Deep Fried Turkey is the perfect main course for any holiday meal. Start with an herb-filled wet brine, then fry it for a super crispy and juicy result. It’s much quicker and easier to make than you might think!
What’s in this Deep Fried Turkey Recipe?
If you want to know how to deep fry a turkey for the holidays, this recipe will show you just how easy it is. You can get a juicy, crispy, savory turkey with just a few simple steps!
- Water: Helps the salt dissolve into a brine.
- Kosher Salt: Seasons the brine to infuse the meat with moisture and flavor.
- Brown Sugar: Adds a touch of sweetness to the brine.
- Garlic: Adds an earthy flavor to the brine.
- Fresh Herbs: A combination of thyme, sage, and rosemary add a fresh and herbaceous flavor to the brine.
- Turkey: This recipe is for a whole turkey. We used a 13-pound turkey, but you can adjust the cooking time depending on the size of your turkey.
- Frying Oil: Vegetable oil is great for deep frying because it has a high smoke point, and it’s cheap so you can get a large bottle (you’ll need a lot).
Pro Tip: If you’re using a frozen turkey, follow my guide for how to thaw a turkey!
Variations on Fried Turkey
You can really infuse this turkey with just about any flavors you like. Try adding my favorite turkey rub to the brine in place of the herbs and garlic, or use whatever fresh or dried herbs you have on hand!
Turkey is notorious for being flavorless and dry. This wet brine method combats both of those issues by giving the herbs and salt time to penetrate the meat, leading to moist, flavorful turkey. You could also dry brine it instead.
A wet brine involves submerging the meat in a bucket of salted and seasoned water to add moisture and flavor.
Yes, you can wet brine a frozen turkey. Simply place the frozen turkey in the wet brine and leave it in the refrigerator to defrost. The time it will take to defrost is roughly 24 hours for every 4 pounds of turkey. For a 13-pound turkey, expect to let it defrost for 72 hours (3 days).
I used vegetable oil, but you can also use peanut, corn, or avocado oil.
Yes, that should be just about perfect! You may need a bit more if you’re using a very large bird, though.
It will take about 3-5 minutes per pound to deep fry a turkey. For a 13-pound turkey, deep frying should take 39-65 minutes. It’s best to check the temperature of the meat with an instant-read thermometer so you know exactly when it is done cooking. The meat should read 165°F in the thickest part.
Leave the turkey uncovered!
Yes, it is possible to overcook deep-fried turkey. If the oil is too hot or the turkey is left in for too long, it will turn out dry and tough. I recommend keeping an instant-read thermometer on hand to ensure the oil and the turkey are at the right temp.
You can reuse the oil up to 3 times before discarding it! As long as the oil is not foamy, dark, or smoking excessively, it can be reused.
How to Make Ahead and Store
You can wet brine the turkey for up to 48 hours (longer if frozen) before frying it. Cover and refrigerate the turkey until ready to roast.
Store leftover deep fried turkey in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
How to Freeze and Reheat
Freeze fried turkey in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating gently in the microwave or in a 300°F oven covered with foil for 20-30 minutes. I do not recommend freezing a fried turkey whole; always cut it into portions first.
With this deep fried turkey at the center of the table, you can serve it with any side dishes you love. Try any of these easy Thanksgiving side dishes, such as Au Gratin Potatoes, Creamed Green Beans, Loaded Mac and Cheese, Dinner Rolls, or Turkey Gravy.