How to Roast a Perfect Turkey in a Nesco Electric Roaster

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This is a great dry rub for turkey, plus the injection will make a turkey to remember.
How to Roast a Perfect Turkey in a Nesco Roaster Oven
Roast Turkey fresh from the Nesco Roaster Oven
Roast Turkey fresh from the Nesco Roaster Oven

How to Roast a Perfect Turkey in a Nesco Electric Roaster Oven

In this article, you can learn how to roast a perfect turkey in a Nesco or other electric roaster oven. In addition, you can get tips about how and why to brine the turkey. Finally, use the handy chart showing how long to cook a turkey in a roaster oven, depending on size and stuffing.

This is part of our series on Six Methods of Cooking a Perfect Turkey.

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There is a lot more information in the book, all about options for defrosting, cooking methods, and timetables to help you in your planning.

Talking Turkey - how to use a Nesco roaster

How to Get Moist Turkey

The bain of turkey cooks everywhere is how to keep the breast from drying out and not have undercooked thighs and legs. Some people cut the bird up, cook the pieces separately then put them back together at serving time. Other people put a foil hat on the breast, hoping to shield it, but it doesn’t work that well. Spatchcocking is a good idea because it makes the parts about the same height. If I didn’t have a Nesco, that’s the road I would take.

Turkey Nesco FAQ

How big of a turkey can I put in a Nesco?

The largest would probably be 18 pounds – mine is usually 12-13 pounds. There should be ample airflow around the bird, and it should not be touching the sides of the oven.

How Long Do I Roast a Turkey in a Nesco?

Remember, the Nesco takes about 30% off the cooking time of conventional ovens, so the Nesco Roaster will cook your bird sooner than expected. You can use this chart to estimate cooking times.

WeightNot StuffedNesco UnstuffedStuffedNesco Stuffed
4½-7 lbs.2 to 2½ hrs.1 ½ to 1 ¾ hrs2¼ to 2¾ hrs.1 ½ to 2 hrs
7-9 lbs.2½ to 3 hrs.1 ¾ to 2 hrs2¾ to 4½ hrs.2 to 3 ¼ hrs
9-18 lbs.3 to 3 ½ hrs.2 ¼ to 2 ¾ hrs3 ¼ to 4 ½ hrs.2 ¼ to 3 ¼ hrs
Turkey Roasting Times  at 325 F / 162 C

Why Roast Turkey in a Nesco?

The Nesco makes such a delectable bird because of the patented circle of heat. That circle of heat means that the parts of the turkey that take the longest to cook, the thighs are right by that circle of heat. So they cook as quickly as the breast that doesn’t have a chance to dry out.

It’s also great because it frees your oven for casseroles and desserts. It also doesn’t heat your kitchen as much as a conventional oven. One caveat, don’t try to put a 30-pound turkey in an 18-quart Nesco.

Roast Turkey fresh from the Nesco Roaster Oven

The Process with a Nesco

Dry brine the bird the day before. I used sea salt and Herbs de Provence. Cover the outside and inside of the bird, as well as under the breast. Dry brining helps crisp up the skin and keep the meat moist.

  1. Preheat the Nesco to 325.
  2. Inject the bird with an injection. I used turkey stock and white wine. Inject all over, especially the breast.
  3. I never stuff my turkey with anything other than the vegetable ends. I use onion and celery.
  4. Roast your bird according to the following timetable.
  5. When the bird reaches 160 F/ 71.1 C on an instant-read thermometer, turn the heat off on the Nesco. Remove the bird from the roaster oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes. If you need to keep it warm before carving, keep it in the roaster at 200.
  6. Let the bird rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Have a great meal!


How to Roast a Perfect Turkey in a Nesco Roaster Oven

This is a great dry rub for turkey, plus the injection will make a turkey to remember.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Resting: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings (slide to adjust): 8
Cuisine: American, French
Diet: Gluten Free
Difficulty: Easy
Newsletter: 2019-10-31
Calories per serving: 70kcal

If you purchase any of the products through these affiliate links, I get a few pennies that help keep The Good Plate open. I use these products myself and want you to be able to easily find them.


Dry Rub

Injection Liquid


  • 1 turkey, 12-19 pounds, cleaned
  • 1 onion, skin, top and roots
  • 1 bunch celery, leaves and root only
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence
If you purchase ingredients through affiliate links noted *, I get a small commission for The Good Plate’s pantry. These and other links are there for your convenience.
Ingredients necessary for the recipe step are in italic. Ingredient measurements may vary due to measurement tools used.


  • Mise en Place
    mise en place

For the Dry Rub

  • 1/2 cup sea salt, 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence
    Mix the salt and herbs together then thoroughly rub the turkey, including the inside and under the breast skin if possible. You may need more or less salt depending on the size of your bird.
  • When you have finished, leave the bird uncovered in the refrigerator until time to cook, 24 to 36 hours.

For the Injection Liquid

  • 2 cups hot water, 1 turkey neck, 2 tsp turkey or chicken base, 2 cups turkey broth, 2 tbsp white wine
    Mix the injection ingredients together and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the neck and discard it. You can refrigerate the broth until you need it. You can also use homemade turkey broth instead of base and water.

