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Shopping Guide for Best Roaster Ovens

Whether it’s for a weekly family dinner or a holiday feast, nothing’s more impressive on your table than a large cut of meat like turkey, brisket, or prime rib.

However, grand main courses also take up your whole oven. A roaster oven can solve this culinary conundrum.

Adding a roaster oven to your kitchen arsenal allows you to free up your traditional oven for side dishes or desserts.

While roaster ovens are easy to operate, choosing the right one can be a challenge. You need to select the right size, temperature range, and features for you.

At BestReviews, we aim to simplify shopping. Because we never accept products or perks from manufacturers our reviews are always honest and unbiased.

Roaster ovens typically take 30% less time and use 36% less energy to prepare the same foods as conventional ovens.

We do the research, ask the experts, and poll real customers, so we can pass on the important info to you.

If you’re ready to purchase a roaster oven, take a look at the matrix above for our top five recommendations.

But if you want to know more before you click buy, just keep reading.

Steve
EXPERT CONSULTANT

Currently Executive Chef at Bon Appétit Management Company, Steve began his tenure with Bon Apetit as Chef de Partie. He has over ten years of experience, including tenures at two- and three-Michelin star restaurants. Steve is passionate about all things cooking – products, supply chain, management, menu design, and budgeting.


Steve  |  Executive Chef

Do I Need a Roaster Oven?

  • A roaster oven provides additional cookspace, which frees up your conventional oven for other dishes. By preparing your main course in the roaster oven, you’ll be able to prepare side dishes and desserts in the traditional oven.

  • A roaster oven has a smaller cooking area and bottom or side heating elements. The smaller space makes for a moist cooking environment, leaving you with particularly juicy meat.

  • The smaller size of a roaster oven means that it heats more quickly and doesn’t require as much power as a conventional oven.

  • While a roaster oven is most often used to prepare meat, it’s quite versatile. Many models can bake, steam, slow cook, and warm foods. You can use a roaster oven to prepare baked potatoes, rice, stew, meatballs, and baked goods.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Oster 22-Quart, Self-Basting Lid

Large Capacity, Smart Lid

The stainless steel shell of the Oster 22-Quart Roaster Oven with Self-Basting Lid provides stability but not necessarily insulation. The internal heating elements do generate a significant amount of heat during operation, as is the norm for roaster ovens. A variable dial allows users to select temperatures from 150 to 450°F. The appliance’s self-basting lid seals in food’s natural juices, greatly reducing the need to baste by hand. Satisfied owners tell us they have successfully roasted turkeys of up to 26 pounds in this workhorse roaster oven.

What to Look For When Buying a Roaster Oven

Features

Controls

Most roaster ovens utilize dial controls.

You can easily turn the appliance on and off, as well as adjust the temperature, with a simple turn of the dial.

EXPERT TIP

If you decide to make a cake or other baked good in your oven, preheat it first (just as you would a regular oven) and keep an eye on the time and temperature. The cook time will vary from the recipe depending on the relative size of your cake and roaster oven.


Steve  | Executive Chef
Features

Temperature Range

For the most versatile roaster oven, look for one that offers an adequate temperature range.

Most roaster ovens have a maximum temperature of 450°F, which is usually sufficient for roasting large cuts of meat, such as turkey, ham, and brisket, and giving a golden brown color to the exterior.

Some models have minimum temperatures between 200 and 250°F, which may be too high for some recipes.

For the most versatility, look for a roaster oven with a minimum temperature of no more than 150°F.

Staff
BestReviews
Features

Lid

All roaster ovens are equipped with lids to trap the heat and moisture during the roasting process.

High-dome lids are typically best because they can accommodate the larger shapes of turkeys and other big cuts of meat.

Some models include self-basting lids, which continually recirculate the moisture inside the oven and eliminate the need for tedious hand-basting.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Rival 18-Quart Roaster

Stay Cool at Top Heat

The Rival 18-Quart Roaster’s temperature range of 150 to 450°F is in line with industry standards, but some users tell us that the actual temperatures run on the “hot” side. This variation in temperature shouldn’t affect most large-scale roasting projects, but it might affect slow cooking or food warming results. Fortunately, the oven’s stay-cool handles protect users from extreme temperatures. The roasting rack is made of solid steel, and the removable insert is enamel on steel. The metal lid is not self-basting, but it has vents that control browning and steaming well.

Features

Roasting Pan and Rack

To make cleaning easier, many roaster ovens include removable inserts or roasting pans. You can lift them out of the oven for cleaning.

For the easiest cleaning, opt for a dishwasher-safe insert.

Look for a roaster oven that includes a wire roasting rack. The rack elevates the food above the heating elements for more even cooking.

DID YOU KNOW?

You can keep appetizers warm during a party by setting your roaster oven to the lowest temperature and placing the food on the roasting rack.

Features

Functions

If a roaster oven has an appropriate temperature range, it can do more than just roast turkeys and hams. It can also serve as a slow cooker and buffet server, as well as bake and steam.

