How To Cook Perfect Turkey In An Electric Roaster Oven

Cooking turkey in an electric roaster is honestly a no-brainer — they produce perfectly moist and tender turkey every time, and they keep your oven free so you can use it for other things. Electric roaster ovens also retain moisture better than conventional ovens, making it easier to avoid the tragedy of dry turkey.

In this post, I’m sharing everything you need to know about how to cook perfect turkey in an electric roaster oven. I’ll start by answering some of the most common questions people have about electric roasters, after which I’ll share the recipe and step-by-step guide to cooking your best Thanksgiving turkey ever!

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Electric Roaster Oven FAQs

What Is An Electric Roaster Oven?

An electric roaster oven is a countertop appliance with a similar shape to a traditional turkey roaster. You can use them to bake, roast, steam, warm, and slow cook many of the same foods you’d cook in a regular oven, and they’re easy to store away when not in use.

Similar to a slow cooker or Instant Pot, electric roaster ovens retain moisture better than other cooking methods, which helps prevent food from drying out. (This sets them apart from conventional ovens, which vent moisture through the door and exhaust vents during cooking.)

Of all the methods I’ve tried for cooking Thanksgiving turkeys, using an electric roaster oven has yielded the most consistently delicious results. On top of making it easy to churn out moist and juicy turkey, I also love that my electric roaster oven frees up my oven for cooking all those tasty side dishes.

How Big Of A Turkey Can I Cook In An Electric Roaster?

Thanks to their domed lids, some large electric roaster ovens can accommodate up to a 25 pound turkey. When you’re shopping for a roaster oven, the size may be listed in quarts, but the product description will usually state how large a turkey it can accommodate as well. (As a point of reference, a 22-quart electric roaster oven will typically fit turkeys up to 28 pounds.)

Do I Need To Add Water?

One of my favorite features of electric roasters is that they’re self-basting, which means that the moisture and juice inside the cooker condenses on the inside of the lid and drips back down onto the turkey. It’s so much easier to make a moist turkey this way, rather than using your turkey baster to do it manually several times during cooking.

So no need to add water — just put your prepared turkey in the roaster oven, put the lid on, and cook!

What’s The Best Electric Roaster Oven?

I can’t speak to the quality and performance of all electric roaster ovens, but I would certainly recommend the one I own! I have the Oster 22-Quart Roaster Oven, which I like because it’s large enough for a 22 lb turkey, has a removable pan and roasting rack for easy clean-up, and offers a wide range of cooking temperatures (150–450ºF).

I’m sure there are plenty of other great brands and models out there though, so don’t be afraid to try another one, as long as it has generally positive reviews!

Turkey Cooking Times For Electric Roaster Ovens

Turkey Weight Cooking Time (Conventional Oven) Cooking Time (Electric Roaster)
10–18 pounds 3 hours 2 hours
18–22 pounds 3.5 hours 2.5 hours
22–24 pounds 4 hours 3 hours
24–26 pounds 4.5 hours 3.5 hours

The cooking times in the table above are only approximations. The actual cooking time for any particular turkey will vary according to a variety of factors, including the starting temperature of the bird and how often you remove the lid during cooking.)

For that reason, I recommend using a meat thermometer with a remote temperature gauge so you can monitor the temperature without removing the lid of the roaster oven. (Like crockpots, electric roasters are small enough that removing the lid can cause the temperature inside to drop dramatically, so it’s best to leave it alone as much as possible!) Your turkey is done when the internal temperature is 165 degrees F in the breast, and 175°F in the thigh.

I also recommend monitoring the temperature gauge early and often. When I first used an electric roaster oven to cook our Thanksgiving turkey, it cooked quite a bit faster than I’d anticipated based on how big the turkey was! It was lucky that I noticed early on, because I was able to lower the temperature and prevent it from drying out.

Cooking turkey breast, rather than a whole bird? The average cooking time for a turkey breast in an electric roaster oven is about 20 minutes per pound at 375°F. Poultry breast meat is easy to dry out, so you may want to place a small, oven-safe dish of water inside the oven to help keep it moist.

How To Cook Perfect Turkey In An Electric Roaster Oven [Recipe]

You’ll need:

  • Electric roaster oven
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Turkey
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Seasoning salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil or butter


Brine your turkey in a large bucket before putting it in the electric roaster.

Step 1 – Brine

Start by brining your fully thawed or fresh turkey. (It’s not technically necessary, but it can help minimize moisture loss during cooking, and it’s traditional!)

