My time-tested secrets will help you cook a perfect turkey in an electric roaster with a beautiful golden skin and juicy, tender meat every time!
With all the shopping, prep work, dishes, and cooking at Thanksgiving, this festive holiday can feel a bit daunting.
Over the last decade of hosting our family’s Thanksgiving, I’ve picked up a few stress-free tips to make Thanksgiving meal prep a breeze!
My favorite tip? Cooking my turkey in an electric roaster!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
Cooking the turkey in an electric roaster oven frees up crucial oven space, because let’s face it, we could all use three extra ovens around the holidays!
With my turkey recipe + tips, you’ll get a perfect turkey:
- with golden brown skin
- and moist meat every time!
Simplify Thanksgiving this year, and cook your turkey in a roaster instead.
Key Ingredient Notes:
- Whole turkey – Unless you have a kosher turkey, or one that’s already injected with saline solution, I highly recommend brining your turkey. It ensures a flavorful turkey with moist and juicy meat. My go-to method is dry brining a turkey.
- Olive oil – Oil encourages the skin to crisp in the roaster. If you’re a die-hard butter fan, swap with softened butter.
- Baking powder – A secret ingredient for crispy skin! Its chemical properties slightly raise the pH level of the skin and encourages browning.
- Oranges & herbs – You can stuff aromatics, herbs, and citrus in the cavity of the turkey for flavor. Try oranges, apples, onion, garlic, and fresh herbs!
How to make this recipe:
1. Preheat electric roaster
Preheat the electric roaster to its highest temperature. Most roasters max out at 450 degrees.
2. Prepare the turkey
- Brush turkey – In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and baking powder. Brush it evenly all over the turkey.
- Fill turkey – Place the aromatics, oranges, and fresh herbs into the cavity of the turkey.
3. Roast the turkey
- Place turkey in the roaster – Carefully place the rack in the roaster with the handles facing up. Place the prepared turkey into the rack, breast side down.
- Cover and cook the bird for 30 minutes at 450°F. Cooking it upside down first at a high temperature gives you a crispier skin!
- Flip turkey breast side up using two pairs of kitchen tongs. Immediately cover, then lower the temperature to 325°F.
- Finish roasting – Continue to roast the bird until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees in the thigh and 165°F in the breast. Avoid removing the lid too often or the roaster will lose its heat.
- Let it rest – Carefully use the handles to lift the bird out of the electric roaster. Cover it with foil, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Estimated Cooking Times:
Plan to cook the turkey for 8 to 10 minutes per pound. Here are a few estimated cooking times to get you started.
- 7 to 8 pounds – 1 hour
- 12 to 13 pounds– 1.5 to 2 hours
- 15 pounds – 3 to 3.5 hours
- 18 to 20 pounds – 4 to 4.5 hours
Tips to get the turkey golden brown in an electric roaster:
- Thoroughly dry the outside of the turkey with paper towel. I also love dry brining the turkey for 1-3 days prior to roasting which dries the skin nicely.
- Brush on olive oil with baking powder all over the skin. Both oil and butter encourages browning, so either one works. Baking powder gives an extra boost for browning, so don’t skip it!
- Preheat the roaster to its highest temperature for at least 30 minutes. It’s usually 450°F, which is perfect!
- Roast the turkey breast side down first. Because breast is closer to the hottest source of heat, it gets a great head start on browning.
How big of a turkey do I need?
Aim for 1.5 pounds of turkey per person! This may seem like a lot of meat for a person to eat, but this accounts for weight of the bones too. If you have heavy eaters or want plenty of leftovers, you can increase the amount to 2 pounds per person.
This means if you have ten people to feed, you’ll need a 15-pound turkey.
How long does it take to thaw a turkey?
The safest and most effective way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator, which means you need to plan ahead.
Thaw the turkey one day for every five pounds of turkey. If you have a 12 pound turkey, it’ll take approximately three days to thaw it completely.
If you plan to brine the turkey, you’ll need to plan for that too. Give yourself at least a 24-hour window to brine the bird once it’s thawed.
Tips for Success:
- I highly recommend a wired thermometer so you don’t have to constantly open the lid to check the temp. A roaster oven won’t retain its heat like a regular oven does.
- Skip the basting! It’s not necessary with the self basting lid. The moisture recirculates inside the roaster, basting the turkey with its own juices.
- Don’t forget to thaw your turkey. A frozen turkey takes way longer to cook! It takes one day per four pounds of turkey to thaw, plus an extra 24 hours for brining the turkey.
- Don’t skip the baking powder. Trust me on this one! It produces an evenly browned skin.
- Remove the meat from the turkey bones and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Or freeze the leftovers for soup, chili, or enchiladas! Transfer the meat to a freezer-safe container or Ziplock bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
- Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator overnight, then use in all of your favorite recipes.
- Or reheat in a baking dish in the oven at 300 degrees. Add a splash of chicken broth, cover with aluminum foil, and bake until hot throughout.
It depends on how big the turkey is! Plan for about 10 minutes per pound of turkey, but always check with a thermometer so you don’t overcook it. The internal temperature of the breast will reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s done.
Initially, you’ll cook the bird at the roaster’s highest setting to encourage even browning and a crispy skin. Then you’ll decrease the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and cook until the turkey is done.
No, you shouldn’t add water to an electric roaster. The roaster traps the moisture inside of it, then recirculates it during the cooking process.
Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes:
- Instant Pot Turkey Breast with Stuffing and Mashed Potatoes
- Lemon Herb Roast Turkey
- Foolproof Turkey Gravy Recipe
- Turkey 101: The Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving Turkey
- Super Juicy No Brine Roast Turkey
Perfect Turkey in an Electric Roaster
- 1 whole brined turkey Note 1
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1-2 oranges and fresh herbs Note 2
- Preheat the electric roaster to its highest temperature. (Most roasters go up to 450°F.)
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and baking powder until well mixed. Brush it all over the turkey.
- Place the quartered oranges and fresh herbs, like thyme, rosemary, and sage into the cavity of the turkey.
- Carefully place the rack in the roaster and put the prepared turkey in the pan, breast side down. (Be careful, as the roaster is super hot!! And make sure the handles of the rack are up and not under the bird.)
- Cover and cook the bird for 30 minutes.
- Using two pairs of kitchen tongs, flip the turkey breast side up. Quickly cover and lower the temperature to 325°F.
- Continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 180°F in the thigh and 165°F in the breast. (Don’t be tempted to open the lid for too long or often, as the roaster oven will lose its heat and it will extend the cooking time.)
- Carefully lift the bird from the roaster oven using the handles of the rack. Cover with foil and rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Strain the drippings for an amazing turkey gravy!
Tips & Notes:
– Remove the meat from the turkey bones and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
– Or freeze the leftovers for soup, chili, or enchiladas! Transfer the meat to a freezer-safe container or Ziplock bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
– Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator overnight, then use in all of your favorite recipes.
– Or reheat in a baking dish in the oven at 300 degrees. Add a splash of chicken broth, cover with aluminum foil, and bake until hot throughout.