5 Ways to Cook a Turkey Without an Oven (With Videos)
How Do You Cook a Turkey Without an Oven?
Have you ever cooked a turkey for a holiday meal without using your oven? I haven't. However, I have been having problems with my oven for the past couple of years. It seems to work fine for months, and then acts up right when I need it most—like when it stopped working right in the middle of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 12 people last year. Not good.
I've had it fixed a couple of times, but two weeks before Christmas it stopped working again. Since I had 20 people coming for a big turkey dinner, this latest breakdown had me scrambling and trying not to panic.
I decided to investigate the options. The methods below are the most popular alternatives to cooking a turkey in an oven, just in case your oven breaks down or you want to try a new way to prepare turkey.
1. Deep-Fried Turkey
I've heard stories of people deep-frying turkeys for years, and many people swear that deep-fried turkey is the best they've ever had. I've also heard about many of these attempts turning into disasters when they got out of hand. Getting severely burned or burning the house down while cooking a turkey seems a little too risky for this girl.
If you do decide to deep-fry a turkey, be sure you follow the recommended safety precautions. These include:
- Set up your turkey cooker outside, on a flat surface away from your house and car, and not on a wooden deck or in your garage.
- Ensure your turkey is completely thawed and dried off before cooking to avoid the oil boiling over and burning you or starting a fire.
Here are the full instructions and safety tips for deep-frying a turkey. You can also check out the video below.
How to Deep-Fry a Turkey
2. Barbecued Turkey
Turkeys can also be cooked on the barbecue, either using a rotisserie or placed in a roasting pan on the grill. If using a rotisserie, it's recommended that your turkey be under 12 pounds.
Your turkey should be completely thawed before cooking it in a barbecue. It's best to cook it without any stuffing inside to ensure it's cooked properly throughout.
I think this is the method that results in a turkey the most similar to a turkey roasted in an oven, and I will definitely be trying this method soon.
Estimated BBQ Time
How to Barbecue a Turkey
3. Slow-Cooker Turkey
I have cooked a whole chicken in a crockpot many times, and it always turns out very moist and juicy. It doesn't get the nicely browned, crisp skin in a crockpot, though, so be sure to keep this in mind to avoid disappointment.
If you have a very large slow cooker and a small turkey, then you could cook it whole just like you would cook a chicken. In most cases, though, you will have to chop up the turkey into parts before cooking it in a slow cooker, or cook one of those large turkey-breast roasts instead.
How to Make Turkey in a Slow Cooker
4. Stovetop Turkey
I found a couple of different methods for cooking turkey on the stovetop.
- Poaching: Either cooking a whole turkey in a large stockpot filled with water and chopped vegetables or poaching turkey breasts in a broth or sauce.
- Sautéing: Suitable for cooking turkey breasts or thighs, this would work if you wanted to cook turkey for a small group.
5. When All Else Fails . . . Outsource!
I carefully considered all of my options for cooking our turkey. Deep frying seemed a little too risky, and neither our barbecue or slow cooker would accommodate a big enough turkey for all of our guests. I wasn't particularly keen on trying a different cooking method for a special occasion with such a big group.
This left me with the only other alternative I could think of—having the turkey cooked somewhere else. There are a few ways to accomplish this:
- Let someone else cook the turkey and bring it with them (amazingly enough, both my mom and sister-in-law offered to do this).
- Have the turkey catered.
- Borrow someone else's oven to cook the turkey.
In the end, we decided to buy a new oven, and managed to get one delivered in time for me to cook turkey at home the traditional way.
I'm not likely to try deep-frying a turkey anytime soon; it seems a little too risky for me. However, I think I'll try to find some smaller turkeys on sale after the holidays and try out a few of the other methods.
Food Safety and Turkey
However you decide to cook your turkey, remember these basic turkey cooking guidelines for best results:
- Check the internal temperature of the turkey with a meat thermometer for safety. Test the temperature in the inner thigh, not touching the bone. The turkey is done when the thermometer reads 170 degrees Fahrenheit for an unstuffed turkey or 180˚F for a stuffed turkey.
- When the turkey is finished cooking, cover it with foil and let stand for 15–20 minutes before carving.
- Refrigerate turkey leftovers as soon as possible.
Poll: Alternate Method for Cooking Turkey
Which method would you choose if you had to cook a turkey without an oven?
© 2012 Kathy Sima