It’s hard to beat the speed of deep-frying a turkey—or the irresistible flavor and juiciness that result. But turkey fryers have the potential to cause fire and serious injury, which is why organizations like Underwriters Laboratories and the National Fire Protection Association advise against using them.
If you plan to deep-fry your holiday bird, be sure you know how to safely use the fryer, and take these precautions to protect yourself, your guests and your home:
• Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages and a safe distance away from trees and other structures.
• Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
• Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow.
• Control the amount of alcohol you and your friends consume.
• Place the fryer on a level surface, and avoid moving it once it’s in use.
• Leave 2 feet between the tank and the burner when using a propane-powered fryer.
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid overfilling. Oil can ignite when it makes contact with the burner. To test this, you could dip the turkey into the oil prior to heating it to make sure it doesn’t overflow.
• Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A bird that’s 8 to 10 pounds is best; pass on turkeys over 12 pounds.
• Never leave fryers unattended.
• Purchase a fryer with temperature controls, and watch the oil temperature carefully. Cooking oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire. If you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off.
• Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey into the oil. Once the turkey is submerged, turn the burner on.
• Wear goggles to shield your eyes, use oven mitts to protect your hands and arms and keep a grease-rated fire extinguisher close by.
• Skip the stuffing when frying turkey, and avoid water-based marinades.
• Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times. A distance of 6-8 ft should be sufficient.
• Once finished, carefully remove the pot from the burner, place it on a level surface and cover to let the oil cool overnight before disposing.