How to Make a Perfect Turkey in a Nesco Roaster Oven

This recipe uses the liquid brine method. If you want the dry brine method, please head on over to Dry Brine Turkey in a Nesco Oven.

I didn’t go to my Grandmother’s for Thanksgiving. My mother and I usually cooked a Cornish hen and left it at that. When my mother died, I moved in with my Aunt Georgia, my Grandmother and Grandfather. This is when I discovered really good turkey, the way turkey was supposed to be.

Every other time I had had turkey, it looked and tasted like my budgie’s cuttle bone. Seriously, I did not know why anyone would want to present something as nasty as that for a holiday all about giving thanks. What? You’re thankful that you don’t have to eat that?

I was curious at fifteen, and I liked to cook, so I hung around with my grandmother while she made the feast. The first thing I noticed was this strange pink colored oven thing that was in the middle of the kitchen. It had a little metal stand that it rested on. It also had a big red button and a dial to control the heat.

What came out of this marvelous contraption was the juiciest turkey I had ever had. This was something to be truthfully thankful for. Update: See the bottom of this post for a video about the wonderful 18 quart Nesco Oven.

For years, I searched in vain for a gadget like this – I finally stumbled upon one in an antique shop on Western Avenue, where they also had a few unrestored Wedgewood stoves. I was finally able to find out what it was called – a Nesco.

One day, watching QVC because nothing else was on, and there was no Internet at that time, I saw a four quart Nesco and decided to order it. When it arrived I was so thrilled! It was too small to cook a turkey, but a nice chicken definately fit. It also made a mean meatloaf.

The thing that I really loved about my Nesco was that I could use it in the summer time without heating up my kitchen. I could use it to keep foods warm, and I would put fried chicken in it to make sure that it was completely cooked. I loved my little Nesco, and when we moved and it got lost, I was crest fallen.

However, I have always felt that every cloud has a silver lining, so losing the small one meant I could get a large one like my grandmother had. I found a used eighteen quart with the buffet service on Ebay and bought it.

My “new” Nesco arrived just before Thanksgiving, just in time to roast the turkey. It was very flavorful, moist and juicy, but, it did not have the nice crispy skin that my grandmother’s had had.

The next year, I tried a different approach. When I was nine years old, my mother asked me to put a roast of beef in the oven before she got home from work. I didn’t know any better, and I put the oven on to 450 degrees. After fifteen minutes or so, I could smell it and thought maybe the temperature was too high, so I lowered it to 300. It turned out perfect, moist and juicy. Starting it at high heat had seared the meat, sealing in the juices. From then on, I did that with anything I roasted, including turkeys.

I could do that in the Nesco, too, but it would still not have the crispy skin, so I came up with a new plan. First I would brine the turkey, then inject it with seasonings, then I would put it in a regular pan and put it in a 450 oven for 15 minutes, and then transfer it to the Nesco.

Wow! What a bird that was! It had the nicely browned, crispy skin from being in the oven, and was moist and juicy from being roasted in the Nesco.


How to Make a Perfect Turkey in a Nesco Roaster Oven
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: United States (Traditional)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 turkey
Turkey in a Nesco with Injection and Rub
  • 15 pounds Turkey brined and washed
-- Injection --
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil divided
  • 1/4 cup Chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Cooking Sherry
  • 1 tablespoon Chopped Herbs see below
-- Rub --
  • 1 tablespoon Chopped Herbs
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
-- Chopped Herbs --
  • 6 leaves Sage fresh
  • 1 sprig Rosemary fresh
  • 1 teaspoon Marjoram dried
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme dried
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence dried
-- Stuffing --
  • 1 bunch Celery bottom root and tops only
  • 2 Onion skins and roots only
  • 1 Apple whole
  1. Brine the turkey the day before - remove giblets and neck and reserve for the cat.
--- Chopped Herbs ---
  1. Chop up the fresh herbs with the dried herbs. You will need half for this recipe and half for the rub.
--- Rub ----
  1. Add half the chopped herbs to olive oil and stir. Set aside.
--- Injection ---
  1. Heat the herbs in the broth over low heat just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Cool. Strain and add liquid to olive oil. Set aside. You could add the remaining herbs to the rub.
--- Preparation ---
  1. Preheat oven to 500. Have a roasting pan ready that will hold the Nesco removable roasting rack. Put the roasting rack in the Nesco pan. Put the onion skins in the cavity, and put the apple and celery bottom in the neck cavity. Put some of the liquid in the injector and start injecting the turkey all over the breast, thigh, legs and wings. Brush the turkey all over with the rub. Now, take the turkey with the rack and put it in the roasting pan.
  2. Turn the Nesco to 350. Put the turkey in the oven and cook at 500 for 30 minutes. The turkey will be browned and crisp.
  3. Remove the turkey from the oven carefully using the handles on the rack. Place the turkey with the rack in the Nesco. Cover.
  4. Roast in the Nesco for another two and a half to three hours, or until the internal temperature is 165. If you need to keep the bird warm, reduce to 200. Let the turkey rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
The risk of cross contamination, and poisoning to is too great to put stuffing inside the bird's cavity. The stuffing used here gives the bird flavor, but it easily removed.


Nesco 18 Quart Video


turkey nesco roaster

My hand was shaking, it was so good!


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13 Responses to How to Make a Perfect Turkey in a Nesco Roaster Oven

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    Nothing I enjoy more than getting back from my workplace, supplying catering equipment, and reading a blog on something useful and cooking related.

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      Well, thank you for the kind words. I hope that you have Nesco available to your shoppers. It’s a wonderful kitchen appliance.

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  9. Fonda Efthimiou says:

    This post is beyond awesome. I am always wondering what to do and what not to do so I will follow some of these tips.

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    I like the layout of your blog and I’m going to do the same thing for mine. Do you have any tips?

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      I’m using a template from Leadcamp . The themes are free, and if you want to link to one of my recipes, you are most welcome. But, please give credit where credit is due.

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