Dry Brined-Fried Turkey without Oil, crispy outside, juicy inside, a recipe for an easier, faster and healthier way to deep fry a turkey in an oil-less turkey fryer. Dry brining adds flavor and moistness throughout and cajun seasoning spices things up ever so slightly for a Thanksgiving turkey you will never forget!
Yes, Dry Brined-Fried Turkey without Oil is a mouthful, but what a delicious mouthful! Just in time for Thanksgiving, this recipe for fried turkey made without oil should go to the top of your “holiday menu meal planning” list.
In the South, we are known for frying everything we can get our hands on, including Twinkies and Macaroni and Cheese…and, Thanksgiving turkeys are no exception. With crispy browned skin and moist and tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat, fried turkey is a true Southern delicacy!
But there is a big problem! Frying a turkey can be dangerous! Turkeys have been known to explode, splashing hot oil everywhere and turkey fryers can turn over on uneven ground, spilling the oil! Not to mention, frying a turkey in oil is expensive! Peanut oil, which produces the best-fried turkey averages $13 a gallon, and it takes about five gallons of oil, which translates to at least $65 just for the oil! And, how in the world do you dispose of all that used oil?
Enter the oil-less turkey fryer, which uses infrared heat to deliver healthier, juicy results inside and a crispy outside every time. No hot oil to burn, splatter, or spill and you don’t have to buy all of that oil. It’s a turkey miracle!
My brother Tommy was always in charge of frying the turkey for our family Thanksgivings, and they were delicious! Tommy switched over to an oil-less turkey fryer a few years ago, and I became a convert and immediately bought one too.
And, yes, I’m sorry, you do need to buy yet another piece of cooking equipment. And, they are large, so you have to have a place to store them as well, but they are relatively inexpensive at $80-$90, and you don’t have to buy any oil! Plus, not only will they cook up to a 16-pound turkey, but you can also cook prime-rib and other large cuts of meat. And, look at all of that oven-space you will save for your Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts!
I purchased my oil-less turkey fryer online (Char Broil, Big Easy) but I’m sure the sporting goods stores around town would also stock them!
Now that we have the cooking apparatus out of the way let’s talk brine! Yes, I always brine my turkeys and think it vastly improves the taste and moistness of the meat. I used to do the wet brine, which frankly is a lot of mess and work. Then I found out you can get the same results from a dry brine, and it’s all I do these days.
What is dry brining?
What is dry brining you ask? Dry brining is simply rubbing salt, (one tablespoon of kosher salt per every four pounds of meat) and sometimes other seasonings, directly onto the meat and skin, and then letting the meat rest in the refrigerator for 2-3 days before cooking. Besides the fact that it is much easier, dry brining also allows you to leave the turkey uncovered in the refrigerator so the skin can dry out. Whether you are frying or roasting your turkey, dry brining is the way to go!
How much turkey do I need?
In general, one pound of turkey per person should do it. However, smaller turkeys don’t have as much meat as the larger ones, so you will need closer to 1-1/2 to 2 pounds per person if you get a turkey less than ten pounds. Also, think of who you will be feeding and add a little more if you have any big eaters. And then, there are leftovers. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without leftover turkey, so be sure to plan for that as well!
Speaking of turkey leftovers, here are some easy recipes for your Thanksgiving leftovers: Easy Leftover Turkey Egg Rolls, Easy Leftover Turkey Enchiladas Recipe, and Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Chili.
My last words of advice are “plan ahead”! Don’t make the mistake of buying your turkey a day or so before the big day. If you plan to buy a frozen turkey, be sure to allow 1-3 days for a bird weighing 6 to 12 pounds, or 3-4 days for a bird weighing 12 to 16 pounds, to thaw safely in the refrigerator. Add another 2-3 days to brine it, and you can see why you should buy your turkey at least a week before Thanksgiving!
How to dry brine your turkey.
To dry brine the turkey, place the bird on a cutting board and remove the giblets and neck from inside the cavity. Also, remove any plastic holders or pop-up thermometers.
Rinse the turkey well and pat dry inside and out with paper towels.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt inside the turkey cavity and sprinkle the rest evenly over the entire bird and under the skin, where ever possible.
Place the turkey breast-side up on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 day, but ideally 3 days. You do not need to rinse it or pat it dry before cooking.
How to fry your turkey without oil.
When you are ready to fry the turkey, brush peanut oil all over the bird.
Sprinkle the Cajun seasoning evenly over the entire turkey.
Place the oil-less fryer in a safe place outside, away from the wind and turn it on. Place the turkey in the basket, breast side up. The fryer does not need to pre-heat.
The directions on the fryer say to cook the turkey uncovered for about 9-10 minutes per pound. My turkey cooked much quicker than this and I highly recommend using an instant-read meat thermometer to avoid overcooking it. The turkey is done when it registers 160 degrees when the temperature probe is inserted in the thickest part of the breast not touching bone.
During the last 15 minutes of cooking cover with the wire mesh lid to allow the skin to brown.
Remove the turkey, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. The turkey will continue to cook and come up to 165 degrees F.
Sharon’s Expert Tips:
- I highly recommend using an instant-read meat thermometer to ensure your turkey is cooked perfectly. I use a DOT thermometer which I found at Browns Kitchen Center in Tallahassee. With the DOT, you just insert the temperature probe in the meat, set the temperature you want, and it beeps when the meat is done. It takes all of the guesswork out of cooking meat!
- When dry-brining your turkey, be sure to leave it uncovered in the refrigerator. This helps to dry out the skin and makes it extra crispy when cooked.
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