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This Electric Roaster Oven Turkey Will Free Up Your Oven On Thanksgiving

Trying to cook a turkey and all the sides in one oven is next to impossible! That's why I use this method for my turkey instead.

5 from 1 vote

electric roaster

A few Thanksgivings ago, I had officially reached the end of my rope! I was FED UP with trying to cook a turkey AND all of the sides using just my one oven. (Unfortunately, my dream of having a double oven has yet to come to fruition!) I would either have to make my sides hours ahead of time or make the turkey early and leave the sides until the last second. Neither option was really working for me, so I started searching for a better solution.

Even if I did have a second oven, that still wouldn’t change the fact that a regular oven isn’t the most efficient for certain foods.  With a conventional oven, the heat inside of the oven is created with either gas or electric coils.  For most purposes, this is a great way to cook food.  But an oven is not airtight, and a lot of heat and moisture escape the oven.

I ended up finding just the thing to solve my problem- an electric roaster oven! This countertop roaster turns out perfectly roasted and juicy turkeys every time, leaving my oven free to use as I see fit! I’ve used my trusty electric roaster for the past few Thanksgivings and Christmases, and now I can’t imagine cooking holiday meals without it.

Today I’ll be sharing my step-by-step method for cooking a turkey in an electric roaster. Give it a try, and discover the joy of having more oven space during the holidays!

Related: This Is The One Checklist You Need For Thanksgiving Dinner

What Is An Electric Roaster?

An electric roaster is a countertop appliance that is shaped similarly to a traditional turkey roaster.  It acts as a mini-oven, and can bake, roast, steam, warm, and slow cook many of the kinds of food you would cook in a regular oven.  It’s usually electric, has a lid, and can easily be stored away when you aren’t using it.

Similar to a slow cooker or Instant Pot, an electric roaster keeps much of the moisture inside the appliance itself, which keeps your food from drying out.  A traditional oven, on the other hand, allows moisture to escape through the door and vents during the cooking process.  

The electric roaster’s ability to retain moisture is especially helpful when cooking meats.  Thanksgiving Day is one time of year when you need to have a sure-fire way to cook a juicy, roast turkey (preferably without taking up precious oven space!)

How To Cook A Turkey In An Electric Roaster

Thanks to its domed lid, a large electric roaster will fit a turkey up to 25 lbs.  So even if you’re cooking for a crowd, you will have plenty of space.

Do You Have To Put Water In An Electric Roaster?

No!  This is one of the great things about electric roasters.  Basting a turkey is a time-old tradition that attempts to counteract the oven evaporation by sucking up the juices in the bottom of the pan and then squirting it over the turkey as it cooks.  It’s time-consuming, messy, and not very effective.

With an electric roaster, the self-basting lid ensures that any moisture that evaporates during the cooking process hits the lid and drips back down onto the food.  Instead of opening the oven every hour to add water, so those tasty turkey drippings don’t burn, you just put the lid on, and wait until the meat thermometer hits 165ºF.

Then, after you remove the turkey from the roasting pan, you can make the gravy right there in the baking pan without using another dish.

What Is The Best Electric Roaster?

There are several excellent electric roaster brands to choose from.  I prefer the Oster Roaster Oven.  It’s big and has a removable pan, a roasting rack for easy clean-up, and has an adjustable cooking temperature gauge from 150-450ºF.  But there are several different brands out there, and they all work about the same way.  Just make sure you are buying one that is large enough for your cooking needs (I use a 22-quart roaster) and has generally positive reviews.

Roasted Turkey Recipe

You’ll need:

Directions:

Step 1 – Brine

Start by brining the turkey. (Brining before cooking isn’t technically necessary, but it does help minimize moisture loss. It’s also traditional, so I’ve stuck with it!)

Drop your turkey into a clean bucket and fill it with cold water. Then pour 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar into the water bucket as well. Give it a good stir to dissolve, then place the bucket in your fridge. You might have to move some shelves around to make this possible!) Let the turkey brine for 24 hours.

Step 2 – Stuff & Season

When the brining is complete, remove the turkey from the bucket and rinse it under cold water. Then pat it dry using some paper towels, and make sure to wash your sink thoroughly!

If you’ll be stuffing your turkey, now is the time to do so! Add 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. (We usually cook our stuffing separately, so I’ll just cut up a couple of lemons and an onion and put them in the cavity of the bird instead.)

Next, rub down the exterior of the turkey with olive oil or butter, and season heavily with seasoning salt, garlic powder, and pepper.

Step 3 – Roast

Place the turkey into the roasting pan breast side up, and set the pan inside your electric roaster. Cover, and turn the roaster on to its highest heat setting (mine goes to 450°, but yours might be different). Set a timer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, turn the temperature on the roaster down to 325°, then cook until the turkey is done. (The total cook time will depend on the size of your particular turkey. I recommend using a calculator like this one from Butterball.com to determine your total cook time!)

Starting with an approximate cook time in mind is helpful, but the best way to know that the turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer. Shoot for a temperature of 180°F in the thigh area and 165°F in the breast (and stuffing, if applicable).

