The Turkey Frying Tip To Make Sure You Use The Right Amount Of Oil

Deep-frying a turkey can deliver exceptionally moist and flavorful meat with perfectly crispy skin, but there are some precautions you should take to avoid a disaster during this tricky cooking process. Too much oil can spill over the pot and onto the burner (where it can start a fire), so you'll want to take the time to measure how much oil you need before you begin frying.

An easy method to determine the right amount of oil is to place your turkey in the pot and fill it with water until it's about an inch above the turkey. Then, remove the turkey and draw a line on the pot that will show you how high to fill it up with oil. Make sure that there is enough space above the mark — at least several inches — to accommodate the boiling oil without it splashing out; if the line you drew is too close to the top of the pot, you may need a bigger pot (or a smaller turkey).

Yes, this measurement is an extra step, but it's an important one. If you decide to just wing it and pour in the frying oil without measuring, not only will you have a huge mess when the turkey goes in, but you're also setting yourself up for a fiery disaster.

Why the right amount of oil is a safety issue

Many people swear by deep-frying as the optimal way to cook a turkey, but it's also a common way for people to land themselves in the ER. It's dangerous enough that many fire departments and the National Fire Protection Association advise you just to not even try it and purchase a fried turkey from a store or restaurant instead. If you are going to deep-fry your turkey, making sure you have the right amount of oil to prevent overflow is extremely important for preventing a fire. Other safety tips include always using your fryer outdoors in an open area away from buildings, people (children especially), and pets; always watching your fryer while it's in use; keeping a fire extinguisher ready; and wearing proper clothing, face protection, and oven mitts to prevent burns from splashes of hot oil. 

Finally, never, ever put a frozen turkey in the deep fryer — this is how turkeys explode. The scientific reason why frozen turkeys blow up in a deep fryer has to do with steam and density. Frozen turkeys contain a lot of water, and these water molecules, being denser than oil, fall to the bottom of the pot. From there, the water quickly changes into steam, which, as a gas, rises rapidly to the top. This, combined with the hot oil spilling onto the flames from the burner, causes an incredible explosion — with potentially devasting consequences if a person or dwelling is nearby.

Other tips for deep-frying turkey

While deep-frying your turkey is, of course, controversial due to the fire hazard and messy oil, proponents of the method will tell you that no other cooking technique will yield as quality results. It must taste amazing if people are willing to put their safety at risk for it, right? Not only does it reign supreme in flavor, moistness, and crispiness, but it takes less time than roasting your turkey.

Luckily, in addition to fire safety professionals, experienced turkey-fryers have lots of safety and cooking tips. Echoing advice from the U.S. Fire AdministrationReddit users responding to the thread "I want to deep fry a turkey this year, what are [your] pointers/recipes?" say to make sure to remove all moisture from the turkey before frying, and some suggest turning the flame down or off when you lower the turkey into the fryer to avoid overflow, turning it back up once the turkey is in the pot.

For cooks who don't love the idea of cooking with a large pot of hot oil, there are also oil-free turkey fryers you can buy. These fryers generally use infrared technology to "fry" the turkey and offer a safer, less messy option (although there are still some precautions you need to take). Whether they produce turkey as tasty as frying it in hot oil is for you to decide.