Perfect Turkey in an Electric Roaster Oven

Total Time
3hrs 10mins
Prep 10 mins
Cook 3 hrs

I never found good information on making a great whole roasted turkey in an electric roaster oven and thought I'd share my tried and true tips for making your holiday turkey moist and beautiful and delicious! I've read that roaster ovens effectively 'steam' the turkey making the meat come out ... well, steamed. This is not true. Follow these tips and your holiday turkey will get rave reviews!

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Take the insert pan out of the roaster and pre-heat the roaster to its highest setting. On mine it's 450, but use 500 if your oven goes that high.
  2. Prep the turkey by rinsing and patting dry. Sprinkle salt in the cavities. Stuff if desired. Don’t pre-stuff your turkey; mix and stuff ingredients immediately before roasting. Tossing in a few pieces of cut fruit or herbs is not considered 'stuffing.' Stuffing usually means filling up the cavity with about ¾ cup stuffing per pound of turkey.
  3. Rub the entire bird with olive oil or butter. Doctor up your bird with whatever special seasonings you wish. I always use poultry seasoning. Finish with a good sprinkle of seasoning salt and black pepper.
  4. I highly recommend using a wired thermometer so you can watch the temperature without lifting the lid. Your turkey will be done much earlier than the estimated cook time, so keep a sharp eye on that thermometer. If using a pop-up turkey plug type thermometer, those little pop-ups stick sometimes so you should really use two of them.
  5. Put the rack into the insert pan and make sure the handles are up, not tucked below. Put the bird in the insert pan on top of the rack. Don’t add water to the pan. Put the insert pan back into the roasting pan. If your roaster doesn't have an insert pan, it's ok - just be very careful putting the bird into that hot oven, you don't want to burn your hands on the sides of the oven! Cover.
  6. Roast at highest setting for 30 minutes. The butter/oil, seasonings and the searing time will make the skin beautifully browned and perfect!
  7. After 30 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 325.
  8. The turkey will self-baste if you do not lift the lid, so you don't have to baste it every 20 minutes like you do in your conventional oven. DO NOT LIFT LID during cooking time! Lifting the lid will increase cooking time because roaster ovens lose their heat unlike regular ovens. I've read that roaster ovens effectively 'steam' the turkey making the meat come out -- well, steamed. This is not true as you will find out. Similar to the roasted chickens you can get at your supermarket, the bird will come out moist and perfectly roasted. Why do you think they call it a Roaster Oven?.
  9. Figure your total cooking time from the time you first put the bird in the roaster. The Butterball website has a great calculator:
  12. Check your turkey EARLY. Really start watching the temp an hour before it's supposed to be done. Your turkey will almost certainly be done before the suggested cooking time. Watch your wired meat thermometer. If using a pop-up turkey plug type thermometer, check by lifting the lid quickly so the oven doesn’t lose its heat. If necessary, check after another 30 minutes, but I doubt you'll have to do that. I say check after 30 minutes because it's really OK to let the bird roast a little extra - you won't dry it out using my method if you let it go for 1/2 hour.
  13. When done, remove the turkey from the roaster, tent with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes. This allows the juices to really seep into the meat, so they say.
  14. If you try this method, please let us know your results!
  15. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Most Helpful

5 5

I was very nervous about cooking a turkey in an electric roaster. However, the turkey turned out better than expected. I was told best turkey ever! The only thing I would have done differently because my roasting lid was a little warped (lid didn't fit properly )I should have used a little foil to close some of the gaps. I cooked a 20.5 lb butterball turkey. put butter under the skin. Some garlic,onion and an apple in the cavity. I used olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper on top of the skin. Most people in my family dislike sage, an ingredient in poultry seasoning. in 4 hrs 15min the turkey was done to perfection. I let it rest for 20min. so juicy. Still too hot to cut ( the breat was we had to let it cool a little longer.( My mother in law said that when turkey is too hot it will tend to shred instead of slice.) After cooling a bit longer it sliced perfectly. I had tons and tons of gravy! best gravy ever! I even bought back up gravy. never had to touch it. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I had room in my oven for everything else.

5 5

This was my first time using a Roaster Oven to cook our turkey. I was worried about it so I went looking for tips on the net. So glad I found your recipe!!! I followed it exactly, stuffed the inside of the turkey with onions, fresh rosemary and sage and rubbed the outside with olive oil and butter, salt and pepper. I resisited the urge to lift the lid and check on it. (That was hard to do!! lol) At 4 hours (had an almost 18 pounder) I checked and the thermometer had popped and it was done! The meat fell off the bones! Everyone loved it. The skin was nice and brown and crisp. I will never cook another turkey in the oven again. Now I just have to find a place to store this huge roaster oven! ;o) Thanks for a GREAT recipe!

5 5

Flawless and effortless compared to the usual oven method! I'm literally eating this turkey as I type. Tender, juicy, perfect. Two tips: If you want vegetables (I do quartered onions, small red potatoes, and carrots) with the turkey, make sure they are on top of the wire rack with the turkey, otherwise, as the turkey juices fill up the bottom of the roaster pan during cooking, the veggies will become completely saturated with bird grease. Second, the whole "tenting with foil" business isn't needed. Just let the turkey cool down in the roaster itself, which is basically a rather solid metal tent; no need to waste foil. Anyway, thanks for the superb recipe/instructions.

Thanksgiving Tips & Ideas >

Make Sides They'll Be Thankful For
How-To: Tackle Turkey Intimidation
Apple, Pumpkin & Pecan Pie: Oh My!