How To Cook A Turkey In A Nesco

How to Cook a Turkey in a Nesco: Roaster Technique

Last Updated on March 20, 2024 by Shari Mason

Many years ago, a friend introduced me to the amazing Nesco roaster, enthusiastically describing its effectiveness and results.

Skeptical at first, I decided to cook my holiday turkey in it. The outcome? A beautifully roasted, juicy turkey that stole the show!

If you’ve got a Nesco roaster and a turkey waiting to be the star of your meal, I’ve got the simple steps on how to cook a turkey in a Nesco. Let’s get started!

Step By Step Guide On How To Cook Turkey In A Nesco

Turkey on an Electric Roaster
  1. Preparation:
    • Thaw your turkey [1] if frozen. Make sure it’s fully thawed before cooking.
    • Remove the giblets and neck from inside the turkey.
    • Wash the turkey inside and out with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Seasoning:
    • Rub your turkey with butter or oil for a crispy skin.
    • Season with salt, pepper, and any other desired herbs or spices.
    • Optionally, fill the turkey cavity with your choice of stuffing.
  3. Preheat Nesco:
    • Set your Nesco to its highest temperature (usually 450°F) and let it preheat for 10 minutes.
  4. Add Water:
    1. Pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the Nesco to create steam during cooking. This helps in keeping the turkey moist.
  5. Place The Turkey:
    • Position your turkey, breast side up, on the Nesco’s cooking rack. Ensure there’s space around the bird so that the heat circulates evenly.
  6. Cooking Time:
    • Lower the temperature to 350°F.
    • Cook the turkey for approximately 15 minutes per pound. For example, a 12-pound turkey would take 3 hours.
    • Halfway through, baste the turkey with juices to keep it moist and flavorful.
  7. Check the Temperature:
    • Using a meat thermometer, check the turkey’s internal temperature. Without touching the bone, the thickest part of the thigh should reach 165°F. If you’ve added stuffing, ensure the center of the stuffing also reaches 165°F.
  8. Let it Rest:
    • Once done, turn off the Nesco and carefully remove the turkey.
    • Place it on a serving dish and cover it with aluminum foil.
    • Let it rest for about 20-30 minutes. This allows the juices to be redistributed, ensuring a moist turkey.
  9. Carve and Serve:
    • After resting, carve the turkey as desired.
    • Serve with your favorite side dishes, and enjoy your meal!

“Orphans, dead parents, lonely children at Christmas, morose spoken word recordings, everything you love about the holidays. Move the turkey over so you can fit your head in the oven.”

– April Winchell, American Actress


Why Use A Nesco To Cook A Turkey?

Nesco Roaster Oven
  1. Consistent Cooking: The Nesco provides even heat circulation, ensuring the turkey cooks uniformly, producing juicy meat and a crispy exterior.
  2. Space Saver: If oven space is premium, especially during the holidays, a Nesco frees up your main oven for side dishes, pies, or other baked goods.
  3. Energy Efficient: Nesco roasters often use less energy than traditional ovens [2], which can be a cost-saver for long cooking times like roasting a turkey.
  4. Moisture Retention: The design of a Nesco, with its tight-fitting lid, retains moisture well. This can lead to a juicier turkey compared to some traditional oven-roasting methods.
  5. Adjustable Temperature Control: Nesco’s adjustable thermostat allows for precise temperature control, ensuring optimal cooking conditions for your turkey.
  6. Portability: Nesco roasters are portable, making them ideal for taking to potlucks or family gatherings. You can cook or warm your turkey on-site.
  7. Versatility: Beyond turkey, the Nesco roaster is versatile enough to cook various dishes, from soups and stews to baked goods.
  8. Easy Cleanup: Many Nesco roasters have removable cooking wells, making them easier to clean than traditional ovens.

“In a Nesco, every turkey finds its perfect roast, melding tradition with modern ease.”

– Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice

Find out how to cook giblets for stuffing here.

How Big Of A Turkey Can I Fit In My Nesco?

The size of the turkey you can fit in your Nesco largely depends on the specific model and capacity of your Nesco roaster.

Most standard Nesco roasters can comfortably accommodate a turkey up to 18 to 22 pounds. 

However, ensuring enough space around the turkey for even cooking is essential.

Always check your Nesco’s user manual or the manufacturer’s recommendations to determine the maximum size of turkey suitable for your specific model.


u003cstrongu003eDo I need to add water to the Nesco?u003c/strongu003e

You don’t need to add water to the Nesco when roasting a turkey. The Nesco will cook the turkey using its juices, ensuring a moist and flavorful bird.

u003cstrongu003eCan I add seasonings or stuffing to my turkey?u003c/strongu003e

Add seasonings or stuffing to your turkey before cooking it in a Nesco. Ensure the stuffing reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for safety.

Final Thoughts

Cooking a turkey in a Nesco roaster is convenient and efficient, saving oven space and ensuring a juicy, well-cooked bird. 

You can achieve delicious results by following simple steps, from seasoning or stuffing your turkey to setting the right temperature. 

Whether catering to a large gathering or a small family dinner, the Nesco roaster offers an excellent alternative to traditional oven roasting, ensuring that your turkey is the star of your meal.


Shari Mason

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