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How to Cook in an Electric Roaster

Updated on February 7, 2017
Nanciajohnson profile image

I enjoy painting fantasy art, art shows, creating delicious dishes, spending time with my grandkids, taking walks and reading a good book.

How I Use My Electric Roaster Oven

My electric roaster oven is one of my favorite appliances and easy to cook with. I find it to be so versatile that not only will cook a delicious holiday turkey, but will also bake, steam, slow-cook and warm other food items making this a must have kitchen appliance.

My electric roaster gives me a second oven which comes in handy at the holidays having my family over for a holiday feast. Putting my turkey or ham in the roaster lets me put my special yam casserole and pies in the regular oven.

An electric roaster oven is also great for potlucks and block parties doubling as a buffet server once the food is cooked and ready to serve. I work at a retirement community that holds large holiday potlucks and big dinners. We have at least 12 large electric roasters to use for these food events; chili dinners to holiday turkeys for 200!

Electric roaster ovens range from a small 5 quart to a large 22 quart size. Some come with buffet pans so you can use the roaster as a buffet server. You will find stainless steel models to enamel and even porcelain models. I love my stainless steel roaster oven and find it cleans up so nicely. I store my electric roaster in the garage cabinet until I need it.

photo by NanciJ

Roasting in a Conventional Oven versus a Portable Oven

Each year most of us have a large holiday meal that requires roasting a large turkey, ham or roast beef. Have you given much thought to your choice of how to roast this poultry or meat? Do you have a choice between your conventional oven and a portable electric oven, if not, which do you think you would prefer?

For many years I baked our family turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas in a conventional oven. It always turned out delicious but what I found for challenges is how to bake other side dishes and desserts while a turkey is baking for hours and hours in the kitchen oven. Then I discovered the portable electric roaster.

With the addition to the electric roaster oven, I now have a second oven in my kitchen. I own a large 22 quart roaster which will hold up to a 25 pound turkey. That is important when you are hosting a family dinner for 15 guests or more each year. I was impressed on how the portable oven bakes or roasts the turkey as quickly as the conventional oven. I am able to put in my sweet potato casserole and green beans in the regular oven at the same time now.

For me, having an electric Roaster Oven is a great addition to my kitchen. I have even cooked 2 large chickens and a ham in the roaster leaving my oven free for baking pies or side dieshes at the same time. I do not choose one over the other but recommend using both for your holiday dinners.

Shopping List

Don't Forget:


Poultry Seasoning

Chicken Broth


Stuffing Mix

Celery & Onion

Turkey Laces


Meat Thermometer

How to Bake a Juicy Turkey

Turkeys normally come in sizes from 12 pounds all the way up to 25 pounds. Depending on the size of your holiday dinner party, you will buy a turkey to feed approximately 1/4 to 1/2 pound per person. I like to buy two smaller turkeys for our large family of 14 people instead of one very large one. The smaller turkeys can be a little more tender and juicy. Plus we have 4 legs and 4 wings for those who like them. I cook one in my roaster oven and my daughter-in-law cooks the other one in hers.

A large 22 quart electric roaster oven with its domed lid can just fit up to a 25 pound turkey.

photo from google images

Cook Time

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 3-4 hours

Serves: 12-14


  • fresh or frozen-thawed turkey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 15 oz can chicken broth
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 medium onion
  • whole garlic cloves
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange
  • 2 T poultry seasoning
  • 2 T parsley
  • onion powder
  • turkey laces


