Nov 23, 2022 - News

How not to fry your Thanksgiving turkey

A fireball blows up after a turkey is incorrectly deep-fried.

Before and after pictures. Firefighter Rashard Montgomery drops a frozen turkey into super-hot oil. Photos: Courtesy of Austin Fire Department (left) and Asher Price/Axios (right).

If you're deep-frying your turkey this year, be careful.

  • Yes, you want a crisp, juicy bird — but you also want to keep your eyebrow hairs unsinged.

What's happening: The Austin Fire Department on Tuesday demonstrated how not to fry your turkey.

The big picture: U.S. fire departments respond to more than 1,400 fires on Thanksgiving, more than three times the average of any other day during the year.

  • Texas ranks first among states for the most grease and cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day.

What not to do: The main causes of deep-fryer fires include:

  • Too much oil in the fryer pot. Oil spilling out of the pot can hit the burner and cause flare-ups.
  • Dropping a frozen or partially thawed turkey — which has a lot of frozen water inside it — into oil. "Water and oil are explosively destructive together," Angela Martin, a lieutenant with the Austin Fire Department, told reporters at the demonstration.
  • Frying too close to buildings. Cook away from flammables and keep your distance from wooden structures.

What they did: "We did pretty much everything you're not supposed to do to get an amazing, cool flame," Martin said.

  • They overfilled the fryer pot and heated it to 500 degrees — and dropped a frozen turkey into it.
A deep-fried turkey gets a close-up.
The deep-fried turkey, post-fireball, ready for its close-up. Nice color — but probably not particularly edible. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

Be smart: Martin recommended deep frying with an apron.

  • "Nobody wants to cook bacon naked. It's the same thing."

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Austin.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Austin stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Austin.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more