Deep Fry Turkey

Deep fry turkey as well as all kinds of outdoor cooking has become a very popular part of our culture. This type of turkey cooking has always been a favorite throughout the southeastern United States but in recent years seems to have spread all over this country. Years ago, living in Ohio, I could never have thought of frying turkey; there was only one way and that was roasting in the oven.

After moving to Florida, I found that deep fry turkey is very delicious but I also learned how to smoke a turkey and I learned that grilling turkey on my gas grill is very good. Not only does this outdoor cooking give turkeys a great flavor but it sure saves a lot of mess in the kitchen.

Unlike deep fry turkey, cooking on a grill is much like any other grilling. If using a covered charcoal grill, build a very hot pile of coals. Arrange a drip pan in the center and arrange the hot coals all around the drip pan Smaller turkeys are better for outdoor cooking; ones up to fifteen pounds. Place the turkey on the rack over the drip pan. Cover with lid and cook fifteen to eighteen minutes for each pound of turkey; thawed and not stuffed. Add a few coals to each side of the drip pan each hour while cooking.

When I cook a turkey on my gas grill it is similar to the charcoal grill but much more convenient. It doesn’t have that charcoal flavor but to me is just as delicious. It is so simple to turn on the gas and let the grill heat. I turn off the heat right under where I want to place the turkey and cook it with indirect heat. I place the turkey on the rack and shut the lid.

Like a deep fry turkey smoking a turkey requires special equipment for the process; most of us have some type of grill but not a smoker. Cooking smoked turkey has become a tradition in many households. It produces a delicious bird if done correctly. The biggest problem seems to be a drying out of the meat. Using a smaller bird helps this because it doesn’t have to be cooked as long. Also using water in your smoker helps. Follow the instructions that come with your smoker because they vary among manufacturers.

Cooking deep fry turkey is a “different ballgame”. This process can be very dangerous and must be done only outside. Have you ever boiled oil or grease over when deep frying? I learned at a very early age after Mom was taught me how to make French fries the RIGHT way. I filled the pot too full of oil and it boiled over causing a small fire. Thank God Mom was there to take care of it.

Like having a smoker to smoke a turkey, you should have a special pot to deep fry turkey. This pot needs to be very deep and they are very available today in the stores. When purchasing, each will have special instructions included for using it. Turkeys cooked like this are moist and delicious. The down side is that it takes so much oil to have deep enough to cover the turkey and the oil is very expensive. If you cook this way often, the oil can be drained and reused. It is a large additional expense if only using the fryer one time a year.

Deep fry turkey really does not need additional seasoning but it can be done much like using a dry rub on other meats. I have a favorite seasoning which I use to fry chicken, to sprinkle over roasting chicken and other meats and I even use it when I make sausage gravy, I use this on my turkeys also. I sprinkle it all over the turkey and in the cavity, let it set in the refrigerator overnight and then cook it. It is delicious!

MY FAVORITE TURKEY SEASONING for a deep fry turkey

This is good seasoning for deep fry turkey but also for frying chicken, roasting any kind of meat and also in recipes like sausage gravy. To fry chicken, I mix 5 tablespoons seasoning in 2 cups flour (no additional salt and pepper needed) to dip the chicken. 

  • ½ Cup brown sugar
  • ¾ Cup dried parsley
  • ½ Cup garlic salt
  • ¼ Cup rosemary
  • ¼ Cup sage
  • ¼ Cup oregano
  • ¼ Cup ground ginger
  • ¼ Cup paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons thyme
  • 4 Teaspoons marjoram
  • 4 Teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/8 Cup turmeric
  • ¾ Cup plus
  • 2 tablespoons salt

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly; store in glass jar with tight lid.


  • 1 Small turkey cut into pieces (about 10 pounds)
  • ¾ Cup soy sauce
  • ½ Cup dry sherry
  • ¼ Cup oil
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped garlic

Place turkey pieces in a large shallow dish.
Combine all other ingredients in smaller bowl until well blended.
Pour marinade over the turkey pieces and turn them over until totally covered with marinade.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap securely; place in refrigerator overnight.
Turn turkey pieces occasionally.
Prepare Smoker: Soak three chunks of woods in water; fill the fire pan with charcoal and light the fire.
When coals turn gray, drain wood and add to hot coals.
Put water pan in place and fill nearly full with hot water.
Put cooking rack in place; lift turkey pieces out of marinade and place on the rack.
Pour the marinade over the turkey pieces into the water pan.
Cover and smoke turkey for 6 to 7 hours; when water pan gets low add more hot water.