How Long To Deep Fry Your Turkey For Perfectly Crisp Skin

Turkey is definitely the go-to bird on Thanksgiving, but this family-friendly dinner centerpiece is appropriate any time of year thanks to its wide range of preparation and cooking techniques. Deep-frying turkey, for instance, is one of several excellent methods, as it produces a succulent whole turkey notable for its wonderfully crisp skin, and you can make it in a significantly shorter time frame than the standard oven-roasted variety.

Oven-roasting a whole turkey can take up to five hours or more, depending on the size of the bird. Deep-frying, by contrast, is much more efficient. Cooking time for this method ranges from three to four minutes per pound, which means you can expertly deep-fry a 14-pound bird, complete with crispy, delicious skin, in 35 to 45 minutes (the exact time will be determined by the turkey's internal temperature). If you've never deep-fried a turkey before, however, there are a few things to keep in mind, not just in terms of safety and equipment, but also in achieving optimal results. Crispy skin — one of deep-fried turkey's hallmarks — requires careful attention to seasonings and dry brining, as well as perfect timing when you're cooking and resting the bird.

Keys to crispy skin on your deep-fried turkey

Since eliminating lengthy preparations is one of the reasons for deep-frying turkey in the first place, a dry brine is preferable to a wet one, largely because it's less complicated. Wet brines are also more conducive to spatter, a safety concern with deep frying. As a bonus, dry brining — rubbing preferred seasonings like salt and garlic powder into the turkey, then refrigerating it for an appropriate period — also promotes far crispier, more delicious skin. For best results, refrigerate a 14-pound dry-brined turkey uncovered for 14 hours, per the one-hour to 1-pound ratio.

Once the bird is properly seasoned, it's time to heat up the turkey fryer. Wait until the temperature hits 350 degrees Fahrenheit before deep-frying the turkey, and use hooks or racks, as well as heat-resistant gloves for safety purposes. The turkey will be ready in under 45 minutes, but make sure you refer to a deep-fryer thermometer to determine the exact time for removal. The bird is done when its internal temperature reaches 165-175 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a timer so you don't have to pull the turkey out too many times to check on it.

The bird will need to rest at this point before serving, ideally for 20 minutes. The skin will have achieved superb crispiness by this point, and your guests will be raring to dig in.

How to fry a turkey safely

If you deep-fry your bird, make sure you do it safely. This means keeping a fire extinguisher close by, as well as picking the right spot to place your fryer. Outside is best. Make sure you set the pot on a level surface — well away from your home and any potentially flammable materials — and ensure you haven't overfilled it with oil.

How much oil is too much? This will depend on your pot size and the weight of your turkey. For a 14-pound bird (which can feed up to 10 people), a 30-quart fryer pot is recommended. Use your turkey to measure how much oil you need, so that the bird will be submerged with ½ inch to spare. Use water for the initial measurement. Remove the bird, and since oil expands when cooking, subtract 10% of the liquid's volume to determine your appropriate fill line. Most fryer sets have measurement markings. If your turkey oil looks like it may exceed the maximum fill point noted on the pot, this likely means you need a bigger pot or a smaller turkey.

Once you're finished cooking the turkey, you'll need to safely dispose of the oil. Wait until it cools before pouring it into an appropriate receptacle (hint: not your sink). As this oil is recyclable, contacting a local specialist is likely your best bet.