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Deep-Fried Turkey: Delicious…But Dangerous

Thanksgiving—it’s a wonderful American holiday traditionally noted for family gatherings and great food.  In recent years, there’s also been a growing trend to forego the oven-roasted turkey for a deep-fried bird.  They are delicious…but dangerous and we agree with the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories: we do not recommend frying your turkey due to the significant dangers to you and your home.  

 But if you elect to fry, we ask that you PLEASE understand the risks and take these safety precautions to make sure this holiday is memorable for the great family get-together, not for a trip to the emergency room or the catastrophic loss of your home from a devastating fire.





•The pot.  Fryer pots come in a range of sizes but you want one that will safely accommodate your bird and the bubbling nature of the cooking oil.  A 34 to 36-quart pot would be best. (You can use it later for a clam boil!)  And make sure the stand is sturdy so that it won’t tip over easily.


The turkey.  Don’t exceed an 8 to 12-pound turkey; that size will cook properly and will fit the pot correctly. And make sure the turkey is completely thawed (The USDA recommends refrigerator thawing for 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey).  Take a look at what can happen if it’s frozen when you place it in the boiling oil:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QMuLU7oi14


The oil. Placing a turkey in a pot over-filled with boiling oil will result in it overflowing the sides and igniting the propane flame below.  To determine the right amount of oil, follow these simple steps BEFORE you cook. 

  • Place the turkey in the pot
  • Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water (and at least 5 inches from the top of the pot)
  • Remove and dry the turkey thoroughly (a wet turkey can cause oil to splatter latter)
  • Mark the water level. Dump water and dry the pot.  You will fill with oil to the marked level when you’re ready to cook.

The instructions.  Read the instruction manual that came with your fryer carefully.



NEVER deep fry inside your home!  (Why? Just CLICK HERE and imagine the results if this occurred in your home.)


Keep the cooking area away from the house and all flammable materials. 


•NEVER fry on a wooden deck or in a garage.


Have a multi-purpose dry chemical fire extinguisher within reach before you begin to heat the oil.


•Keep children and pets away from the fryer—before, during, and after cooking.  Many of the fires associated with frying occur while the oil is heating. Plus, the oil remains hot for hours after the turkey is removed so the dangers exist throughout the entire process.


•Make sure the fryer is placed on a large flat surface (concrete, grass or dirt)


•Turn off the flame while lowering the turkey into the oil AND lower the turkey into the oil SLOWLY.  When you see that the outsides of the pot and the burner aren’t covered in oil, you can turn the fuel back on.


NEVER leave the fryer unattended.  Most units lack thermostats; an unwatched fryer can continue to heat until it bursts into flames.


Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts.  UL recommends also wearing safety goggles.




•Use the fire extinguisher, and remember PASS: Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the lever, and Sweep from side to side.


NEVER use water to attempt to extinguish a fryer fire.


If the fire grows out of hand, call 911 immediately.


And finally, make sure you have adequate homeowner insurance coverage.  (If you’re not sure contact the Cushman Insurance Group.) 


We wish you a happy and safe Holiday Season.