Electric Roasters. Let's talk turkey.

centralcacyclistNovember 3, 2011

I am committed to the purchase of an electric roaster this year. Nesco seems to be the brand of choice here on CF but why is that? Also what size do I need to cook an 18-20 pound turkey?

Target (2 blocks from me) has an Oster 18 qt for 39.99. Is this big enough? Would I be happier with another brand? Rival, Hamilton Beach, Oster, Nesco, Waring Pro seem to be viable options. Nesco seems to be the most expensive. I'd like to spend 80 or less.

Help.

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centralcacyclist

And Proctor Silex to add to my confusion.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 12:54PM
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bryansda

I'll add to your confusion, Kenmore makes one too. I know you said you have a Target close by, but check out Walmart.com and see if they have prices more to you liking. They do the ship to store, if you have one close, so no shipping fees. I know I found my 6 qt Nesco cheaper there than anywhere. I have an 18 qt (Kenmore), but can't help since I've never done a turkey in it. I've done ham, 4 boneless frozen turkeys at once, and some other things my girls cooked while on vacation, but not a whole turkey yet.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 1:12PM
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centralcacyclist

I do have a Walmart within walking distance. Sears is in town but not very handy. Online shopping is going to be easiest unless I wait until the last moment. ;) I do not drive and lost my errand helper recently. I may have another helper, though.

I hope that with CF help I can narrow down one or two best-loved brands and then do some price shopping while I have time to have one shipped or find one locally before the week of Thanksgiving.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 3:27PM
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cocaty

I just bought an 18qt Nesco at Sears for $50. I couldn't find it anywhere else and that was a pretty good price. Nesco sells them directly but they don't seem to guarantee Thanksgiving delivery. I also bought the buffet insert pans on eBay. I chose Nesco solely because of comments on this forum. And - I worry a little about the browning but it is where the turkey will be.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 3:47PM
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centralcacyclist

Ah, browning. This might be a nonissue with my group as I think no one eats the skin.

Another question: nonstick well vs porcelain. I'm thinking porcelain will be more durable.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 5:03PM
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seagrass_gw

I am hosting a small in-law Thanksgiving dinner this year which includes a 94-year-old FIL who can't chew much of anything and who is a very picky eater. I plan to cook a small turkey in my Nesco roaster (I have a small one and a large one - not sure which). I love the crispy skin that comes from the traditional oven, but this year am making it easy on myself and "steaming" the bird. That will free up my one and only oven for the sides - keeping things simple and basic so he'll enjoy himself. I've never cooked a turkey in the roaster before. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised???

seagrass

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 5:18PM
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lindac

I have had many a turkey cooked in an electric roaster. That was my MIL's method of choice...only one oven....and they do them that way at church (except for when I am in charge!) and back in the day before air conditioning and a one oven kitchen and a little house...I cooked a turkey that way at least once a summer.
You will be surprised at how browned and crispy the skin is.....and how good the turkey is...if you don't over cook it.
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 5:26PM
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annie1992

I agree, the skin will be crispier than you think, I often do a chicken in the 6 quart Nesco and a turkey in the big 18 quart.

Although I find the Nesco to be reliable and they last nearly forever, I also have an 18 quart Proctor Silex that is Elery's and it works fine too, so unless you are going to use it heavily (as I do the 6 quart Nesco), I don't think there's all that much difference in the results you get from different brands.

I always do the turkey in the roaster so ican have the oven free to dinner rolls and sweet potatoes. I usually line the roaster pan with foil for easier clean up since I stuff the bird and the stuffing WILL stick on those heated roaster sides. Mother loves that crispy stuffing stuck to the sides but it has to soak a LONG time for that stuff to come off if I don't line the roaster.

Hmmm. I still have no air conditioning, one oven and a little house, LOL, so the turkey gets done in the roaster. Double bonus, I do apple butter in mine too, and in the summer when it's hot I can put it on the back deck and plug it in and not heat up the kitchen!

Annie

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 9:29PM
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centralcacyclist

Okay, you have me talked into the 18 quart Nesco. What surface inside? Porcelain (which must be enameled, I suppose), nonstick, or stainless? Stainless looks more expensive. I'm leaning toward porcelain.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 10:23PM
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dcarch7

Just a theory, no data to back up.

