Deep-frying can quickly produce a crispy and juicy Thanksgiving turkey, but consumer safety advocates and firefighters have repeatedly warned that the cooking method carries significant risks.

According to the New York City Fire Department, deep-fried turkeys cause an average of five d*aths, 60 injuries and more than $15 million in property damage. Improperly done deep frying can lead to bird explosions, oil burns and dangerous fires.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an average of 2,300 residential fires were reported each Thanksgiving between 2017 and 2019. Cooking was by far the leading cause of all Thanksgiving fires, according to the agency.

This method is especially dangerous for those who ignore the first safety tip for deep frying turkey – never attempt to fry a frozen turkey or a bird that has not been fully thawed, as this can easily cause an explosion or fire.

Explosions are usually caused by the volatile reaction of ice mixed with hot oil, while the large amount of hot oil that is typically used to cook turkey also poses a serious fire hazard. Leaving the fryer unattended while cooking can be a recipe for disaster.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shared a dramatic video on social media showing multiple explosions and fires while frying turkeys, warning consumers to “cook the turkey, not the house.”

Pictured is a person preparing to deep fry turkey in Nashville, Tennessee, November 24, 2020. Experts say deep frying turkey carries significant but mostly avoidable safety risks.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Some experts argue that the risks of frying are so great that consumers should never even attempt to fry turkey in oil. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests that consumers use electric turkey fryers, infrared fryers, or air fryers instead.

“Turkey fryers that use edible oil are not safe,” reads the NFPA bulletin. “These fryers use large amounts of oil at high temperatures, which can cause devastating burns. If you want fried turkey for your Thanksgiving meal, buy it at the grocery store, restaurant, or buy a fryer that doesn’t use oil.”

For those who insist on using oil for frying birds, the National Turkey Federation pointed out Newsweek down safety guide about frying turkey. The organization has advised people trying to fry turkey to also do so outside and away from any buildings.

Other tips include using oils with a high smoke point – such as peanut, sunflower, canola or rice oil – never leave the fryer unattended, keep children and pets away from the frying area, and allow the oil to cool completely before discarding it.

Despite the dangers, supporters of deep-fat frying swear that the properly performed method allows you to obtain a turkey with an incomparably crispy skin and perfectly baked, juicy meat inside.

Frying can also save home chefs a lot of time in the kitchen – a cooking time of just 3.5 minutes per pound can produce a finished bird in an hour or less, compared to a full day of cooking that is often required using more traditional methods.

Although relatively common now, deep-fried turkey has been uncommon for most of Thanksgiving history. Rick Rodgers, author of the book Thanksgiving 101, He said US today in 2015, the cooking method only became popular as “part of the Cajun food craze that began in the late 1970s.”

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