I like to use a meat thermometer with a remote temperature gauge (like this one) because I don’t have to remove the lid to check the temperature during cooking. Since roasters are so small, taking the lid off can cause a drastic drop in temperature inside, so the less you have to remove the lid, the better off you’ll be!

Another good reason to take the “hands-off!” approach is that you’ll keep more of the delicious juices and drippings in the roaster. This method will yield all the juices you will need to make lots of delicious gravy!

My final tip for the roasting process is to start keeping an eye on the temperature EARLY. When I started using this roaster method to cook our Thanksgiving turkey a few years back, I was surprised to find that the turkey was cooking faster than I anticipated! But due to how early I had started checking the temperature, I was able to turn down the heat to keep it from drying out.

Step 4 – Rest & Serve

When your turkey is done cooking, remove the entire removable rack from the roaster and tent it with a large piece of foil. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes (or up to an hour) while you make the gravy in the roaster pan, then carve and serve!

You’ll have a juicy and tender turkey, without it holding your oven hostage all day!

My family was originally pretty skeptical about this method, but the delicious results turned them all into believers! Even my son Erik, who normally doesn’t even like turkey, said this method has completely changed his opinion about Thanksgiving turkey! That is a ringing endorsement if I’ve ever heard one! 🙂

Other Things You Can Make With An Electric Roaster

Due to its shape, a lot of people think of it only as an electric turkey roaster.  But since it works very much like a slow cooker, you can use it to roast plenty of other foods or to make large quantities of your favorite dishes.  Here are some of my favorite things to cook in an electric roaster:

What’s your best tip for dealing with limited oven space during the holidays?

How To Cook A Turkey In An Electric Roaster

Jill Nystul
Today I'll be sharing you my step-by-step method for cooking a turkey in an electric roaster. Give it a try, and discover the joy of having more oven space during the holidays!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Course dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 553 kcal

Equipment

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Electric roaster oven

Ingredients
  

  • 16 lb Turkey
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Seasoning salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil or butter

Instructions
 

Step 1 – Brine

  • Start by brining the turkey. (Brining before cooking isn’t technically necessary, but it does help minimize moisture loss. It's also traditional, so I've stuck with it!)
  • Drop your turkey into a clean bucket and fill with cold water. Then pour 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar into water bucket as well. Give it a good stir to dissolve, then place the bucket in your fridge. You might have to move some shelves around to make this possible!) Let the turkey brine for 24 hours.

Step 2 – Stuff & Season

  • When the brining is complete, remove the turkey from the bucket and rinse it under cold water. Then pat it dry using some paper towels, and make sure to wash your sink thoroughly!
  • If you’ll be stuffing your turkey, now is the time to do so! Add 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. (We usually cook our stuffing separately, so I'll just cut up a couple of lemons and an onion and put them in the cavity of the bird instead.)
  • Next, rub down the exterior of the turkey with olive oil or butter, and season heavily with seasoning salt, garlic powder, and pepper.

Step 3 – Roast

  • Place the turkey into the roasting pan breast side up, and set the pan inside your electric roaster. Cover, and turn the roaster on to its highest heat setting (mine goes to 450°, but yours might be different). Set a timer for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, turn the temperature on the roaster down to 325°, then cook until the turkey is done. (The total cook time will depend on the size of your particular turkey. I recommend using a calculator like this one from Butterball.com to determine your total cook time!)
  • Starting with an approximate cook time in mind is helpful, but the best way to know that the turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer. Shoot for a temperature of 180°F in the thigh area and 165°F in the breast (and stuffing, if applicable).
  • I like to use a meat thermometer with a remote temperature gauge (like this one), because I don't have to remove the lid to check the temperature during cooking. Since roasters are so small, taking the lid off can cause a drastic drop in temperature inside, so the less you have to remove the lid, the better off you'll be!
  • Another good reason to take the "hands off!" approach is that you'll keep more of the delicious juices and drippings in the roaster. This method will yield all the juices you will need to make lots of delicious gravy!
  • My final tip for the roasting process is to start keeping an eye on the temperature EARLY. When I started using this roaster method to cook our Thanksgiving turkey a few years back, I was surprised to find that the turkey was cooking faster than I had been anticipating! But due to how early I had started checking the temperature, I was able to turn down the heat to keep it from drying out.

Step 4 – Rest & Serve

  • When your turkey is done cooking, remove it from the roaster and tent it with a large piece of foil. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes (or up to an hour), then carve and serve!
  • You'll have a juicy and tender turkey, without it holding your oven hostage all day!

Nutrition

Sodium: 7485mgCalcium: 42mgVitamin A: 358IUSugar: 13gPotassium: 721mgCholesterol: 247mgCalories: 553kcalSaturated Fat: 8gFat: 24gProtein: 70gCarbohydrates: 13gIron: 3mg
Keyword oven roaster turkey, oven roaster turkey recipe, roaster turkey
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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

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