November 23rd, 2011
01:45 PM ET
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The Washington Examiner points us to a tweet from the Department of Homeland Security linking to an Underwriters Laboratories video on the hazards of deep-fat frying.

"We’re worried by the increasing reports of fires related to turkey fryer use,” said John Drengenberg, UL consumer affairs manager on the UL's website. "Based on our test findings, the fryers used to produce those great-tasting birds are not worth the risks."

Among UL's listed concerns:

  • Although some manufacturers have improved the stability of their fryers, some units could tip over, spilling as much as five gallons of hot oil out of the cooking pot.
  • If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner/flames, causing fire to engulf the entire unit.
  • Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can also cause a spillover effect, resulting in an extensive fire.
  • Most turkey fryers have no thermostat controls, increasing their potential to overheat cooking oil to the point of combustion.
  • The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.
  • UL refuses to certify any turkey fryers with their trusted UL Mark. They do grudgingly concede that there are cases in which people feel they "absolutely must" boil the oil, and share a list of cautionary tips, emphasizing the importance of sufficient defrosting, distance from flammable surfaces, attention to filling depths and the use of appropriate protective gear.

    We're happy to note that all of these are tenets to which we keenly adhered to when we deep-fried the living daylights out of a turkey and unleashed the "Stuffpuppy" upon the universe. Safety first - then deliciousness.

    We're sharing our time-tested Thanksgiving hosting tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities, hosts and home cooks we love. Our goal – sending you into Thanksgiving with a confident smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on the other side with your sanity intact. Leave your Thanksgiving questions in the comments below and we'll do out best to address them.

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    Filed under: Deep frying • Food Safety • Holidays • News • Techniques & Tips • Thanksgiving • Video

    soundoff (99 Responses)
    1. heather

      I did not know people deep fryed turkeys to keep them from drying out. Season and stuff a raw turkey and put it in a plastic roaster bag. Put it it in the oven at midnight at 200 degrees. Take it out at noon. Cut the bag off and remove the liquid. Cover the bird in melted butter. Put it under the boiler for about 10 minutes. The bird will be ready at about 12:30 and will be moist. (like cutting through soft butter) No deep frying needed.

      November 24, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    2. Dr Bill Toth

      another govt regulation in place of common sense.

      November 24, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    3. John

      Well this is exactly the kind of helpful thing I had in mind when I supported the creation of the Dept Homeland Security.....

      November 24, 2011 at 3:00 am |
    4. Willy Brown

      More of that feel good chit coming from progressives. Quick hide under the covers, Christmas is coming.

      November 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    5. Misplaced Southerner in MA

      I'll be frying my turkey tomorrow. Just be sure it is COMPLETELY thawed out and drained. Watch the oil temperature. Every activity has some risks But it is impossible to make things fool proof. Fools are so darn ingenious!

      November 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    6. Chris, Austin

      Really appalled by all of the comments on here about how stupid this is, and how it's nothing to do with Homeland Security. Has it occurred to any of you folks that HS is in charge of protecting the homeland, and that people who like to attack the homeland like to do it on major holidays, and that if something truly awful were to happen, having emergency first-responders all over the country too busy putting out preventable house fires might slow down the response and cost lives? When you're trying to protect 325 million people, you just try to manage statistics. You try to imagine every issue that you can engage on and improve a potential response and use national resources wisely, and you do the best you can. Not having a bunch of houses catch fire in a completely preventable fashion is a security issue. Not the most important one, but you try to hit everything you can think of. Every American life saved is a success, and a good thing.

      November 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
      • JustWatchin

        Are you suggesting al-qaeda has launched a plot to attack America with ... turkey fryers?? Sorry not buying that DHS has anything to do with cooking safety. And the govt is just doing all this so they can absolve themselves of blame later anyway. People are gonna fry their t-day turkey ... including me.

        November 24, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    7. Tom

      If you are thinking about deep frying a turkey ignore the DHS video. My food blog ,, has a safety focused instructions for deep frying a turkey

      November 23, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    8. beesucker

      Napolitano should be fried sooner than later.

      November 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    9. beesucker

      The DHS is worried? LOL The DHS is a joke and a drain on the US finances. WHo in the world would want to come to America? This country more screwed up then any nation on this planet.

