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Roast Turkey in an Electric Roaster

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Save oven space by making your Roast Turkey in an electric roaster this year instead of your oven! Juicy, tender turkey, perfectly cooked and oh so tasty!

Roast Turkey is a beloved holiday tradition, and nothing quite says “togetherness” like gathering around the table with your loved ones and feasting the holidays away.

 

main image for recipe of uncooked turkey in an electric roaster

 

This tasty, traditional roast turkey recipe is not only buttery, delicious, and tender, but by utilizing an electric roaster it is incredibly SIMPLE to make and will free up some valuable oven space and time!  

Oftentimes, the role of “turkey roaster” can seem daunting, especially if you haven’t prepared a turkey before.

There are so many varying schools of thought and opinion regarding cooking methods, brining methods, seasoning methods … you get it … that it’s sometimes hard to know where to begin. Well, allow Num’s the Word to help you out! 

In part one of this special four-part series of posts we talked about how to brine a turkey. Now, we’ll talk about how to roast a turkey!

And we’ll do our best to make sure we address any possible questions you might have about the best way to roast a turkey. So grab a cup of cider or a mug of cocoa and let’s get to it! 

 

Seasonings for turkey laid out

 

How to prepare turkey for roasting?

There are a couple schools of thought as far as preparing a turkey for roasting. In part one of this four-part series, we went over How to Brine a Turkey.

For this recipe, we recommend brining your turkey, but if you’re not interested, that’s certainly not a deal breaker! 

The most important way to prepare your turkey for roasting is to make sure it is THAWED.

Thawing a turkey can take several days, depending on how much it weighs. For every 5 pounds of frozen turkey, you should plan on 24 hours of refrigerator thaw time. So a 20-pound turkey will take about 4 days.

If you want to brine your turkey, you need to begin thawing a 20-pound turkey 5 days prior to roasting day, in order to allow for 12-24 hours of brine time. 

Brining your turkey will help tenderize the meat and enhance the flavor. A brine is basically a saltwater bath for your turkey. It also contains various seasonings.

As your turkey soaks in the brine, the salt helps to unravel some of the protein chains, creating space that is then filled with the water of the brine.

This helps tenderize and moisturize your meat. Since the brine is infused with seasonings, it will also enhance the flavor. If you choose to brine your turkey, you will not need to season it with salt before roasting

In fact, be sure to rinse your turkey after you remove it from the brine. Neglecting to do so will leave you with drippings and possibly an entire bird that are much too salty.

We also do not recommend stuffing a brined turkey, as the stuffing will be too salty as well, not to mention stuffing makes it difficult to cook your turkey consistently to the proper temperature. 

 

pepper has been added to turkey

 

How to season a turkey for roasting?

For this scrumptious roast turkey recipe, you will only need a few ingredients! Don’t let the simplicity fool you — this roast turkey is PACKED with flavor and seasoned to perfection. 

  • Thawed turkey – brined if desired. We recommend using THIS brine recipe and instructions from part 1 of this four-part series of turkey-related posts! 
  • Pro tip: Ensure turkey is 100% thawed. For a 20 pound turkey, this will require 4 days. It’s estimated that a turkey will thaw 5 pounds per day. So a 20 pound turkey will take 4 days. If you intend to brine your turkey, be sure to add an additional 12-24 hours of time so that your turkey will be ready to roast! 
  • Butter – is there anything butter doesn’t make better? I submit there is not. By rubbing it under and on top of the skin, the butter in this recipe will keep your turkey meat moist — especially that roast turkey breast — and will add richness and flavor. 
  • Salt – salt is a flavor enhancer, and it is a necessary seasoning for roast turkey. HOWEVER! If your turkey has been brined, do not add salt! 
  • Pepper – seasoning your turkey with pepper will add a little kick and additional depth of flavor.
  • Onion, Celery, and Carrots – these poultry roasting staples are the “aromatics” of the recipe. You’ll put these inside the turkey, and as it cooks they will help season and flavor the bird. 

 

hand adding salt to turkey

 

How to roast a turkey:

There are a couple different ways to cook your Thanksgiving turkey, whether you choose to smoke it (check out our recipe HERE), oven roast, deep fry, or another of the myriad options is up to you!

For this recipe, we’re going to focus on how to cook a turkey in an electric roaster — one of the most simple and efficient methods for preparing the PERFECT roast turkey. We’ll also give you instructions for converting to oven roasting, just in case you don’t own an electric roaster … yet. 

 

turkey cavity has been filled with carrots, onions and celery

 

What temperature to roast a turkey?

For both oven and electric roasting, you’ll want to cook your turkey at two different temperatures. 

  • How to cook turkey in an electric roaster: preheat roaster to 450 degrees. Roast prepared turkey for 30 minutes. DO NOT OPEN LID! Simply turn the roaster down to 325 degrees thereafter. Roast for an additional 15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees. A 20-pound turkey will need about 4 ½ hours of roasting at the lower temperature.  
  • How to oven roast turkey: preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roast the prepared turkey for 1 hour, then turn down the temperature to 325 degrees for the remaining time, approximately 20 minutes/pound. 
  • How to brown a turkey in a roaster: that’s the reason for the two different roasting temperatures! Cooking the turkey for a portion of time at a higher temperature allows the outside skin to brown and crisp

 

top view of cooked turkey on platter

  •  

How long to roast a turkey? 

This is where things get complicated. Length of time is really an estimation game unless you have a grilling digital thermometer.

