Roast Turkey (in Electric Roaster)

30 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes

Roast Turkey in an electric roaster is a timesaver for Thanksgiving or Christmas and it roasts perfectly with fool-proof results while saving on oven space!

If you’re looking for an alternative way to cook your Classic Roast Turkey for your main dish this Thanksgiving this is a great option for you!  You’ll find plenty of your Thanksgiving and Holiday Recipe Favorites here.

Turkey in an Electric Roaster


Roasting a turkey in a regular oven is no longer the traditional way to cook a turkey early on Thanksgiving morning. You can make the turkey just as delicious and tender without losing any oven space.

If you’re a slow cooker enthusiast you’re sure to wow everyone with these Crispy Slow Cooker Turkey Thighs or Crispy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast. Yes, we are all about crockpots on this site, but today, let’s talk about how to use the Electric Roaster Oven method!

There’s no need to add liquid to the roasting pan, but you can if you’d like (add 2 cups if you’d like). Just be aware the steam it creates will prevent the skin from crisping, but you’ll have enough liquid for a gravy.

In an Electric Roaster the turkey will produce its own flavorful juices. Keep the drippings from the roasting pan and extend the turkey’s juices with broth or wine, then add it to your gravy for extra flavor.

Raw Turkey in Electric Roaster


This recipe calls for an 18 pound turkey, and the Oster 16 Quart Electric Roaster Oven shown here holds up to a 20 pound turkey.  

Electric Roasters are different than your classic slow cookers because it distributes heat throughout the roasting chamber rather than heating with gas or exposed coils in a conventional oven.

One of the best things about a roaster (other than not losing oven space) is no need for basting! The electric roaster has an electric heating element and a large, removable pan covered by a self-basting high domed lid when roasting turkey.

Electric Roasters can be used to bake, roast and make soups and casseroles, as well as be used for keeping hot food warm.



  • Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey cavity and toss or save for gravy.
  • Use paper towels and pat dry turkey.
  • Take your hand to loosen the skin over the turkey breast and rub butter underneath the skin.
  • Rub butter over the outside of the bird.
  • Sprinkle the bird with salt and pepper.
  • Rub butter in the cavity of the turkey and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • It is best to cook your stuffing on the side like this Slow Cooker Stuffing. You’ll want to keep your oven free for other dishes!
Roaster Oven Turkey sliced on cutting board with fresh herbs



  • Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity and pat it dry.
  • Remove the rack from the roaster oven.
  • Place turkey in the roaster on the rack breast side up.
  • Rub the turkey with the butter and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the roaster and cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Lower the heat to 325 degrees and cook for 3 ½ – 4 hours.
Roast Turkey from an Electric Roaster


What is the cooking time for a roasted turkey?

Cooking time for an 18 pound is 3 ½ – 4 hours in a Roaster Oven. Cooking time for an 18 pound turkey in a conventional oven is around 4 ½ hours or approximately 15 minutes per pound. 

What is a safe temperature to cook roasted turkey?

Use an instant read meat thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh to know when the turkey is completely roasted.

Can I make roasted turkey in an instant pot?

Using an 8 quart model which can handle a 8-9 pound turkey on a trivet, season according to the recipe and cook 6 minutes per pound with a 10 minute natural pressure release.

What other seasonings can be used in this recipe?

Optional seasonings include chopped thyme, rosemary and sage.

Can I use flavored butter for this roasted turkey?

Use your favorite flavored butter to put under the skin of your turkey before roasting in the electric roaster.



  • Serve:  Turkey in a Roaster is best when allowed to rest around 45 minutes before slicing giving the meat time to reabsorb the juices.  Do not allow the turkey to set out longer than 2 hours.
  • Store:  Refrigerate the turkey in shallow airtight containers or wrap tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap.  Properly stored, cooked turkey will last for 3 – 4 days.
  • Freeze:  Roasted turkey can be stored 2 -3 months in a freezer bag or airtight container.
Roaster Oven Turkey sliced on cutting board with fresh herbs

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Roast Turkey (in an Electric Roaster)

Roast Turkey in an electric roaster is a timesaver for Thanksgiving or Christmas, with fool-proof results while saving on oven space!
Yield 30 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 18 pound whole turkey , defrosted
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper


  • Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity and pat it dry.
  • Remove the rack from the roaster oven.
  • Place turkey in the roaster, breast side up.
  • Rub the turkey with the butter and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the roaster and cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Lower the heat to 325 degrees and cook for 3 ½ – 4 hours until a thermometer reads 165 degrees in the thickest part of the turkey thigh.



Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 147mg | Sodium: 449mg | Potassium: 433mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 203IU | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 2mg
Roaster Oven Turkey collage

Photos used in a previous version of this post.

