Thanksgiving Turkey: Deep Fried vs Oven Roasted - Backyard Boss
We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

Thanksgiving Turkey: Deep Fried vs Oven Roasted

Around this time of the year, turkey sales take off. All these family holidays call for some delicious holiday meals. While your family may be debating whether to have turkey or ham, there’s another debate to be had once everyone agrees on having turkey.

The debate is this; deep-fried vs oven-roasted turkey, which is best? At face value, the difference might be trivial. But once we dig a little deeper, it turns out the difference is more than deep skin.

Read on to discover the differences between deep-fried and oven-roasted turkey, so you can decide which one is best for you.

Oven Roasted

An oven-roasted turkey
Image credits: Ashim D’Silva via Unsplash

Before we get into the meat of this post, if you’re new to cooking turkeys, check out our tutorial on how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. 

An oven-roasted turkey is the most popular way of preparing a turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s the traditional roasted turkey on the dinner table.

It has become so popular over the years for many reasons.

The number one reason is that it’s relatively straightforward and doesn’t require any specialized equipment. A roasting pan and an oven are all you need for this traditional meal.

Once the bird is in the oven, most of the work is done. You can leave that turkey to roast for a few hours while you do other things. That’s another great thing about oven roasting a turkey. You don’t have to do much. It means you can prepare the rest of the meal or spend some quality time with your family while your oven takes care of roasting that turkey.

There are a few downsides to a roasted bird, however.

Firstly, you have to know how long you need to roast said bird. Too long, and the meat dries out, especially the breast meat. Nobody likes dry turkey.

Not long enough, and you risk undercooking the turkey and opening your family up to the potential of food poisoning. Nobody likes that, either.

The best way to prevent both scenarios is to calculate the cooking time and temperature relative to the size of your turkey. A good rule of thumb is 13 minutes per pound at 350℉ for an unstuffed turkey. It’s about 3 hours for a 12-14 pound turkey.

If you’re stuffing your turkey before roasting, adjust your calculation to 15 minutes per pound of bird. A meat thermometer could also come in handy, so you can check the internal temperature and minimize mistakes.

Another downside is that roasting a turkey takes a long time. It isn’t a quick meal you can whip up in a hurry. You have to plan this out well in advance, and any mishaps on the day could mean no turkey for dinner.

      Pros:

      Cons:

Deep-Fried Turkey

Turkey Fryer with Oil
Image Credits: Decaf on CreativeCommons

Now it’s time for the non-traditional approach. As you may have guessed, deep-frying turkey involves submerging the turkey in a vat of very hot oil and cooking it this way.

To deep-fry a turkey, you need a lot of oil. You need a deep fryer or a turkey fryer, a propane tank, and you need to do this outside for safety reasons. Deep-frying turkey is not as easy as the oven-roasted alternative, and you require some specialized equipment to make it all work.

All this specialized equipment can make this method of preparation a lot more expensive. The many gallons of oil you need to make this work also add to this cost.

On the topic of oil, you may think all that oil makes this method less healthy than oven roasting your turkey. Since turkeys are often deep-fried in peanut oil, which is one of the healthier cooking oils out there, it’s similar in calorie count to an oven-roasted bird.

It can also be a messier way of preparing your turkey. Making too much of a mess with this method could result in a fire if the hot oil comes into contact with the burner, so make sure you’ve taken all the necessary safety precautions beforehand.

With all that aside, there are some great benefits to deep-frying a turkey too. One of the most obvious ones is that the cooking time is a lot quicker than oven roasting. You’re looking at about three and a half minutes per pound of turkey, which is a lot quicker than oven-roasted.

The deep-frying process also seals in the moisture of the bird. The result is a delightfully juicy turkey on the inside wrapped in crispy skin on the outside. Delicious.

Since you’re deep frying your turkey in a vat of oil over an open flame, this method is a lot more exciting than roasting in an oven. Deep-frying the turkey could be an entertaining part of the event because there will be people crowding around to watch it go down. If you’re sold on the idea, check out our post on the best turkey fryer. 

      Pros:

      Cons:

Which One To Choose

Cooked turkey being carved
Image credits: Claudio Schwarz via Unsplash

With all that said and done, which method should you choose?

Choose oven-roasted turkey if:

  • You like to stick with tradition
  • You know you’ll have plenty of time on the day to roast the turkey
  • You want to do other things while the turkey is roasting
  • You don’t have specialized equipment
  • You’re not too concerned with dry meat

Choose deep-fried turkey if:

  • You want to try something new and exciting
  • You’re determined to have a moist, juicy turkey this Thanksgiving
  • You already have a deep fryer or turkey fryer
  • You want to cook your turkey in a shorter amount of time
  • You are not concerned about the potential mess

Final Words

It turns out a Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t have to be the same every year. These two methods of preparation will result in two different types of meals. Why not try both ways of preparing your turkey this year and see which one you prefer?

Even better, if you’re preparing two turkeys this year, cook them in different ways and see which one is the favorite. Don’t forget to comment below with which method you’ll be using this year.

shares