Sunday morning, after DH woke up, I greeted him with “Good morning. You need to give the turkey a bath.”
The turkey bath ensures that the turkey is completely defrosted, even the deep insides. The bath should not be more than 30 minutes otherwise the turkey may soak up too much water.
Step #3: Season your turkey with spices, inject it with marinade.
We used a simple recipe for Herb and Garlic Deep Fried Turkey from the cookbook “Dadgum That’s Good, Too” by John McLemore. We bought a bottle of herb and garlic marinade and also bought the dry seasoning. We injected the turkey with some of the marinade, but not too much because we actually like the taste of plain turkey. We also rubbed the outside with the dry seasoning. Then DH proceeded to pose the turkey.
Step #4: Heat up the oil.
The fryer has a max level line that you fill the oil up to for frying a turkey. It is equivalent to about 1 and 1/2 gallons of oil. You can use peanut oil, canola, vegetable. I did some research online. Apparently peanut oil works best because it heats up quickly. I chose to use vegetable oil since that’s what I use for cooking and baking. You set the frying temperature and when the oil is ready, the green light will go on.
While you’re waiting, you can set your turkey in the fry basket.
Step #5: Open the lid and slowly slide your turkey into the fryer.
While no oil sprayed out when we did this, I still recommend you stand sort of far from the fryer and cover up with clothes and oven mitts.
Step #6: Shut the lid and set your timer. According to the instruction manual, you need four minutes for every pound. We put our turkey on our bathroom scale before putting him in and he weighed exactly 10.4 lbs, so we set the timer for 42 minutes.
There weren’t too many fumes coming out during the frying, but we cracked open one window to let out some of the oil smell. For the most part, it just smelled wonderful.
Even though this is a self-contained, like with any cooking, you should be around to monitor it. We did other stuff around the house nearby while it was frying.
Step #7: Turn of the fryer and remove your turkey from the hot oil when the timer goes off. There is a way to place the turkey on the top so that the excess oil can drip off. We let it hang out for 10 minutes before moving it onto a plate.
Step #8: Marvel at your accomplishment. Snap photos for proof and bragging rights. Then let the turkey carving master get to work.
Step #9: Devour your turkey. Save leftovers for sandwiches, other dishes. Save the carcass for making turkey broth.
We loved out first deep fried turkey. We couldn’t believe how moist the turkey was. I worried that deep frying the turkey would cause it to be dry, but this is not the case at all. Our turkey was cooked completely through but not the least bit dry. It was also quite flavorful.
I did expect the skin to be more crisp. Some part of the turkey the skin was very crisp, especially near edges where the skin is thicker or bunches up. The thinner skin near the breast meat area was still tasty but it didn’t crisp up.
We had so much fun making our first turkey and I can’t wait to share this with friends and family. Hopefully we won’t be sick of turkey by Thanksgiving day. DH was so thrilled at his accomplishment and was talking about all the turkeys he wants to make in the future. I’m sure we will be making many more soon.
For those interested in purchasing this fryer, it’s available at Walmart, Home Depot and Amazon (less than $100 on Amazon!).
Update: Here is a second deep fried turkey I did with some variation.
Garlic and Herb Deep-Fried Turkey
Ingredients:1 fresh or frozen whole turkey (10 to 14 pounds) 2 gallons cooking oil (we used vegetable but peanut is preferred) 1 (16-ounce) bottle Butterball Garlic and Herb Turkey Marinade or your favorite brand garlic and herb dry seasoning (my addition)
Directions:1. Thaw turkey, if frozen. To properly thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 pounds. (You can also let it thaw outside of the fridge for at least 24 hours.) Fill deep fryer halfway with oil and heat to 375°F. Remove giblets and neck. If present, remove and discard plastic leg holder and pop-up timer. Rinse turkey thoroughly with warm water or completely cover with warm water and soak for no more than 30 minutes to ensure cavity is free of ice. 2. Pat turkey completely dry on outside and inside of cavity with paper towels. Using a marinade injection syringe, inject ½ cup (4 ounces) marinade in each breast. Inject ¼ cup (2 ounces) marinade into each leg and thigh. Sprinkle turkey generously with garlic and herb seasoning, completely coating the outside of the turkey and inside of the cavity. 3. Place turkey, breast side up, in fryer basket. Slowly lower the basket into hot oil, being careful not to splatter hot oil. Fry turkey for 3 to 4 minutes per pound. Lift the basket from the hot oil slowly. Insert a meat thermometer in the meaty part of the breast; turkey is done when it reads 165°F. If the turkey is not done, lower it carefully back into the oil for an additional 5 minutes. Once the turkey reaches the desired temperature (minimum 165°F), remove from oil. 4. Allow the turkey to rest and drain in the fryer basket for 10 minutes before removing for carving. The turkey can remain in the basket to cool until ready to serve.
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Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary Masterbuilt Turkey Fryer and a copy of “Dadgum That’s Good, Too.” I was not paid for this review and my opinions are my own.