Deep Fat Fried Turkey

The Thanksgiving holiday is a wonderful time to reflect on the bountiful goodness in our lives.  It’s a time to celebrate those blessings with family and friends, and the day provides – for many of us – the fellowship of gathering around a table for a feast of our favorite foods.

Turkey is the traditional centerpiece of that feast, and many people choose to cook their turkey using a deep fat fryer.  This method can be very dangerous if not done correctly.

The turkey should NEVER be frozen, and it should ALWAYS be dried off before putting it into the fryer.  If the turkey has water in or on it, or if you put it in the fryer while it is still frozen, you could accidently start a deadly fire!  Click here to see a video of what can happen if you fry a turkey that is frozen or that contains water inside or outside the bird:  LINK TO VIDEO.


The video was shot at a “controlled burn” of a home in Prior Lake, MN.  KSTP-TV5 and the fire departments of Prior Lake, the Mdewakanton Sioux  Community, and the City of Saint Paul teamed up to make a video showing tips on preventing fires in the home.  The turkey cooking demonstration graphically shows the dangers of frying a frozen or wet turkey.


Why does the fire start, and why is the reaction so violent?  The reason is simple:  the water on the turkey or frozen into the bird boils when it hits the hot fat in the fryer.  The water turns to steam.  Steam expands to a volume 1,700 times greater than the volume of water (1 cup of water expands to 1,700 cups of steam when it boils).  The expanding steam pushes the oil out of the fryer pot, and the oil runs down to the burner assembly where the oil bursts into flames. 


So, if you choose to cook a turkey in a deep fat fryer this year, please follow some simple guidelines:

·      Set the fryer up outside away from any combustible materials

·      Do not set the fryer up on a combustible deck or patio or in the garage

·      Keep the propane tank as far from the burner assembly as possible

·      Make sure the turkey is completely thawed AND dry before you put it into the fryer


I hope you all enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend.  To my brothers and sisters in the fire, EMS, and military service – especially the men and women of the Saint Paul Fire Department:  THANK YOU for the extraordinary work you do to ensure that the blessings and bounty of the citizens we serve are protected and secured!  I continue to be blessed and humbled on a daily basis by my association with such an exceptional team of people!  May your families and friends enjoy the blessings of your presence when your shift is over and you return home safely!