      November 23, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
      • Chris, Austin

        Spoken like a true patriot. We appreciate you getting out here and apologizing for America. We should all be so ashamed of this country, and you're a hero for pointing it out. Get yourself down to a Tea Party rally, we'll pray the sorry away.

        November 23, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    10. Rich

      good for heart problems.The southerners deep fry cookies/ice cream and on and on.Hence Mississippi/Bamma are overweight
      leaders of USA and the world...Tea party for sure

      November 23, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    11. DuPont

      Check out the funny video William Shatner did on turkey fryers on Youtube...

      November 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    12. dudley0415

      Well I'm sure happy they are finding a way to spend more money on this governmentally important issue – "The National Security risks of fried turkey on Thanksgiving."

      This is a DHS issue? Maybe FEMA, which is under HDS.....I've tasted some turkeys that were disasters...

      November 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
      • Chris, Austin

        Yes, yes, really expensive to post a Youtube link on a website. You're so correct, what a horrific, profligate waste of precious tax dollars to put a weblink on a site and try to keep Americans from burning their houses down and killing their families. Almost sounds like we don't have enough money to invade Iran. Good thing we have people like you watching out for us. One more thing to be thankful for.

        November 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    13. momo0828

      DHS is worried about fried turkey? Really?! Come on Man!! Really?! The DHS should be focused on more pressing issues because I seriously doubt terrorists are going to attack the US with fried turkeys!

      November 23, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    14. coolbreeze

      The Department of Homeland Security does not want you to die in a fryer accident

      When I read the headline, I really thought that terrorist where trying to kill us by frying us in a turkey fryer!

      November 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    15. the_dude

      Anyone who sets fire to their residence by deep-frying a turkey needs to be put in front of the firing squad. They are too stupid to be redeemed and cannot be saved. It is more humane to put the idiots out of their misery.

      November 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
      • anon

        Dude that's harsh. But it's true that anyone with an ounce of common sense would see the danger and the need for extreme caution. This article from DHS is downright sad because it means that there must be a significant problem in this country with multitudes of idiots allowing gallons of oil to boil in their homes, and then carelessly just plopping the turkey in it or sitting it on an unsafe and wobbly surface to tip over.

        Fry those suckers outside!!!

        November 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    16. coolbreeze

      Best way to eat a fried turkey, is to buy an already fried turkey, find a restaurant that does it.
      No mess, No danger and no equipment to buy..

      FATTY, YES....

      November 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    17. DW

      LOL I am frying turkeys at this moment! I am on #5 for today and will do one chicken and one more turkey before the day is done. I will 2 more in the morning!

      The only part of this article that is important is not buying cheap turkey fryers........

      I have been frying about 10 turkeys a year now for 7 years, never had a problem yet not even a burn!

      You have to use caution and normal cooking procedures is all you need to keep in mind.

      Level your burner, stand and pot
      always do it on a driveway or concrete and do the cooking outside not under a porch or in your garage
      Never cook on or close to wood or combustible materials
      pre measure your oil level using water and the turkey you are going to fry
      Make sure the turkey is thawed and fairly dry, not dripping wet!!! These are very important don't ignore warnings.....
      use welding gloves or leather gloves that cover your arms
      I wear an old leather jacket while dropping the turkey in and out
      drop the turkey in slowly if the oil gets violent or roars too much then pull the turkey out and let the oil calm down then slowly drop it in when calm.
      Stay by the deep fryer and keep tabs on the temperature 350 to 375, I get my oil to 375 then drop it in the oil will drop about 20 degrees after putting it in. Cook time is 3 to 4 minutes per pound. Turkey will feel light when done, also check it with a thermometer it should be 180.

      November 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
      • MemphisMan

        DW post is 100% spot on...except for the fact that he's writing a post on CNN when he should be tending to his bird frying :)

        For real though, all of your points are good and that's exactly how I've been doing it for the past 5 years. Best turkey ever and it frees up room in the kitchen and let's my wife concentrate on the rest of the feast!

        November 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    18. Voltairine

      *sigh* If you warn them about this, they'll just keep propagating! Hello!

