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5 Tips for Safely Deep Frying your Turkey

By Ken Grey, Vice President & Branch Manager

turkey-dinnerLet’s talk turkey. Deep-fried turkey!

Every year, I hear more and more people talking about the desire to deep-fry their holiday turkey. While it may be one of the most popular (and delicious) ways to prepare a turkey, it’s also one of the fastest growing causes of home fires and devastating injuries each year.

Millions of dollars in damage, and numerous injuries - even deaths - have been caused because of a deep fried turkey accident. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments in the U.S. respond to more than 1,000 fires involving a deep fryer each year resulting in an average of:

  • 5 deaths
  • 60 injuries
  • The destruction of 900 homes
  • More than $15 million in property damage

Never fear! With a few precautions, a deep-fried turkey could still be the succulent centerpiece of your holiday feast. If you plan to deep-fry your holiday bird, be sure you know how to safely use the fryer ahead of time, and follow these tips to help keep you, your family and your home safe:

  1. Ensure you have the proper equipment
    Begin with a deep fry cooker with a 30 to 60 quart capacity heavy pot. If your cooker does not have a thermostat, you will need a deep fry thermometer to control the temperature of the oil. (Cooking oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire. If you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off!) You will also need a meat thermometer, an injector, goggles or some sort of eye protection, oven mitts or pot holders, and MOST IMPORTANTLY a grease-rated fire extinguisher.
  2. Only use your equipment outdoors
    Keep your fryer off the deck, out of the garage and a safe distance away from trees and other structures. If something goes wrong, you want to have it happen in the back yard rather than in your home. Make sure you place the fryer on a level surface, and avoid moving it once it’s in use. As with any outdoor activity, be careful to watch the weather! Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow. If rain or snow strikes exposed hot cooking oil, the result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the rain or snow to steam, either of which can lead to burns.
  3. Thaw your turkey first
    Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator for at least 3 to 4 days prior to frying. Turkeys must be completely thawed before going in the fryer because a partially thawed turkey will cause the oil to splatter causing serious burns. Hint: Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A bird that's 8 to 10 pounds is best.
  4. Don’t use too much oil
    Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid overfilling. Oil can ignite when it makes contact with the burner.
  5. Stay Alert
    The leading cause of deep fryer fires is unattended equipment. Don’t leave the deep fryer unattended. Keep pets and children away from the cooking device.

You may also want to consider alternatives to the traditional deep-fryer. The NFPA urges those who prefer fried turkey to look for grocery stores, specialty food retailers, and restaurants that sell deep fried turkeys, or to consider a new type of “oil-less” turkey fryer.”

Do you have any tips or recipes for a delicious deep-fried turkey? Leave them on our Facebook wall!


These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under any policy.