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How to Fry Turkey (Without Burning the House Down)

By Natalie Boike
Created December 8, 2016
Cajun Deep-Fried Turkey Legs
Our easy hack gives you the best part of hot, crispy fried turkey—made the safe and easy way, of course.

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite fair foods is a tender-on-the-inside, crispy-skinned fried turkey leg. It’s hands-down the best part of the turkey. Now, some people are all about frying up the whole turkey, but I just can’t recommend it. (I mean, have you seen what can happen?)

So let’s play it safe, mmm-kay? Here’s the quick and easy way to get tasty fried turkey without burning the house down.

Cajun Deep-Fried Turkey Legs

The beauty of this recipe is you only need three ingredients: peanut oil, turkey legs and Cajun seasoning. The trick is all in how you put them all together. You’ll also want a heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven and a thermometer to keep tabs on your oil temp. Look for a thermometer labeled for deep-frying or candy making. They attach directly to your pan so you can always keep a read on the oil temperature–which is key for getting that just-right crispiness on the outside.

Ready? Let’s get started!

How to Make Fried Turkey Legs: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Heat 8 cups of peanut oil in your pan until it reaches 375°F. I recommend peanut oil because its high smoke point means your house won’t end up smelling like the fair. You could also use canola or vegetable oil. Meanwhile, pat the turkey legs dry and then season them. I needed about 3 tablespoons of seasoning for 6 turkey legs.

Seasoned turkey legs on a cutting board

Step 2: Now the fun part! Fry up to 2 turkey legs at a time, leaving the remaining turkey in the fridge to keep cool and dry. It’ll take about 14 to 16 minutes per batch—just be sure to turn about once halfway through. The key to crispy turkey legs is to keep the oil at a constant 375°F. Remember the oil temperature drops a bit each time you add turkey to the hot oil.

Turkey legs in a pan of oil on the stove top

You’re looking for a delicious golden brown, and of course the thickest part of the meat should be cooked to 165°F.

Step 3: Drain the cooked turkey legs on paper towels. You can keep the first batch of turkey legs warm on a sheet pan (no paper towel) in a 200°F oven while you cook the remaining legs.

*Tip: You can easily double this recipe before you’d need to start with fresh oil. Just keep an eye on the level of oil in your pot and try to maintain the same amount throughout cooking.