      November 23, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    19. outawork

      Put the turkey in the empty cold pot, pour in water to just cover the turkey, remove the turkey, mark the level of the water, dump the water out, dry the pot completely, pour in oil (peanut oil works best) to the marked level, heat the oil to desired temperature (you can get a thermometer for this), carefully (don't drop it in) ease the turkey in oil (make sure it is completely thawed), remove turkey after 30 minutes, turn off heat, eat. Simple.

      November 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
      • Mudbug

        Careful with those directions. Homeland security may come arrest you!

        November 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
      • Anne

        If you plan to use peanut oil, you'd best check first with your guests to see if any of them have severe peanut allergies. You think you're friends but then they sue you for almost killing them and their hospital bills.

        November 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    20. who cares

      so its ok for 16 year old kids to use the same oil in similar quanties at McDonalds and UL will certify these. But if i want one at home I cant possibly read the warnings on the package or know what I'm doing so you wont sign off on these fryers?

      November 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
      • MemphisMan

        The fryers at McDonalds have built in fire suppression systems that deal with the "can't fix stupid" scenerio pretty well.

        November 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
      • MemphisMan

        Also, the fryers at McDonalds aren't sitting on tripods nor are the unit's top heavy when filled with oil. Then there's the possibility of a child, dog, or drunk brother-in-law running by the fryer at home and tipping it over.

        November 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    21. AGeek

      So glad DHS is focusing on the really big problems. F'ing idiots.

      November 23, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    22. Will

      It's obviously a YANKEE CONSPIRACY to prevent fat, gluttonous southerners from enjoying their nasty greasy deep fried bird

      November 23, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    23. F0st3rs

      Homeland Security is welcome to stay out of my backyard, and my kitchen, just like the religious right is welcome to stay away from my bedroom.

      November 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
      • tisk

        AMEN! to that

        November 24, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    24. oh please

      LET those MORONS burn
      what idiot does this?
      dont you know anything about using an OVEN????????
      cook like a NORMAL PERSON and stop this deep frying bull.....freaking idiots

      November 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
      • Bob

        Oh please shut up!! I'm going deep fry you!! Yah yah!!! *tea bag* *tea bag* *tea bag*

        November 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
        • Bob

          Hey we have the same name but I spell mine backwards !

          November 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
        • Bob

          Bob can be spelled regularly or backwards. It is a good name for any occasion.

          November 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
        • Obo

          I may have the same name, too, but I might be slightly dyslexic, and my spelling is terrible.

          November 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
        • Boob

          I have the same name too but I have trouble spelling it.

          November 24, 2011 at 2:11 am |
      • Guest

        Maybe the answer is not to deep fry if alcohol is involved,or if you simply dont have enough common sense to take precautions.
        Like fire extinguishers,being far enough away in the open,having some dirt available in case of spills,and all proper handling gear.
        Some people can deep fry and not burn themselves.

        November 23, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
        • Jaredallas


          November 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    25. Marlboro Man

      Good advice posted here today. One of my neighbors nearly burned down his garage in a turkey-frying mishap a few years ago, because he did not know what he was doing. Take care all and have a great, SAFE holiday.

      November 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    26. GettingOutside

      Here's the right way to fry a turkey AND there's a really cool video of what it looks like when something goes wrong. Happy Thanksgiving!

      November 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    27. GettingOutside

      Here's the right way to fry a turkey AND there's a really cool video of what it looks like when something goes wrong. Happy Thanksgiving!

      November 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
      • GettingOutside

        November 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    28. Lou50

      we are talking about following instructions. additionally it does not take long on the first cooking to determine you have to monitor the temperature and turn the heat down as it increases. It works even better if you are not doing it in a garage and the cook is not drinking. Now if that is to difficult then voting is more difficult as the last Presidential elections proves.

      November 23, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    29. Jason

      Overstepping their charter once again. Big brother is hear. Got a better idea. Step off!

      November 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
      • Sam

        You took the words right out of my mouth!

        November 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
      • Meki60

        This is the Dept's advice, I want my money back, why must I be forced to pay for info like this? Sounds a bunch of little kids talking at school.

        November 23, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    30. sonic10158

      Time to decide who to blame:
      Obama, Palin, Cain, Bush, Perry, Clinton, Gore, Tea Party, OWS, Reds, Blues, or (to please the paranoid 'anti-Zionist' crowd) Israel

      November 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
      • WaitWhat?

        i blame jerrycc

        November 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
      • WaitWhat?

        can we put jerrycc in a turkey fryer?

