Expert Weighs In On Deep Frying Dangers To Avoid On Turkey Day

While there's a lot to love about the food setup at Thanksgiving (mashed potatoes! stuffing! pumpkin pie!), the big feast wouldn't really be complete without the main course: the Thanksgiving turkey. While roasting a turkey may be the most popular way to prepare the traditional holiday bird, some Americans may turn to alternative methods that are more convenient (no more hours and hours in the oven) or more unique. The second most preferred way to cook Thanksgiving turkey? Deep frying it, according to a 2018 GE Appliances survey.

Some of the benefits of deep frying your turkey include juicier meat and crispier skin, Slate explains. Plus, it doesn't take as long as roasting and, more importantly, saves precious oven space. However, the popular cooking method isn't without its faults. Turns out that deep frying can be pretty dangerous if done incorrectly. Mashed spoke to Peter Duncanson, Sr. Director Training & Development – ServiceMaster Brands, about how to deep fry a Thanksgiving turkey safely — and what common mistakes you should avoid this Turkey Day.

Be careful about where and how you're deep frying your turkey

When it comes to deep frying your Thanksgiving turkey, the first thing you need to consider is your location. For starters, it should be done outside (never inside) and not on a deck or patio that can easily catch fire, like one made of wood, Peter Duncanson says. "Always fry your turkey in flat, open environments, away from trees, buildings, overhangs, and tripping hazards," he adds. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends setting up your fryer at least 10 feet away from your house.

Aside from where the deep frying takes place, you'll also want to keep in mind a few other helpful tips. "Always be sure the turkey has been properly and thoroughly thawed and never stuff the turkey you want to fry," Duncanson told Mashed. The USFA warns that if you don't thaw the turkey first, oil might splatter, which could lead to painful burns. You should also keep your eye on the fryer at all times — no walking away to check the score of the football game. Duncanson and the USFA recommend closely monitoring the temperature of the oil.

If it does appear your turkey is going up in flames, Duncanson stresses that you should "NEVER USE WATER to extinguish an oil fire. The smallest amount of water dropped into a pan or deep fryer" could cause an eruption. Instead, it's best to "have an all-purpose or grease fire extinguisher nearby" and wear protective mitts and goggles.