Skip to Content

Can you brine inject and fry a turkey?

As Thanksgiving approaches, many home cooks consider making a fried turkey for the big feast. Frying a turkey produces a bird with crispy, golden brown skin and tender, juicy meat. Brining is another popular technique used to keep turkey meat moist and flavorful. This raises the question – can you brine inject and fry a turkey? The short answer is yes, you can brine inject a turkey before frying it. However, there are some important things to keep in mind when combining these two methods.

What is brining?

Brining is the process of soaking meat in a saltwater solution (brine) before cooking. The brine is typically made by dissolving salt and sugar in water, along with aromatics like herbs, spices, and citrus. Brining helps meat retain moisture and seasons the meat throughout. The salt in the brine allows the turkey meat to hold on to more moisture by dissolving some proteins. The sugar adds flavor and helps achieve a golden brown exterior when fried.

What is brine injecting?

Brine injecting takes the brining process one step further by injecting the saltwater brine directly into the turkey meat. This is done using a special injector tool that has a long needle to penetrate deep into the meat. The injector allows the brine to be distributed evenly throughout the interior of the turkey. Brine injecting turbo-charges the brining effect by ensuring the saltwater gets deep into the meat. It’s an effective way to help extremely large cuts of meat like a whole turkey brine more quickly and thoroughly.

Benefits of brine injecting a turkey before frying

There are several advantages to brine injecting a turkey before frying:

  • Injecting brine distributes flavor and seasoning evenly throughout the meat, not just on the surface.
  • It helps ensure even moistness and tenderness, especially for very large cuts like a whole turkey.
  • Brine injecting expedites the brining process so the turkey doesn’t need to soak as long before frying.
  • You can customize the injected brine to include flavors that complement the fried exterior.

Overall, injecting brine before frying helps maximize both the flavor and moisture benefits brining provides.

Step-by-step guide to injecting and frying a turkey

If you want to brine inject your turkey before frying, follow these steps:

  1. Make a brine solution. Use 1 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup sugar per gallon of water. You can add other flavorings like herbs, spices, citrus zest, garlic, etc. Dissolve the salt and sugar completely.
  2. Inject the turkey. Use an injector tool to pump the brine deep into the meat, especially in the thicker parts of the breast and thighs. Inject until the brine starts seeping out of the meat.
  3. Let sit. After injecting, refrigerate the turkey for 2-6 hours to let the brine distribute evenly.
  4. Rinse and pat dry. Rinse the brined turkey under cold water. Pat it very dry inside and out with paper towels.
  5. Fry the turkey. Heat oil to 350°F in a large propane turkey fryer. Carefully lower the turkey into the hot oil using the hook and slowly fry for 3-4 minutes per pound, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  6. Rest and carve. Allow the fried turkey to rest 15 minutes before carving to let juices redistribute.

Pro tip: Let the turkey come to room temperature before frying for more even cooking. The brine and dry surface help prevent the hot oil from splattering.

Frying oil options

The best oils for frying turkey are oils with high smoke points and neutral flavors:

  • Peanut oil – The most popular choice, with a smoke point of 450°F.
  • Canola oil
  • Vegetable or soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Shortening – More processed but works well.

Avoid olive oil, butter, margarine, or lard as they have low smoke points and will burn.

Use about 1 gallon of oil per 4-5 pounds of turkey. The oil should come about halfway up the turkey in the fryer.

Frying tips and safety

Here are some important tips for frying turkey safely and getting the best results:

  • Use a deep fryer designed for turkeys, not a small pot. Oil may bubble up when adding turkey.
  • Fry outside on a flat surface away from anything flammable.
  • Wear gloves and long sleeves to protect from splatter.
  • Slowly lower and remove the turkey to prevent burns.
  • Use cooking thermometer to reach 165°F internal temperature.
  • Watch oil temperature carefully, around 350-375°F.
  • Let oil cool completely before disposing properly.

Never leave a fryer unattended or let children/pets near it. The hot oil poses serious burn risks.

Benefits of frying a brined turkey

Frying imparts delicious crispy skin and juicy meat. Brining before frying provides these added bonuses:

  • Brining adds flavor and seasoning throughout.
  • Brined meat retains more moisture than unbrined.
  • Less oil is absorbed than with an unbrined bird.
  • The turkey browns faster due to salt and sugar in brine.

By brine injecting before frying, you maximize the moisture, tenderness, and flavor the brine provides.

Potential downsides

There are a couple potential downsides to injecting and frying a turkey:

  • Brining does make the turkey a bit saltier. Use a moderate brine and adjust seasonings.
  • There is some added hassle with the injecting process.
  • Frying takes more time, equipment, and oil than roasting.
  • You do lose the nice roasting pan drippings for gravy.

The key is using a balanced brine and oil that isn’t heavily seasoned to let the turkey flavor shine. Proper deep frying equipment is a must for safety.


Yes, you can absolutely brine inject a turkey before deep frying for a moist, flavorful fried bird with crisp skin. Brine injecting helps infuse flavor deep into the meat and retain moisture. Follow proper technique for brining, injecting, frying, and safety. While frying a brined turkey takes more effort, the deliciously juicy and golden results are worth it for a show-stopping Thanksgiving centerpiece. With the right preparation and precautions, brine injected fried turkey is a culinary feat to be thankful for this holiday season.