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Why Deep Fried Turkeys Explode (and How to AVOID It!)

Deep-fried turkey is a holiday staple, but it’s not always a safe one. Despite the deliciousness of it all, deep-fried turkeys can explode while they’re being cooked and that can be dangerous.

In this article, we’ll talk about what causes deep-fried turkeys to explode, and how you can avoid it.

What causes deep fried turkeys to explode?

One reason is because of the difference in density between oil and water. When you deep fry a turkey, the water in the turkey interacts with the hot oil, causing density differences that can lead to an explosion.

Another reason why deep fried turkeys can explode is because of the high temperature of the oil. The high temperature of the oil causes the bird to cook from the inside out. The internal heat can’t escape causing a lot of pressure to build inside the bird and eventually explodes.

If you are considering deep frying a turkey, be sure to thaw and dry it first. This will help to prevent an explosion.

Explosions can also occur when hot oil drips out of the pot and into the flames of the burner.

Avoid overfilling the pot with too much oil and keep in mind that when you put the turkey in, you will be pushing oil out. If you’ve put too much oil into your pot then then this might cause a spill.

How can you avoid making your deep fried turkey explode?

Step 1: Choose your oil wisely

The type of oil you use for deep frying turkey is important.

Some recipes recommend using peanut or canola oil, but any neutral-tasting oil will work well. It’s important to use enough oil to cover the turkey completely.

This will help ensure that the turkey doesn’t stick to the pot and that it cooks evenly.

Also, using oil that’s not made to handle the extreme temperatures of deep frying can end up burning.

Step 2: Heat your oil to the right temperature

When frying meat, it’s important to heat the oil to a specific temperature in order to avoid an explosion.

Oil should be heated to a temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

To avoid explosions, it is important to defrost your turkey thoroughly and blot it dry before cooking it.

When frying a turkey, always follow the instructions in the manual and be aware of the dangers associated with cooking with hot oil.

Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and never leave the frying equipment unattended.

Step 3: Use the right size turkey

Make sure that the turkey fits in your deep fryer. The best way to do this is to measure the diameter of the basket for your deep fryer.

You should be able to fit at least 1 inch between the turkey and the sides of your cooker.

If you’re using a basket to put your turkey in, make sure that there’s enough room around the perimeter of the basket so that hot oil doesn’t splash out and burn everyone around it.

You should also have at least 1 inch between any part of the turkey and side of your pot or pan.

Step 4: Don’t overfill your pot

When deep frying a turkey, it is important to avoid overfilling your pot.

If you overfill your pot, the oil will spill and you’ll have a mess to clean up.

What’s worst is that if that oil spill makes contact with the fire from your burner, then it’ll likely set off a explosion and fire.

Put enough oil into the pot to cover the turkey but not overflow it out of the pot. Also, make sure you account for the heat that may cause the oil to rise and boil over.

Step 5: Lower your turkey slowly

The best way to avoid an explosion when deep frying a turkey is to lower the turkey slowly into the hot oil.

Make sure the oil is at 350 or 375 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the turkey, and turn off the flame before lowering the bird into the fryer.

This will remove any open flames and prevent any accidental spillage from making contact with the fire and causing an explosion.

Use a turkey hook to lower it gently into the oil, being careful not to splash any hot oil.

Once the turkey is in the fryer, restart the flame and replace the thermometer.

Cook for 3-4 minutes per pound, then check temperature with a meat probe thermometer.

Let rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Step 6: Don’t leave your turkey unattended

Deep frying a turkey is a dangerous process that can easily lead to accidents.

The oil can get too hot and cause the turkey to catch fire. If the turkey is not carefully monitored, it can quickly become overcooked and dry.

It is important to follow all safety instructions when deep frying a turkey, and to never leave the turkey unattended while it is cooking.

Step 7: Use a meat thermometer

It is important to use a meat thermometer when deep frying a turkey to avoid an exploding turkey.

The skin will turn a golden color long before the interior is done, so don’t rely on your eyes!

The turkey’s internal temperature should reach 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit in white meat, and 175-180 degrees for dark meat.

Also, make sure the meat thermometer is approved for deep frying. Some models may not be designed to be dipped in oil.

Follow these basic steps to fry a turkey safely: prepare carefully, take your time, and be aware of potential accidents.

