Deep frying your turkey: a recipe for disaster

By • Published: November 25th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It seems like a solid recipe for a moist and tasty Thanksgiving turkey: Place a large pot over a propane tank and burner, fill it with oil and deep fry your bird.

But the National Fire Protection Association says it’s a recipe for disaster. The organization cites a slew of safety hazards inherent in this popular cooking technique.

First, there are the risks of burns from hot oil… typically about five gallons of it… used to cook the turkey. Splashes of scalding oil are possible when a cook puts the bird into or removes it from the pot or if the unit tips, as they are prone to do. These fryers should never be used inside any structure, but the outdoors pose risks, too. Rain or snow that falls into hot oil will cause a splatter or turn to steam, both of which are burn hazards. For the same reason, partially or fully-frozen turkeys should never be fried.

Then there is the potential for a fire. Vapors and overheated oil can combust. That’s especially dangerous because of the gas-powered burners. Fire that spreads to the gas will cause an explosion, a sure way to set your house ablaze.

Determined to get that deep-fried taste on your Thanksgiving table? Find a safer way to do it. Ask a local restaurant if they’ll fry your bird, or try another kind of tool.

An appliance called an “oil-free turkey fryer” is said to create much the same taste as regular deep fryers, but uses radiant heat in place of oil. It’s a method that will make for a healthier turkey. With all the other goodies to enjoy on Thanksgiving day, that couldn’t be bad.

So forego the turkey fryer in the name of safety and health. Help yourself to an extra piece of pie, and be glad your cooking didn’t add the fire department to your holiday guest list.