Best Practices to Avoid Turkey Fryer Disasters This Thanksgiving

turkey in deep fryer


Turkey is undeniably the featured entrée of Thanksgiving dinners across the country, with 88 percent of Americans consuming 46 million birds during their holiday celebrations. There’s no arguing that turkey has become a staple of the Thanksgiving holiday, from the President’s traditional turkey pardon to the creation of new turkey cooking fads and trends. One such turkey preparation method that started in Louisiana decades ago and spread across the nation seems to be here to stay – the deep-fried turkey.

Deep frying a turkey produces an extremely moist and flavorful bird, and in far less time than traditional roasting preparations. Unfortunately, the deep-fried turkey has become synonymous with something else over the years – safety hazards. More home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other day, with over 2,000 home fires each year. Two-thirds of these incidents involve food catching fire, with deep fat fryers a leading contributor to injuries, deaths, and property damage. The hot oil required to prepare a turkey using this method and high cooking temperatures also contribute to the danger of this practice and pose a risk of burn injuries.

If you plan to deep fry your turkey this Thanksgiving, stick to the best practices so you can enjoy your holiday meal preparations and the following feast safely.

Best Practices to Use Before Cooking Begins

  • Deep-fried turkey should only be prepared outdoors – never inside a home or enclosed space. Set up your deep fryer outdoors in a location that is a safe distance away from your residence, other structures, and any flammable materials, including outdoor decks.
  • Set up your deep fryer and cooking station on a level surface, as turkey fryers can easily tip over and spill hot oil on people nearby. Make sure the fryer is secure before use, with at least two feet of space between the burner unit and the propane tank.
  • Make sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand near your cooking area in case a fire starts. Never use water in attempt to put out an oil or grease fire.
  • Be conscious of your chosen cooking method when selecting your Thanksgiving bird. Smaller turkeys are safer to fry than larger ones – 8 to 10 pounds is ideal, and do not attempt to fry a turkey weighing more than 12 pounds.
  • Before you start cooking, determine the proper volume of oil needed for the job. Set your thawed turkey in the deep fryer and fill the pot with water until the bird is covered by an inch or two of oil. Mark this level, discard the water, and remove your turkey before filling the pot with the correct volume of oil.

Best Practices for Frying a Turkey

  • Wear snug clothing and tie back hair before frying your turkey to reduce the chances of these items or your hair catching fire. Wear safety glasses and only use oven mitts, cooking gloves, or potholders to handle hot items.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed prior to putting it in the deep fryer. Dry the turkey before adding it to the oil and don’t use water-based marinades so you lower the risk of bubbling that could cause oil splatters or spillage.
  • Only fry a turkey outdoors in fair weather. If it is raining or snowing, you could risk oil splatters and burns if you proceed.
  • Shut off the burner before you place the turkey into the deep fryer. Once the turkey is submerged in the pot, go ahead and turn on the burner.
  • Keep children and animals away from the frying area whenever your cooking equipment is turned, while you are in the process of frying your turkey, and for several hours once you have finished to allow the oil to cool.
  • Never leave your equipment unattended in the midst of deep frying a turkey.
  • Monitor oil temperature throughout the frying process. If you notice the oil has started to smoke, shut off the fryer immediately.

Professional Fire Damage Restoration Services in Indiana

Should you experience a cooking fire while frying your turkey this Thanksgiving, your home could sustain serious damage. If you need a fire restoration expert to restore the condition of your home following a Thanksgiving cooking fire, contact Hays + Sons for more information about our residential fire restoration services.


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