Nothing wows at the Thanksgiving dinner table – and keeps people coming back for more – like the crispy skin and moist meat of a deep-fried turkey.
But, unless you’re very careful, getting that great taste can come at a great cost. Just search Google for “deep-fried turkey fire,” and you’ll get a few hundred results. A few hundred thousand, that is.
The best way to keep Thanksgiving from going up in flames? Buying your deep-fried bird rather than cooking it yourself. Many stores and restaurants offer them now, and they’ve got the proper equipment — and experience — to make them safely.
If, however, you’re set on setting up the fryer this Thanksgiving, please proceed with caution. These turkey deep-fryer safety tips will help:
1. Don’t go for the biggest bird. The ideal turkey for deep frying is one that’s 12 pounds or less. Anything bigger and it has to fry too long, which can over-cook the skin.
2. Do completely thaw and dry your turkey. Submerging a wet, frozen or partially frozen turkey can cause the oil to bubble out of control and cause a fire.
3. Don’t stuff it. To ensure your bird cooks evenly and thoroughly, keep the stuffing separate.
4. Do set up your fryer in a safe spot. Keep it at least 10 feet from your house and other structures and place it out of the wind on a flat, non-flammable surface.
5. Don’t fry inside. It may be cold out, but that’s no excuse for using a propane turkey deep fryer in your garage or another enclosed area. Keep it outside.
6. Do use the right type and amount of oil. Choose an oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut, canola or safflower. Just be mindful of anyone with a peanut allergy. To determine how much water you need, place the turkey in the fryer (before turning it on) and add enough water to cover it. Then take the turkey out and note the water level. Dump the water out, dry everything completely and pour in oil up to the water line, being mindful of the oil level limits of your fryer.
7. Don’t leave it unattended. Keep a close eye on the oil temperature throughout the process and keep a suitable fire extinguisher (multipurpose, dry-powder) nearby just in case.
8. Do cook your turkey 3-5 minutes per pound. Be sure to use a thermometer to ensure it is fully cooked to perfection.
9. Don’t let kids or pets play near the fryer. The fryer will be hot to the touch and, if it gets knocked over, it can cause serious injuries and damage.
10. Do let it cool before carving. Give yourself about 20 minutes between the time you remove the turkey from the fryer and the time you start carving.
By using your turkey deep fryer safely, you’ll have a tasty meal and plenty to be thankful for.