How to Fry a Thanksgiving Turkey Without Burning Your House Down

There’s three times more cooking fires on
Thanksgiving than any other day during the year, and yes, turkey fryers out there, we’re
looking at you. Today we’re talking grease fires and the
do’s and don’ts of turkey frying, so you can be thankful later on that you didn’t
burn your house down this year. (REACTIONS SPLASH INTRO) But why turkey fry? It’s simple: Speed, texture, and flavor. A turkey can be perfectly cooked in under
an hour because deep frying cooks food double time. First, hot oil flows around your bird, heating
the exterior in a process called convection that evaporates out the moisture in its skin. This gives it a nice, crispy crust, blessed
with the delectable Maillard Reaction alongside other bold flavor compounds from the oil. Then, due to the direct contact heat transfer
of convection, the turkey cooks itself from the outside in via conduction. By the way, that crust keeps your bird extra
juicy by trapping moisture inside. Sound too good to be true? It may be – that oil can also cause an inferno
that could fry the mood of your feast. But what exactly sets oil ablaze? Oils have specific temperatures called “smoke
points” where they break down and release airborne compounds. Here are the smoke points of several common
frying oils. While cooking oils themselves aren’t flammable
at these temperatures, these airborne compounds are really flammable. Also, if the heat isn’t regulated, oils
may reach their auto-ignition temperatures, where they can burst into flames. If your oil is releasing dark smoke, it’s
hit the smoke point, so turn the heat down asap! Turkey fryers can also go boom because water
and oil don’t mix. Water molecules are polar, which means one
side is slightly positive and the other is slightly negative. Oil, on the other hand, does not share this
quality. Or in other words, it is nonpolar. Ultimately, this means that polar and nonpolar
molecules try really hard to stay away from each other — and it shows. And for this reason, frozen turkeys are prone
to catastrophe! When the ice and water in a frozen turkey
makes contact with hot, it instantly vaporizes into steam and expands to seventeen hundred
times its original volume. This causes the oil in the frier to bubble
over. Not only can this burn you, these smaller
particles of cooking oil can quickly ignite if they reach the heat source. If you’re going to try a turkey fry this
year, listen up – Washington DC, battalion fire-chief Tony Falwell has some steps you
need to pay close attention to in order to not burn your house down. “When you’re frying a turkey, you want
to make sure that the turkey fryer is on a stable, non-combustible surface, that’s
10 feet away from your home. Basically, monitor the fill levels – you
don’t want to overfill that turkey fryer, because over-filling that turkey fryer can
cause serious burn injuries to you as well. And since frozen turkeys are going to cause
you big problems, make sure they are fully thawed and pat them down to dry them off.  Also, use a thermometer to keep an eye on
that heat – avoid your oil’s smoke point and you’ll do alright. But let’s just say something happens in
your home this Thanksgiving, chief, what’s the best, immediate solution to a fire? “for
grease fires I say that every home should be equipped with a multipurpose fire extinguisher,
and if that fire gets out of hand, make sure you get that extinguisher on it real quick.” Be safe out there, and be ready to feast. We want to hear your favorite thanksgiving
dishes in the comments, and hey let’s trade some recipes! If you do go the route of a turkey fry this
year, be as precise as a chemist when following your cookbook instructions and remember that
911 is your friend. Got any other food chemistry questions? Leave em in the comments, hit subscribe and
thumbs up on the way out.

21 comments on “How to Fry a Thanksgiving Turkey Without Burning Your House Down”

  1. Alex Storm says:

    1st Kappa

  2. lishde says:

    useful info good video.

  3. kanabalize says:

    why not start at low temp then go up?

  4. Sana Qureshi says:

    The video is pie long ūüėõ

  5. Zafffre says:

    Like what the actual fuck, I had no idea this was a thing…

  6. Croz Raven says:

    how about not frying the whole turkey?? it's that simple . . .

  7. latinoheat300 says:


  8. EnochianDevil says:

    for fucks sake, cook the turkey slowly. better texture and better flavour

  9. Gwen Patton says:

    Chef Alton Brown has a lovely video episode of "Good Eats" specifically about this issue called "Fry, Turkey, Fry". It's worth buying and keeping in your digital library. You can do a "test run" of your turkey in the pot using plain water at room temperature to determine the correct amount of OIL to use so it doesn't overflow. Thaw and dry your turkey so water won't explode. Fry at the correct temperature — too low, and the oil soaks into the meat making it greasy. Too hot, and it'll dessicate the bird and make it tough and dry…and it might catch fire.

    Alton makes a DIY gadget called a "Turkey Derrick" to lower the bird into the oil from a safe distance. It also increases your control over a 14-20lb carcass held over a pot of boiling oil. Securely lowering it is much better than fumbling it and dropping it with a painful and dangerous splash into the oil. He may go a bit overboard with the safety features, but it's still not a bad idea.

    Lastly, don't give in to temptation. Don't get drunk and fry, and don't try doing this in your GARAGE or on your WOODEN DECK or in your KITCHEN. Do it outside on the lawn, or at least on a concrete surface away from burnables.

  10. Target51 says:

    WOAH FUCKING NOPE! Don't use just any old fire extinguisher, it must be a powder one??? Also I think a fire blanket would be better depending on how big the fire is. The reason I say no to the fire extinguisher is as you spray it onto the fire it could flick the oil up and actually make it worse.

  11. Nabeel Hassan says:

    cant you just cut the turkey into pieces and fry each piece separately

  12. St0RM33 says:

    Just get a deeper pot you american idiots. Like 2x the height of the normal one and fill to the half. You can't mess it up this way unless you spill it over

  13. Dr Rice says:


  14. eatmorenachos says:

    Before cooking, put the turkey in the pot and fill the pot with water. Remove the turkey and measure the water level.
    This tells you how much oil you'll need so you don't overfill the container when you actually fry the bird.

  15. William Coolman says:

    Ladies, Gentlemen! Alton Brown has your back:

  16. Philipp Beckers says:

    I find the suggestion how to extinguish the fire problematic. It would be much safer to use a fire blanket since it would not potentially disperse the burning/hot oil as if you use a fire extinguisher.

  17. TCEB39 says:


  18. Frozen - Marvel says:

    I didn't even know that so many people actually fried their turkey. In fact, no one I know has ever done this; we just put it in the oven and wait.

  19. Bam the turtle says:

    i'd rather eat with a turkey than eating it cuz I love animals!!!

  20. Hsuman Of Magnanimous Intent says:

    Mine is beer!

  21. MahLogin says:

    Trash can turkey.

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