A few Thanksgivings ago, I had officially reached the end of my rope! I was FED UP with trying to cook a turkey AND all of the sides using just my one oven. (Unfortunately my dream of having a double oven has not yet been realized!) I would either have to make my sides hours ahead of time, or make the turkey early and leave the sides until the last second. Neither option was really working for me, so I started searching for a better solution.
And I ended up finding just the thing to solve my problem—an electric roaster oven! This countertop roaster turns out perfectly roasted and juicy turkeys every time, leaving my oven free to use as I see fit! I’ve used my trusty electric roaster for the past few Thanksgivings and Christmases, and now I can’t imagine cooking holiday meals without it.
Today I’ll be sharing you my step-by-step method for cooking a turkey in an electric roaster. Give it a try, and discover the joy of having more oven space during the holidays!
How To Cook A Turkey In An Electric Roaster
- 5-gallon bucket
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup sugar
- Electric roaster oven
- Seasoning salt
- Garlic powder
- Olive oil or butter
Step 1 – Brine
Start by brining the turkey. (Brining before cooking isn’t technically necessary, but it does help minimize moisture loss. It’s also traditional, so I’ve stuck with it!)
Drop your turkey into a clean bucket and fill with cold water. Then pour 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar into water bucket as well. Give it a good stir to dissolve, then place the bucket in your fridge. You might have to move some shelves around to make this possible!) Let the turkey brine for 24 hours.
Step 2 – Stuff & Season
When the brining is complete, remove the turkey from the bucket and rinse it under cold water. Then pat it dry using some paper towels, and make sure to wash your sink thoroughly!
If you’ll be stuffing your turkey, now is the time to do so! Add 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. (We usually cook our stuffing separately, so I’ll just cut up a couple of lemons and an onion and put them in the cavity of the bird instead.)
Next, rub down the exterior of the turkey with olive oil or butter, and season heavily with seasoning salt, garlic powder, and pepper.
Step 3 – Cook
Place the turkey into the roasting pan breast side up, and set the pan inside your electric roaster. Cover, and turn the roaster on to its highest heat setting (mine goes to 450°, but yours might be different). Set a timer for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, turn the temperature on the roaster down to 325°, then cook until the turkey is done. (The total cook time will depend on the size of your particular turkey. I recommend using a calculator like this one from Butterball.com to determine your total cook time!)
Starting with an approximate cook time in mind is helpful, but the best way to know that the turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer. Shoot for a temperature of 180°F in the thigh area and 165°F in the breast (and stuffing, if applicable).
I like to use a meat thermometer with a remote temperature gauge (like this one), because I don’t have to remove the lid to check the temperature during cooking. Since roasters are so small, taking the lid off can cause a drastic drop in temperature inside, so the less you have to remove the lid, the better off you’ll be!
Another good reason to take the “hands off!” approach is that you’ll keep more of the delicious juices and drippings in the roaster. This method will yield all the juices you will need to make lots of delicious gravy!
My final tip for the roasting process is to start keeping an eye on the temperature EARLY. When I started using this roaster method to cook our Thanksgiving turkey a few years back, I was surprised to find that the turkey was cooking faster than I had been anticipating! But due to how early I had started checking the temperature, I was able to turn down the heat to keep it from drying out.
Step 4 – Rest & Serve
When your turkey is done cooking, remove it from the roaster and tent it with a large piece of foil. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes (or up to an hour), then carve and serve!
You’ll have a juicy and tender turkey, without it holding your oven hostage all day!
My family was originally pretty skeptical about this method, but the delicious results turned them all into believers! Even my son eldest son Erik, who normally doesn’t even like turkey, said this method has completely changed his opinion about Thanksgiving turkey! That is a ringing endorsement if I’ve ever heard one! :-)
What’s your best tip for dealing with limited oven space during the holidays?