  1. Turn on electric roaster oven to 350 degrees. Place turkey on stainless steel rack, breast-side up. Remove any packages stuck in the neck and back cavities. Pour chicken broth in bottom of roaster pan. Cut raw celery, onion, apple, orange and garlic into large chunks. Place all inside turkey cavity. (I do not stuff my turkey, but make the stuffing separately in the regular oven.) Tie the legs together to hold the raw vegetables and fruit in during roasting.
  2. I rub the entire skin of the raw turkey with olive oil instead of butter. Sprinkle seasonings, parsley and onion powder over the oiled turkey. Roast according to directions which is approximately 13 to 15 minutes per pound, basting every 15 to 30 minutes. Roast until the center temperature reaches 180 degrees or the pop-up timer is up. Remove from the electric roaster oven to a serving dish, and take out the vegetables and fruit inside the turkey cavity and discard. Save the drippings and broth to make gravy.
  3. Tip: If you like a crispy, browned skin, during the last half hour of cooking time, take your turkey from the electric roaster oven and put on a oven roaster pan in a conventional oven at 375 degrees to brown the skin.
3 stars from 31 ratings of How to Cook a Turkey in a Roaster Oven

I recommend using a meat thermometer to determine the doneness when cooking meat or poultry. Insert the thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the meat. Cook until temperature for desired doneness is reached. For example, poultry should be 180 degrees or well done.

A Must Have Tool When Baking a Turkey

RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Turkey Lifter, Set of 2
RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Turkey Lifter, Set of 2

These are strong enough to lift a 25 pound turkey easily. The Stainless Steel makes is sturdy and is easy to clean.


Roasters Also Cook:

Ham or Pork Roast






Stuffed Cabbage


Other Types of Foods Cooked in a Roaster Oven

Bake, Steam, Slow-Cook and Roasting

Besides roasting large turkeys, hams, several chickens, I have used the electric roaster oven to cook a large batch of chili, stew, soup, enchiladas, lasagna and chicken casserole. They are perfect for cooking a large casserole and then taking to a neighborhood potluck. All you have to do is plug it in when you get there to keep the food warm until time to serve.

I like the smaller 18 quart roasters because they are perfect for these casseroles and stews. they are also easy to transport when taking to a neighborhood potluck. It also fits in most kitchen cupboards or pantries when not in use. I store mine in the garage cabinet up on the shelf above the odd miscellaneous items.

Cooking all types of recipes in an electric roaster is easy. You will be surprised to see how many different types of meals you can cook in this portable oven without needing much effort. There is no need to always have to use the large kitchen oven for large casseroles, stews or soups and even desserts. Each roaster brand usually provides a small recipe booklet with their appliciance, so I would check out their recipes and give a few a try.

cooked ham
cooked ham

How to Cook a Ham in Roaster Oven

When cooking meat such as a nice Easter ham, it is important to use the oven rack that comes with the roaster. This rack is stainless steel and keeps the meat off the bottom of the portable oven.

Cooking time depends on the type of ham you are cooking. A bone-in ham needs approximately 17 to 21 minutes per pound for a 10 to 15 pound smoked ham. A boneless smoked ham needs approximately 15 to 17 minutes per pound for a 8 to 12 pound ham. A fully cooked ham only needs 13 to 24 minutes per pound for a 5 to 10 pound ham.

photo from wikipedia commons

  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cook time: 2 hours 55 min
  • Ready in: 3 hours
  • Yields: up to 12


  • smoked ham
  • whole cloves
  • pineapple rings
  • pepper
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Turn on the electric roaster oven to 325 degrees. Place a small amount of liquid such as water or broth on the bottom of the electric roaster, place the ham on the oven rack. Season the surface of the ham with your favorite seasonings. My family loves the simple seasonings such as a little pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. I stick whole cloves all around the ham and place slices of pineapple on top.
  2. Cover with the domed lid and cook until the ham is hot all the way through using the cooking chart listed above. I test with a meat thermometer to make sure it is done before removing the ham to serve. A smoked ham should be cooked to 160 degrees in the center and a fully cooked ham at 140 degrees. Slice and serve.
Oster 18 Quart Electric Roaster
Oster 18 Quart Electric Roaster

Double as Buffet Server

Great for pot lucks and family gatherings!