For the Turkey

  • 1 turkey
    When you are ready to cook the bird, remove the cooking well from an 18-quart Nesco and preheat the roaster to 325.
  • Use a paper towel to rub off any excess dry brine. Most of it will have been absorbed.
  • 1 onion, 1 bunch celery, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper
    Salt and pepper the cavity and put the vegetables inside the cavity as well. Tuck the wing tips under the bird.
  • Use butcher's twine to wrap the legs and secure the bird.
  • Put the turkey on the rack in the cooking well of the Nesco roaster.
  • Strain the injection liquid if needed. Fill your injection needle with some of the juice and start injecting the bird all over, especially in the breast and thighs.
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence
    Using your hands, rub the body of the bird with the butter, then sprinkle on the herbs de Provence and rub that in as well.
  • Carefully place the cooking well inside the Nesco roaster and roast the bird until it reaches 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 1/2 hours, depending on the size.
  • Turn off the roaster and let the bird rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. You can put the carved turkey back in the Nesco at 200 to keep warm.


If you don’t want to use butter for the injection or rub, feel free you use olive oil.


Serving: 124gCalories: 70kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 9gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 739mgPotassium: 110mgFiber: 0gSugar: 0g
I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietitian and any nutritional information on should only be used as a general guideline.
Got Questions? Let me know!Mention @arbpen or tag #arbpen!

Leftover Turkey Ideas

There are many dishes you can make from leftover turkey, and we’re going to list some of them here. However, if you get tired of eating turkey, don’t throw it away. Instead, make packets of servings of turkey and freeze them. Cut the turkey into bite-size pieces, and remove the bones, gristle, or other nasty parts. Put them in vacuum-sealed bags, and write on the weight of the package and whether it’s dark or light meat. You will then have access to easy meals later in the year.

You could make Turkey TaquitosTurkey TetrazziniTurkey Stroganoff, or a variety of other dishes you might put the leftover chicken in, turkey salad, etc.

Alternative Methods

The Moist Brine Method

Every Thanksgiving, The Good Plate gets very busy with people wanting to know how to roast a perfect turkey in a Nesco oven. Since I wrote the first article in 2009, I have made some significant changes to the preparation of the bird. Primarily to cut down on time, but also to increase the flavor and crispness of the skin. In 2015, my bird was genuinely perfect, and everyone exclaimed about how much they don’t like breast meat. After all, it’s too dry, but I loved mine because it was nice and moist. If you want the older recipe with the liquid brine, please visit How to Make a Perfect Turkey in a Nesco Roaster Oven.

Debone and Roll It Up!

In 2017, a friend called me and said that a friend gave her a 25-pound turkey, but she had a 40-pound and wanted to know if I wanted to 25-pound turkey. I was surprised; I didn’t even know the turkeys got that big. Smiling, I told her I would be happy to have her extra turkey.

But then, when I brought it into the kitchen, I realized it would not fit in my Nesco Roaster, so I had to do some creative thinking. I had recently watched Chef John of Food Wishes debone stuff and roll up a whole turkey. If I deboned this turkey, it would fit nicely into the Nesco. I deboned it, then put a dry brine, rolled it up, injected it, and roasted it. You know what? It was great! Maybe the best part was I could make the most flavorful stock out of that carcass, freeze it, and use it to make risotto. Watch my method if you want to see how to debone a turkey.

I decided that I was going to roll up the turkey from now on. If you do it right, you get an even roll, so no having to worry about the breast getting done before the legs are. Of course, with a Nesco, that’s not a problem because of the unique circle of heat. Carving a rolled-up turkey is child’s play – just put the roll on a cutting board, get a sharp carving knife, and cut slices; I cut mine about a half-inch thick. Then, if you have any leftovers, the next day, when it’s cold, it’s even easier to slice thinly for sandwiches.

Video Transcript – Turkey in a Nesco Electric Roaster


9 thoughts on “How to Roast a Perfect Turkey in a Nesco Electric Roaster”

  1. 5 stars
    I can’t wait to try this. I have a turkey in my freezer for Easter and I’m going to use this method. It looks great!

  2. 4 stars
    Do you put water in the bottom part of the NEsco? I usually cook my Turkey in a bag inside the top pan inside the Nesco. I need to know if I put water in the bottom container?

    • You can put some aromatic liquid in the bottom, but you really don’t need to. The turkey should have enough of its own juices to self-baste as much as needed. If you are going to put liquid, I would put stock or water mixed with white wine, and only like 1/2 inch at most.

  3. 5 stars
    Wow! That was the best turkey I’ve ever had! I like the new updated version of this post, with the dry brine. It’s even easier and makes a perfect turkey. Where’s the recipe for ham? Christmas is coming!

  4. 5 stars
    I bought a Nesco last year to use for the holidays. This is a great recipe. Thanks.

  5. 5 stars
    It’s fantastic! That’s all I have to say. That was one fantastic bird. And prep was simple, too. Thanks!

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