Electric Roaster Roasted Turkey collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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    1. Hi Elaine. My guess is that you’ve already served your turkey by now. Busy season around this kitchen and I’m just catching up on comments! You’ll want to plan about 8-10 minutes per pound for an unstuffed bird at 325º Fahrenheit.

  1. Can I start my turkey out breast side down & cook 15 minutes & then return to breast side up? I did this with chicken breast in air fryer and made crispy brown top & moist meat and would like if could do this with bigger turkey.

    1. Sure! Give it a go and let us know how it turned out. Roasters vary. Our turkey turned out yummy and crispy without having to flip the turkey.

    1. The simplest way to figure out turkey roasting times is to calculate 13 minutes per pound at 350°F for an unstuffed turkey (that’s about 3 hours for a 12- to 14-lb. turkey), or 15 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey.

  2. Definitely a space saver but mine didn’t brown like an oven roasted turkey. No crusty bits on the bottom to flavor the gravy either. On the plus side it was very moist.

  3. I have been reading some of the comments left, and I have been roasting my turkey in the electric roaster for many years. Only way to go. I really don’t care about brown crispy skin, it is not eaten anyway.(not really good for you). I roast my turkey breast side down, about 275- 300 degrees till done, you will know when.I also cook in turkey broth (a 32 oz box) with seasonings. I also cover with parchment paper instead of foil. I rub the turkey with oil first and use no stick spray on the liner. Sometimes I will cook the turkey the day before ,debone ,slice up and pack in the cooled broth and put in the fridge till the next day. Reheat in broth,in oven or crock pot again cover with parchment , drain broth before serving and make your gravy.

  4. Just ordered a roaster oven, your turkey came out very brown I was thinking of using kitchen bouquet. What’s your thoughts?

  5. Hi
    When using the electric roaster, I cannot ever get the turkey brown and crisp, any reason other than not adding water in bottom?

  6. I used my turkey roaster this year and the turkey came out wonderful! My question is what is the best way to clean it?? I have several dark greasy spots and can’t them off.

    Thank you

  7. I have used an electric turkey roasting pan for a number of years now. I absolutely love it for the fact it frees your oven for baking other dishes and it makes the juiciest most tender fall off the bone turkey. When cooking temp has reached the recommended temperature,I remove the inner roasting pan ,place it into the oven on the lowest rack,set on broiler to brown the bird . This process only takes a few minutes so make sure you keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

  8. years ago I cooked my turkey in an electric cooker so I could use my oven for other dishes. when the turkey was done I was extremely disappointed. the skin was not a golden brown, but beige, the skin not crisp but l limp. when I lifted the turkey out of the pan it simply fell apart, it was eatable but not eye appealing. Needless to say, I never used my electric cooked for a thanksgiving turkey again.

  9. Hi – thank you for this as I believe I am using my roaster this Thanksgiving. Here is the question…your directions say, remove the rack and place the Turkey in the roaster. Do you not use the rack? Sorry to be so technical but the directions on my roaster show it both ways. Love your recipe’s and new cook book!

    1. Says
      “Remove the rack from the roaster oven.
      Place turkey in the roaster on the rack breast side up.”

      I think they just meant, take the rack out and place the turkey on it, then transfer the rack back with the turkey on it.

  10. My Grandmother had the 1950’s version of this type of roaster, always did her turkey in it. While She passed away before I was old enough to have enjoyed it, I heard it was delicious. That roaster was around and in use at their summer place and then at my parent’s house until they passed. Now I wish I had it.

  11. Hi Sabrina! I want to try this for Easter but have never used a roaster. Will it brown like in an oven? My mom warned me that it won’t and I’m nervous now to try it!

  12. You might consider putting the direction to preheat the roaster in your recipe. This is the first time using an electric roaster (& my first time making a full turkey) and I didn’t preheat it. If I were using an oven I would have assumed the preheat was necessary, but without any experience with a roaster, I wasn’t sure! I hope this doesn’t mess with the results too much. I usually read the comments first, but I didn’t this time and I wish I had. Thanks for the recipe!

  13. What would cause a 14 pound turkey cooked in an electric toaster to end up tough and stringy? It was done after 1 hour 45 minutes. I cooked at 400 degrees for 1/2 hour and then turned the temp
    down to 325. I did not remove the cover; However I read somewhere to put a towel over the top to keep the heat in. I did remove everything from the turkey. I used butter in the inside and outside then seasoned. I did not put butter under the skin. I added celery, onion, and carrots into the cavity. Any thoughts?

    1. Oh no! I’m thinking that possibly the temperature was too high or there was a leak in the top where air was escaping not keeping it moist. The towel trick might help for next time. I’m so sorry.