Some roasters come with a Buffet Server which is perfect for keeping food warm at large family gatherings or community potlucks. This holiday season is the perfect time to pick up a roaster with the added feature of the buffet insert. The price is so low that I had to look twice! I plan on buying several of these electric roasters for gifts this year.

If you are on the fence on purchasing this electric roaster due to the low price, I would not hesitate. My roaster oven was on sale but has lasted me many holiday seasons! With a nonstick enamel roaster pan, domed lid to cook a large turkey and adjustable temperature control to either warm your food warm or cook at a high temperature to get that meal done fast, it really is a great appliance to own.

Nesco Electric Roaster Ovens

Classic Roaster Ovens Since 1932

Nesco is a name that when you hear it, you think of roaster ovens. Nesco has been making electric roaster since 1932. Nesco knows roaster ovens! Besides this classic 18 quart size, Nesco also makes a small 5 quart and 6 quart electric roaster for those who don't need the large size for cooking turkeys. The small sizes are perfect for chickens, small roasts, stews, soups and casseroles. What is fun about the Nesco electric roasters is that some of the sizes can be ordered in red instead of the basic ivory or stainless steel models.

The Nesco electric roaster has a unique heating element that cooks in a circular motion around the food. Along with the domed lid, this cooking method ensures a juicy turkey or other tender and moist meats. The Nesco roaster oven can also be used for baking, slow-cooking, steaming and warming foods. Speaking of warming foods, there is a buffet server insert that can be purchased separately to fit inside the 18 quart classic porcelain cookwell or the Nesco Harvest 18 quart stainless steel cookwell. Turn your roaster from an oven into a buffet server for those large holiday parties or potlucks.

You must do a "burn in" procedure before actually cooking the food. This process is important to these Nesco electric roasters and must be done outside since the smell of the burn can be very strong. Nesco states this "burn in" will take an hour or so, but it can take a lot longer depending on the particular Nesco roaster oven you have. Once you get past this initial step, the Nesco electric roaster will last a very long time, even a lifetime.

Nesco 5 Quart Electric Roaster - Circle of Heat Technology

This video showing a 5 quart size roaster is a great visual example of how to season and use a Nesco product. The same principles apply with their larger roasters as well. Being in business for such a long time they have perfected their appliances and have a brand name you can trust. Check out it's features:

Do You Have or Use an Electric Roaster Oven?

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    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 4 months ago from Mesa, Arizona

      Thank you for your kind comment. Happy Cooking!

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 4 months ago from Mesa, Arizona

      yes since it works like an oven. The bags are made to withstand heat. Sorry for the delay in my reply. Thank you for your comment.

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      Jessica R 4 months ago

      This article was very helpful! Thank you.

    • profile image

      Carol 6 months ago

      Can you use the roasting bag for cooking in the electric oven?

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 6 months ago from Mesa, Arizona

      Cook the Lasagna in your Roaster Oven just has you would in a conventional oven. Did your roaster come with a rack? Make the lasagna using either your recipe or the basic one I use that I will list for you below. Make the lasagna in a large baking pan such as 11" x 14" size. I use the disposable ones now for easy clean up! Put the prepared lasagna on the baking rack in the roaster oven at 350 degrees, cover and bake at least 45 min to 1 hour making sure the center is melted and hot!

      My easy recipe:

      1-2 jars of prepared spaghetti sauce

      1 pound cooked ground Italian sausage

      1 lb cooked lasagna noodles

      1 16oz container of ricotta cheese

      1 lb of grated mozzarella cheese(optional)

      Put a thin layer of sauce on bottom of pan (keeps from sticking). Layer in this order: cooked noodles, sauce, sprinkle of meat, olives, sprinkle mozzarella cheese, spoonfuls of ricotta cheese about 4" apart. Repeat until top of pan or all noodles are used.

      I hope you enjoy cooking in your new electric roaster!

