How to Cook a Turkey in an Electric Roaster – Thanksgiving Made Easy

Once you get accustomed to the simple and flavorful cooking of your electric roaster oven, it quickly becomes one of your favorite appliances in the kitchen. Cooking turkey is different than any other meal, and there is no need to turn it into a hassle, especially on holidays. Your electric roaster is highly talented and specially designed for this purpose. Preparing festive meal turns into a joyous event as it should be, and you no longer have to spend all day in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. Always remember that it is your portable second oven, and you can use it just like a regular one. The good news is that it comes with additional benefits.

How to Cook the Best Turkey in an Electric Roaster Oven?

You already made a wise decision when you got yourself a roaster oven since it is the best way to cook a delicious turkey. Next, let me give you some handy tips on how to cook a tender turkey in it for holidays.

1) Get a Turkey

Well, we got to start somewhere and the first step is to get a decent size turkey from the store or if you are lucky from your local butcher. Turkeys come in sizes from 12 to 29 pounds, the range is huge. If you don’t have a 22 Qt roaster oven, then you should stay within the 12 – 19 pounds range. Keep in mind that smaller turkeys come out more tender when you roast them. So, you have to balance between volume and taste according to the size of your guest list. I like to cook two medium size turkeys, that’s why I got two roaster ovens. It is perfect that way. Plus, my second oven is a special one; I can smoke my turkey if I want with the wood chips inserts of the Oster Smoker Roaster. You also need to decide if you are going to get a frozen or fresh turkey. There is no difference between the two options taste-wise, but frozen ones also come pre-seasoned, which can save you time.

2) Prepare the Turkey

If you bought a frozen turkey, then take it out and put it in the roaster oven. Set the knob to Defrost and wait for it to get thawed within 15-20 minutes or so. If it is a fresh one, then take it out of the fridge. 

Take out the neck and giblets from the cavity if there are any. Some people use them for making gravy. Next, we will blot off with paper towel to dry up the skin. It is important that we take out the moisture from the skin as much as possible in order to get a uniform color all over the turkey when it is done.

3) Season the Turkey – Should I stuff the turkey?

I don’t stuff my turkey because of two simple reasons; stuffing can easily get contaminated and it prolongs the cooking time significantly. However, you can always prepare stuffing on the stovetop and add to the turkey when it is fully roasted.  

Cut some fresh oranges, lemons, and onions in large chunks and add them into the cavity. Throw in a few garlic cloves too. This is done to increase the aroma and flavor.

Now, we need to rub the turkey all over with oil or butter. Most people either use melted butter or olive oil at this step. Remember, you can also use them in equal parts. It is totally up to you! After you prepare your preferred oil blend, start rubbing it on the turkey until all parts are covered well. You also need to rub this mixture in between the skin and the breast meat of the turkey. Feel free to add some small hard butter chunks in there too. You can also add herbs in to the rubbing oil; chopped basil and rosemary makes a perfect blend.

Hint: When you are roasting lemon chicken or turkey; add 1/2 teaspoon of ground saffron to the rubbing oil, it gives a beautiful yellow color.

After you rubbed the oil, it is time to add seasoning. Get your seasoning blend and sprinkle all over turkey, cover well. You can check my seasoning suggestion below with the turkey recipe.

Electric roaster oven makes the most moist and tender turkey roast wth the self-basting lid. Make sure yoours also come with cold handles as electric roasters tend to get very hot while you are cooking meat in them. ALways use a meat thermometer to check if the turkey is done. 165F is the best temeprature for a welldone turkey. If you don’t have a meat thermomet, then pierce the legs; if the juice comes out clear then your turkey is cooked, done and ready. If the juice comes out pinky then it needs more time in the oven.

4) Cook the Turkey

As a general guide, 15 minutes of cooking time per 1 pound of turkey makes perfect Thanksgiving Day roast. Start by preheating your roaster oven at the highest temperature, this usually takes about 10 minutes or less. If your roster oven has an indicator light, then you don’t have to guess when it is ready. Put the turkey on the lifter rack and then put in the roaster oven. Continue to cook at the highest setting for 30 minutes, and then drop the temperature to 325°F. On average, a 17-18 pounds of turkey cooks in about 2 hours with a roaster oven.

One trick is to never removing the lid while the turkey is cooking, but you want to see what is cooking inside, right? And even more, you want to check how it is cooking. Well, you are lucky if you got one of those see-through glass window lids. You can easily check the status of the bird without opening the lid. If not, then you have to be patient. Each time you open the lid, heat and steam escapes from the roaster oven which completely ruins the heating environment. You can never achieve a juicy turkey if you occasionally open the lid while the turkey is getting roasted in there. 