A roaster oven cooks by IR radiation and conduction (air and steam).

Stainless steel can reflect IR (infrared)a lot better, perhaps that would give you better browning.

dcarch

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 11:09PM
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bryansda

barnmom I was just on Target.com and they have an Ivory 18 qt Nesco for $61.69 with free shipping for $50 or more. That's not a bad price at all. I will say I can't tell one bit of difference in my Kenmore roaster and my Nesco, but neither get heavy use. And I also checked out walmart.com and they don't have any of the 18 qt Nesco ovens at the moment.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 11:27PM
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centralcacyclist

Thanks! I'll go look. I think it will be a weekend project.

I remember seeing several brands and sizes of roasters at my local Target last year. This year there is just the one Oster. But the store by me is small and was remodeled to carry fresh groceries so things had to change.

Perhaps stainless is a more expensive material as well as possibly more effective.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 12:19AM
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cocaty

seagrass - I'm doing a medium to large dinner and using the roaster for the first time for the same reasons - to keep it simple. I don't anticipate having the brain cells to be the oven traffic cop.

Seems like Nesco recommends Kitchen Bouquet with butter for browning. I'm relying on annie's good experiences for crisping.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 11:42AM
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centralcacyclist

I placed my order for a red Nesco 18 quart roaster. It's on the way. I wavered a bit at the red but the other option was ivory (meh) or stainless at a higher price. Red is cheery and I have several red casserole dishes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Red Nesco

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 4:43PM
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chi83

I bought the 18 quart Oster one at Target yesterday. This is my first time ever cooking a turkey so I figured I'd make it easier on myself, plus I only have one oven and a LOT of side dishes. It was the $39.99 one and it came with a cute buffet set to keep the side dishes warm when the turkey is done.

I'll probably buy a smaller Nesco one for everyday use with soups and chili and such. I don't see myself using this big one much so I didn't want to spend a lot on it. Hopefully it works!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 5:59PM
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centralcacyclist

The 18 quart Oster won't hold as big a turkey as the 18 quart Nesco, due to the lid height, I suppose. That was one reason I went this one. I didn't want a 22 quart one.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 6:07PM
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lindac

Classy!! If you have to have a boring "appliance" might as well get a red one!!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 6:23PM
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soonergrandmom

Red is a good choice. I have a five quart in red that stays on my counter top. Then I have an 18 quart Nesco, and another 18 quart with a buffet insert and I think it is GE. Both of the large ones are stored out of the kitchen and used only a few times each year.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 2:47AM
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centralcacyclist

I'm glad you all approve of the red one! Red makes me smile. The buffet insert may be a purchase for the future. This will have to be stored in a closet unless in use. I'm sure it will dwarf my small amount of counter space.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 5:49AM
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chi83

Hmm, yeah I think the Oster holds 22 pounds which seems like more than enough since I don't eat meat and I'm only having 5 people over. But, let's be honest - I bought it for the buffet insert because I'm awful at timing dishes, lol. I would have ended up paying nearly twice as much for the Nesco plus buffet insert so I'm happy with it. Hopefully it'll work out.

I do like the red though! I love vibrant colors in kitchens.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 12:53PM
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moonwolf_gw

Congrats, barnmom on your new electric roaster! Mom's thinking of getting one from Wal-Mart. They have the Rival ones (17 qt. that holds up to a 21 pound turkey) on sale for about $25. We're not cooking a turkey in it, we're having duck and chicken instead. It's only going to be a few people for Thanksgiving this year. She might get one for my sister for Christmas.

Brad AKA Moonwolf

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 9:55AM
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cynic

Congratulations on your Nesco! I'm sure you'll love it. You might consider the Roast Air lid option down the road. I have it on my 6 qt and really like it. I wanted the red one so badly but I bought the white ones for about 1/2-1/3 the price of the red one and I thought I could always upgrade later if it was a big deal. But I still like my Nescos.

