You’ll need a roaster to cook your turkey along with a few must-have turkey tools. There’s a lot of choice when it comes to roasting pans including with or without a cover and multiple ply roaster construction. When it comes to buying a roaster, your buying decision should be based on:
- Roaster Size: Sufficient for the size of turkey you usually cook yet practical for other meats or meals. A 15″ or 16″ roasting pan is an average size and will fit a 10 – 12 lb turkey. Go for an 18″ roaster if your turkey averages around 15 lbs.
- Covered or Open Roaster? A covered roaster is very nice for roasts, cabbage rolls, lasagna and such, but occasionally a turkey is too high to make use of the cover and the bird must be covered with foil. So buy a covered roaster when economical to do so, or you want a small covered roaster for roasts and casseroles.
- Roaster Depth: A roaster for a turkey should have at least 4″ high sides to hold all the juices. A deep roaster will also be very nice for lasagna which has several layers.
- Sturdy Handles: Good handles are important given the weight of a large loaded roaster. Riveted handles are best.
- Roaster Construction: The design and materials of the roaster will influence price as well as cooking performance. You can use a single layered roaster for a turkey, but it will have lots of hot spots, especially when it comes to cooking cabbage rolls, lasagna or other meals. If your budget allows, get a roaster with a heavier, encapsulated base, if you want it to perform well.
- Roaster Care: An 18/10 stainless steel roaster will give you years of use with no worry about rusting and it will be easy to clean. Roasters with a lower stainless quality will be subject to staining. A basic enamel-on-steel roaster is easy to clean and durable, though they can sustain chips which can rust. A porcelain roaster with a glossy interior will be easy to clean, but can break. Cast iron is extremely heavy, requires seasoning and more care to keep it from rusting – not a good choice with a heavy turkey, unless you’re roasting outdoors over an open fire.
- Electric vs Oven Roasters: An electric roaster or roaster oven as they are often called, will provide additional cooking space and that can be very handy especially at holiday time. An electric roaster however is a bulky item to clean and store. Some electric roasters have optional buffet accessories which can make this appliance very convenient. A non-electric oven roaster is easy to store, clean and versatile – it can be used for a variety of meals, large or small. Be aware though, that being able to place the lid on an electric roaster oven is crucial to good heat retention; if the turkey is too high, this may not be possible. So choose a size that’s sufficient for your average turkey.
- Price: A roaster is an essential whether you use it twice a year or more, so you should have at least one and preferably two, a smaller roaster and a larger one. It’s not unusual for kitchens to have three. Prices range from under $20 for a basic roaster to a couple of hundred dollars.
Best Basic Roaster: Granite Ware 15″ Covered Roaster
You can’t beat the price of Granite Ware – though basic in construction, it’s easy to clean, lightweight and affordable. This size should accommodate a 10 – 12 lb turkey; go for a larger size if you’re planning on a bigger bird. Granite Ware is available in various sizes. Buy from Amazon
Best Value Roaster: Calphalon Open Roaster
Calphalon offers excellent value with its Contemporary 18/10 stainless steel open roaster with an easy to clean finish, three-ply construction, durable handles and a bonus nonstick poultry rack. Buy from Amazon
Best Electric Roaster Oven: Nesco 4808 18 Qt Roaster Oven
You can do a pretty hefty turkey in this roasting oven and the removable nonstick cooking insert makes it easier to clean than some model. Nesco makes electric roasters in a variety of sizes and they perform very well. Buy from Amazon
Other Turkey Tools You’ll Need:
- Turkey lifters or racks: Are a must to make it easy to transfer from the roaster to the platter. Some racks do not facilitate easy transfer, they merely keep the bird raised in the roaster. Using both large poultry forks (lifters) and a rack can be a big help. But be careful not to use a metal rack in a nonstick roaster. Check prices of poultry lifters and racks
- A baster: Is needed to occasionally baste the turkey to keep it moist. Check prices of basters
- A large platter or serving plate: If you want to present it well, choose something that compliments your table. Prices of turkey platters
- A knife for carving: A chef’s knife is a good choice and a boner also works well for carving. Prices of knives
- A meat and poultry thermometer: To monitor the proper cooking temperature, to ensure it is done. Prices of thermometers
- A gravy boat: Though you can serve directly from a hot roaster on the stove, a gravy boat allows you to have gravy on the dinner table. Prices of gravy boats