  14. We did our turkey much like this. I didn’t end up with any drippings, and it seemed a touch dry, so I added some water. I had onions and veggies below as well. Next time I’ll probably add some water – 1/2″ to 1″ at the bottom. And baste with it once or twice for a crisper skin. The skin came out nicely. After the water was put in, we had drippings for a yummy gravy at the end.

  15. I hop you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am cooking a small turkey tomorrow and want to roast it in my electric roasting oven. Is there a guide for how long per pound to cook the turkey in this pan? Thanks

    1. Hi Bennie, how small? You can mostly expect it to cook similarly to the oven depending on your roaster. Does your roasting have number temperatures listed on it? You just can’t open it too often because ALL the heat escapes very quickly. Here to troubleshoot if you’d like. Happy Thanksgiving!

  16. HI Sabrina,
    When i put the turkey in the roaster is it ok to remove the pan and cook on a rack directly in the roaster? I thought i saw somewhere that you should remove the pan and cook that way.

    1. You mean you want to remove the pan and cook only on the rack with no pan to hold in the juices? I have never tried this. I could also be reading this wrong. Happy Thanksgiving!

  17. I usually use oven bags for my turkey. This year I’m using my roaster, can I still use the oven bag so it doesn’t dry out??

    1. No, don’t add the oven bag to the roaster. They make specific electric roaster bags but if you don’t have that don’t use a standard one, it is too close to the heating element and will melt. Happy Thanksgiving!

      1. I meant toaster oven geez! Years I’ve done it this way in an oven bag inside the roaster. It makes clean up easier too

    2. I’ve done it many times in the toaster oven and put tge turkey in the toaster bad first, then put it in the toaster. It cooks quicker and always delicious!

    1. I did not, you don’t want to lose the heat and the second the lid comes off you lose all the heat. If you really want to, I would say not more than a couple of times and assume it may take a bit longer to finish. Happy thanksgiving!

  18. My hand me down 18 quart roaster doesn’t have a rack. Will my 20 lb. turkey be okay without one? I’ve always used a bag in a conventional oven and am a little nervous about using a roaster. Thanks.

    1. I remove the rack, you’ll be fine without it. I didn’t have space for the bird in the roaster with the rack and I preferred it didn’t touch the top vs stay out of the cooking liquid.

      If you want a rack so it doesn’t sit in it’s cooking liquid, I do this trick with foil where I sort of scrunch it together into a snake then bend it back and forth to make a rack. You could do that to make a makeshift rack. Check out this post where I do it. Happy Thanksgiving!

  19. I like to stuff my turkey and normally put it in the conventional oven. I would like to use my 20 qt. Oster Roaster Oven this year and still stuff my turkey. Is that ok to do? Otherwise I will probably use the conventional oven. How much extra time if I stuff it?
    I was hoping to save the over for other foods that need to be heated.

    1. That’s hard because for food safety reasons I would say don’t do it. The roaster can dry out the turkey if it stays in too long and with the stuffing you would need to be sure the center of the stuffing registers at 165 degrees to avoid salmonella. Would you consider the stuffing in a slow cooker? That would save oven space! We have one on the site. Happy Thanksgiving!

    2. I grew up with turkey done in a roster and that is the only way I cook mine and it is stuffed. All though I stuff my turkey with white rice stuffing so I can make turkey rice soup after. No one has ever gotten sick. If you use stuffings with oysters or something that spoils fast it is better to cook in the oven. Hope this answers some of your questions. Happy Thanksgiving and good luck.

  20. Why does it say to REMOVE the rack from the roaster??
    Then it says, place turkey on roaster on rack breast side up??

    1. REMOVE the rack from the roaster oven (I place mine on a large cookie sheet), then place the turkey on the rack. It’s hard to do all that when the rack and the turkey are actually in the oven. If you remove and place on counter, sink or cookie sheet, you can easily work with it. Then simply life the rack with turkey on it into the oven…. carefully.

  21. I am cooking, in parts, 4 thighs and one turkey breast in the roaster.
    How long should I cook?
    Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Thats hard because the thighs and the breasts will cook at different temperatures and for a different amount of time. My gut would say 350 and tent the breast, check at 60 minutes then see what more needs to be done with a thermometer in the thickest part of the pieces. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. The turkey will release some drippings while cooking so you can mix that with either broth or wine and add it to your own gravy for extra flavor. You can add 2 cups of liquid if you’d like to make more but it will prevent the turkey from getting crispy. Enjoy!

