Happy Turkey Day! Don’t be an idiot!

For reasons that are entirely beyond my comprehension, some time ago, people started to deep fry their turkeys. Don’t do it unless you know what you are doing. And you probably don’t know what you are doing.

Here’s what William Shatner has to day about it:


  1. #1 Todd
    November 22, 2011

    I have always liked what Alton Brown did on a “Good Eats” episode regarding how to properly deep fry a turkey. Lots of excellent safety information. You can view the episode in 3 parts on youtube. Search for alton brown deep fried turkey.

  2. #2 Mike Licht
    November 22, 2011

    Easy if you know how: http://wp.me/p6sb6-bAl

    No knife skills? Serving’s a snap: http://wp.me/p6sb6-bDo

  3. #3 Russell
    November 22, 2011

    Easier: don’t do it. Roast the damn bird. Roast some heads of garlic, also.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    November 23, 2011

    I wonder how many people who deep fry a turkey bother to try it first with something much more manageable. Like a chicken.

    Or, for that matter, a french fry. I imagine for a certain number of turkey friers, this is the very first time the cook has ever tried that. Or for that matter, it may be the first time the person has ever cooked anything at all.

  5. #5 MadScientist
    November 23, 2011

    Awesome. 🙂 I can understand the desire to deep fry turkey, but personally I’ll stick to roasting ’em. Sure the inside of the bird isn’t quite the same as a deep-fried bird, but that detail is something I consider minor.

  6. #6 Eric Lund
    November 23, 2011

    Sounds like a great way to win a Darwin Award.

    Although I do my own cooking, I have never attempted to deep fry anything, nor have I attempted to cook a turkey in any fashion. This video shows that starting with a turkey is a Bad Idea. I suspect that Greg @4 is right that many of the people who attempt to deep fry a turkey have never tried the process out on something smaller. It may well be one of those things that certain self-proclaimed “he men” who do not normally cook would try.

  7. #7 Mu
    November 23, 2011

    Slow smoking is the way (and a good way to make sure you stay home on crazy Friday). Works well with watching the whole LotR trilogy (extended version if turkey is over 20 lbs).

  8. #8 The Phytophactor
    November 23, 2011

    As any experienced turkey frier will explain, the two key issues are displacement and getting the bird dry before immersing in hot oil, and then slowly and with great care. The huge boil-over fires come from having too much oil in the pot to start with and adding the bird too fast. And yes, fried turkey is worth the trouble.

  9. #9 bobh
    November 23, 2011

    I have a friend in the intelligence community who servered deep fried turkey at his office thanksgiving party every year. It was the best turkey I ever had. I asked him about the process (e.g where, how to get turkey in and back out of deep fryer etc). He made it sound easy but I applied “discretion is the better part of valor” to the idea of doing it myself. He’s retired now and I haven’t had deep fried turkey since. It was sure good.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    November 23, 2011

    I should add this: That big pot thingie with the fire under it is NOT a turkey fryer. It is a boiler/steamer designed for other uses and co-opted for turkey frying. I’ve used one quite a bit for various purposes and in fact, I consider it a dangerous way to cook even when using only water. When using it at the cabin I build a barrier of deck furniture and other objects entirely around it to divert out of control dogs, wandering children, and drunken revelers (one is cooking with this big-ass device only when there is a crowd) from coming anywhere near it and, frankly, I prefer to cook with it only when it is raining lightly outside so I’m alone out there. (I have a hat.)

    If one was designing an actual turkey fryer, one might do it quite differently so that the chance of an out of control fire if there is a mere spill would be reduced.

  11. #12 MadScientist
    November 23, 2011

    @Phytophactor: Yes, drying the damned bird is a huge thing. I’d recommend the technique used with chickens: lightly salt the bird inside and outside and hang the bird for 1-3 days in a cool dry place with a cheesecloth bag or some such around it to keep out any insects. It doesn’t effervesce anywhere near as much then. I still disagree about frying being better than roasting; I’ll stick to roasting.