Using Turkey Fryers: Propane Deep Fryers for Turkey Frying

Learn a Non-Traditional Way to Prepare Your Thanksgiving Turkey Using a Propane Deep Fryer

Turkey fryer with thermometer

If you've never tasted deep-fried turkey, you're missing out on quite a treat. Although it's probably not the healthiest food to eat every day (goodbye, skinny jeans; hello, angioplasty!), it makes a gorgeous, and yummy, entree for your Thanksgiving dinner. The key to using a turkey fryer is to follow the directions very carefully. Boiling large quantities of oil can be dangerous, and setting fire to your house is not the kind of Thanksgiving memory you want to make.

Ready to learn how to use a turkey fryer? Be prepared for a lot of compliments on the excellent flavor!

  1. Thaw your bird. If your turkey isn't already thawed, you'll need to set it in the refrigerator for at least two days. Alternatively, you can fill the kitchen sink with cold water and set the turkey in it. You'll need to change the water every thirty minutes, both for safety reasons and so that it doesn't become too cold to effectively thaw your turkey. Do not use warm or hot water, as this promotes the growth of unhealthy bacteria on the parts of the turkey that have already thawed. After your turkey is completely unfrozen, dry it very thoroughly. Just like drops of water in a hot skillet will jump and sizzle, so will water on your turkey when you fry it -- and those sizzling drops of water will hurt if they land on your skin! Excess water can also cause the oil in your turkey fryer to rapidly overflow, which can cause a fire very quickly.
  2. Determine how much oil you will need to submerge your turkey. The best way to do this is to put your turkey in the frying pot, then add water until the turkey is completely covered. Take the turkey out and note the water level in the pot. This is the line to which you will add the oil. Dump out the water and dry the pot, inside and out.
  3. Find a safe place for your turkey fryer. It is imperative that turkey fryers are used outdoors. The best place to use your turkey fryer is in an open area, preferably on level concrete, at least ten feet away from any buildings, wooden structures or household chemicals. Do not use a turkey fryer indoors, because propane gas produces carbon monoxide, which is lethal without proper ventilation.
  4. Hook up the propane to your fryer. Before connecting the propane tank, check to be sure the shut-off valve is tightly closed. Attach the hose to the connector on the turkey fryer base tightly. Keep a distance of at least twenty-four inches between the fryer and the tank.
  5. Add oil to the fryer. Place the pot on the burner, making sure it is centered. Using your measurement from step 2, add oil to the turkey fryer pot. Be very careful not to splash or drip oil around the fryer. From a taste perspective, peanut oil is far superior to any other type for turkey frying.
  6. Open the valve on the propane tank. Now that your turkey fryer is properly connected, it's time to start frying that bird! Slowly turn the valve on your propane deep fryer tank counterclockwise. Then, using a butane appliance lighter (the long ones, like you'd use for your favorite jar candle), carefully light the burner. Propane deep fryers can catch on fire, so use caution.
  7. Clip a thermometer to the top of the turkey fryer pot. The probe of the thermometer should extend into the oil at least one inch. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Do not heat the oil any higher than this! Once the oil hits 400 degrees, the temperature begins to increase very rapidly and spontaneous combustion is possible.
  8. Lower the turkey into the pot. Once the oil gets to 350 degrees, very slowly lower the turkey into the pot, with the legs on the top side, using the hook that was provided with the turkey fryer.
  9. Cook the turkey for the specified amount of time. Generally, it takes about three minutes of frying time for each pound of bird. Therefore, a ten-pound turkey would need to cook for about thirty minutes. You may need to adjust the flame to keep the cooking temperature constant.
  10. When the turkey is finished cooking, turn off the propane tank shut-off valve. It will take a minute or two for the burner flame to die out. Continue to monitor the temperature of the oil even after you have removed the turkey. Turkey deep fryers take a long time to cool off.
  11. Lift out the turkey out of the oil. Again, using the hook which was provided with your fryer, remove the turkey from the fryer. Place it on several layers of paper towels to drain.
  12. Enjoy! If everything went well, you should now have a perfectly fried, golden-brown, mouthwatering turkey!


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Extremely thorough coverage of turkey frying. Gobble, gobble!

By Riley Klein