        November 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    31. jerrycc

      Waste some more money Obama.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
      • WaitWhat?

        Waste some more time jerrycc

        November 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
      • WaitWhat?

        What a d!ck

        November 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
      • Bob

        Yah Obama is pretty dumb and ghey!!

        November 23, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    32. Marty in MA

      There is a good percentage of the US population who thinks this is a good idea. Most
      of them live in RED states. :)

      November 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    33. ncgh

      What is this!!! Absurd example of mission creep. No wonder our budgets are in chaos

      We have allocated big chunks of money to DHS primarily TO PREVENT TERRORIST ACTIVITY. What are they doing in consumer product safety advice???

      November 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
      • sportreform

        yes, a Tweet from someone in the DHS is mission creep.

        November 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    34. Edward

      Didn't realize frying turkeys was a national security risk. Already don't like Homeland Security since thru TSA they support and actively promote sexual assault. Try staying out of my business that is none of your business. And don't bug me tomorrow, I'll be busy frying my turkey.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
      • Bob

        Come on Edward, we all know you love to be rubbed down by some big TSA guy. Admit it!!!

        November 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    35. Jedi Mind Trick

      Good grief folks, who fries a frozen or partially frozen turkey? You must thaw the friggin' bird out just to get the giblets out of the stomach and the butt. For those you attempt to fry a frozen bird anyway, make sure you have directions to your nearest burn unit.

      If you do not have the common sense needed to fry a turkey, then you should understand that the ensuing inferno is nothing more than Darwinism at work!!!!!!

      November 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
      • SixDegrees

        Sadly, common sense seems to be in short enough supply these days to guarantee – guarantee – that not one, not two, but SEVERAL people will cause serious harm to themselves and/or their property tomorrow when attempting to do everything the video says NOT to do, and manage to find even more creative ways to wreak havoc. My personal favorite: a couple years ago, some idiot set up the propane-fired pot of hot oil IN THEIR KITCHEN; the house burned to the ground in minutes, although thankfully no one was injured.

        November 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    36. Frank

      I was going to make a smarmy hater-gonna-hate comment, but this was actually a pretty worthwhile demonstration, and it's true. If you dump a bucket of 350 degree oil over stuff, your whole evening is going to be wrecked, and that's if you're lucky.

      Good demo, and lol at the ignorant morons who think the UL is taxpayer-funded. That's not how it or CE certs work.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    37. John R

      Try BBQ'ing. Used judicious tinfoil at extremeties and the top of the bird, and slow cook for 4-5 hrs. Much more tender than roasting, and 20,000 times safer than deep frying (ugh, I can't even imagine...).

      November 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    38. Rick

      Have cooked bunches of deep fried turkeys. The saying that fits the problem described in the article is... "You can't fix stupid!" If people would use common sense, there would be very little chance of the things happening described in the article.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
      • Mudbug

        It's easier to blame someone!

        November 23, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    39. Joe

      I love how our government has to think for us. My god where has all the common sense gone?

      November 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
      • Dave SD

        Are you an idiot? UL is not a govenment agency!

        November 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
      • Steve

        UL is a private company. The only mention of the government is that someone in DHS tweeted a link to a video. Your attempt to bash the government instead is bashing the private businesses that you so dearly love.

        November 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
        • us1776

          The tea-bags will grab at anything to bash. Pathetic.

          November 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
      • doesn't matter

        tea party logic on display here folks, these are the people that brought us our latest congress. god help america

        November 23, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    40. Gluteus Maximus

      I put frozen turkeys in my rear quarters all the time. gobble gobble!

      November 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    41. JoeJoethedogfacedboy

      Heat up oil....
      Turn flame off....
      Put turkey in oil.....
      Relight flame.....
      Cook and enjoy..

      Its not all that difficult.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    42. john1960

      Our tax dollars at work again, what a waste

      November 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
      • joey

        You're an idiot. UL is not a government agency.

        November 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
      • Dave SD

        You cant be serious! UL is not a governement agency. Know your facts before you post.

        November 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
      • Joe

        Homeland Security is, you doofuses.