5) Eat the Turkey

Once the turkey is ready, then it is time to remove it safely. Most roaster ovens come with lifter racks with handles. You can use them to remove the turkey.  I like to use stainless-steel turkey lifter forks. It is more convenient this way. The handles of the lifter rack get hot and greasy during cooking. I just don’t like to touch them. Plus, I get to use the lifter forks for carving the turkey too.

Turkey Recipe for Electric Roaster Oven

Here is a great recipe you can use when cooking turkey in your electric roaster oven. It browns well, and comes out juicy!


  • 18 pounds whole turkey
  • 2 cups of unsalted melted butter 
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Salt to taste

For the cavity: Cut these large and put these in the cavity of the bird.

  • 1-2 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves peeled


  1. Preheat the roaster oven to 450°F.
  2. Put the melted butter into a small bowl.
  3. Add the honey, balsamic, chopped parsley, rosemary, and all the dried herbs to the butter mix. Blend well.
  4. Remove the giblets and the insides from the turkey if they are not already removed.
  5. Season the inside of the turkey with salt and ground black pepper.
  6. Brush or rub the mixture all over the turkey.
  7. Insert your fingers under the skin and rub some from the butter mixture.
  8. Cook with the until the meat temperature shows 165°F around the breast area.

Why Cooking Thanksgiving Turkey in a Roaster Oven is Advantageous?

You know how regular roaster pans are beneficial when you cook large meats in them; they make the meat juicier with the steam trapped inside. The lid captures the heat and shortens the cooking time.

An electric roaster oven is similar to a quality roaster pan but with its own heating elements. Plus, it comes with a lifter rack that keeps the turkey away from cooking in its drippings and grease. The heating element is developed specifically for cooking large meats, so it is wrapped around the oven to make the bird more tender. My favorite feature is the self-basting lid. It is a simple idea yet so effective. There are small ridges underneath the lid which collects condensation and make it rain on the meat. 

Your regular oven cannot do these efficiently like an electric roaster oven:

  • It cannot baste for itself.
  • It cannot cook turkey fast since it is more spacious.
  • You need an additional pan and a rack to keep the turkey away from the drippings on the bottom.
  • Turkey will never come out as juicy and tender like it is in a roaster oven.

But it is good for one thing; browning the turkey. Electric roasters don’t have any heating elements on top, except for the EZO OBERDOMEwhich has a patented system that cooks from the top and sides. It is a little harder to brown the turkey when there is no heating element on top. 

However, I have a browning solution for you, actually 3 different solutions:

  • Add 2 tablespoons of honey to the rubbing sauce (melted butter or olive oil) or,
  • Add 2 tablespoons of GRACE browning sauce to the rubbing sauce or,
  • Take out the turkey 30 minutes earlier from the roaster oven and continue to cook in your regular oven at the highest available temperature.

Accessories That You Can Use with an Electric Roaster Oven

You will need additional accessories if you want to cook a pro-level quality turkey with an electric roaster oven. Here is a quick list and how you can use them:


  • Turkey Lifter Forks; as I mentioned earlier, this is the best tool out there to remove the cooked turkey from the roaster oven. You just pierce into turkey from the sides, around the thighs and lift it up safely. Another advantage of using lifter forks is that you can use them later on when carving the turkey.


  • Meat injectors; I inject marinade into Thanksgiving turkey to soften the breast area. You can prepare an easy marinade with some olive oil and powder spices. This also add tremendous flavors to the meat. Here is a great meat injector


  • Pan liners; these make cleaning the pan so easy afterwards. You get two options; foil or clear liners. Foil is better when turkey roasting since it is more durable for temperatures 350°F and above. Add 2 cups of water on the roasting pan, and then line the foil inside. It is disposable, and your roaster stays clean as if you did not cook anything in it.


  • Meat thermometers; get a wireless digital meat thermometer and never worry about when the turkey will be done. The only thing you have to do is to hook it on to the breast area without touching any bones. It will let you know when the turkey reaches 165°F, and then you can remove it from the roaster.

In Conclusion

Cooking thanksgiving turkey with an electric roaster oven makes your life easier and the bird turns out juicier and tender than ever. It shortens the cooking time by 1/3 when compared to a regular big size oven. The self-basting lid is the perfect solution for a more flavorful Thanksgiving meal. And the best part is the simple operation method; preheat the roaster oven, put the seasoned turkey, attach the wireless meat thermometer, and then go get yourself some coffee.

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