Thanksgiving 2020: 5 safety tips for deep-frying a turkey


Groups gathered around America’s Thanksgiving tables will likely be much smaller this year, in an effort to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. But while traditions are tweaked for safety’s sake, the dinner itself doesn’t have to be any different — or taste any less delicious.

For ambitious home chefs hoping to deep-fry a turkey, the National Fire Protection Association extends a word of caution. According to the nonprofit, Thanksgiving is “the peak day for home cooking fires,” followed by Christmas, the day before Thanksgiving and, finally, Easter.

With a little preparation and patience, however, your turkey — and your home — will come out just fine. So before hunkering down with your favorite seasonings and a tub of oil, keep reading for five must-know tricks for safely deep-frying on Turkey Day.

Prepare a safe space

First and foremost, scout out a safe area at least 10 feet away from your home. Keep the fryer away from garages, decks and fences, and a safe distance away from trees, State Farm advises. Ensure that there will be no bystanders, children or pets nearby once you begin. In addition, having a working fire extinguisher on hand is wise, too.

You can’t safely fry a turkey that isn’t properly thawed, either. Frozen or wet turkeys can cause hot oil to splatter, potentially causing burns. For help on when and how to thaw, follow recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Be careful around the oil

Once the oil gets hot, it’s easy for things to get messy. Don safety glasses, oven mitts and an apron to handle the fryer well before the oil starts to bubble. Make sure your fryer is on a flat, level space to carefully gauge the amount of oil needed. Don’t use too much oil, either — Minnesota fire investigator Jamie Novak warns that using too much oil could cause the burner to ignite, if any of it spills out.

Get the temperature just right

When cooking turkey parts, the oil temperature should be at 325 degrees F, according to Nicole Johnson, Butterball Turkey Talk-Line expert. She adds that it may take four to five minutes per pound to reach the recommended temperatures, as dark meat should get up to an internal temperature of about 180 degrees F, and white meat to an internal temperature of about 170 degrees F.

Monitor the turkey

Using temperature controls to monitor the blaze is must, according to LDR Construction. Also, take your time while frying the turkey. When raising or lowering the turkey from/into the oil, go slowly to minimize spills, and give your full attention to the process. It’s wise to avoid alcohol, too, and it goes without saying that you should never leave the bird unattended.

Clean up cautiously

Congratulations, you’ve deep-fried a turkey! Be sure to remove the bird from the fryer slowly, turn off the heat, and clean up your frying space just as meticulously as you set it up. After all, you’ve come too far to suffer a mistake now.

And when it comes time to gather around the table, enjoy every compliment your savory dish receives.