Fried Turkey
animated turkey gif
Fried turkey has become enormously popular recently.  If you have not tried fried turkey, you are missing a treat.  It is moist and rich and flavorful.  And it sure is nice to cook a turkey in under an hour.  This is definitely an outdoor process.


  • 10 to 13 pound turkey
  • cajun seasoning mix
  • 4 to 5 gal oil (peanut or canola)
  • liquid garlic, 2 oz
  • liquid onion, 2 oz
  • liquid crab boil, 1 oz
  • Worcestershire sauce, 2 oz
  • Tabasco/red pepper sauce, 2 oz
  • cajun seasoning mix (homemade, Chachere's or Zatarain's), 2 tbs
  • margarine, 1 stick

Injecting/Seasoning Turkey

  • This is the most important part.  The turkey needs to be injected with a marinade and coated on all sides with a cajun seasoning mix.
  • Injection Marinade Recipe: Mix the following ingredients and heat the marinade until the margarine melts.
    • liquid garlic, 2 oz
    • liquid onion, 2 oz
    • liquid crab boil, 1 oz
    • Worcestershire sauce, 2 oz
    • Tabasco/red pepper sauce, 2 oz
    • cajun seasoning mix (homemade, Chachere's or Zatarain's), 2 tbs
    • margarine, 1 stick
    • yields 13 oz
    There is nothing special about this recipe, it is just what I have settled on based on trial and error.  Try variations until you get the mixture that suits your taste. The internet is loaded with everyone's favorite recipe.   There are also many commercial injection marinades available.
  • Wash the turkey, remove the giblets, and cut the extra skin from around the neck and the tail.
  • Inject Marinade:  Inject about 1 oz marinade per pound of turkey.  Use an injecting syringe.  They hold about 1 oz and have a needle with holes on the sides just below the tip.  Inject into the breast, thighs, legs and wings.
  • injecting syringe
    Injecting Syringes
    Inject about 1 oz marinade per pound of turkey into all parts - breasts, legs, thighs and wings.
  • Coat with Cajun Seasoning Mix:  Coat all surfaces with a good cajun seasoning mix (homemade, Chachere's or Zatarain's).
  • Allow the turkey to marinate in the refrigerator overnight, and longer if possible.
Frying Equipment
  • Pot and Rack:  You need a 30 to 40 quart turkey frying pot with a turkey rack or strainer insert.  Almost all commercial pots are about 11 inches in diameter and 15 inches tall.  You can easily fry up to a 13-14 pound turkey in an 11 inch diameter pot.
  • turkey frying pot with rack Turkey Frying Pot, 
    with rack and hanger to lift turkey out
  • I would prefer a pot that is 10 inches in diameter and 18 inches tall, but I have not found a commercial pot with those dimensions.  The smaller diameter pot uses less oil, and the increased height avoids boil over of the oil during frying.  I have a friend who made one this size out of stainless steel pipe, and it works great.

  • Thermometer:  You also need a long shank thermometer for monitoring the temperature of the oil, and I like to insert one in the breast to monitor internal temperature of the turkey.
  • Long Shank Thermometer
  • Burner:  You also need an outdoor propane burner, regulator and propane gas tank.
  • propane burner and regulator Propane Burner with Regulator
  • Grease Filter:  The oil can be filtered and used to fry turkeys several times, so you also need a large funnel and filter.  Let the grease stand to allow the fryings to settle to the bottom of the pot before filtering.  I have re-used the same oil (filtered of course) to fry turkeys at least three separate times.
  • funnel and filter Funnel and Filter to Strain Grease
Frying The Turkey
  • Type Oil.  You will need 3 to 4 gallons of oil.  Peanut oil is probably the most commonly used oil.  I have started using canola oil because it is much cheaper.  Supposedly canola oil smokes more that peanut oil, which is no big deal to me!  I do not notice a difference in taste of the fried turkey between peanut versus canola oil.
  • You only fill the pot a little above half full with oil so that when the turkey is added the oil rises high enough to just cover the turkey.  You have to do this by trial and error.  If you like you can put the turkey in the empty pot and fill it with enough water to just cover the turkey, then remove the turkey and scratch the water level into the wall of the pot as permanent record.  Of course you need to dry the pot before adding the oil.
  • Heat the oil to 350 oF.
  • Insert the turkey onto rack that fits inside the pot.
  • Slowly lower the turkey into the oil, using the rack hanger.  Wear a leather glove on the hand lowering the turkey. As you lower the turkey, the oil will start boiling vigorously, so be careful and slow. 
  • Be careful.  You are working with about 3-4 gallons of boiling 350 oF oil, and if you knock the pot over onto you legs and feet it will cause crippling damage.  Keep all kids and dogs away from the area and never leave the area unattended.  Do not "horse around". 

    Slowly lower turkey into oil.  Be careful of the splattering oil; this is not a time to loose your concentration.
    The oil will boil vigorously, so insert slow enough so the oil does not boil over the pot.
    Once the turkey is inserted, the oil will settle into a lightly rolling boil.
  • The temperature of the oil will drop to about 300 oF.  Turn up the fire, and let the temperature slowly rise back to 350 oF.
  • Fry the turkey 3 minutes per pound.  If you like, you can check the internal temperature of the breast with a thermometer to assure the temperature reaches 170-185 oF.
  • Remove the turkey from pot and let it drain and cool a bit before carving.
  • Set the turkey somewhere to drain.  I carefully set it on top of the frying pot on supports.
  • The cooked turkey may look awful.  It may be dark, somewhat shriveled, and may even appear a bit burned and dry.  The first time the oil is used the turkey will be a more golden brown.  The more the oil is re-used, the darker the fried turkey will be.  But do not worry, it will be moist inside and taste fantastic.
©David Wm. Reed