Deep Fry, Grill, Roast or Smoke?

For years I watched my grandmother, mother and then my wife stress over Thanksgiving dinner.  It appeared that no matter how much help there was it didn’t really take away the stress of cooking such a large meal.  It seems that no matter how much oven space you have, it isn’t enough.

A few years ago I figured out that if I smoked, fried or grilled the turkey outdoors it made life easier in the kitchen. A recent Butterball survey revealed that 42% of men participate in cooking the holiday turkey. If you’ve thought about taking the turkey cooking outdoors here are a few tips to make it a little safer and easier.


If you are going to use the traditional turkey frying method you should follow a couple simple rules to help ensure your safety:

1. Make sure your turkey is 100% thawed out. You can’t drop even a partially frozen and icing turkey into the hot oil without risking injury. A 12-lb turkey will take about three days to thaw in a refrigerator (1 day for every 4lbs of turkey).

2. Before you fill the pot with oil, place your turkey in the pot and fill it with water to the point it just covers the turkey. Remove the turkey and mark the water level. Drain the water and completely dry the pot before filling with oil up to the mark you made at the water level.

3. Use the proper tools to lower and raise the turkey in the hot oil.

4. Keep the kids and other family members away from the open flame and hot oil.

If you’ve never fried a turkey before, be sure to check out Butterball’s additional tips on deep frying. A good way to pump up the flavor when deep-frying turkeys is by injecting the turkey with flavor once it’s patted dry and before it goes in the fryer. I recommend Butterball’s Buttery Creole Marinade if you’re going to do this.

If you’re planning on deep frying this year, I recommend using the Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer. I reviewed this fryer a few years ago and in my opinion is still the only way to go when frying turkeys. As an added bonus, get a $5 mail-in rebate when you purchase a Butterball Whole Turkey and a Masterbuilt Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer.


Grill your turkey skin side down to start. With the skin side down you will render more of the fat under the skin and give you a healthier meal along with a crispier skin.

No matter how you choose to grill your turkey, whole or in parts, one of the most important things you need to do is clean your grill before grilling.  Here are a couple of tips for cleaning your grill grates.

– Heat your grill and then brush the burned up residue off the grill with a wire brush.  Make sure you check the bristles of the brush to make sure they are not loose. You don’t want to leave a bristle on the grates that will end up in your food.

– After pre-heating your grill rub the cut side of a half an onion over the grates.  The onion will remove most of the old residue off the grates.

– Pre-heat the grill and rub a rolled up wet rag over the grates to remove the grime left over from your last cook.


When smoking your turkey follow the same tips for grilling. Try to use a milder wood for smoking.  Fruit woods like apple, cherry and peach are all great woods to use.

One complaint people often have with smoked turkeys is that the skin after smoking is often times gummy.  One great way to take care of that and add another layer of flavor is to fry the turkey for a couple of minutes in oil to crisp the skin.

Cooking the turkey outdoors is a great way to get the family outside and free up floor space in what is often a very crowded kitchen. If you’re interested in more of my cooking adventures, follow me on Instagram at If you need more help with your holiday turkey, the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is here to help through Christmas Eve.


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