Roast Turkey in an Electric Roaster

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Free up the oven for side dishes and make your roast turkey in a roaster oven! We give tips for the juiciest turkey recipe with fresh herb butter…and how to get that golden brown skin on your turkey. You may also love our slow cooker turkey breast.

golden brown whole turkey

Roast Turkey in an Electric Roaster

Who is ready for Thanksgiving dinner? I’ve been married 20 years but can probably count on one hand the number of turkeys I’ve had to prepare on Thanksgiving day (Thank you moms!). I’ve cooked plenty of turkeys on normal every days, though. The thing with Thanksgiving is that if you are preparing the meal, you usually have A LOT of food to put through the oven. Make your life easier (and your turkey taste better) with this roast turkey recipe made in a roaster oven. Let’s talk about how to do it?

What is the best electric roaster oven?

In order to make a turkey in a roaster oven, you have to have a roaster oven (obviously!). So which electric roaster is the best? We love our Oster 22 quart roaster oven. It boasts a “self-basting” lid and has a “warm” setting to keep your turkey perfectly warm. You can find it by clicking here.

How do you make herb butter for turkey?

Yes, you can just throw a turkey in the roaster and have it come out fork tender, but for the best flavor, rub it down with herbed butter. Take a stick of butter and add in freshly snipped poultry herbs. We buy a package of fresh herbs called “poultry seasoning” in the produce section of our grocery store. It is a mix of sage, rosemary and thyme. You can buy all 3 herbs separately if you need to. Mix these fresh herbs with butter. Do the day before serving or at least 2 hours in advance so the flavors have time to develop.

*Note….we use salted butter. If you don’t have salted butter, add a touch of salt to the butter mixture.*

A bowl of food, with Butter and Herb

How do you prepare a turkey for roasting?

  • Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey cavity. (Throw them away or set them aside for gravy.)
  • Take paper towels and dry off your turkey.
  • Take your hand and loosen the skin over the turkey breast. Rub half of the butter underneath the skin of the breast.
  • Rub the other half of the butter over the outside of the bird.
  • Sprinkle the outside of the bird with salt and pepper.
  • Put ¼ cup butter in the cavity of the turkey along with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Now the turkey is ready to roast!

What temperature to roast a turkey?

While you are preparing the turkey, set the roaster to the highest temperature it will go. Our roaster goes up to 450 degrees F, but you can set yours for higher if it goes higher. You’ll roast the turkey for 30 minutes at the high temperature, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees F for the remaining time.

how to roast a turkey in an electric oven

How long do you cook a turkey in a roaster?

The exact time it takes to cook a turkey depends on how big the turkey is, and whether the turkey is stuffed or unstuffed. You’ll want to plan about 8-10 minutes per pound for an unstuffed bird at 325º Fahrenheit. You should always read your instruction manual because each roaster may be different.

Also, the roaster has a “warm” setting that you can use in case the turkey is done a little more quickly. And it is always good to let meat rest for at least 20 minutes before carving to seal in the juices.

How do you get at turkey golden brown in an electric roaster?

One of the questions we get asked most often is how to get that golden brown look in the toaster. The truth is, a roaster turkey will not be as golden brown as an oven roasted turkey. However, here are a few tricks:

  • Preheat the roaster oven to the highest temperature it will go (as I mentioned above). Let it cook for 30 minutes at that high temperature. This helps that skin to crisp up.
  • Rub herb butter or oil on the outside of the bird for a more golden brown skin.
  • If you want to ensure a golden brown color, you can brush the outside of a turkey with a browning sauce. Browning sauce is an older ingredient that your grandma may have used for roasts and gravies. It adds both flavor and color. If you brush the outside of the turkey with a pastry brush, it will add a nice brown color. Be careful..you’ll only need a teaspoon or 2 to give a pretty color!whole turkey with slices of meat cut

Is it necessary to baste a turkey?