What are some other safety tips for deep frying a turkey?

1. Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before cooking.

The turkey should be completely thawed and dried before cooking.

It is also important to warm up the turkey for 15-20 minutes before frying it in hot oil.

Additionally, make sure to remove any paper towels and untie any legs that may be tied before submerging the turkey in oil.

It is also crucial to not add anything to the turkey cavity when deep frying. You don’t want your turkey stuffings to be soaked up full of oil.

Following these safety tips will help ensure a successful and safe deep frying experience.

2. Dry the turkey completely before cooking.

It is important to dry the turkey before deep frying in order to prevent a disastrous event.

When hot oil and water mix, the water can cause the oil to splatter and create a fire hazard.

3. Do not overfill the fryer with oil.

Overfilling the fryer can lead to a fire.

When the turkey is placed in the fryer, the oil can overflow and cause a fire.

The most common cause of fire from this situation is when the oil spillage makes contact with the flames as the turkey is being set in.

Here’s a neat little trick to decide how much oil to use.

First, put the turkey in the pot and fill with water until the turkey is fully submerged.

Remove the turkey and draw a line with a food-safe marker to where the water settles back down.

Make sure that the line isn’t too close to the edge of the pot or else rising oil might end up spilling anyway.

Use enough oil to cover the bird without over spilling, and keep an eye on the level of oil so it doesn’t overflow.

There’s one caveat to this method. Once you remove the turkey from the water, you HAVE to dry the turkey inside and out. Like I said before, hot oil and cold water don’t go well together. 

4. Do not overheat the oil.

Overheating the oil is dangerous when deep frying a turkey for several reasons.

First, it can cause the oil to catch fire.

Second, it can cause the turkey to explode.

Third, it can cause serious injuries to those nearby.

To prevent these dangers, it is important to know the smoke point of your oil before deep frying with it.

Additionally, keep a fire extinguisher and cooking guide close by, and be sure to use a thermometer to ensure the oil temperature remains at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the oil.

A meat thermometer is important to use when deep frying a turkey because it helps ensure the oil and the turkey is at the correct temperature.

If the oil is too hot, it can cause the turkey to overcook or burn. If the oil is not hot enough, the turkey will not cook all the way through and could be undercooked.

Knowing the internal temperature of your turkey can help make sure its fully cooked but not overcooked and dried out.

A meat thermometer can help avoid these problems by giving an accurate temperature reading of the oil.

6. Slowly lower the turkey into the oil.

When you’re deep frying a turkey, it’s important to be careful with the hot oil.

Make sure the fryer is on an even surface, away from walls and flammable materials, and that the propane tank is as far away from the burner as possible.

Wear safety gear and have your equipment ready before you start frying.

Use enough oil to cover the bird without it spilling, and keep an eye on the temperature to ensure it stays at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

When lowering the turkey into the oil, be sure to do it slowly so that there isn’t an overflow.

Oil and water don’t mix, so use caution when handling both.

7. Do not leave the turkey unattended while it is cooking.

Never leave the fryer unattended!

Deep frying a turkey is a popular way to cook the bird, but it can be dangerous if done incorrectly.

Important safety tips for deep frying a turkey include checking the oil temperature regularly, using caution when lifting the turkey, and never submerging a water drenched turkey into hot oil.

It is also important to fry the turkey outdoors and away from any combustible materials.

8. Use caution when removing the turkey from the oil.

I would always suggest keeping a fire extinguisher nearby.

Do not put out an oil fire with water as this can cause an explosion.

Again, the propane tank should be kept as far away from the burner as possible.

It is also important to fry the turkey outdoors, not inside or under a roof.

Wearing safety gloves and a leather apron will help protect you from getting burned.

Make sure all of the necessary equipment is nearby, including turkey hooks, temperature gauges, and meat thermometers.

Be sure to use enough oil to cover the bird but not so much that it spills over the fryer.

Avoid dropping the turkey into the hot oil to prevent fires or explosions.

To remove the turkey from the oil safely, use a turkey baster to suck out the oil or a slotted spoon to remove the fat from the pan.

Dispose of used oil safely!

9. Let the turkey rest before carving.

It is important to let the turkey rest before carving in order to prevent it from becoming dry or overcooked.

