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Never deep-fry a frozen turkey, experts warn. The result? A dangerous eruption of flames.

Thanksgiving is here, and families across the country will be returning to long-held traditions.  

When it comes to food, some families will enjoy apple pie, while others may opt for pumpkin or pecan. And some families will deep-fry their turkey instead of roasting it all day.

Meredith Carothers, a food safety expert with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, called the cooking method a “cool way” of preparing a Thanksgiving classic that “has gained a lot of popularity over the years.”   

But she warned that, if your family wants to deep-fry a turkey, there are some important safety tips you should know to avoid a holiday disaster. 

First, people who deep-fry a turkey should make sure it reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees, measured with a food thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh. 

Carothers also said deep-frying a turkey can cause fire risks, burns from hot oil and more. She urged people celebrating Thanksgiving to only deep-fry a fully thawed turkey. 

“Any kind of extra frozen crystals or ice or anything on that turkey that goes into that fryer will immediately interact with the hot oil and vaporize and turn into super-hot steam. That then can expand quite quickly and cause the oil to overflow or splatter,” Carothers said.  

And that spattering can cause burns or major fires when the oil comes into contact with a flame. For years, dramatic videos have circulated on social media of fires erupting from dangerous frying setups.  

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Here are some other safety tips for cooking your turkey, whether you’re deep-frying or roasting this year

  • Fry your turkey in a large, outdoor space where you won’t be near a building or “anything else that could catch fire,” Carothers said.  
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby.   
  • Make sure your vessel is large enough to fit the oil and the turkey.  
  • Avoid deep-frying a turkey with stuffing inside, which can "too variable on it fully cooking all the way," Carothers explained. 
  • Take regular precautions when handling raw meat, such as washing your hands after handling it. 
  • Don’t let your cooked turkey sit at room temperature for more than two hours.  
  • Check out other safety tips from the Department of Agriculture.