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Deep Fry a Turkey?

Is it Safe to Cook a Turkey in the Deep Fryer?

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Deep Fry a Turkey?

Deep frying a turkey can cause a fire.

Photo © Underwriters Laboratories

Deep Fry a Turkey?

Every Thanksgiving, people all across the country search for some way to solve the problem of dry, flavorless turkey. Hence the growing popularity of cooking turkeys in the deep fryer.

The allure of a cooking technique that promises a perfectly cooked moist turkey is powerful indeed. But before you drop your Thanksgiving turkey into a vat of boiling fat, you might want to consider whether it's worth the risk.

Turkey fryers are responsible for dozens of Thanksgiving day fires each year, causing $15 million in property damage and scores of injuries.

That's because turkey fryers are inherently unsafe. So much so that Underwriters Laboratories, the independent product safety group whose "UL" logo appears on billions of products, refuses to certify any turkey fryers, citing the potential fire hazards related to overheating and oil spillover.
  • Turkey fryers don't have thermostat controls, which means there's no way to turn the heat up or down. The heat is either on or off. Because there's no way to control the temperature, the oil in the fryer can easily overheat and ignite.

  • Overfilling the turkey fryer can also be dangerous. If there's too much oil in the vat, the excess oil can spill over when you put the turkey in. The oil that splashes over the side is then ignited by the burner, starting a fire. It only takes overfilling it by a little bit to create a potential hazard. Note that it can be tricky to estimate how much oil a turkey will displace just by looking at it.

  • UL also notes that turkey fryers are prone to tipping over, producing a veritable tidal wave of boiling oil. Anyone standing near the fryer at the time, including children or pets, could be badly burned.
Here's more information about turkey fryer fire hazards, including a video demonstration of what can go wrong. It may change your mind about whether cooking your Thanksgiving turkey in the deep fryer is a risk you want to take.

Also see: Cooking a Turkey
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