How many minutes per pound to deep fry a turkey?

Deep-frying a turkey is a popular cooking method that results in a juicy, tender, and flavorful bird. When deep-frying a turkey, it’s important to know how long to cook it for. The general rule of thumb is to fry a turkey for 3-4 minutes per pound.

This guide will provide more details on determining cook times based on turkey size, tips for safely deep-frying a turkey, and include charts and tables for quick reference.

Factors That Affect Turkey Fry Times

There are a few key factors that impact how long you should fry a turkey for:

  • Turkey size – Larger turkeys take longer to fry than smaller ones. The 3-4 minutes per pound guideline is based on the total weight of your turkey.
  • Amount of oil – The more oil you use, the faster your turkey will cook. Make sure you have enough oil to completely submerge the turkey.
  • Temperature of oil – Oil should be around 350°F for frying turkey. Higher heat will cook the turkey faster.
  • Thawed vs. frozen – Only fry completely thawed and dried turkeys. Frozen turkeys will take 50% longer to fry.
  • Brined or not – Brining adds moisture and flavor but also slightly increases cook time.

The most important factor is calculating the total weight of your turkey and using that to estimate the minimum fry time. We’ll provide more details on fry times for different weights next.

Fry Times for Different Turkey Weights

Here are some general guidelines for estimating fry times based on turkey weight:

Turkey Weight Minimum Fry Time
8 – 12 lbs 24 – 36 minutes
12 – 16 lbs 36 – 48 minutes
16 – 20 lbs 48 – 60 minutes
20 – 24 lbs 60 – 72 minutes

For example, if you have a 16 lb turkey, you would fry it for at least 48 minutes (16 lbs x 3 minutes per pound). For larger turkeys, you may want to go up to 4 minutes per pound for more thorough cooking.

These fry times are the minimum recommended. You should verify the turkey is fully cooked by taking its temperature before removing from the oil.

How to Tell If Turkey is Fully Cooked

Using a food thermometer is the only reliable way to check if your fried turkey is fully cooked and safe to eat. Here are the proper internal temperatures:

  • Breast meat – 165°F
  • Thighs and legs – 175°F

The best way to take the temperature is to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and thigh/leg without hitting the bone. Check temperature in both places to ensure no undercooked spots.

If the turkey is not yet fully cooked when your estimated minimum fry time is up, continue frying for several more minutes until the proper internal temperature is reached.

Tips for Deep Frying Turkey Safely

When cooking a turkey weighing upwards of 20 pounds in hot oil, safety is paramount. Follow these tips for deep frying turkey safely:

  • Use a turkey fryer designed for outdoor use. Do not fry inside.
  • Keep children and pets away from hot oil.
  • Do not overfill the fryer – oil expands when hot.
  • Slowly lower and remove turkey using proper hooks.
  • Monitor oil temp constantly to prevent overheating.
  • Completely thaw and dry turkey before frying.
  • Have a fire extinguisher on hand just in case.

As long as you take the proper precautions, deep fried turkey cooked for the right amount of time is perfectly safe and incredibly delicious!

Frying Frozen Turkey is Dangerous

Never attempt to fry a partially frozen or frozen turkey! The ice will cause hot splattering and likely lead to fire. Only fry thoroughly thawed turkeys.

If you did not plan ahead and thaw your turkey, cooking it in the oven is the safer choice. Roasting a turkey takes much longer than frying, but will still result in a flavorful holiday centerpiece.

Quick Reference Turkey Fry Times

For easy reference while cooking, here are the key turkey fry times based on weight:

Turkey Weight Minimum Fry Time
8 lbs 24 minutes
12 lbs 36 minutes
16 lbs 48 minutes
20 lbs 60 minutes
24 lbs 72 minutes

Remember these are the minimum fry times required. Verify internal temperature before removing turkey from oil.


Deep frying a turkey provides tender, juicy meat when done properly, but requires close monitoring for safety. The general guideline is 3-4 minutes per pound, scaling up the time according to turkey weight. Always check internal temperature using a meat thermometer to ensure the turkey reaches 165°F in the breasts and 175°F in the thighs/legs before removing from the hot oil. Follow safety precautions like frying outside only in a proper turkey fryer. Reference the tables and tips in this article for help with determining how long your turkey needs to fry so you can enjoy delicious fried turkey this holiday season!

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