Oven roasting? Psssh. Deep frying a turkey for Thanksgiving is where it’s at. The benefits are many: dipping your bird in a bath of hot oil not only creates a crispy skin while sealing in all the juices but it also significantly lowers cooking time (i.e. a 15-pound turkey only needs 45 minutes in the fryer as opposed to three plus hours in the oven). Plus: it’s a spectacle guaranteed to conjure ooh and aahs from guests. But while it’s a surefire way to speed up cooking time and crispiness, it can also be a surefire way to, well, start a fire: As this video from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shows, it’s easy to ignite a giant fireball if you don’t follow protocol properly. Even if you do, it’s extraordinarily dangerous.
The NFPA gives a strong warning against deep-frying your turkey, describing the process as “not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer.” It is not currently known how many fires are caused each year by deep frying turkey. But the NFPA claims that the accidents result in more than $15 million of property damage every year. The problems often stem from three missteps in particular: Not properly thawing your bird before dunking it in the fryer, not turning off the flames prior to deep frying, and filling the fryer with too much oil. In case you’re unconvinced of the repercussions, here’s their video.
Fire-related accidents spike on holidays and Thanksgiving is, per the National Fire Protection Association “the peak day for home cooking fires.” In 2015, fire departments in the U.S. responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, by far the most of that year.
If you’re going to deep fry your turkey please follow proper protocol. State Farm has a useful checklist to avoid deep frying dangers, including the fact that frying must always take place outside a safe distance away from homes, decks, or any other structures and that your bird should be thawed and completely dry before dunking. State Farm also partnered with William Shatner a few years back to create a deep frying video Shatner, a deep-fried turkey fanatic, almost burned down his house and wanted to prevent folks from doing the same.
The NFPA also provided a number of tips for general holiday fire safety, most of which revolve around staying in the kitchen if you’re using the stove-top or oven and keeping kids away from anything flammable or dangerous. However you choose to cook this season, please be safe.