Though this device won’t give you an exact estimate of how much cooking time you’ll need, it will tell you when your turkey has reached a safe internal temperature and is fully cooked, thus avoiding overcooking!

We highly recommend that you insert a grilling digital thermometer into the thickest part of your turkey with it preset to 165 degrees.

This is not a traditional thermometer, but one with a long cord so that the temperature gage can stay in your turkey while the digital box remains outside the oven/grill/roaster.

How long to cook turkey in electric roaster?

Turkey roasting time in an electric turkey roaster will be approximately 15 minutes per pound.

This is an estimate, however, and your best bet is to use the aforementioned digital grilling thermometer to avoid over cooking and drying out your turkey. 

Pro tip: you do not need to baste a turkey cooked in an electric roaster! 

 

cooked turkey on platter, showing neck side.

 

How many minutes per pound to roast a turkey in the oven?

Oven roasted turkey will take approximately 20 minutes per pound. Again, we highly recommend you use a digital grilling thermometer to ensure that your meat is cooked to a proper temperature while maintaining the tender juiciness we all want from our turkey! 

Pro tip: after you remove your turkey, you should let it rest for 10 minutes. During this time, the turkey will continue to “cook,” and the temperature in larger birds may raise as much as 10 degrees. In smaller birds (around 10 pounds) there will not be much temperature change during the rest time. 

 

knife cutting turkey slice

 

How to roast a brined turkey?

You may be wondering if there is a difference in roasting times between a brined and not-brined turkey.

Short answer — yes. But it’s small. A brined turkey will roast slightly faster than a turkey that has not been brined. This could be anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour faster than estimated.

This is why a digital GRILLING thermometer is so important because you’ll know EXACTLY when your bird reaches it’s full cooking temperature without having to open the lid, losing precious heat each time!

How long to roast a stuffed turkey?

Your turkey roasting time will increase if you decide to roast a stuffed turkey. Plan to add an additional 15-45 minutes of cook time for a stuffed turkey.

Disclaimer: it is harder to reach a safe internal temperature with a stuffed turkey, so be certain your bird is at least 165 degrees in ALL parts! 

 

carved turkey on a platter and ready to serve, zoomed out image

 

How long to roast a 12, 13, 14, 15, 20, or 22 pound turkey?

Here’s an easy-to-reference chart with recommended roasting times for varying sizes of turkeys. This information is from the University of Illinois Extension. 

 

Unstuffed
8 – 12 pounds 2 ¾ – 3 hours
12 – 14 pounds 3 – 3 ¾ hours
14 – 18 pounds 3 ¾ – 4 ¼ hours
18 – 20 pounds 4 ¼ – 4 ½ hours
20 – 24 pounds 4 ½ – 5 hours
Stuffed
8 – 12 pounds 3  – 3 ½ hours
12 – 14 pounds 3 ½ – 4 hours
14 – 18 pounds 4 – 4 ¼ hours
18 – 20 pounds 4 ¼ – 4 ¾  hours
20 – 24 pounds 4 ¾  – 5 ¼ hours

 

close up image of carved turkey on platter

 

Delicious Thanksgiving Side Dishes:

We know you’ll enjoy this perfect roast turkey recipe! The combination of an electric roaster and digital grilling thermometer will make it the simplest, tastiest, tenderest, and all-around-best turkey you’ve ever had!

Using an electric roaster really is the best way to roast a turkey, not to mention it frees up valuable oven space for those tasty sides! Happy Turkey Day and happy roasting! 

 

Yield: 20 Servings

Roast Turkey in an Electric Roaster

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • Thawed turkey, brined if desired
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • 2 - 3 large carrots

Instructions

  1. Preheat Roaster at 450*F.
  2. Ensure turkey is 100% thawed. For a 20 pound turkey, this will require 4 days. It's estimated that a turkey will thaw 5 pounds per day. So a 20 pound turkey will take 4 days.
  3. Clean out neck, gravy packet and gizzards from cavity of turkey.
  4. Rinse Turkey and pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Starting at the cavity opening, gently slide fingers under the skin to create a pocket. Working slowly, press your fingers as far as they will go all around the breast.
  6. Scoop 1 Tablespoon of butter and rub it under the turkey's skin.
  7. Spread the remaining 3 Tablespoons of butter over the outside of the turkey skin, getting legs and all. Do not worry about under turkey.
  8. Salt and Pepper Turkey.
  9. If not stuffing turkey with traditional stuffing, add quartered onion, carrots and celery to turkey cavity.
  10. Insert a grilling digital thermometer into the thickest part of your turkey with it preset to 165*F. This is not a traditional thermometer, but one with a long cord so that the temperature gage can stay in your turkey while the digital box remains outside the oven/grill/roaster.
  11. Place turkey into preheated roaster, careful not to burn yourself.
  12. DO NOT ADD extra liquid. Roasting ovens do not require liquid and you do not need to baste your turkey!
  13. Cook at 450*F for 30 minutes.
  14. After 30 minutes, DO NOT OPEN LID. Simply turn roaster heat down to 325*F and cook for an additional 4 1/2hours (approximate for 20 pound turkey). Rule of thumb is 15 minutes per pound of unstuffed turkey. So a 20 pound turkey would need to cook for an approximate total of 5 hours.
  15. Note: If you brined your turkey it will cook faster. This could be anywhere from 30 minutes - 1 hour faster than estimated. So a brined 20 pound turkey would cook for 4 - 4 1/2 hours instead of 5. This is why a digital GRILLING thermometer is so important because you'll know EXACTLY when your bird reaches it's full cooking temperature without having to open the lid, losing precious heat each time.

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