Talking turkey (or chicken, duck or otherwise), for a crisp skin, you need dry air. Not a rocket science. Since all roaster ovens tend to keep the moisture in (including a covered roasting pan in the oven, they're not going to brown as well as exposed to the dry air. There's several options if that's a big deal. At the end, I used to cock the lid and let the steam out, take a turkey baster and remove all the juices in the bottom (like I said, it keeps the moisture in!) and then crank the heat up and it'll brown and crisp. But I don't eat the skin much anymore. If I do, I tend to microwave it until crispy like potato chips. Delicious! Another option of course is the Roast Air fan. They will essentially be a convection oven and blow the moisture out of there, so it'll definitely be crispy and you can burn it more easily that way too. Caution though, if you have it in there too long, it *might* dry the bird out a bit. Another option is to pop it under the broiler a few minutes.

Electric roasters are a very forgiving appliance. Cook a little longer and it's not dried out like in a dry oven. Turn down the temp if it's done before the rest of the meal and it'll keep. If guests arrive later, leave some in the roaster at 150° and it'll stay warm and still moist and ready for hot sandwiches later. Try that with an oven... LOL

And as for brands, well, I do like Nesco, but really they're all pretty similar. I've seen tests where Nesco usually comes out on top, but then again, let's say that the $20-$40 units last 10 years and you buy another. If the Nesco is more, financially you're not really out that much. Especially to try one out and get a feel for it, whether you like it or not, the cheap ones are a great idea. I debated long and hard last year. Target put the Rivals on clearance for $17! Really, it's not that big a deal when you figure that price. Had one in the cart but then dope-slapped myself and went How often will you use that! and I put it back on the shelf. Hurt to do it though. I was trying to rationalize that I might cook a whole turkey instead of just a breast. Then I dope-slapped again and went, then you'll have all the extra meat, yes would work in casseroles, but you probably won't do it very often. So, (heavy sigh) I don't have a big one. And really don't have the need for one. However if the cost of the different brand was nearly the same as a Nesco, I'd still go Nesco. A big difference? I'm not *that* brand loyal.

They're great appliances. I've said so many times I can't imagine anyone buying a crock-pot/slow cooker when you can buy an electric roaster. But I don't understand a lot of things! :)

BTW, don't make the mistake of thinking the electric roaster of whatever brand is only good for use at holidays for the turkey! Remember it is an oven! Not a one trick pony. If you can put it in your oven you can put it in the roaster, and even more, if you can put it on your stovetop, you could probably put it in the roaster. Bake pies in there. Virginia Olson of Nesco swears that cheesecakes are best in the Nesco and says they won't crack. Considering the moisture retention, it could make sense. Big batches of chili, soup, stew, gumbo, jambalaya, steam ears of corn, stack multiple pans (or just one) of lasagna, pot roast, cakes, cookies, etc and they make great baked potatoes. Take it with you camping or on a picnic. I've baked bread, yeast & sweet in mine. One guy I heard cooks his bacon in it and then makes his pancakes! LOL Now I don't go that far, but it *is* a versitile appliance.

Now I do have to give one caveat/disclaimer. I'm hearing that the Nescos are no longer US made. If true, that could taint my opinion. After all, my units are Wisconsin-made and now about, what, 25 years old? Still going strong. Will the new ones be the same quality? I don't know and won't guarantee.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 5:42PM
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centralcacyclist

Actually the red one was a bit cheaper than the ivory. The prices went up hours after I ordered mine, I noticed. I'll look into accessories, thanks for the heads up! I do intend to use it for more than just holiday cooking. Don't know about the origin of manufacturing...

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 6:11PM
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chi83

Well, my Thanksgiving plans fell through so I'm wondering if I can return mine. I opened it already to make sure everything is there. I just don't know if I will use it since I never cook meat.

Maybe I'll bring it to work and bake brownies and torment all my co-workers!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 8:45PM
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annie1992

chi, I use mine to simmer a pot of beans while I'm at work, I've used it to bake brownies, I use it for soup, I use it to thicken apple butter instead of stirring it on top of the stove. I use it in place of a crockpot because I can adjust the heat so much more easily and eficiently. It's great for things that need to simmer like spaghetti sauce and I've used it to cook wild rice as well. It makes the best baked potatoes I've ever had.

