Fried turkey is delicious, the crispy skin and juicy meat is totally worth the tricky process. We made a list of 5 tips of what not to do when deep frying a turkey with the help of PBS. Every year, we hear about someone who burned down their house or injured themselves from deep frying Thanksgiving dinner. There’s even a demonstration video on YouTube of all that could go wrong. These injuries and damages could be avoided if you properly prep and research how to deep fry a turkey. I watch my dad do it every year and it is a delicate process. It almost plays out like an action movie watching him lower the 16lb bird into the hot oil.

Before you set up your turkey fryer, check out our tips on what not to do when deep frying a turkey and what you SHOULD do instead.


  • Frying Inside Or Under Cover

    One of the biggest mistakes people make when deep frying turkeys is doing it in their garage, home, or lanai. The result normally ends in disaster.

    Do this instead: make sure you’re at least 10 feet away from your house, cars, or shed. It’s also important to put your fryer on a flat surface, preferable pavement or asphalt. Never leave the fryer unattended. 

  • Using A Frozen Turkey

    Not properly thawing or drying your turkey can really ruin your Thanksgiving. Once a frozen turkey is dropped in hot oil the bird creates a ton of steam from the oil and begins to bubble over the sides of the pot and into the fire. Once that happens, it’s hard to stop the fire from spreading.

    Do this instead: Thaw your turkey completely in the refrigerator. Depending on the size of your turkey, it could take a day or two. Before you throw it in the fryer, pat the bird try with paper towels.

  • Too Much Oil In The Pot

    This is probably where we see the most mistakes. People often use too much oil when deep frying their turkey. Too much oil can cause spillover once you put in the bird, and then the next thing you know, there’s a fire. If you don’t use enough oil, you can add more once the turkey is in the pot, but it will lower the temperature and take longer to cook.

    Do this instead: Before you start cooking on turkey day, do a test run! Put the turkey in the pot (still wrapped) and fill the pot with water. Once you’ve added enough water to cover the turkey with about an inch of water, note how many quarts of water you used. When it comes time to cook for the family, you’ll swap the water for oil. During your test run, you can also remove the turkey and mark the water line on the pot with a sharpie. Now you’re ready to go!

  • Turn Up The Heat

    It’s super important to monitor the temperature of oil when deep frying your turkey. Many fryers do not have their own thermostats, so make sure you have a frying thermometer to measure.

    Do this instead: It’s recommended to keep the flame low until the oil goes in the burner, then heat the oil to 350 degrees.

  • Drop The Turkey

    … We’re not talking about on the ground. Many people quickly drop their turkey in the hot oil which is the fastest way to start a grease fire.

    Do this instead: Place the turkey on the fryer’s lifter, hook, or basket. Turn off the flame and remove the oil thermometer before slowly (and we mean, SLOOOOOOWLY) lowering the turkey into the pot. Restart the flame and replace the thermometer after the turkey is submerged.

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