If you carve the turkey too soon, the juices will not have had a chance to redistribute evenly throughout the meat and will instead pool in the bottom of the pan.

Allowing the turkey to rest for 20 minutes before carving will ensure that it is cooked through and juicy.

10. Enjoy your delicious turkey!

Don’t forget to have fun! Enjoy yourself as you deep fry your turkey. It’s a great time for family and friends to get together and enjoy the day.


What are the dangers of deep frying a turkey?

Deep frying a turkey can be dangerous if not done properly.

The biggest appeal of deep frying a turkey is the time it takes to cook it, but this method can be dangerous and lead to burns.

Always use a turkey fryer outdoors, away from anything combustible or flammable.

Never leave your fryer unattended and follow manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid overfilling the pot and burning yourself.

Have a portable fire extinguisher handy in case of an emergency.

Do not deep fry a turkey if there is a chance of rain or snow.

Wear flame-retardant clothing and gloves when deep frying a turkey.

Use proper equipment, including an appropriate oil, to prevent fires from happening.

What are some safety tips for deep frying a turkey?

Deep frying a turkey is a risky process, and careful preparation is key to preventing injuries.

Many units of deep fryers are easily tipped over, leading to spills and fires.

To avoid these risks, preparation involves carefully reading the manufacturer’s instructions and following them closely.

Some safety tips to follow when deep frying a turkey include:

  • using well-insulated potholders or oven mitts
  • making sure the turkey is completely thawed
  • avoiding overfilling the fryer
  • not touching the pot or lid handles with your hands
  • and having an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby in case of a grease fire.

Following these tips can help make deep frying a turkey a safer process.

What is the best oil for deep frying a turkey?

The best oils for deep frying a turkey are peanut oil and vegetable oil.

Peanut oil is the best choice because it has a high smoke point and is less likely to cause your turkey to explode.

However, it is more expensive than vegetable oil. If cost is a concern, vegetable oil will do the trick.

Deep frying a turkey is a popular Thanksgiving tradition, and all three oils – canola, peanut oil, and olive oil – work well.

Avoid highly aromatic oils like hazelnut or flaxseed, which are not suitable for deep frying.

Choose an oil that is affordable and will work well at medium heat.

If you’re ever in doubt, look up the smoke point of the oil and it will tell you how well that oil can withstand a certain temperature.

What are some common mistakes people make when deep frying a turkey?

One of the most common mistakes people make when deep frying a turkey is not measuring the amount of oil they are using.

It is important to measure the oil so that you do not use too much, as this can cause an explosion.

Another mistake people make is not washing and drying the pot before use.

This can cause the oil and water to mix, which can be dangerous.

Additionally, people often try to deep fry a frozen turkey, which can also be dangerous due to the steam and oil bubbles that are created.

It is best to defrost the turkey beforehand so that you can avoid these risks.

Finally, another mistake people make is not checking the temperature of the oil before frying the turkey. Frying at a lower temperature than 350 degrees Fahrenheit can result in a burnt tasting turkey.

This is because you might end up leaving it in the deep fryer longer for it to get to the right internal temperature but this can cause overcooking and drying.

By following these tips, you can avoid making common mistakes when deep frying a turkey.

What should you do if you spill hot oil?

If you spill hot oil, the first thing you should do is turn off the heat source.

Then, put on gloves and other safety gear to protect yourself from burns.

Next, use absorbent materials like towels or rags to soak up the oil.

Finally, dispose of the absorbent materials properly.

What should you do if your turkey fryer catches on fire?

If your turkey fryer catches on fire, you should not try to put the fire out with water.

You should keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an oil fire.

I recommend purchasing a fire extinguisher with a K rating which is made to fight against cooking deep fryer fires involving cooking oils.

If the propane tank is too close to the burner, it could cause the turkey fryer to catch on fire.

You should wear safety gloves and a leather apron to avoid burns.

Make sure you have all the equipment you need to fry a turkey safely, including turkey hooks, temperature gauges, and meat thermometers.

What should you do if you have a grease fire?

If you have a grease fire, it is important to act quickly.

You should not try to extinguish the fire with water or by adding more grease to the pan.

Instead, you should slide a lid over the pan and turn off the heat.

Deep-frying a turkey is dangerous and can easily lead to a fire.

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