Tips on Choosing and Using a Deep Turkey Fryer

Tips on Choosing and Using a Deep Turkey Fryer

Taryn Williford
Nov 12, 2010

My family is a two-turkey family, and I know we're not alone. One gets traditionally roasted in the oven, while the other gets taken out back and dropped in that gorgeous piece of home tech we call a turkey fryer. It's delicious, to be sure. But anytime you're heating up that much oil over that much heat, you're definitely in the "safety hazard" zone. Read on, because we've got tips and tricks to a safe and burn-free Thanksgiving.

The deep turkey fryer is like the Hulk of kitchen tech. If you make it angry, it will come at you with a vengeance. But if you ever plan to enjoy this delicious Buffalo Fried Turkey recipe, you'll need to get cookin'.

Here are a few tips for getting through your Thanksgiving dinner prep without 3rd degree burns:

  • If you're shopping for a fryer, electric fryers are much safer than propane. Propane fryers don't usually have manual temperature controls and can reach extremely high temperatures quickly, heating the oil to the point of combustion. Some electric fryers even have an automatic shut-off feature when the oil gets too hot.
  • If you go electric, be sure to choose a fryer with a breakaway power cord to help prevent accidental tipping.
  • If you don't have an electric fryer, monitor your oil's temperature with a big fry thermometer, like this InstaRead Deep Fry Turkey Thermometer ($12.99, Amazon).
  • When deciding on a spot for your turkey fryer, go for the outdoors, located a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials. Don't use a deep fryer on top of a wooden deck—grass or asphalt is safer.
  • If space is an issue, consider frying individual, smaller pieces of turkey in similar fashion to frying chicken. There are plenty of smaller deep fryer appliances that could accommodate to cook a few pieces of turkey at a time.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher handy. It's a good advice anytime you're cooking with heat.
  • Don't fill the fryer to the top with oil; you'll need to account for the displacement of the turkey. If you're not sure where the oil level should be, do a test run with water: Put the turkey in the fryer still wrapped, then fill the fryer with water, leaving about 2 inches at the top. When you pull the turkey out, you'll see the correct spot to mark your oil.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • While you're heating up the oil alone (before you drop your bird in), don't leave the fryer unattended. Wait until after you've dropped the turkey to check on the casserole—the oil's temperature will be much more stable then.
  • Oil and water definitely don't mix, so be sure to thaw your bird and pat it dry completely before lowering it slowly into the oil to avoid a grease fire.
  • If the oil does ignite, do not put the fire out with water. Use that fire extinguisher you oh-so-conveniently had nearby, thanks to our tips.

(Images: Flickr user nguarracino under license from Creative Commons, Flickr user ukanda under license from Creative Commons)

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