Fried Turkey Safety Checklist: How To Stay Safe While Frying Your Thanksgiving Bird
Nothing is more trendy that fried turkey at Thanksgiving. And with it’s golden, crispy skin and tender, juicy meat, we absolutely see the appeal. However, frying a turkey can also be extremely dangerous. Lifting a fifteen-pound turkey in and out of a few gallons of hot oil above an open flame can result in serious personal injury and extreme fire damage. Make sure you don’t ruin your Thanksgiving feast by reviewing our fried turkey safety checklist.
Choose a Turkey that Fits Your Pot
Thanksgiving is often about excess and many stores now carry eighteen, twenty-one, and even twenty-five-pound mega turkeys. While these may be great for leftovers, these birds can be beastly in size. We recommend going with a smaller bird in the twelve- to fifteen-pound range. There needs to be enough room in your pot for the oil too.
Choose a Safe Location for Frying
Frying can be dangerous, so we recommend that you choose your frying location wisely. Find a place that has low foot traffic, is level, and at least ten feet away from your home or garage. A firm, level lawn is nice because a little oil splatter won’t stain, but a brick patio or driveway surface is fine too. Using wood surfaces or decks are not recommended for hopefully obvious reasons.
Thaw and Dry Your Turkey Completely
Putting a wet and icy bird into a few gallons of fry oil is a great way to spend the rest of Thanksgiving in the burn ward of your local hospital. Before your turkey comes anywhere near your oil, make sure it is completely thawed, dry, and free of ice. Double, if not triple, check that there is no ice up in the body cavity. Then thoroughly pat the bird dry inside and out.
Assemble Your Frying Rig
At the base of every turkey frying rig is an outdoor burner. While there a plenty of three leg models, we recommend going with a four leg model for added stability and safety. You should have already chosen a pot large enough to fit the turkey and the oil. If not, now is the time to double check your turkey fits in your pot with plenty of room for the oil.
Additionally, you’ll need some sort of rig to safely lower the turkey into the oil and remove it once it’s finished cooking. There are plenty of lifting devices on the market. Choose a heavy-duty model that can safely lift your bird in and out of the oil.
Practice lifting the turkey in and out of the pot a few times before adding any oil to ensure you can safely carry the weight. You’ll also need a fry thermometer to keep track of the oil temperature and a fire extinguisher for safety.
Preparing to Fry Your Turkey
Now that you have thawed your turkey and it’s dry and free of ice, it’s time to prep it for frying. The best way to ensure you use the right amount of oil is to put the turkey in the kettle first, then add the oil. Make sure you leave at least two inches of space in the kettle so there is no chance of boilover. This ensures you don’t overfill the pot and cause an overflow when you add the turkey.
Frying Your Turkey
Once you have the right amount of oil in the pot, remove the turkey and turn on the burner. While you will probably want to fry at a temperature of 350° to 375°, we recommend that you add the turkey to the pot around 300°. This limits the changes of boil over. You should also turn off the burner as you lower the bird into the pot. Relight the burner only after the turkey is safely in the oil.
Cooking times will vary based on the size of the bird and the temperature of the oil. Conventional cooking wisdom suggests three to four minutes per pound. Unless your bird is huge, start checking the temperature with an instant-read thermometer after thirty minutes. Allow your golden brown and delicious turkey to rest for about thirty minutes before serving.
Fried Turkey Safety Checklist
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed, dry, and free of ice
- Never fry a turkey indoors
- Wear long pants, long sleeves, close-toed shoes, and heat-resistant gloves when handling the turkey or fry oil
- Choose a fry pot that fits your turkey
- Use a sturdy, four-leg burner
- Place the burner on a level surface
- Keep the burner away from your house, garage, guests, children, and pets
- Did we mention the turkey needs to be thawed, dry, and free of ice?
- Premeasure the amount of oil you need to avoid boil overs
- Have a fire extinguisher nearby for small fires
- Keep your phone handy just in case you need to call 911
- Stay in the immediate area during frying
- Seriously, the turkey must absolutely be thawed, dry, and free of ice
- Turn off the burner when adding or removing the turkey
- Slowly lower the turkey into the oil and avoid splashing
Professional Fire Damage and Smoke and Soot Restoration Services
If a turkey fryer or other fire gets out of control, always call 911 or your local fire department. Smoke damage and soot damage are destructive if not cleaned quickly. Due to the acidic nature of soot, it can quickly stain and even corrode. Prolonged exposure increases the chances of more severe damage.
Restoration Local is the largest network of restoration companies in the country. Our directory includes both independent restoration companies as well as the major restoration franchises like Paul Davis Restoration and ServiceMaster Restore.
Find a fire damage restoration company in your neighborhood now. For emergency services, call 1-888-443-3110 to talk with our on-call fire contractor nearest you. Our on-call partners offer 24-hour emergency services, 30-minute response, and a free estimate for all fire damage restoration services.
Image provided by Greg Walters / Flickr