Some people say you should leave all the cooking to the women and just sit on the couch on Thanksgiving day and watch football. But women can’t make fried turkey, and if you’re tired of eating dry, bland turkey, it’s time to set up a TV outside and take matters into your own hands.
I’m just a white man from Louisiana, but here’s my Cajun Rubbed Fried Turkey recipe that’ll have you wondering how you ever even enjoyed Thanksgiving before.
Selecting your turkey
First thing first, you need a Turkey. Get it the Sunday or Monday before Thanksgiving so it has time to thaw before you inject it.
I’m not going to tell you what kind of turkey to get because people get stupid about their loyalties to brands, but you need to find the best 12-20 pound turkey you can depending on how many you’re feeding. You want to have about half a pound per person. I typically get a 12-15 pound turkey for my family.
Deep Fried Turkey?
Whether this turkey is frozen or not, the next thing you need to do is find out how much oil you will need if you are deep frying the turkey.
I’ve moved away from deep frying for several years now because I found a great alternative—if this interests you, skip down to that.
To determine oil volume necessary to fry your turkey, place the turkey (sealed in original packaging) in your fryer pot. Then, using either a 1-gallon jug or pitcher, pour water (in measurable quantities) to nearly cover the turkey (leave 1/2”-1” exposed) & mark water level.
Make note of how much water it took to cover the turkey because this is the volume of peanut oil you will need to purchase. This is really expensive, so that’s why I moved away from it and started using the “oilless“ fryer method. I use only a quart of peanut oil over the course of multiple years this way.
Oilless Fried Turkey?
Now, we move on to the non-deep-fried option. This thing uses a tiny fraction of the peanut oil a deep fryer does. And it is much safer:
Regardless of what method of frying you use, the prep is practically identical.
Turkey prep time
First, thaw the turkey in the refrigerator beginning on Sunday or, at the latest, Monday in order to fry it on Thursday morning or afternoon.
Check to make sure it is thawing properly throughout. If not, thaw in a sink but monitor closely to keep it cold.
Roughly 24 hours prior to frying time, unwrap and inject your turkey.
Back in the day, I used the OG injectable marinade Cajun injector. But I have found something better. I have made my own marinades in the past but ultimately found it not worth the effort when there are great inexpensive options available.
To simplify, I use Louisiana Fish Fry Products Cajun Butter injectable marinade (32 oz) and beer (Guinness is my go-to @ 10-16 oz).
Mix these in a large bowl and inject generously throughout the turkey.
I typically give a little more attention to the white meat than the dark when it comes to injecting because the white meat tends to dry more quickly and benefits more from the flavor and moisture provided by the marinade.
Give it time
Once injected, wrap your turkey in 2 durable garbage bags to prevent leaking in the refrigerator.
Leave overnight to allow marinade to soak in.
It’s TURKEY DAY!!!
This is where the fun starts!
Time for all the prep work to pay off.
For deep frying, find a safe place far from your house and anything flammable and begin to heat your measured amount of peanut oil (usually around 4 gallons) to 375°F.
This is why I highly recommend the “oilless” fryer method with the Charbroil Big Easy.
If you choose to deep fry, while oil is heating, place turkey on hanger (pictured) & rub with Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning generously over the entire turkey to give the skin a little kick that’ll make you slap your momma for depriving you of this delicacy (or if you want a next level experience, just go all in and actually use Slap Ya Mama instead of Tony Chachere’s).
I make my own, but you’ll have to subscribe to get that recipe.
Time to fry!
Once the oil is up to temperature, put on high-temperature resistant (500°F+) thick rubber gloves and slowly lower your turkey into the oil.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to never drop a frozen turkey or a turkey that is even slightly frozen into boiling oil. The moisture and any ice will go through a rapid expansion, which is very likely to cause a grease fire or, at the very least, a boil over, which can send hot grease into the flame of the propane burner.
If you are deep frying, you cannot leave this unattended. 350° grease is not something to be toyed with.
Be very careful. This is why I highly recommend the oilless fryer route, but we will get into that in just a moment.
The temp will drop initially but regulate the heat to bring the temp above 350 and monitor it to stay between 350-400 throughout.
Fry for 4 mins per pound.
The oilless fryer: the choice of champions
If you go the oilless fryer route, turn on the oilless fryer and, while it is heating up, rub a thin layer of peanut oil over the entire surface of the turkey and then rub seasoning over the entire turkey as well.
Fry for roughly 3 hours (10-12 minutes per pound).
Regardless of the frying method, check the turkey throughout the cooking process with a meat thermometer & leave it in the fryer until it reaches a minimum internal temperature deep in the breast meat of 165°F.
As you remove the turkey from the fryer, wrap it in aluminum foil to retain heat.
Place the wrapped turkey in a pot and transport it inside and get your carving knife ready.
Remember, you are an expert chef in the process of perfecting your craft. The chef can sample as much as he wants for his trouble.