National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil. These turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures, and units currently available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process.
The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries and the destruction of property. NFPA urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers, and restaurants for the preparation of the dish, or consider a new type or “oil-less” turkey fryer.
Dangers During Cooking
- Hot oil may splash or spill if the fryer is jarred or tipped over, turkey is placed in the fryer or removed. Any contact between hot oil and skin could result in serious injury – any contact between hot oil and nonmetallic materials could lead to serious damage
- A major spill of hot oil can occur with fryers designed for outdoor use and using a stand as these units are particularly vulnerable to upset or collapse, followed by a major spill of hot oil. Newer countertop units using a solid base appear to reduce this particular risk.
- In deep frying, oil is heated to temperatures of 350 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Cooking oil is combustible, and if it is heated beyond its cooking temperature, its vapors can ignite.
- Propane-fried turkey fryers are designed for outdoor use, particularly for Thanksgiving, by which both rain and snow are common in many parts of the country. If rain or snow strikes exposed hot cooking oil, the result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the rain or snow to steam, either of which can lead to burns.
- Use of a propane turkey fryer indoors to escape bad weather is extremely risky. Fires have occurred when turkey fryers were used in a garage or barn or eaves to keep the appliance out of the rain.
- The approximately 5 gallons of oil in these devices introduce an additional level of hazard to deep fryer cooking, as does the size and weight of the turkey, which must be safely lowered into and raised out of the large quantity of hot oil.
- Many turkeys are purchased frozen, and they may not be fully thawed when cooking begins. As with a rainy day, a defrosting turkey creates the risk of contact between hot cooking oil.
There is a new outdoor turkey cooking appliance that does not use oil. NFPA believes these should be considered as an alternative. NFPA understands that this appliance will be listed by a recognized testing laboratory.