Turkey Fry Gone Awry

Want a deep-fried turkey for the holidays? Be afraid. Be very afraid. Grease + propane + bird on a wire = disaster waiting to happen.

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Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse, the Food Network and countless Turkey Day connoisseurs swear by succulent deep-fried fowl. Apparently, the old-school roasted bird has become passé. So if you want to go down the deep-fried route this Thanksgiving, all you need is the bird, a propane burner, a vat of peanut oil and a little patience.

Not to mention a fireproof outfit. Learning “How to Make a Deep-Fried Turkey” may seem simple enough, but don’t be fooled, there are many ways your fry can go awry. Before you gas up the propane, take a few turkey-handling tips from The Root or else Tom Turkey will be on fiyah—literally.


The first rule of thumb for frying turkey on Thanksgiving is going outdoors with your recipe of choice. A fricasseed bird can be mighty hard to clean up after.

There is such a thing as showing too much skin, especially when it comes to frying a turkey. Don’t get too close to the pot of oil with clothes that expose your arms … or even your toes. That is, unless you want to be nursing wounds when it’s time to eat.

If Tom Turkey is wet when he takes his oil bath, you can count on feeling the heat, too. Turkeys are typically fried at about 400 degrees. Do you really want to go down with your dinner?

Using too much oil or too small of a pot can cause problems during the cooking process. Turkey size should be proportional to the vat used for deep frying. Bigger isn’t better—it can just be trouble. So always be prepared: Forget stop, drop and roll. Stop, drop and run!