5 Ways to Cook a Turkey Without an Oven


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 twelve 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 twenty people coming for a big family 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.

Deep Fried Turkey

I've heard stories of people deep frying turkeys for years, and many people swear a deep fried turkey is the best turkey they've ever had. I've also heard about many of these deep fried turkey attempts turning to disaster 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 wood 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.

For full instructions and safety tips, click here.

Turkey Weight
Estimated BBQ Time
6-8 lbs
1 - 1 3/4 hours
8-10 lbs
1 1/4 - 2 hours
10-12 lbs
1 1/2 - 2 1/4 hours
12-16 lbs
2 - 2 3/4 hours
16-22 lbs
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours
Source: Turkey Farmers of Canada

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.

Slow Cooker Turkey

I have cooked a whole chicken in a crockpot many times, and it 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 had 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 would 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.

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.

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.

Using a meat thermometer can help you cook the perfect turkey

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 degrees F for a stuffed turkey.
  • When the turkey is finished cooking, cover it with foil and let stand for 15 to 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?

  • Deep fryer
  • Barbecue
  • Slow Cooker
  • Stove Top
  • Borrow someone else's oven
  • None of the above - I'd make something else or go out to eat!
See results without voting

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Comments 19 comments

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I thought tonight my oven was about to go as it took forever for my broiler to heat up. I was getting nervous as I have a 20 pound turkey to cook on Tuesday. I have BBQ'd a turkey on a spit before and it is really good. I've never had one deep fried but would love to try it. I'd like to also try one smoked.

Enjoyed your hub on all the ways to cook a turkey without an oven. Hopefully my oven will make it past Tuesday :)

Merry Christmas!

savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Susan. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that your oven holds up at least until Wednesday. Merry Christmas to you too!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I loved the last sounds very relaxing to me. :)

Merry Christmas, Kathy! Thank you for your friendship this past year.


Georgie Lowery profile image

Georgie Lowery 3 years ago from Slaton, Texas USA

Interesting! I had a friend once that cut her turkey up, cooked some of it on a stove top and the rest in a crock pot. It wasn't the best ever, but it was still a turkey! Thank you for sharing!

savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Bill, I'm beginning to think I should have held off on buying the new oven and gone with the catering. What was I thinking? I appreciate your friendship as well. Thank you for your support and encouragement this year. Merry Christmas to you and Bev!

savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Mhatter99 & all the best this holiday season.

savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

That's interesting Georgie. She must have really wanted to serve turkey, because that sounds like quite a bit of work. Thanks for stopping by & commenting. Happy holidays to you!

randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Great topic for an article! You've covered a wonderful range of options. Thanks for the comprehensive overview. There is something here for everyone.

savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Rose! I figured I couldn't be the only person whose oven stopped working when they were supposed to cook a turkey. :)

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States

I've tried deep frying, Kathy. Now I want to BBQ a turkey. Great ideas--and love the title. (: Voted up and pinned.

savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Jill. What did you think of the deep fried turkey? Would you do it again?

Let me know if you end up trying the barbecued turkey!

Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

Had to read this because we always run out of oven space. I love my countertop roaster and it makes the juiciest turkey ever. Interesting hub!

savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Glimmer Twin Fan. I've never heard of a countertop roaster before, but it sounds interesting. It's too bad I don't have more space on my counters!

NMLady profile image

NMLady 3 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

Interesting. Thanks!

savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks for stopping by, NMLady.

TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

I haven't cooked a turkey in my oven for years...too messy! I use a crockpot and only cook the breast. It's easy, tastes good and the clean up is a snap. I liked this article a lot. Nice work!

savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks very much TT! Cooking a turkey breast in the crockpot sounds like a great option - definitely a lot easier and less messy!

FullOfLoveSites profile image

FullOfLoveSites 2 years ago from United States

Maybe I'll try deep-frying. I want a crispy-on-the-outside turkey! Thanks for these wonderful suggestions. Happy Thanksgiving in advance. :)

savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Good luck with the deep frying FullofLoveSites and Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

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