A safer way to fry a turkey

Consumer Reports News: November 19, 2007 05:25 PM

More and more Americans are deep-frying their Thanksgiving and holiday turkeys instead of roasting them. But the typical propane-fueled turkey fryer is a major accident waiting to happen, according to safety experts.

That’s why Underwriters Laboratories won't certify propane-fired fryers for safety and the National Fire Protection Association, a private safety group, warns against them.


A few years ago, we tested the Masterbuilt Turk 'N' Surf fryer, and it proved safer than propane models (see video above). This electric deep-fryer—designed strictly for indoor use—could cook a turkey up to 14 pounds as well as boil corn, potatoes, or shrimp (hence the “surf” in its name). It was certified by the Canadian Standards Association and, unlike its competitors, had these useful safety features:

• A control panel with a built-in safety switch. Without the panel attached properly, the fryer wouldn’t work.

• A temperature sensor that automatically shut down the heating element if the oil got hotter than 400°F. Propane-fired turkey fryers that lack such a cutoff can heat the oil until it bursts into flame.

• Six legs, which made this deep-fryer very stable, plus a breakaway power cord.

• An outer shield to protect against the heat generated from the frying.

• A maximum fill line for oil, to minimize spatters, spills, and flash fires.

In our tests, the Turk 'N' Surf performed well, and all the safety features worked as promised. Note: Hoisting the fried turkey out the oil on any deep-fryer can be awkward, so you need to do so cautiously. Putting the fryer on a short, sturdy table instead of a counter helps.

The deep-fried turkey we made was very moist, juicy, and tender and comparable with roasted turkey, our expert tasters said.

Masterbuilt has updated its electric fryers since we reviewed the Turk ’N’ Surf. According to Masterbuilt’s marketing director, Keith Newton, the 28-quart Digital Electric Turkey Fryer ($96, shown) is equipped with the same safety features as the Turk ’N’ Surf but adds a drain valve for easier cleanup and an LED digital display on which you set cooking temperature and time. A thermostatically controlled sensor ensures the cooking oil remains at the proper temperature.

Other Masterbuilt models include the  Stainless Steel Electric Digital Turkey Fryer, $145; the Electric Digital Turkey Fryer, $132; and the Stainless 28-quart Electric Turkey Fryer, $118. (Prices are those on QVC.com and do not include shipping.)

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