Perfect Turkey in an Electric Roaster Oven

"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!"
photo by anniesnomsblog photo by anniesnomsblog
photo by anniesnomsblog
photo by John B. photo by John B.
photo by LaToya C. photo by LaToya C.
photo by anniesnomsblog photo by anniesnomsblog
photo by Dawn C. photo by Dawn C.
Ready In:
4hrs 20mins
1 Turkey




  • 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.
  • Do not wash the turkey! The USDA says that washing it could cause a spread of salmonella poisoning. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Roast at highest setting for 30 minutes. The butter/oil, seasonings and the searing time will make the skin beautifully browned and perfect!
  • After 30 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 325.
  • 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?.
  • Figure your total cooking time from the time you first put the bird in the roaster. The Butterball website has a great calculator:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you try this method, please let us know your results!
  • Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Questions & Replies

  1. Typically the manufacturer will note the maximum size of bird that will fit in the roaster. As with conventional ovens, cook time can vary. I go by the Butterball website to estimate the time it will take, and my experience is that the turkey will be done before the time noted on that website. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!
  2. This was my first time using a countertop roaster. I followed your directions to the letter. The turkey was delicious but never browned ( except the wings and skin where I stuffed it ) I had to brown it on the BBQ. I was very disapponted. How did you get yours so brown? I can’t see ever using this oven again. All suggestions would be appreciated.
  3. How many hours in a roaster for a 7-8 pound turkey??? Can i cook it at 250 degrees
  4. Do you melt the butter?
  5. Can I use a roaster liner when cooking a turkey?


  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. Oh Em Gee - I will not cook another turkey in the big oven - from now on it's going in the roaster oven! I've cooked many a turkey in my 59 years and I have to say, this one was awesome. The ONLY thing it lacked was more crispy brown skin, but there was enough, on the parts closest to the oven walls, to keep me happy. The meat was so moist and tender and yet pulled right away from the bones.<br/><br/>I followed the instructions pretty much as given, putting one halved onion and one halved lemon in the cavity. I used olive oil, garlic salt, a little crushed dried thyme, and some coarsely ground black pepper for seasoning. Started it at 450* (as high as my roaster goes) and set a timer for 30 minutes, then turned down to 325* and set the timer for 3 hours and 30 minutes, for my unstuffed 18 pound bird.<br/><br/>Well I did check it after 3 hours and that sucka was DONE! Checked it in several spots with my instant-read thermometer and it was cooked through, and the meat pulling away from the leg bones. Since it was only 4 pm, I turned off the roaster, sucked out some of the wealth of luscious juice so the turkey wasn't sitting in it (it had risen very slightly above the rack) and let it sit til we were ready to eat about 5:15. I made the best gravy with that juice from the pan too. <br/><br/>DH who LOVES his turkey asked me to please come in here and give highest praise to Squirrel Gone Wild on this one! THANK YOU!
  5. OMG... The Best Turkey I've ever had!.. I never even cared or turkey that much unless it was slathered in gravy but I brined my turkey for two days using a citrus brine; I used this method and stuffed my turkey with lemons, limes, onion and a couples sprigs of fresh rosemary! I could not stop picking on the turkey when it came out of the oven; my hubby agreed. It was even moist in the white meat. My recommendation is to use a brine and then use your roaster oven for a beautiful browned turkey that needs no basting and is juicy and delicious!.. For a 15lb bird I cooked 3 1/2 hours total and let rest for 30 minutes.


  1. Our 17# was done in 2.25 hrs so super super fast
  2. I've Brined mine the last few roaster turkeys. **Save the Netting for the turkey Dissolve 2 cups sugar and 1 cup kosher salt in 1/2 gallon water add any spices you want. I use 4 tbsspn Italian seasoning and 4 tblsp hungarian sweet paprika. don't boil the water just get it hot enough to dissolve sugar/salt then let it cool down. Clean turkey (There are always feathers and God knows what else got on it at the factory) Put Turkey in a turkey bag then place inside the Net mesh bag (mesh bag will help hold brine to the turkey and won't puddle up as much in the pan.) Set turkey in a large roaster pan, stock pot or small cooler) Pour Brine inside bag with turkey try to remove all the air from the bag and seal it. Soak for 24-36 hours. Then pull it out and cook to the remaining directions. Turkey is unbelievable. Unfortunately the drippings are too salty to use for gravy.
  3. To brine a LARGE turkey --This works great ..Place Turkey in a large cooking bag with the brine. Tie the bag WELL (maybe even put in a second bag-just to be safe) Place in an insulated cooler with a couple of frozen whatevers to keep cool as though refrigerated.
  4. I have two minor tweaks: [1.] Cook the turkey BREAST DOWN at the oven's highest temp for ONE HOUR. [2.] At the hour mark, flip the bird over and turn down temp for remainder of cook time (as directed in original instructions).
  5. what time put the steps so you can write it



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