Why You Shouldn't Fry Wet Food

It's hard to resist the delicious allure of a crispy piece of fried chicken or some homemade fish and chips but there is also no denying that frying food at home can be a gigantic pain — literally. While you may be prepared to deal with the mess a pot of hot oil can make on your stove and are sure not to overfill your fryer, there is one common pitfall that can ruin your frying experience and cause serious injuries: wet food.

BBC's Good Food explains this issue very simply: Wet food should not be put in a fryer because it will cause spatters. Frymax explains the problem more thoroughly, stating that when water droplets hit hot oil they boil and vaporize, causing bubbles of air to pop up under the oil's surface and splash. This splashed oil can cause severe burns to skin and can create slipping hazards if it gets on the floor. The same is true of ice, which makes frying still frozen or icy food just as dangerous as frying freshly rinsed food — a phenomenon commonly witnessed in the notorious trend of exploding holiday turkey videos. 

The Oregonian documented this problem in-depth in a 2021 message from local fire departments, explaining the dos and don'ts of turkey frying. As they explained, oil splashing up from frozen foods is liable to catch fire, which can spread to other parts of the kitchen or yard.

Don't get burned when frying your food

So how do you prevent these risks? The simplest way to avoid this common fryer mistake is, as Good Food notes, to pat down your food thoroughly with a paper towel before submerging it in the oil and to make sure there is no ice buildup on it if your food is frozen (per Kitchens Nitches).

Another option is to forgo deep frying for the healthier alternative of air fried food. Air fryers require significantly less oil to obtain the crispy, delicious results and cook in the safety of their basket, so there's no risk of messy, dangerous spatters. However, Insider notes this is not a cure-all solution as foods with wet batter like corndogs and tempura shrimp will likely not crisp up properly in an air fryer. The wet batter will drip off and create a mess in your fryer basket and the food can come out chewy.

So before you go ahead and throw out your frying oil for good, maybe investigate alternative recipes or just make sure your wet batter isn't too wet before you go dunking it in a hot pot.