Deep frying a Thanksgiving turkey is now the second most popular way to cook a turkey on Thanksgiving, so says the website TurkeyFrying.net. Even celebrities are getting into this trend, with everyone from Paula Deen to Emeril Lagasse to Lady Gaga choosing deep-fried turkeys for Thanksgiving.
Turkey-frying aficionados say that deep-frying a turkey is the best way to prepare a flavorful and moist version of a turkey. But deep frying does come with risks.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there have been more than 141 serious fires and hot-oil burns from the use of turkey fryers over the last decade. And the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that, annually, deep fryer fires cause $15 million in U.S. property damage.
"If a turkey fryer is used the way it's supposed to be used, I think they're fine," said Dr. Thomas Esposito, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Here are 10 tips to deep fry a turkey on Thanksgiving and do so safely:
- Look for the newer fryers with sealed lids to prevent oil spills.
- Keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on.
- Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
- Place the fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures. Never use the fryer in, on, or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, deck, or any other structure that can catch fire.
- Slowly raise and lower the turkey to reduce hot-oil splatter and to avoid burns.
- Never cook in short sleeves, shorts, or bare feet. Cover all bare skin when dunking or removing bird. Additionally, protect your eyes with goggles or glasses.
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed, and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don't mix, and water can cause oil to spill over, creating a fire or even an explosion.
- Don't overfill the fryer with oil. Turkey fryers can ignite in seconds after oil hits the burner. Additionally, immediately turn off the fryer if the oil begins to smoke.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby for oil fires. Never use a hose in an attempt to douse a turkey fryer fire. (See tip #7 about oil and water not mixing.)
- If you do burn yourself, or someone else is burned, seek immediate medical attention.
Taking care not to become a victim of a fire and serious burns applies even if you're not using a deep fryer. That's because Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for cooking fires, with three times as many as on an average day, according to NFPA. Additionally, here are ways to avoid other kinds of fires at the holidays so you can have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season, whether you're frying a turkey or not.