        November 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    43. huxley

      The TV show Mythbusters had done some testing on oil fires and the old rule about not mixing oil and water. Its worth watching if you _ever_ cook with oil. The resulting fires can be very, very dangerous.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
      • Buckeye

        Alton Brown also did a great episode of Good Eats on frying a turkey. He goes into great depth on how to do it safely, I would say it is another must-see.

        November 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
      • Steve

        Based on half the posts here foolishly believing that UL is a government agency, I'm surprised that no one yet is claiming MythBusters is a waste of tax dollars...

        November 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
        • Chartreuxe

          Just wait, doubtless it will happen one day. Those bozos love to complain about things that never happened.

          Earlier this week they were complaining about research 'dollars' spent on Utzi the frozen man. Remember him? He's in *Europe* and not a single dollar's been spent upon him. Marunes.

          November 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
        • Ian

          Then again, if you can't spell Chartreux, what should we expect of maroon?

          November 23, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    44. woodrow

      It is particularly dangerous for the turkey.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
      • Burbank

        Good one! LOL!

        November 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    45. Steve

      Never put a frozen turkey in a hot deep fryer, it will explode most of the time, or cause the oil to boil over starting a fire.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    46. us1776

      The only advantage to frying the turkey is that it doesn't dry out.

      But you can put butter under the skin and other techniques that accomplish the same thing when you roast a turkey.


      November 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    47. DaveNYUSA

      THIS is what we are paying Homeland Security for? REALLY?

      November 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
      • us1776

        It's a link on a website. Probably cost all of $0.0000001 cent.


        November 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
        • Mike

          It's funny that you think it cost so little. You obviously have no experience in how government functions. First DHS regional heads held a meeting, this issue of national importance was on the agenda and it was decided a commitee be formed to determine the best course of action. A committe of 12 regional DHS heads debated the issue without any further action being taken, the issue was then tabled for later discussion without a vote being held, while it was determined that a study should be conducted to examine the issue further. A taxpayer funded 12 month study was inconclusive as to the danger present as the report stated that the simple use of common sense could greatly impact the outcome. The commitee met again and determined that an additional study should be conducted, this time they ensured the results would support their concerns. The commitee meets again to discuss the favorable report and takes a vote on the issue, the vote fails as issues with the language of the notice are now debated, the issue is tabled without any further action being taken while the language of the notice is addressed. The commitee meets again the issue is voted on and passed the DHS submits a request from their Indonesian contractor who pays a 19 year old Indian 60,000 Rupee's to post the link on Twitter.

          November 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
      • J

        THIS is what your employer is paying you for? REALLY?

        November 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    48. douglas

      Some Safety precautions I take:

      1) Before you do anything, take the turkey and put it into the EMPTY pot.
      2) Then fill with water until it covers the turkey, but is still about 2" below the top of the pot.
      3) Remove the turkey, and with a marker, mark the outside of the pot where the water level is. Empty pot.
      4) When you fill the pot with oil, fill to that mark, and everything should be fine.
      5) Use the thermometer to ensure it doesn't overheat.
      6) Set it on concrete or brick away from home, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby...and everyone else away!

      Don't then use a larger turkey!!!!!

      November 23, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
      • gma94

        Excellent post, Douglas. Good instruction and common sense. Darn government telling everyone what to do again...

        November 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
      • Patty

        I always turn the burner off while I am putting the turkey into the oil. That way even if some oil does spill over, there is no open flame to start a fire. Once the turkey has settled into the oil and any water that was still in the turkey has cooked off, I turn the burner back on again.

        November 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
      • Paul

        Good points Douglas, the only thing I would add is always remember that if you use the method you described to determine how much oil to use, to use a little less. Oil will expand when heated up, not much, but just enough that it could cause a boil over. Otherwise, never had one problem deep frying a turkey, and they have always turned out delicious.

        November 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
        • Burbank

          Good point, more oil can be gradually added after putting the turkey in the frier if it's not enough.

          November 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    49. Janet Napolitano

      These are just guidelines...I like a good HOT oil rubdown too.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
      • Burbank

        That's good to know. I'm sure some cannibal has a fryer ready and waiting for you!

        November 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
      • Bricktop

        You looked like you needed one after the grilling you took on capitol hill over the guns for money debacle.

        November 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
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