  22. Hi! This is going to be a first for me with electric roaster. I bought an 18 Quart Roaster and going to roast a 22 lb. Turkey. I want to understand your instructions exactly so I need to clarify about use of the rack. Step 2 says to take rack out of the Roaster. But step 3 says to put the Turkey inside the Roaster ON THE RACK. In your photo the Turkey does not appear to be sitting on a rack. Also, I need to know if the finished Turkey should rest inside the Roaster, or placed outside Roaster; and onto a rack or a cutting board, perhaps tented with foil? Thank you for your help on this!! Happy Holiday!!?

    1. Yes, you’ll want to place the turkey in the roaster on the rack breast side up. You’ll want to remove the turkey from the roaster and tent it with large piece of foil and allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes. Hope this helps clear up any confusion. Enjoy!

      1. Sorry, I am not clear on the rack. You answered to a previous post you do not use a rack, but here you say place it on a rack. Thanks

  23. This recipe says to cook the turkey at 400 degrees for 30 min. Do I need to preheat the roaster or just put my bird in and then set the roaster to 400? This will be my 1st turkey in a roaster so I want to get it just right! Thanks!

  24. I have a ten lb organic fresh turkey. It was expensive, so I don’t want to ruin it. I just bought a 16 qt oster roaster oven.
    I saw where you posted not to add liquid as this prevents browning. Do I not add any broth at all to the roaster? Also, what are your thoughts on cooking the breast side down? I’ve heard it keeps the breast from getting dry. How long should I cook an unstuffed 10lb turkey, as I read that it cooks quicker in the roaster

    1. I like the skin crispy on my turkeys so that’s why I don’t add liquid to the bottom. You’ll want to plan about 15 minutes per pound for an unstuffed bird. Make sure you use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey to check for 165 degrees. Enjoy!

      1. I noticed you said 15 minutes per pound for an unstuffed 10lb turkey. My turkey is 12 lbs ans I planned to stuff with herbs onion and lemons. Should I cook it longer? I’m also using a roaster oven.

  25. I have a 16 quart roaster and an 18 lb turkey. The lid doesn’t quite close. Can I use aluminum foil?

    Please help! Thank you!

    1. Oof, that’s a tough one. If you use super thick foil, double it up and make sure it’s super tight but tented (you don’t want it touching the turkey) it might work. Good luck!

  26. This looks really good, but I was under the impression that turkeys do not brown in an electric roaster. How did you get this turkey to brown so beautifully?

    1. Eliminating adding liquids allows the turkey to get perfect crispy and brown. I hope you’ll give it a try!

      1. Are you saying your turkey came out with perfectly brown crispy skin? What did you mean by eliminating adding liquids? Would you recommend using a turkey bag & will it be brown & crispy.

        1. I don’t add any liquids because that starts to steam the bird and I like the skin crispy. It’s just a personal preference.

    2. This is my first time using a roaster ,do I need to put my turkey in a turkey cooking bag or just put it in the roaster without

      1. I did not use a cooking bag, hope you enjoy it! Keep and eye on the bird to get a feel for how hot your roaster is running. Some roasters also have hot spots, so just be on the safe side with it.

  27. YES! This is exactly how I ALWAYS cook my turkeys! They always turn out SO moist! It’s a super easy trick to get the skin crispy. They roaster insert is oven safe. After the turkey is cooked well enough for eating take the insert out (use hot pads!) and place in a hot oven. Roast it for another 15-20 minutes in the hot oven. The skin will crisp up and you will have zero worries about a moist turkey since it is already moist from the counter-top electric roaster! I am so glad you’re telling people about using this method to cook turkeys. This is the absolute BEST solution for dry turkeys!

    1. Roast it uncovered in the hot oven at 325? Does the cook time of 15 minutes per pound include the initial 30 minutes at 400? Thank you!

      1. Yes, include the first 30 minutes in the timing per pound and yes uncovered unless your bird it browning too quickly in which case turn down the heat 25 degrees. Some roasters run hotter than others. Happy Thanksgiving!

  28. Thanksgiving meal is now over and I will report the results for the above comment. I put all the turkey, at the same time, into the roaster and roasted for thirty minutes at 450 degrees. I turned the temperature down to 325 degrees and roasted for two hours and 25 minutes, then years of cooking intuitions, told me to raise the lid and check the temperatures. I did. The legs and thighs were a perfect 170 degrees and the breast was at 165. They were all nice and brown and perfect for serving. Since I had two hours to go before dinner, I did not want them to sit that long and cool down, so I added about a half cup of water to the pan so that it did not touch the turkery, and lowered the temp to 20, put the lid on it, and it two hours put it on the platter. It was so beautiful and tasted perfect. No more oven for me!

  29. I have used a roaster oven for years! I have found that my turkey cooks a little quicker than expected. It always turns out great! I’ve also used my oven for other things including a huge batch of chili or even homemade hot chocolate when feeding the youth at my church. Roaster oven for the win!