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How to Cook in an Electric Roaster (Plus Turkey & Ham Recipes)

I enjoy painting fantasy art, going to art shows, creating delicious dishes, being with my grandkids, taking walks, and reading good books.

Electric roasters are especially great for busy holiday and family dinners.

Electric roasters are especially great for busy holiday and family dinners.

How I Use My Electric Roaster Oven

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

It's Like a Second Oven

My electric roaster gives me a second oven, which comes in handy at the holidays when I have 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.

It's Great for Feeding and Serving Large Groups

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, from chili dinners to holiday turkeys for 200!

It's Versatile and Easy to Clean and Store

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, 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.

My beloved electric roaster

My beloved electric roaster

Roasting in a Conventional vs. 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?

Timing Is Challenging With a Conventional Oven

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 by 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.

Two Ovens Are Better Than One!

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

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 four legs and four 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 fit up to a 25-pound turkey.

Cook Time

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 to 4 hours
  • Serves: 2 to 14 people
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Ingredients

  • 1 fresh or frozen (thawed) turkey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chicken broth
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 medium onion
  • Whole garlic cloves
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • Onion powder, to taste

Instructions

  1. Turn on the electric roaster oven to 350°F. Place the turkey on stainless steel rack, breast-side up. Remove any packages stuck in the neck and back cavities. Pour chicken broth in the bottom of the roaster pan. Cut raw celery, onion, apple, orange, and garlic into large chunks. Place all inside the 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 (approximately 13 to 15 minutes per pound, basting every 15 to 30 minutes). Roast until the center temperature reaches 180°F 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°F to brown the skin.

Other Types of Foods Cooked in a Roaster Oven

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

Bake, Steam, Slow-Cook, and Roast

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 appliance, 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:

  • Bone-in smoked ham: approximately 17 to 21 minutes per pound for a 10- to 15-pound ham.
  • Boneless smoked ham: approximately 15 to 17 minutes per pound for an 8- to 12-pound ham.
  • Fully cooked ham: approximately 13 to 24 minutes per pound for a 5- to 10-pound ham.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

2 hours 55 min

3 hours

Up to 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 smoked ham
  • 1/2 cup water or broth
  • Whole cloves, to pierce the ham
  • Pineapple rings, to cover the ham
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Onion powder, to taste
  • Garlic powder, to taste

Instructions

  1. Turn on the electric roaster oven to 325°F. 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 simple seasonings such as 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°F in the center and a fully cooked ham at 140°F. Slice and serve.
Electric roaster with buffet insert

Electric roaster with buffet insert

Roasters Double as Buffet Servers

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 about 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, a 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.

Best Nesco Roaster

Nesco Electric Roaster Ovens

Nesco is a name that has long been associated with roaster ovens; in fact, they've been making them since 1932.

Besides this classic 18-quart size, Nesco also makes a small five-quart and six-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 this brand's 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. This 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 roaster oven you have. Once you get past this initial step, this roaster will last a very long time—even a lifetime.

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