Cajun Fried Turkey

Active time:1 hour, 15 min. Total time:3 hours, 10 min.
Yield: Serves 16 (serving size: about 8 oz. of meat)

With crispy, golden-brown skin, moist, juicy meat, and a little bit of heat, our Cajun Fried Turkey is an unforgettable holiday centerpiece. This beautiful, golden bird also puts off the most incredible aroma (Think KFC fried chicken, but better) while cooking, so don’t be surprised if you end up with some spectators. Seasoning the bird right after it comes out of the fryer will help the dry seasonings adhere better, making for a better-tasting bird. Frying a turkey is not for the faint of heart, and it can be intimidating, but the results are worth it. Your best course of action is planning ahead, going at this with a buddy, and heeding the proper safety precautions (See Notes). Additionally, this is not the time to skimp on your equipment. The oil’s temperature will significantly drop when you lower the bird into the pot, so don’t panic.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz.) salted butter
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (such as Crystal)
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1(12- to 14- lb.) whole fresh or frozen, thawed turkey
  • 2 to 3 gallons peanut oil, soybean oil, or sunflower oil, for frying
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

How to Make It

Step 1

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low. Stir in hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning, and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until spices bloom and become fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in lemon juice; set aside to cool at room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Step 2

Meanwhile, remove neck and giblets from inner cavity of turkey, and discard. Place turkey in stockpot to be used for frying, and add water to cover turkey by 2 to 3 inches. Lift turkey from water, allowing excess water to drain into pot, and transfer turkey to a work surface. Mark level of water remaining in pot. (This will indicate the amount of oil you will need for frying.) Discard water, and dry pot thoroughly with paper towels. Pat turkey dry all over, including cavity, with paper towels.

Step 3

Using a marinade injector, inject butter mixture into turkey breast, legs, thighs, and wings, moving injector tip around each area to ensure butter mixture is injected thoroughly throughout turkey. Wipe away excess butter mixture on surface of turkey with a paper towel. Let turkey rest at room temperature 1 hour. 

Step 4

Fill frying pot with oil (to match water level in Step 2), and place on top of a propane burner used for turkey frying. Heat oil to 350ºF over high. Place turkey on a rack with a lowering hook. Turn burner off, making sure there is no longer an open flame, and SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY lower turkey into hot oil until completely submerged. Reignite burner, and fry turkey until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast and thigh registers 165ºF, 36 to 42 minutes (or about 3 minutes per pound of turkey). Please note that your oil temperature will drop after adding the turkey to the pot and may not come back up to 350°F for some time, possibly only during the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time.

Step 5

Slowly remove turkey from fryer, allowing excess oil to completely drain from turkey, and transfer to a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Remove turkey from lowering rack. While still moist with oil, season turkey with salt and remaining 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning. Allow turkey to rest 15 minutes before carving.

Chef’s Notes

Frying a turkey can be dangerous if the proper safety precautions are not followed. Always make sure your turkey is thawed and dry before frying – mixing ice or water with hot oil can cause the oil to overflow and potentially ignite causing a grease fire. Never fry in an enclosed space or over a wooden surface like a deck. Always turn the burner off before slowly submerging the turkey in the hot oil. Never try to move a turkey fryer filled with hot oil. Keep children and pets away from the fryer and never leave a hot fryer unattended. If available, try to have an ABC fire extinguisher nearby when using a turkey fryer.

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