For many of us, cooking a turkey in an electric roaster is a once a year thing so it's easy to forget all the details. Let us refresh your memory on how to cook a turkey in an electric roaster for the juicy results everyone around your Thanksgiving table craves.

By Sheena Chihak
Updated September 18, 2020
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When it comes to the much-anticipated Thanksgiving menu there are lots of options for slow cooker mashed potatoes, Instant Pot side dishes, and make-ahead recipes to help alleviate the load on our ovens. Oven space is in huge demand for this holiday. Perhaps the easiest way to keep your oven free for homemade rolls and pies is to cook your turkey in an electric turkey roaster. You don’t have to prep your turkey any differently than you would to roast it in your oven. Because you’re cooking in a different (much smaller) appliance the only real difference is how long you’ll cook turkey in an electric roaster. Because a roaster is much smaller, it cooks your turkey faster (yay!).

Credit: Blaine Moats

How to Cook a Turkey in an Electric Roaster

As with all turkeys, allow ample time for the bird to defrost, then prep and season the bird as desired. Make these modifications to cook in an electric roaster ($50, Target).

  • Remove the rack or insert pan from your roaster.
  • Cover and preheat roaster to 325°F
  • Optional, but recommended, brush your turkey with a browning sauce of butter, Kitchen Bouquet ($3, Target), and paprika (about ¼ cup butter, 1 ½ tsp. Kitchen Bouquet, and 1 tsp. paprika) to help it get the brown color you expect when roasted in the oven. Electric roasters don’t brown foods as well as an oven.
  • Insert a meat thermometer with a probe ($20, Bed Bath & Beyond) into the center of an inside thigh muscle of your turkey. A thermometer with a probe lets you can keep an eye on the internal turkey temperature without opening the lid which allows heat escape and slows down cooking.
  • Add the rack back to the roaster and place the turkey on the rack, breast side up.
  • Cover and roast until the thermometer registers 175°F in the thigh (and the breast reaches 165°F)
  • Remove turkey from the roaster, cover with foil and let stand 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

How Long to Cook Turkey in an Electric Roaster

The cooking time for turkey in electric roasters depends on your turkey size and your cooker size. Check the manual of your electric roaster model for their specific guidelines or use these recommendations for a general idea. Remember, no matter what the estimated cooking time, determine doneness based on the turkey’s internal temperature.

  • 12- to 13-pound turkey, 1¾ hours
  • 14- to 24-pound turkey, 2 to 3 hours
  • 25- to 28-pound turkey 3½ to 4 hours

An electric roaster is a great choice when you need to keep the oven free for other delicious eats, but you could also make a grilled turkey or smoked turkey for other non-oven options.

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