Deep-Fried Turkey

Deep-Fried Turkey

If you’ve never fried a turkey, make this the year. It’s delicious and done in 45 minutes (unless you’re cooking Turkzilla). Just make sure you assemble and use my handy and safe turkey derrick!

Deep-Fried Turkey

  • 6 quarts hot water
  • 1 pound kosher salt
  • 1 pound dark brown sugar
  • 5 pounds ice
  • 1 13 to 14-pound turkey, with giblets removed
  • Approximately 4 to 4 1/2 gallons peanut oil* (See Cook's Note)
  1. Place the hot water, kosher salt and brown sugar into a 5-gallon upright drink cooler and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve completely. Add the ice and stir until the mixture is cool. Gently lower the turkey into the container. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure that it is fully immersed in the brine. Cover and set in a cool dry place for 8 to 16 hours.
  2. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.
  3. Place the oil into a 28 to 30-quart pot and set over high heat on an outside propane burner with a sturdy structure. Bring the temperature of the oil to 250 degrees F. Once the temperature has reached 250, slowly lower the bird into the oil and bring the temperature to 350 degrees F. Once it has reached 350, lower the heat in order to maintain 350 degrees F. After 35 minutes, check the temperature of the turkey using a probe thermometer. Once the breast reaches 151 degrees F, gently remove from the oil and allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to carving. The bird will reach an internal temperature of 161 degrees F due to carry over cooking. Carve as desired.

*In order to determine the correct amount of oil, place the turkey into the pot that you will be frying it in, add water just until it barely covers the top of the turkey and is at least 4 to 5 inches below the top of the pot. This will be the amount of oil you use for frying the turkey.


Add yours
  1. 5

    I’ve fried a few birds in the past but this year I ended up doing 3, one for myself and 2 others, using this method. Best turkey ever as quoted by everyone. Thanks Alton. Used a countertop electric fryer, took just a tad longer but the results were outstanding.

  2. 8
    Clarence Hoffmann

    If your in that big of a hurry, why not try 10,000 degrees for 10 seconds!!! Me, I’ll take my time and cook it slow at 220 degrees!!!

  3. 9

    Extra step, to keep you from becoming a PSA on grease fires. I turn off the burner completely during the turkey dipping process. Splash can’t catch fire without an open flame. Just light it back up once the furious bubbling subsides.

  4. 10

    I have been deep frying turkeys ever since I saw Justin Wilson do it years ago. The Derrick is a bit extreme, I just use a Cajun Cooker deep fry basket and carefully lower it into the 350 degree oil. Started the brine prep 10 or 12 years ago. Cook 13 pound bird for about 3 minutes a pound. Wrap in foil and rest for an hour, that does not have the crunchy skin but makes for a very moist turkey. This year I plan on using cotton seed oil rather than peanut. Equally high smoke point without the slight nutty taste.

  5. 11
    Chris King

    You are the reason I started frying the Turkey. I built the Derrick too but with two ladders!!! THE FAMILY LOVES IT!!! THANK YOU ALTON, LOVE YOU MAN!!!

  6. 12

    Jupiter Henry,
    Putting the bird in at a lower temp helps prevent oil splashing out of the pot if there happens to be a little oil/water reaction.

  7. 14

    Seems to me that there are two extremes to cook a turkey! Cook at 185 degrees until the internal temp reaches 185 degrees, or cook at 10,000 degrees for 10 seconds! Which would you have? I cook mine at 225 degrees for 16 hours for a 20 pound bird then turn it up to 400 for an hour to crisp the skin! Never liked a deep fried turkey!

  8. 16
    Patrick halseth

    If I had to take a guess I’d say it’s because when any residual ice meets 250 degree oil it melts, when it meets 400 degree oil it sublimates (goes directly from solid to liquid) and turns your turkey fryer into a volcano. But that’s just a guess.

  9. 17

    So is anyone going to answer Jupiter Henry? I’m from New Orleans and I’ve never started out at 250! Also this year I’m frying a 16.4 lb bird and stressing over burnt skin possibilities. That’s the best part.

  10. 18
    Sean R

    Alton’ s recipe has worked for me for years. I have started to lower the DRY turkey just as the temp starts climbing from 250. Lower slowly… very slowly and wear leather gloves. Remember to let it rest, flavors seal in. Best turkey ever

  11. 19
    Joan white

    Alton, Thank you for the video on how to thaw and brine a turkey at the same time. It was just what I was looking for. I noticed you used salt as your brine. Can I still brine if I am using a flavored wet brine I.e.Williams Sonoma?
    And since I do not have that wonderful thermometer to check on the temp to ensure it does not get to more than 40 degrees, is there any other way I can do this without putting it in the refrig while thawing and brining. Or should I just put in in the refrig and hope it thaws by maybe late Tuesday and brine at that time on Wednesday? I just bought the frozen bird this morning (Sunday). I also intend to stuff her. I don’t want to kill my family. Thank you. Your video was great.

  12. 20
    Peggy Harrison

    We decided to go with deep fried turkey this year too. I just add an extra step. We season pieces of the turkey after it comes out of the brine and then let it dry in refrigerator overnight. Then take it out 2 hours before we deep fry so it can be room temperature. The pieces make it easier to handle as well.

    • 23

      Yes it should and it definitely needs to be thawed and dried before lowering into the oil to avoid oil and water reacting and splashing out of the pan. I’ve always used a fresh turkey instead of frozen.

    • 24

      Christopher – the turkey needs to be thawed before going into the oil but DOES NOT need to be thawed before going into the brine. I believe brining is the fastest way to thaw a frozen turkey ~ 30 min/lb

  13. 25
    Jupiter Henry

    OK, I’ve deep fried a lot of birds, definitely double digits, and I’ve never heard of dropping the bird into 250 degree oil then raising the temp…but since it’s Alton Brown, I know there’s a complex explanation. Enlighten me?

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