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 it's highest setting (on mine it's 450, but 500 if your oven goes that high).
  2. Prep the turkey by rinsing and patting dry. Sprinkle salt in the cavities. Stuff your turkey if desired. Note on stuffing: Don’t pre-stuff your turkey. Mix and stuff ingredients immediately before roasting. Stuff lightly and loose. Allow ¾ cup stuffing per pound of turkey. (Tossing in a few pieces of cut fruit or herbs is not considered 'stuffing.' Stuffing usually means filling up the cavity.)
  3. Rub the entire bird with olive oil or butter. (I have better luck with olive oil.) Doctor up your bird with whatever special seasonings you wish. I always use poultry seasoning.
  4. Finish with a good sprinkle of seasonings and black pepper. The olive oil and seasoning salt will help the skin brown nicely. I also like to use those little disposable "plug in" turkey thermometers. Put the insert pan with the bird into the roaster oven and cover. I don't recommend adding water to the pan.
  5. Put the rack into the insert pan (make sure the handles are up, not tucked below), and put the bird in the insert pan on top of the rack. 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 bird 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. Check your Bird EARLY - Figure your total cooking time from the time you first put the bird in the roaster. FINAL TEMPERATURE FOR SAFETY AND DONENESS IS: 180 DEGREES IN THIGH AND 165 DEGREES IN BREAST AND STUFFING. Juices should be clear, not pink.
  10. Your turkey will almost certainly be done at the earliest of the suggested times on the chart. Lift lid only slightly and quickly to check the pop-up thermometer or use your corded meat thermometer. If necessary, check after another 30 minutes, but I doubt you'll have to do that. If the pop-up thermometer isn't popped, double check with your regular meat thermometer because those little plastic things stick sometimes. 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.
  11. Figure your total cooking time from the time you first put the bird in the roaster. Check your bird at the EARLIEST of the time suggested. I use the Butterball website to calculate times:.
  13. When done, remove the bird 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! 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.

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