Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
If you've got a craving for roast turkey, you might wonder whether you can cook a turkey in a convection oven. Don't wait until next Thanksgiving to find out! We've researched poultry roasting techniques to get the answer for you.
To roast a turkey in a convection oven, follow these simple steps:
- Start with a completely thawed turkey; remove giblets from the cavity, and rinse thoroughly inside and out. Pat dry with a paper towel or clean dishtowel.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the turkey breast side up onto a roasting pan, and lightly coat with your choice of oil or butter and spices or herbs; position on the lowest oven rack.
- Roast between 1.5 and 5 hours, depending on the bird's size; the internal temperature should reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the turkey from the oven, and allow to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving to serve.
Now that you know how to roast a turkey in a convection oven, stay with us as we discuss each step in detail. We'll also share several techniques to crisp the turkey's skin while the meat stays moist and flavorful.
5 Simple Steps to Cook a Turkey in a Convection Oven
1. Thaw Turkey, Remove Giblets, and Clean
It's best to start with a completely thawed turkey, as a partially frozen turkey can lengthen the cooking time. You'll want to ensure that any pre-packaged giblets are removed from the turkey's cavity. Set aside, as these pieces are a tasty addition to gravy! Rinse the bird with fresh water, and pat dry. If you've brined or salted the bird, rinse and dry before putting it into the oven.
2. Preheat Oven to 350°F
Turkey baking temperature ranges from 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the oven's accuracy. Most chefs recommend a steady roasting temperature at 350 degrees, while others prefer to start the bird at a high temperature of 400 to 450 degrees for the first 10 to 20 minutes and then reduce the temperature for the remainder of the cooking time. After trial and error in your own oven, it is all a matter of preference for your preferred result.
3. Place Turkey on Roasting Pan, Season, and Position On Lowest Oven Rack
If you plan to bake a stuffed turkey, add stuffing to the cavity just before baking. Place the turkey breast side up onto a roasting pan. This is the moment to season the skin and apply a light coating of olive oil or butter to the turkey. Basting now will help achieve that desired golden brown coloring throughout the bake, and seasonings give a pop of flavor.
Add some liquid to the bottom of the roasting pan, like poultry broth or water, to prevent the naturally dripping juices from evaporating too quickly. Particularly when baking in a convection oven, the additional liquid helps keep your turkey moist.
There is no need to truss the legs, this is primarily for an appearance on the serving tray, but it can prevent uncovered wings from burning and aid a thorough cook inside and out. Have a look at the video below for step-by-step trussing instructions.
Check out "What is Considered a Shallow Roasting Pan?" to get just the right fit for your turkey.
4. Cook Until Internal Temperature Reaches 180°F
Various factors can influence the cooking time for a roast turkey, namely the turkey's size, the oven's thermostat accuracy, and whether the turkey is stuffed. Preheat the oven at 325 or 350 degrees Fahrenheit, leaving this temperature setting for the entire roast. Try to keep the oven door closed the entire time not to alter the temperature while cooking.
Small to medium-sized turkeys, 8 to 15 lbs, will generally cook between 1.5 and 3 hours. A turkey weighing 15 to 20 lbs will cook longer, four hours or more. Over 20 lbs, baking a turkey can take 4.5 hours or longer. If the turkey is stuffed, cooking times will be significantly longer for each weight range.
A convection oven typically reduces cooking time for a turkey. However, other factors can influence cooking time, such as:
- stuffed vs. not stuffed
- covered vs. uncovered
- roasting pan depth
- roasting pan size
- oven rack position
- unevenly heated oven or inaccurate oven thermostat
It is essential to determine doneness by checking the meat's internal temperature using a meat thermometer. According to the USDA, the safe serving temperature for any poultry is 165 degrees Fahrenheit; most chefs recommend 180 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure it is thoroughly cooked. Check by inserting a meat thermometer into the bird's thickest portion, at the breast or thigh, and ensure it does not touch bone.
5. Allow Turkey to Rest Before Carving
Resting time allows the meat's natural juices to be reabsorbed into the meat just before serving. While the turkey rests, the internal temperature can continue to rise, so be sure to remove it from the oven as soon as the thermometer reads a safe serving temperature,165 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. It is unnecessary to cover the meat while it rests, as covering can actually create a steaming effect, causing soggy skin. If you plan to keep it warm before carving, simply return it to the warm oven, turned off.
Is it better to cook a turkey in a convection or conventional oven?
The primary benefit of cooking using convection heat versus conventional ovens is that air is circulated evenly around your food. As a result, a turkey is roasted to perfection because it is encapsulated in hot air. Convection ovens also reduce the cooking time, allowing you to serve a delicious meal 30% faster than using a conventional oven technique.
If you're considering upgrading to a convection oven, get all the details to start your search by reading "How Big Is A Convection Oven?"
Should you baste a turkey?
Our grandmothers basted the turkey, so it must be the right strategy for a juicy morsel. Think again because we've gotten basting all wrong! For starters, basting will not leave your turkey with a browned crust and moist meat beneath. Basting dampens the skin, resulting in sogginess rather than dried crispiness. The baste does not penetrate to infuse the meat with additional moisture or flavor --it's simply runoff --and each time you open the oven door to baste, you release precious hot air, significantly increasing the cooking time.
If using a convection oven, there is no need to baste the turkey. The hot, circulating air will sear the turkey's skin, sealing natural juices inside. If you want to achieve a moist bird in a conventional oven, consider soaking the turkey in brine or salting the meat before baking. For additional flavor, generously coat dry skin and the interior cavity with herbs and spices, or stuff the bird.
Do you cook a turkey covered or uncovered?
There is no need to cover the bird for a perfectly browned turkey baked in a convection oven. Evenly circulating hot air will roast the bird nicely. Covering a turkey in a conventional oven can actually increase cooking time and does not allow the skin to brown. In either type of oven, if you notice areas of the skin becoming too dark --such as wings or legs-- you can cover these areas with foil to prevent the skin from burning.
How do you keep a turkey moist?
You can use several cooking techniques, independently or combined, to keep your roast turkey moist:
Soak in Brine
After you've thawed and cleaned the turkey, rub the bird inside and out with coarse-ground kosher salt. Then, place the turkey into a container, like a bowl or plastic bag, and submerge in water. A good brine ratio is two cups salt to one gallon of water. Add spices and herbs to season as desired. Allow the turkey to soak, refrigerated, for 12 to 24 hours in the brine. Remove the turkey, discard the brine, and rinse and dry the turkey before roasting.
Salting is basically a brine without the bath. Using coarse-ground kosher salt, thoroughly coat the freshly thawed, clean turkey on the inside and out. Cover to refrigerate, and allow to remain salted for 24 to 48 hours. Rinse and dry before roasting.
Butter Beneath the Skin
Gently raise the turkey skin, just before roasting, and spread butter between the meat and skin. It will slowly melt and infuse the turkey as it roasts. For an extra flavor kick, add herbs to the butter.
Add Liquid to the Roasting Pan
Adding liquid to the base of the roasting pan will keep your turkey moist because it prevents dripping juices from rapidly evaporating in a hot, dry convection oven. You can use poultry stock, melted butter, water, or a combination of these.
Truss or Tuck
As we've mentioned, trussing the bird is an optional step to help maintain moisture and promote even cooking. If you aren't interested in a perplexing trusting technique, you can simply tuck the wings by pulling them forward and folding them beneath the neck cavity.
Roast turkey might become a staple on your weekly menu. It's a delicious and healthy family meal that you can easily prepare in a convection oven.