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VIDEO: Dangers of improperly deep-frying a turkey on Thanksgiving

Posted at 4:11 PM, Nov 23, 2021

Don’t spend your Thanksgiving in the emergency room!

The popular method for cooking turkeys can be dangerous because fryers can easily tip over and spill scalding-hot oil. They can also cause fires if oil hits the burner or flame, among other hazards.

Phoenix Fire Department is showing how to safely fry a turkey and what can happen if you improperly use an oil fryer to cook a turkey:

Deep-fried turkey hazards

The City of Phoenix offers the following tips for deep-frying turkeys:

Deep-Fried Turkey Cooking Tips:

  • Follow your fryer’s instructions.
  • Only deep fry smaller turkeys—up to 12 pounds.
  • Use oils with high smoke points such as peanut, canola and safflower. Peanut oil adds flavor, but it can be a concern if guests have peanut allergies.
  • To determine how much oil you’ll need, put the turkey in the basket and place in the pot. Add water until it reaches one to two inches above the turkey. Lift the turkey out, and use a ruler to measure the distance from the water to the top of the fryer. Pour out the water and dry the fryer completely.
  • Remember that it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to heat the oil, depending on the outside temp. wind and weather.
  • Before frying, pat the turkey dry with paper towels to keep the hot oil from spattering and popping.
  • Slowly lower the turkey into the oil, and maintain an oil temp of 350ºF. Fry turkey for three to four minutes per pound or about 35 to 42 minutes for a 10- to 12-pound turkey.

Safety Tips:

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other material that can burn.
  • Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages.
  • Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you don't watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. Even after use, never allow children or pets near the turkey fryer. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot, hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don't mix, and water causes oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.