Keep in mind that roaster ovens aren’t as insulated as slow cookers. Consult your roaster’s manual to ensure proper usage.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Roaster ovens shouldn’t be used to slow cook for long periods, such as six hours or more.

Features

Capacity

The size of a roaster oven determines what cuts of meat you can cook in it. Typically, roaster oven capacities range from 16 to 22 quarts, though you can find some ovens as small as 6.5 quarts.

  • 6.5 Quarts: If you purchase a roaster oven as small as 6.5 quarts, you can’t fit a turkey inside. Instead, it’s best for small chickens and side dishes, making it a good option for small households and kitchens.

  • 16 Quarts: A 16-quart roaster oven is ideal for mid-size families and smaller holiday gatherings. It can accommodate up to a 20-pound turkey.

  • 18 Quarts: An 18-quart roaster oven has the capacity for bigger households and medium gatherings. It will fit an 18- to 22-pound turkey.

  • 22 Quarts: A 22-quart roaster oven is a good option if you have a large family or often host large holiday dinners. You can fit a 24- to 26-pound turkey inside.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Oster 22-Quart, Self-Basting Lid

Versatile Space Saver

Although the Oster 22-Quart Roaster’s upper temperature setting is only 450°F, it can still produce the same results as a standard stove. Many people only use a roaster oven as a supplemental appliance during large holiday meals, but the Oster can be used as a space saver in a small galley kitchen or as a food warmer during a buffet service. The Oster’s 150°F minimum setting adds to its versatility as a “hot box” during food preparation and service.

Tips and Tricks for Using a Roaster Oven

  • The standard roasting temperature is 350°F, but it can vary by plus or minus 50° based on the cut of meat you’re cooking.

  • Always place meat on the roasting rack that comes with your roaster oven. Elevating meat slightly keeps it from sitting in its fat drippings as it cooks. The finished product will have less fat and retain its natural juices.

  • If you’re using your roaster oven to make baked goods, such as cake or bread, always preheat before placing your food inside. That way, the oven will be hot enough to bake the food in the specified time.

EXPERT TIP

It’s best to roast meat at the lowest temperature possible. It may require a longer cooking time, but the meat will be more flavorful and juicy and won’t shrink as much.


Steve  | Executive Chef
  • Don’t use your roaster oven straight out of the box. After you remove the packing materials, wash down the roaster’s components with a damp cloth to remove any dirt, dust, or debris. Allow the oven to dry completely before use.

  • Roasting is one of the simplest ways to cook meats like prime beef, pork, and lamb. It creates a tender pink interior and a crispy brown exterior, making it a preferred method among expert chefs.

  • Because a roaster oven is compact and works so efficiently, it heats more effectively than a conventional oven. Don’t use a higher temperature or cook for longer than a recipe calls for, even if you usually have to do so with your conventional oven.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Rival 18-Quart Roaster

Virtually Non-Stick

While a completely non-stick roaster oven may be a pipe dream, the Rival 18-Quart Roaster comes close to that ideal. The steel roasting rack most home cooks use to suspend meats in the hot box is dishwasher-safe, as is the enameled steel insert. Cleaning tip: Partially fill the roaster oven with warm water and dish detergent to help soften and loosen any burned or dried food particles.

What Should I Pay For a Roaster Oven?

The price of a roaster oven varies based on how large it is and what special features it offers. In general, expect to pay between $40 and $150.

A basic roaster oven with a generous capacity but few special features will typically cost between $40 and $60.

Higher-end roaster ovens with large capacities and a slew of special features will usually run between $100 and $150.

A roaster oven doesn’t make your kitchen as hot as a conventional oven, so it’s an ideal way to cook during the warmer months.

FAQ

Q. What’s the difference between a roaster oven and a rotisserie?

A. A roaster oven is essentially a countertop version of a conventional oven. It’s large enough to hold a turkey and other large cuts of meat, and you can bake or roast anything in it that you would in a conventional oven. A rotisserie features a spit that you can attach chicken, pork, or roast to, and it rotates to cook evenly. Rotisseries usually aren’t as large as roaster ovens, and they don’t offer the same versatility.

Q. What’s the difference between a roaster oven and a slow cooker?

A. Slow cookers typically have a smaller capacity. You can’t fit a whole turkey inside a slow cooker like you can with a roaster oven. They also offer only low, medium, and high temperature settings, while roaster ovens can be programmed to specific temperatures. There’s some overlap between the two appliances, but if you cook large cuts of meat, a roaster oven is your best bet.

Q. What foods can I prepare in a roaster oven besides a turkey?

A. In addition to preparing turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, a roaster oven can also bake, steam, and slow cook. You can cook other cuts of meat such as brisket, spare ribs, and ham in it, as well as sides dishes like baked potatoes, roasted vegetables, rice, and even casseroles. It can also be used to slow cook stews and bake desserts such as cake or bread pudding.

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