We’ve found that it isn’t 100% necessary to baste a turkey. And especially with this roaster. The steam rises from the turkey, hits the lid and falls back on the turkey, soaking the skin with all that turkey steak and juice. If we’re oven roasting, I often baste the turkey, but I don’t worry about it with this method.

What temperature should my turkey be when done?

The temperature in the thickest part of the turkey thigh should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Often times people are used to turkey that is cooked just a little more than this. We cook ours to about 170 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a matter of preference!

**We LOVE our Thermoworks ThermaPen to quickly test meat temperatures. This probe thermometer is AMAZING.  Get it here.**

A close up of a sliced turkey

Can you use an oven bag in an electric roaster?

No. You should not use oven bags in electric roasters. The bag could easily touch the sides, bottom or top of the roaster which could cause it to melt.

Read our article here if you want to cook turkey in a bag.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH TURKEY?

Have leftover turkey? Try this turkey pasta bake!

the best turkey recipe
the best turkey recipe

Roast Turkey in an Electric Roaster

4.52 from 160 votes
Free up the oven for side dishes and make your roast turkey in a roaster oven! We give tips for the juiciest turkey recipe with fresh herb butter...and how to get that golden brown skin on your turkey.
Servings 20
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 18 pound whole turkey
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons freshly snipped thyme, rosemary and sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the cavity:

  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

Make the herb butter:

  • Mix together ½ cup softened butter (1 stick) with the freshly snipped herbs. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, but remove from the fridge 1 hour before using so that it is soft enough to spread. (Or you can microwave to soften the herb butter).

Prepare the turkey:

  • Set the roaster oven (with the lid on) to the highest temperature setting it will go.
  • Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey cavity. (Throw them away or set them aside for gravy.)
  • Take paper towels and dry off your turkey.
  • Take your hand and loosen the skin over the turkey breast. Rub half of the butter underneath the skin of the breast.
  • Rub the other half of the butter over the outside of the bird.
  • Sprinkle the outside of the bird with salt and pepper.
  • Put ¼ cup butter in the cavity of the turkey along with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
  • Place the turkey in the preheated roaster and cook at the highest temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Without opening the lid, turn down the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and roast until the turkey tests done (at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the thigh).
  • The exact timing will depend on whether the turkey is stuffed or unstuffed and how large the turkey is. Plan for about 8-10 minutes per pound for an unstuffed turkey.

Notes

The exact time it takes to cook a turkey depends on how big the turkey is, and whether the turkey is stuffed or unstuffed. We plan about 8-10 minutes per pound for an unstuffed bird at 325º Fahrenheit. You should always read your instruction manual because each roaster may be different.
Also, the roaster has a "warm" setting that you can use in case the turkey is done a little more quickly. And it is always good to let meat rest for at least 20 minutes before carving to seal in the juices.
The calories shown are based on the recipe serving about 20 people. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 470kcal | Protein: 62g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 226mg | Sodium: 559mg | Potassium: 649mg | Vitamin A: 375IU | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 2.5mg
Author Julie Clark
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 470
Keyword how to cook turkey, thanksgiving dinner, thanksgiving dinner rolls

A close up of turkey title image

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Anonymous
7 days ago

I cooked a 16.50 lb Turkey in our 18 qt electric roaster oven just how your recipe said, after lowering the heat to 325 the thermometer read 165 within 30 minutes we knew the Turkey couldn’t be done in an hour so we used a manual thermometer and it read 165f also but we cooked for another hour and the Turkey felt done the legs were loose and juices were clear but the Turkey was tough and stringy when eating. Can you tell me what happened? Thank you in advance.

Cynthia
5 days ago

I dry brined a fresh 12lb turkey for two days and followed your recipe for cooking in my roaster. I basted it a couple times because it didn’t get very brown, but when I checked it at the 8min/lb mark, my thermometer read 185 at the breast and 200 at the thigh! I was terrified I had ruined my first turkey, but it was INCREDIBLE. Moist, tender & tasty – I am still getting compliments on the leftovers! I’m glad Amazon never delivered my wired thermometer or who knows how it would have turned out had I turned it off… Read more »

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