Place turkey in a clean bucket, then fill the bucket with cold water and add 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar. Stir to dissolve, then place the bucket in your fridge for 24 hours.

Step 2 – Stuff & Season

Remove the brined turkey from the bucket and rinse with cold water. Pat the outside of the turkey dry with paper towels (and make sure to wash your sink out thoroughly with soap and water afterward!)

At this point, you can stuff your turkey, if desired. Fill the cavity with 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey, or fill the cavity with halved lemons and sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary, or sage. Spread olive oil or butter (or an oil and butter mixture) generously over the exterior of the turkey with a pastry brush to ensure a crispy, beautiful golden brown skin, then season liberally with seasoning salt (or poultry seasoning), garlic powder, and pepper.

Electric roaster ovens can cook much more than just turkeys!

Step 3 – Roast

Place the turkey into the roasting pan with the breast facing up, then set the pan inside the roaster oven and put the lid on. (No need to use a turkey bag, as the roaster will keep it plenty moist!)

Turn the roaster to its highest temperature — that’s 450 degrees on my roaster, but yours might be different — and set a timer for 30 minutes. (I don’t bother trying to preheat the roaster, because it doesn’t take long to get hot!)

After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 325 degrees fahrenheit, then continue cooking until the turkey is done. (As I mentioned previously, the total cooking time will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your particular turkey. Starting with an approximate cooking time in mind is helpful, but the best way to know when your turkey is done is using a wired thermometer.)

When you take the turkey out of the roaster oven, tent it with foil and let it rest.

Step 4 – Rest & Serve

When your turkey is done, open the lid and carefully remove the roasting pan by the handles. Tent the turkey with a large piece of aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 20 minutes (or up to an hour) while you make gravy using the drippings in the roaster pan.

You’ll end up with juicy, tender turkey, all while having the freedom to use your big oven for everything else! My family was originally pretty skeptical, but thanks to the delicious results, the whole family now loves this recipe!

You can make the turkey gravy right in the roaster oven.

More Great Thanksgiving Dinner Tips

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Download my free Thanksgiving Planning Checklist and Cooking Schedule! These 2 free Thanksgiving printables will help keep you on task and on schedule every step of the way.

Use your Instant Pot to cook Thanksgiving sides and desserts! You can make mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and even pumpkin pie in an Instant Pot, which will help keep your oven free for other things (homemade rolls, anyone?)

Learn the secrets to making the most delicious mashed potatoes, including which varieties to use and how to mash them.

Ditch the canned stuff in favor of homemade cranberry sauce — it’ll elevate your entire meal, and it’s quick and easy to make.

Expecting guests who are gluten intolerant? This gluten-free pumpkin pie cake is a truly excellent GF dessert option that will make for happy Thanksgiving dinner guests!

BONUS: Other Foods You Can Cook In An Electric Roaster

While electric roaster ovens are perfect for roasting turkey, that’s not the only way you can use them — in fact, they’re more like slow cookers than you might think! Here are some of my favorite I’ve cooked in my electric roaster:

Have you tried cooking a turkey in an electric roaster?

cooking turkey in an electric roaster

Perfect Turkey In An Electric Roaster Oven (Recipe)

Jill Nystul

An electric roaster oven makes cooking perfect turkey virtually foolproof. If you’re anything like me, your only regret will be that you didn’t try it sooner!

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes

Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes

Course Dinner

Cuisine American


  • 5-gallon bucket

  • Electric roaster oven


  • 16 lb turkey
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Seasoning salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil or butter or a mix


Step 1 – Brine

  • Place turkey in a clean bucket, fill with cold water, then add 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve.

  • Place the bucket in your fridge and let the turkey brine for 24 hours.

Step 2 – Stuff & Season

  • Remove the turkey and pat dry with paper towels.

  • Stuff the turkey, if desired.

  • Rub olive oil or butter (or a mix) over the exterior of the turkey, then season generously with seasoning salt, garlic powder, and pepper.

Step 3 – Roast The Turkey

  • Place the turkey in the roasting pan breast side up and place the pan in the roaster oven.

  • Cover and turn the roaster on to its highest heat setting (or 450°F) for 30 minutes.

  • Reduce the temperature to 325°F and continue cooking until the turkey registers 180°F in the thigh and 165°F in the breast.


Calories: 553kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 70gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 247mgSodium: 7485mgPotassium: 721mgSugar: 13gVitamin A: 358IUCalcium: 42mgIron: 3mg

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