This Thanksgiving, switch it up a little bit with this Deep Fried Cajun Turkey! An easy rub and injection give it a crispy skin and so much flavor.
Thanksgiving is coming up in a few weeks, and that means it’s time to start talking turkey! Making a turkey for Thanksgiving is an American tradition, and each family has their favorite cooking method. My Mom has always oven baked her turkey. My husband’s family smokes their birds. And my little family? We love to deep fry our turkeys! We love this Deep Fried Cajun Turkey recipe, and it’s become a new tradition.
I love deep frying turkeys for a few reasons. First, it’s fast! It is arguably the shortest cook time of any possible methods, with most birds being fully cooked within an hour. Second, it’s rich, decadent and yields INCREDIBLE crispy skin! And finally, you can really have some fun with your flavors! Today, I’m sharing with you a recipe for Deep Fried Cajun Turkey, and also some basic tips and tricks on frying whole turkeys, so that you can create your own masterpiece this Thanksgiving!
HOW TO DEEP FRY A WHOLE TURKEY
Deep frying a whole turkey is easier than you think! There are just a few preparation steps. Below, I review choosing your turkey, preparing it with a brine and rub, and how to fry your whole turkey.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT TURKEY
When choosing a whole bird, you first need to identify whether you’d like to buy a frozen or fresh bird. And that choice largely depends on when you need it! Fresh birds have limited availability, typically just the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving.Frozen turkeys are available year round, but you will need to allow several days for de-frosting. I chose a 17 pound frozen Honeysuckle White turkey. I love Honeysuckle White’s turkey because they have opted to never use growth-promotants when raising their turkeys.
Honeysuckle White also works with independent family farms to raise their turkeys, meaning that purchasing one of their turkeys helps return your hard earned dollars back to a family farmers right here in the United States. In fact, Honeysuckle White has an awesome program that allows you to trace where your turkey was raised! More than 200,000 of their turkeys sold this year will have the ability to trace your turkey’s origin by entering an on-package code at HoneysuckleWhite.com! Over 70 of their family farms participated in this program this year. Fresh traceable Honeysuckle White turkeys will be available by Thanksgiving 2018 at more than 3,500 retail stores across the Midwest and several other markets, including Denver, Nashville, and Seattle.
PREPARING YOUR FRYER FOR THE TURKEY
Set your fryer system up outside on a flat surface, away from the house. Check the capacity of your frying system to see what size of turkey it can accommodate. Most fryers can accommodate an 18-lb turkey, and I would purchase a 15-17-lb turkey to be safe.
To figure out how much peanut oil you need in your fryer, stick the turkey in the boiling pot and then fill the pot with water, up to two inches above the turkey. Take the turkey out the pot and thoroughly pat the skin dry. Use a piece of tape to record the water line, then remove the water and dry the pot thoroughly. Fill the pot with oil up to the mark, turn the heat to medium-high, and heat the oil to 375°F.
PREPARING THE TURKEY: BRINES AND INJECTIONS
I greatly prefer a dry brine or rub for my whole turkeys. Soaking a big bird in a wet brine water bath for several days is a bit questionable on the safety side, and it’s also a time consuming process.
You can add flavor and moisture to your turkey through injecting it with an injection liquid, and then applying savory dry rub. You will need about one ounce of injection liquid for every pound of turkey, and an injector. I have a recipe for a cajun injection marinade below, or you can purchase a pre-made injection liquid like this one. Inject the liquid into the meaty parts of the bird, plunging the needle in as deep as possible. Once the bird is injected, pat the skin dry again and apply a flavorful spice rub. Rub it deeply into the skin and into the internal cavity of the turkey.
Continue reading for tips on frying the perfect turkey! To go straight to the Deep Fried Cajun Turkey recipe, click here.
HOW LONG TO FRY A TURKEY
When your oil has reached 375°F and you are ready to place the turkey in the fryer, turn off the burner. If you have a poultry rack, place it on it breast down with the legs up. If you don’t, you can use the fry basket (basket with holes) to hold the turkey. Lower the bird into the hot oil slowly, a few inches at a time, hovering and pulling the bird back up if it appears that the oil is about to spill over. Slowly lower the turkey until it’s covered with oil, and then return the oil back to a heat of 350°F. Maintain this temperature while the turkey is frying.
You will need 3.5 minutes of frying per pound of turkey. So, my 17-lb turkey took right at one hour to fry. To check to see if a turkey is done, stick your thermometer into the thickest parts of the thigh and breast, to make sure both are at 165°F. When the turkey is done, allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving it, tenting it with foil.
OTHER SAFETY TIPS FOR FRYING A TURKEY
- Wear sturdy, close toed shoes
- Keep the fryer as far away from the house as possible
- Keep the fryer on a level surface
- Turn off the burner before doing anything that could cause oil to spill over. Oil + open flame = fire!
- 1 Honeysuckle White® Frozen Young Turkey (approximately 17 pounds), de-thawed
- 4-5 gallons peanut oil
- FOR THE CAJUN RUB:
- 6 tablespoons salt
- 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper (adjust down to decrease spice level)
- 3 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- FOR THE CAJUN INJECTION LIQUID:
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup salted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Prepare the cajun spice rub and cajun injection liquid.
- Prepare turkey, removing neck and giblets from cavity, and patting dry with paper towels.
- Prepare fryer by adding peanut oil and heating to 375 degrees F.
- Inject turkey with cajun injection fluid, about one ounce of injection for each pound of turkey.
- Pat turkey skin dry, then thoroughly coat skin and inside of cavity with cajun spice rub.
- Fry the turkey for 3.5 pounds per minute, until thickest part of breast registers at 165 degrees F.
- Allow turkey to rest for about 30 minutes before carving.
Need the perfect side dish for this Deep Fried Cajun Turkey? I recommend:
- Baked Corn Casserole
- Corn Spoon Bread
- Bacon and Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes
- Bacon Green Bean Bundles
- Grandma’s Thanksgiving Stuffing
- Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts
- Kale Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples and Bacon
- Broccoli Cranberry Salad with Apples, Bacon and Walnuts