How to Use a Roaster Oven

Deidre Dykes
18-Quart Roaster Oven by Proctor-Silex at Wayfair

A roaster oven offers all of the same cooking capabilities of an oven, but in a countertop version that can ultimately save the user money and time. When dinner's over, the roaster can be cleaned and stored so it doesn't take up space when not in use.

Prepare a New Oven

If your roaster oven is brand new, you should never use it straight out of the box. Remove all of the packing materials and thoroughly wash all of the components that can be safely submerged in water. Take a damp cloth and wipe down the heating area to get all of the tiny packing particles or dust out of the way, then let it dry completely.

Once the roaster is dry, plug it in and allow it to heat up for a minimum of 15 minutes. This will burn off any of the chemicals used in the manufacturing of the appliance. A slight odor may be produced as the chemicals burn off, but this will only last a few minutes; it might help to open a window.

Making Dishes in the Oven

Learning how to use a roaster oven is quite easy, as it is similar to cooking with a conventional oven. While the appliance is an excellent choice for slow roasting chicken or a small turkey, it can also be used to bake bread or sweets and keep appetizers warm.

The biggest difference between a conventional and roaster oven is in the cooking times required for certain dishes. A roaster oven is a smaller closed space and has less surface area, therefore it preheats and cooks the food quicker than a conventional oven.

Roaster ovens are also available in a range of sizes, making it very important to check the recommended cooking times for certain foods in the manual that comes packaged with your specific appliance. It also helps to have a digital cooking thermometer to check meats, fish, and poultry for doneness until you get used to the variances of cooking with one.

Roasting

Roasting is the obvious choice for cooking in your oven.

  • Meat should always be placed on the roasting rack inside the roaster oven to prevent it from sitting in its own fat drippings. Roasting meat in this manner not only helps to reduce the fat in the final dish, but it will allow the meat to hold on to its natural juices throughout the cooking process.
  • Potatoes and other root vegetables can also be roasted on a bed of aluminum foil, with just a drizzle of oil, at 375 degrees for 30 minutes (or until fork tender) to make a delicious side dish.

Baking

Baking a variety of dishes is also possible in the roaster oven.

  • A roaster oven makes baking cookies easy and convenient. Simply cover the rack with parchment paper and, after preheating the roaster, set the cookie dough on the rack and bake for the recommended time.
  • You can also bake any bread recipe. Just place the bread dough in a loaf pan and set the pan on the rack inside the roaster and bake as directed.
  • If a baked casserole is on the menu for dinner, simply preheat the roaster oven, cover the casserole dish with tin foil, and set the dish on the rack inside the oven. Set the kitchen timer according to your manual and when it dings, you'll have a perfectly prepared casserole ready for the table.
  • Bake potatoes or sweet potatoes by piercing them several times with a fork, placing them so they don't touch the sides of the oven, and baking at 400 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.
  • Make rice in the roaster, but don't use instant rice. Simply add the one part rice, two parts liquid, and add about a tablespoon of butter. Consider trying 2 cups of rice plus 2 cups of water, 2 cups of broth, and 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook, covered, at 375 degrees for 1.5 hours.
  • Oatmeal can be made using a single greased loaf pan inside of the roaster oven. Using a recipe for stovetop oatmeal, prepare the ingredients and place them in the loaf pan, then bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
  • Soups and stews can also be made in the roaster. For a hearty beef stew, place cubed stew beef and cut up vegetables in the roaster oven and cover with beef broth. Cook at 250 for 3 hours or until beef is tender.

Warming

A roaster oven works great for keeping your party appetizers warm and tasty. Just set the oven to its lowest setting and your food will be nice and warm throughout the duration of the party. Using the roaster instead of your conventional oven will keep the temperature of a full house from rising.

Roaster Oven Features

There are a large number of roaster ovens available on the market, and models can vary in size, features, and price. Common sizes of roaster ovens range from 6 to 22 quarts. A 22 quart roaster oven with a domed lid can accommodate a turkey up to approximately 24 lbs.

Although all base models of roaster ovens can bake, roast, and slow cook, more elaborate (and sometimes expensive) models can also feature:

  • Control knobs that indicate the desired cooking method
  • Buffet-style lids or pan inserts
  • Cooking accessories
  • Roasting or broiling rack
  • Warming trays
  • Expanded lids
  • Additional non-stick cook wells

Popular Brands

Roaster ovens can be purchased both at retail locations and online at stores such as Walmart and Target, and Amazon. Keep in mind that not all roasters are created equally. Some well-established companies are simply more recognizable for their quality craftsmanship and reliable, excellent performance.

Oster

Oster makes countertop roaster ovens in 16, 18, 20, and 22 quart sizes in stainless steel, white, and red finishes. Some models can double as a meat smoker. All models include removable enamel/steel roasting pan and a steel roasting rack; some models come with a trio of buffet-style serving dishes that fit inside of the unit. Prices range from about $30 to $100.

Nesco

Nesco makes 5, 6, and 18 quart roaster ovens. The 18 quart size also features a roaster buffet kit and accessories that make it simple to warm and serve a variety foods. You can find Nesco roaster ovens in ivory, red, and stainless steel as well as a patriotic and camo print. Models are priced from about $50 to $150.

Proctor Silex

Proctor Silex has 6.5, 18, and 22 quart roaster ovens. These are priced from around $40 to $60 and come in white with a removable black pan insert. All but the 6.5 quart size come with a roasting rack. These roasters are easy to use and affordable, making them ideal for any cook on a budget.

Rival

Rival makes 14, 18, and 22 quart roaster ovens in a choice of three styles. Each roaster comes with a removable enamel-on-steel roasting pan. Only the 14 quart size comes with a roasting rack. Rival roaster ovens are priced from around $25 to $65 and come in black and white.

Easy and Convenient

Roaster ovens are easy to use and make cooking for a crowd convenient. Since you can free up your oven, can do more in your kitchen. Roaster ovens are also portable, making it an option to cook at other locations as well or serve up a tasty meal at a potluck.

How to Use a Roaster Oven