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How to cook a moist and delicious turkey in a roaster oven

The number one question that I am asked around the holiday is how I cook my turkey.  Well, let me tell you, my secret!  I cook it in a roaster oven!  So, I am going to share with you how to cook a moist and delicious turkey in a roaster oven.

My Mom shared this secret with me and now I am sharing it with you.  Not only does it free up oven space for all your side dishes, but it also cooks in less time, and you will have a moist and delicious turkey every time.  Not only that but the skin does crisp up and is delicious!

How to cook a moist and delicious turkey in a roaster oven!

I want to share with you that I do NOT use a brine for my turkey.  I find that by cooking my turkey in a roaster oven that I don’t need too!  I have cooked anywhere between a 15 lb. to a 22 lb. turkey in my roaster oven.  The trick to cooking a large turkey in the roaster oven is to select one with a flat breastbone.

How to cook a moist and delicious turkey in a roaster oven

Prior to placing your turkey in the roaster oven to cook you should thoroughly defrost your turkey if you are preparing a frozen turkey.  If you are local to Northern KY/Cincinnati I would encourage you to purchase a fresh turkey from Tewes Farm.  Not only are the prices great, but you are also supporting a local farm. You are able to take your roasting pan with you so you are certain it will fit correctly.  We bought one this year and it was delicious! I will be back that is for sure. Plus, you can buy additional “parts” like extra legs and breasts if you desire.

When you are ready to prepare your turkey begin by pre-heating your roaster oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the metal rack before pre-heating. Follow your roaster oven directions for the correct temperature and suggested cook time. I suggest purchasing a meat thermometer before you cook your turkey as well. My roaster manual said 325 degrees so that is what we used.

While your roaster oven is pre-heating rinse your turkey and remove “innards” from the turkey cavity (dispose or keep using). Soften 2 sticks salted butter (or you can use ghee or olive oil). Dice up 1 onion in large chunks.  Cut off the tops off of a handful of celery stalks and peel 5-6 garlic cloves.  Place 1/2 stick of softened butter into the cavity of the turkey.  Add salt and pepper and then add your onion/celery/garlic to the inside of the cavity. If necessary, use kitchen twine tie your legs so that they don’t rest on the side of the roaster while cooking (they will over cook).

How to cook a moist and delicious turkey in a roaster oven

Next take the remaining butter (or you can use olive oil or ghee) and rub it both under the skin and on top of the skin of the turkey.  The more the better!  Finally salt and pepper the outside of the skin.  You can also use additional seasonings like rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram or poultry seasoning. Secure you wings by tucking them under the bird and then place your turkey carefully into the roaster.  Be careful the roaster will be hot.  Place the turkey on the roasting rack and then lower the rack into the pan (your oven comes with a rack).

That is, it!  Place the lid on the turkey and cook for 2 1/2 – 3 hours if you are cooking a 20+ pound turkey and DO NOT TAKE OFF THE LID while it cooks.  It is tempting I know but don’t do it! Simply allow the bird to cook and once it is done you will have a delicious and moist turkey!  Be sure to check the internal temperature before serving. A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

Remove the turkey by lifting the rack and place it onto a large cookie sheet. For best quality, let the turkey stand (rest) for 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to set. Remove the onions/celery/garlic from the cavity and carve.  We hope you enjoy this method of cooking your turkey.  I promise once you try it you will never go back to using the oven.

If you are cooking a turkey breast – check out this post.

How to cook a Turkey Breast in the Slow Cooker

How to cook a moist and delicious turkey in a roaster oven

Holiday Menu Ideas:

Eagle Brand Pumpkin Pie

Turkey Cheese and Meat Appetizer Platter

Sweet Potato Casserole

Linda’s Deviled Eggs

Cornbread Dressing

Corn Pudding

Gluten Free Gravy Recipe

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  1. I do a similar cooking of my turkey in the roaster. I remove the “innards”, from the turkey, then rinse it and allow it to dry while I cut up the items to place in the turkey’s cavity. I cut one of each, an apple, orange, lemon, lime. and an onion and a whole pod of fresh garlic. No need to peel any of the items because you are not eating them. The garlic you cut in half, again no need to peel it as you aren’t going to eat it. one other item is a packet of fresh poultry seasoning, (found in the produce dept. with the fresh herb section). I stuff the turkey with the produce listed above. I place the turkey on the rack in my roaster and take softened butter and slather under the turkey’s skin. On the outside skin, I rub olive oil and then sprinkle poultry seasoning salt-free fajita seasoning, salt, pepper, and sage. cover and cook according to the size of your turkey. Best moistest turkeu you will ever eat.

  2. I’ve never cooked a Turkey before– when you cook it, do you add any juices or broth? or does the Turkey have its own juices??

  3. also, the picture shows Turkey in oven bag, but nothing is mentioned about that in directions?? I’m wanting to impress the in-laws, so I just want it to be perfect :)thanks

  4. My family purchased two 12 pound turkeys. I am hoping to put both in the roaster. How should I adjust the time for this?

    1. I have never done this but I think if they can fit side by side I would still follow for the 12 pound turkey based on your cooking instructions for your roaster. Be sure to use a meat thermometer to be sure it is done.

  5. I want to stuff my turkey. How long should I cook it if it is stuffed. It’s 15#.
    Just bought my roster today!

  6. I used this recipe because I had a 20 lb turkey and needed the oven for other things. This was by far THE best turkey I’ve ever made! And it was done in 2 hours instead of the 5i was expecting. I just turned it down until it was time to eat. Delicious!

  7. I used this recipe for Thanksgiving because I had a 20 lb. turkey and needed my oven space. This was by far THE BEST turkey I’ve ever made in 39 years! Kids were just home for Christmas and we were still talking about the turkey. Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. I tried your turkey recipe this Thanksgiving 2021, It work perfect. The meat was moist and tender and the skin was nicely browned. My grandsons wanted more legs. LOL I do think next time I will bump up on the seasoning. My family had to add salt. But that’s on me not you. Thank you.

  9. We started using the roaster about 5 years ago. In my opinion there is no other way to insure a great turkey. I do put turkey broth in the bottom of the roaster to blend with drippings for my gravy. It’s always moist and delicious.

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