Cooking Tips: How to Safely Deep-Fry a Turkey
First, start with the proper bird. Your turkey should be completely thawed, unstuffed, and on the smaller size (less than 20 pounds). If not, you risk food poisoning—never a welcome holiday guest!
Special turkey frying pots can be purchased at hardware or kitchen stores, but basically you need a large enough pot in which you could completely submerge the bird in oil. Make sure the oil you choose has a high enough smoke point to withstand the heat needed to fry. Peanut or cotton oils are preferred, and are usually found right next to turkey fryers—handy! The cooking oil should cover the turkey by 1 to 2 inches. Here's a great tip: To determine the amount of oil needed, do a preliminary test using water. Place the turkey in the pot and add water to cover. Then remove the turkey and measure the amount of water. This is the volume of oil needed (count on about 3 to 4 gallons). Thoroughly dry the bird and the pot before adding the oil. Hot oil and water do not make good friends!
Select a safe location outdoors for cooking your turkey. (Important tip: Keep away from wooden decks or roof overhangs!) Heat the cooking oil to 350 degrees F, using a candy thermometer or the thermometer that came with your pot to monitor the oil temperature. It also doesn't hurt to have a fire extinguisher nearby.
Turn off your flame before you slowly and carefully lower the turkey into the hot oil. Once the bird is in the pot and there's no oil sloshing over the side, turn your flame back on. Keep an eye the temperature of the oil with a thermometer constantly during cooking. Never leave the hot oil unattended. You should maintain a temp of 350°F, adjusting your flame level accordingly. Turn off the flame if the temp climbs above 400 degrees F.
Allow approximately 3 to 5 minutes per pound cooking time. Remove turkey from the oil and drain oil from the cavity. Check the temperature of turkey with a food thermometer. The turkey is safely cooked when the food thermometer reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.
If the turkey is not done, immediately return the turkey to the hot oil for additional cooking. When the turkey is done, remove it from the oil and place it on a sturdy tray lined with paper towels. The skin can be golden to dark brown to almost black. Let it rest about 20 minutes before carving.
Allow the used oil to cool before pouring it into containers for refrigerator storage or disposal. The oil can be reused if it is strained, covered, and used within a month. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture.