DIY Wednesday: Turkey Fryer Safety Tips

Posted by Hometalk | Nov 11, 2009

I'm not sure what I find so amusing about deep frying a turkey. It's probably the fact that more and more Americans are risking burning down their houses in order to enjoy a crispy, oil-soaked bird.

Is it really worth it, or are people just doing it for the novelty of frying an animal whole? It seems like another absurd food trend, like microwave brownies and pizza in a cup. I heard about deep frying turkeys 10 years ago, when I was living in Colorado. A guy named Bill who had a strong Minnesota accent told me, with great excitement, that his family deep fries their turkey every Thanksgiving. Honestly, I thought he was crazy. "No," he said. "It's the best way to cook a turkey."

To this day, I've never tried deep fried turkey - I eat Thanksgiving dinner with my staunch Bostonian family, and as you know, Boston is a boiling and roasting kind of town. Nonetheless, while researching's Pre-Thanksgiving Check List, I found more references to deep frying turkeys than any other aspect of Thanksgiving. I thought I'd blog about this as a public service - Thanksgiving is a really stinky day to end up in the emergency room with third degree burns, and since I care about your houses, I don't want you to burn them down.

  • Alton Brown's Turkey Derrick: This is a good idea for three reasons: 1. It keeps your hands and body away from hot oil; 2. It keeps the fuel tank far away from flame and spattering oil, thus preventing large explosions; 3. It allows you to lower and raise the turkey into and out of the oil slowly. I will not be building this contraption this Thanksgiving (like I said, staunch Bostonians always roast), but if you do, please please post pictures.
  • Learn turkey frying safety tips from "the standard in safety."
  • Read a great discussion on exactly how much oil you should put in your turkey frying cauldron to avoid engulfing your yard (always fry turkeys outside) in a ball of flame.
  • The Scottsdale, AZ fire department kindly published this very thorough list of turkey-frying safety precautions. Don't say they didn't warn you. My favorite tip of theirs: "Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire."

Photo credit: Escalon Fire Protection District.

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