I do roast chicken and make pot roast in mine, but I use it for a lot of other things too.

Annie

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 11:38PM
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centralcacyclist

Chi, sorry to hear your plans changed, I hope the new plans are even better. Target is good about taking things back with a receipt. But it's so versatile you might think about keeping it. Can one dehydrate fruit and veggies in a roaster?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 12:56PM
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chi83

I'm thinking of keeping it. It was only $40 and it might come in handy if I need a portable oven or for entertaining. It's a little big for solo cooking but I'm sure I can figure out uses and I really do love that little buffet insert, lol. Thanks for the suggestions!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 1:05PM
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nandina

Very hot, humid summers here. My Hamilton Beech 18 quart electric roaster has a permanent spot on our screened-in porch where it sits on a low coffee table purchased at the Goodwill for a few bucks. I use it every day, summer and winter, in every possible way; baking, stewing, roasting, cooking Alton Brown's polenta recipe which is excellent. All the cooking odors and heat are outside. Our air conditioner says, "Thank you". I only fire up the inside oven a few times a year. Love the way the roaster bakes bacon and roasts veggies, chicken and turkey. Yes, I use it to dry fruit, hot peppers, tomatoes, etc. Set temperature on 200 degrees, crack the lid just slightly. Takes a number of hours, but works well. Electric roasters are so versatile, so easy to clean. Bring yours out of the closet, into the light and use it!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 2:13PM
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ann_t

If I were in the market for an 18 quart I'd want the red one too.

Ann

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 9:55PM
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centralcacyclist

It arrived today. Too bad I have paying work to do. I'd start cooking. What's the skinny on the "burn-in" I've read about? I haven't looked at the instructions yet.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 2:22PM
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annie1992

eileen, it needs to be broken in. Remove the packing and plug it in, hopefully outside. some people note a strong odor during the burning process. I did notice odor but didn't think it was that strong.

I predict you're gonna love that roaster!

Annie

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 2:24PM
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lindac

If an electric roaster can be sexy....that one sure it!!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 9:30PM
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skarp22

Hey all,

I inherited a NESCO 18qt electric roaster from my mom and dad. I tried it out a month ago for a "test run" of Thanksgiving dinner. We cooked everything, including a 22 pound turkey in the roaster, and it came out perfectly. This is our first year hosting the family. Well, today at the farmer's market, the 22lb turkey I ordered turned out to be 27 pounds. It fits in the roaster, but it's so tall, the lid won't seat. I am freaking out! The lid closes at the tail end, but the brease end keeps the roasting lid about 2 inches. Someone told me I could use tin foil to cover it up, and just put the lid on that. I am worried about losing moisture though. Any suggestions? Our conventional oven is not an option for may reasons.

Thoughts? Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 2:51PM
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dcarch7

skarp22, I don't think it can work. I hope you will not waste a good turkey. You may have to cut the turkey up to fit the roaster.

It would be a simple thing for me because I am very handy. I can fashion an extension using inexpensive roof flashing aluminum in 10 minutes.

dcarch

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 3:47PM
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cynic

My first thought was an expander ring too!

There's times I put foil over the top of the roaster and the lid on to hold it in place when I want all moisture in there. But using it as the lid, well, essentially it'd be like putting foil over your oven door and leaving the oven door partly open. I think it could work but you'd lose a *lot* of heat and it'd affect the cooking.

I'd try to cut off the bottom of the bird a bit or cut it into pieces and cook the pieces. Or maybe drop it on the floor a few times or sit on it to flatten it out a bit! ;)

22# is about the max for an 18 qt Nesco.

One other thought is Rube Goldberg, jerry-rigged thought. You could take the cookwell out, use a large aluminum pan in it, top it with foil and invert the cookwell as a lid. You'd still probably lose a lot of heat & steam but not as bad. Another possibility is by removing the cookwell it might give the depth you need. I would not cook the food directly in the heatwell though, definitely use a pan or line it with several layers of heavy duty foil.

Are you using a rack? Maybe eliminate the rack?

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 9:24PM
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