Turkey Fryer Safety: What You Need to Know 


Nov 8, 2023


Frying turkey has become all the rage in the past couple of years, and as such, practicing proper turkey fryer safety has become more important than ever. Cooking up and serving Thanksgiving turkey is a time-honored tradition, and deviating from the traditional ways of preparing it can be a real treat — but it can also pose significant new dangers. 

Deep frying a turkey, although a fun and creative way to serve up this holiday staple, doesn’t come without risk of injury. In fact, in the past few years, accidents associated with frying turkeys have become some of the most common Thanksgiving injuries that we see in the emergency room around the holidays. Without proper knowledge of turkey fryer safety, your holiday preparation could turn into a disaster very quickly. 

Why is frying a turkey so dangerous?

In order to deep fry a whole turkey you need to use an oversized deep-fat fryer, which requires handling massive quantities of hot oil, and dealing with any amount of hot oil can be a recipe for disaster if you’re unprepared or impatient. Here are some of the dangers associated with deep frying a turkey:

  • Extremely hot oil (typically around 400 degrees Fahrenheit) can cause severe burns. Don’t let it spill, splash, or tip out of the fryer, because if it comes into contact with your skin you may suffer incredibly painful oil burn injuries.
  • Without proper temperature controls, the oil can overheat and catch fire. Turkey fryer fires can often be catastrophic and cause severe injuries and damage to property.
  • Placing a frozen or not properly thawed turkey into hot oil can cause the oil to overflow and ignite.
  • Placing a turkey fryer on an uneven and flammable surface can cause severe damage and injuries if the fryer happens to tip over or overflow.
  • Improper preparation or cooking techniques can result in an undercooked or ill-prepared Thanksgiving turkey which can result in food poisoning. Read up on our tips for how to avoid food poisoning.

Frying a turkey is a multiple-day commitment that takes a lot of patience, preparation, and knowledge to execute safely. This dangerous task can have catastrophic results if not done properly. The following turkey frying safety tips are meant to help you not only keep you and your loved ones safe, but also ensure that your bird will come out juicy and delicious for your festive meal!

5 turkey frying safety tips

How do you prevent a turkey fryer fire? If you’re planning on deep frying a turkey this Thanksgiving, then it’s time to take notes on these turkey frying safety tips, especially if this is your first time attempting a fried bird. Be sure to check out our blog about how to prevent kitchen accidents this Thanksgiving for more tips!

1. Always use a turkey fryer outdoors

You should never fry a turkey indoors or in any enclosed space. If the oil overheats or spills, it can lead to a dangerous and rapidly spreading fire, and flammable materials, such as walls, ceilings, curtains, and kitchen cabinets, could become fuel for the fire. Placing your deep fryer outside in a controlled, well-ventilated area will help prevent the flames and smoke from causing damage. Be sure to put your fryer at a safe distance away from buildings and other flammable materials.

2. Be sure your turkey is fully thawed before frying 

Moisture and hot oil do not mix well. As mentioned above, you must wait to fry your turkey until it is completely thawed and dry, which can take a few days of waiting. Any water or ice left on your turkey can cause the hot oil to splash, ignite, or overflow, putting you and others at risk of a burn injury. Do not place a marinated or stuffed turkey into a fryer. Practice patience and don’t start frying until you have a completely thawed turkey.

3. Never leave your fryer unattended

After following the previous steps, do not leave your fryer’s side as the oil heats up. Many fryer fires occur because people neglect to notice that their oil is overheating and boom: flames. Set your fryer to the proper temperature, lower your fully thawed and dry turkey slowly into the fryer, and let it cook. Make sure there are no children around who could accidentally come into contact with the fryer and have an experienced adult supervise the fryer at all times. 

4. Wear protective clothing, eyewear, and oven mitts

When dealing with a cooking method as dangerous as deep frying, it’s crucial that you wear the proper protective gear to shield your skin and eyes from any hot oil. This is a great way to help prevent burns or other injuries that you may face. Before beginning your fryer preparation, here is a list of items that you should be wearing and have nearby to grab at a moment’s notice:

  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Long pants 
  • Closed-toed shoes 
  • Heavy-duty apron
  • Protective eyewear (safety goggles)
  • Heavy-duty oven mitts or gloves

5. Have a fire extinguisher nearby

Because deep-fat fryers can cause a fire at a moment’s notice if you’re not careful, practicing proper fire safety procedures including having a fire extinguisher on hand is crucial if you’re going to undertake this task. 

In the event that your turkey fryer does catch fire, remain calm and immediately turn off the heat source. Grab your fire extinguisher (preferably a Class F fire extinguisher, which can handle oil fires) and extinguish the base of the flame from a safe distance away. You can also try to use the lid of the fryer to smother the flame. If the fire grows too large and is out of your control, evacuate the location and call 911 for help. 

Turkey fryer-related injuries? Complete Care is here to help!

Turkey fryer safety is something that should be taken incredibly seriously as mishaps can cause severe injuries and property damage. If you follow our turkey frying safety tips and practice caution, you should be able to safely serve up a delicious and juicy Thanksgiving turkey for your loved ones to gobble up this holiday season! However, accidents happen, and if you do find yourself with any injuries, Complete Care is here to help. 

With multiple 24/7 emergency room locations in Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and Colorado Springs, we can see patients at any time. No matter the emergency, our medical staff is here and ready to help you get in, out, and back to your festivities. We have lower wait times than traditional hospitals but provide the same level of emergency care. This Thanksgiving, we’re here to take complete care of you.

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