Can you deep fry a turkey? You absolutely can. Can you screw it up so badly you end up in the hospital with a burned down house? You can absolutely do that too. Here’s how to avoid that.
First, let’s start with the most dramatic bit first. Not thawing your turkey out properly before deep frying it can cause a massive and catastrophic fireball. This Tech Insider video compilation highlights why this happens and what it looks like when things go completely wrong.
In short: when you dunk the turkey in the boiling oil the frozen water turns immediately to steam and explosively propels the oil out of the pot. The aerosolized oil makes contact with the exposed burner under the fryer and turns into a giant apocalyptic fireball.
So how do you avoid fireballing yourself into the hospital? Thaw your turkey for at least 24 hours per 10 pounds (so a frozen 20-pound turkey should thaw for at least two days), never, ever, dunk the bird in the oil while the burner is still heating the oil, and, finally, lower the bird in a slow and controlled motion to avoid spilling the oil over the side of the pot.