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 6 months ago from Mesa, Arizona

      Are you looking to for a casserole type dish or something like Chicken Marsala? A favorite of mine is Chicken Divan which is layering broccoli, chicken in the pan and covering with a mixture of cream of chicken soup (2 cans), 1 cup mayonnaise. lemon juice and 2 tsp cumin. Pour this over the layers, bake at 375 until done. Serve with a side of rice.

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      Susan L. 7 months ago

      I am looking for a chicken breast recipe for 30-35 people for Chanukah.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 8 months ago from Mesa, Arizona

      The one thing about an electric roaster oven is that they are not exactly like a crock pot or slow cooker but more like a conventional oven in that the liquid may have the tendency to simmer and evaporate into steam. I use my crock pot for soups. Thank you for your question.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 8 months ago from Mesa, Arizona

      You can cook just about all types of meats, potatoes and casseroles in an electric roaster oven. Yes I would put them on a baking pan on the rack. Bake at 350. Just remember they will not crisp or brown as they would in a regular oven. That is the only drawback of this type of oven. I hope that helps!

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      Kim W. 8 months ago


      I wondering if I can cook frozen potatoes wedges in the roaster? Can I put them right on the rack or in a shallow pan on the rack?

      My oven is cooking a no peek primerib roast and saint open the door fir anything ( Best roast ever! We are sick of mashed potatoes :(

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      Dempsey 8 months ago

      What temperature and time would you use for an Apple Crisp baked in its own pan in the roaster oven.

    • profile image

      Islandtimecook 9 months ago

      I would like to use an electric toaster oven to make soup stock (fish, chicken, etc). Even though most roasters can go as high as 450F would the liquid in the roaster ever come to a boil or at least a full simmer? Thanks.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 11 months ago from Mesa, Arizona

      It is recommended to cook raw meat including ground sausage to 160-165 degrees internal temperature. In a roaster oven set at 400 degrees, it may take up to 20 minutes per pound or an hour. Place the sausage links into the roaster and place 3-4 cups of liquid over the sausage. I would rotate the links several times during cooking to ensure the links are cooked evenly. If you want your sausage links browned, you may need to place them on a baking tray and finish cooking in a hot conventional oven. This will brown the sausage skin if that is a preference. Thank you for your question.

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      Jamie 11 months ago

      I have 30#'s of pork sausage links. How long will it take to cook all them

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 12 months ago from Mesa, Arizona

      For the pasta and sauce you only need a low temp to keep it hot for serving. I would say no higher than 300 degrees. Also if you borrow a roaster without a rack you can use a small baking rack such as the kind used to cool cookies or pies. The other way to steam hot dogs without a rack is to use a stainless steel steamer rack or even a small stainless colander with little feet. Anything with air vent holes to raise it up off the lining of the roaster pan. That way the water/liquid is underneath and the steam rises to cook the dogs. I hope this helps you for your party!

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 12 months ago from Mesa, Arizona

      I am sorry I have not logged in for a month or so and missed seeing your question! I hope you were able to prepare the scalloped potatoes with success. First I would refer you to the manufacturer's booklet just to be sure of what your brand of roaster recommends. I would place the baking pan with the potatoes on a rack and yes, add a bit of water in the roaster pan. You shouldn't need much since the potatoes should only take less than an hour to bake. I hope you had success!

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      Kim 12 months ago

      I want to keep pasta and sauce hot in my roaster for my daughter's grad party. What temp should I keep it on? Also, if I borrowed a roaster from someone and they don't have a rack, what is the best way to steam hotdogs without the rack in the roaster?

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      dorothy shannon 13 months ago

      when making scalloped pototes in roaster to you add water betweenliner & pan?

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 13 months ago from Mesa, Arizona

      An electric roaster is similar to a small oven which will bake or roast many different items even baked beans! I would recommend using a rack on the bottom of the oven which many come with and put the baked beans in a oven proof baking dish. That should eliminate any messy sicking on the bottom of your roaster! I hope this answers your question. Let me know how your baked beans turn out!

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      Carol 14 months ago

      Can you make baked beans in an electric roaster

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