Do you have a question about cooking or planning meals for your family? Chef Mom is here to help! Ask her your question, and she will offer you her time-tested, mom-smart advice.
The question:
Dear Chef Mom: Can I reuse the oil used to fry a turkey? - Hillary, St Louis

Chef Mom says:
In a word: Yes. As many people have discovered, the oil needed to fry a turkey can cost about as much as the turkey itself! So it makes sense to recycle.

But it's important to buy your oil with re-use in mind. According to the The National Turkey Federation, you should choose an oil with a "high smoke point" - that is, it can be heated to a high temperature before smoking. Three oils that fit the bill are peanut oil, sunflower oil and canola oil. From what we have heard, peanut oil is pretty consistently the oil of choice because of the flavor it imparts. It is, however, one of the most expensive options, and you also need to make sure that none of your guests have peanut allergies.

After you have used the oil, allow it to cool. You will then need to strain and filter it. Strain it to remove the larger particles, and then filter it through cheesecloth or a coffee filter. (Filtration is especially important if you have used seasonings on the turkey you fried.)

When the oil has completely cooled and has been cleaned, you may pour it into an appropriate container (or containers), cover it and store it in the refrigerator for a few months - or through frying 2-3 more turkeys. (Repeat the cleaning and storing process each time.) Some people have a turkey fry on Thanksgiving, one for Christmas, and another to ring in the new year - a smart way to use your oil over just a few months.

Be sure to watch for signs that the oil is becoming old or rancid: it may look dark, start to foam or smoke more than usual, won't bubble when you add the turkey, or may just have a rancid smell. This means it's time to discard the oil and to start all over again!

Best of luck with your festive fry!

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