When it's time to cook a meal, choose appliances that will help you save time and energy. Whether you're cooking enough for an army or just preparing a small meal for your immediate family, this guide will help you choose the best roaster oven for great results every time.
A roaster oven is easy to use and designed to cook most meats to perfection. I've always been a fan of easy cooking, so I set out to find a roaster that would fit my daily needs while making my large holiday meals easier to prepare.
The first time you use the roaster, check the exterior to see how much it warms up. Some units stay cool while others will need to be pushed back a little if they warm up too much.
When it comes to cooking family meals, one challenge with any oven in the summertime is that it will heat up the house, and that's the last thing I want on a hot day.
In the winter months when I have family over, my oven works double duty as we cook side dishes and warm up bread.
I often wind up struggling to get everything on the table at a good temperature. That's why I decided to go old school and start using a roaster oven more.
Perfect Temperature Inside and Outside
One great feature of roasters is that they constrain the heat to a very small space. Rather than turning on a vented oven that will add a few degrees to your entire cook space, you can use a roaster on a hot day to make ham without turning on the air conditioner.
I'm always trying to save money on my electric bills in the summer, so this is a huge win for our family.
Extra Oven Space
The first time I used a roaster was at Thanksgiving. I put it in the corner of the kitchen where it wouldn't be in the way, popped in the turkey and turned it on. As the turkey cooked and browned, we still had the oven open for pies, casseroles and all the wonderful bread.
Everything was ready at the same time without having to rotate food through the oven or warm anything up in the microwave at the last minute.
Save on Utilities
Rather than heating up the entire oven, you just have to heat up a small space that neatly fits your food. The result is lower gas or electric bills if you're able to avoid using a conventional oven.
I noticed a nice little drop in my electric bill when I started using my roaster oven, but I don't know if you'd see the same savings with a gas oven.
Quick Cleanup Tip
If you're worried about scrubbing out that large pot, then invest in paper liners. I've cooked with them, and I've also done some baking where I left those liners behind.
Liners do save on the cleaning time because you just ball them up and throw them away. My biggest challenge is remembering to use them, so I started storing them right next to the roaster pan.
Self-Basting Ovens Will Brown the Turkey
I'm surprised at how many people say that their turkeys don't brown in the roaster. I've found that they brown quite nicely if I baste them. Go with a self-basting unit, and you won't even have to take that extra step.
Do a Temperature Test First
There can be some variance in temperature among roaster ovens, so you'll want to tread lightly with your first few meals. Use an oven thermometer to check the calibration and adjust your cooking times or temperatures accordingly.
You Can Make Bread
If you love freshly baked bread, then you'll enjoy making a loaf in your roasting pan. It's surprisingly easy, and I was impressed with the results.
Check out this video to learn more about making artisan-styled bread right on your countertop. The from-scratch recipe could easily be replaced with a mix, and you'd still enjoy fantastic results.
You can also make muffins and all types of pastries in your oven, although you may need to leave the lid slightly off center to allow for adequate venting.
The cords on most roasters are relatively short, so they need to be positioned near an outlet. Most manufacturers advise against using extension cords due to the power demands of these ovens.
*Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
We decided to get a roaster that we could take out on camping trips with us. The nice thing about putting this in the pop-up camper is that it doesn't take up a lot of space, but I can still make an entire meal in it without heating up the entire cabin.
One thing I love is that it's so easy to clean, and that's important when you're in a camper with limited space. I just wipe down the exterior and then let the removable shell soak for a little while before scrubbing it out.
This system is so versatile that I've been able to cook wings and ribs in it. The marked temperature dial makes it easy to choose the right cooking level, and it's large enough to cook meats and vegetables at the same time.
Editor's Rating: 99/100
- The self-basting lid traps steam in to keep food moist
- It comes with a steel roasting rack and an enamel-on-steel roasting pan for greater versatility
- The roasting pan is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup at home
- There's no power light, so you cannot tell if the roast is on just by glancing at it
There are times when we need a smaller roaster to cook meat or vegetable dish in the kitchen, so I decided to test out this Nesco before buying one for my mother.
It has a Circle of Heat element that delivers more even heat. The small size is perfect for a kitchen that's limited on space, and the rounded edges allow it to maximize the available space inside for food.
I've enjoyed cooking with this roaster so much that it actually stays out on my counter. I've used it for baked chicken, slow-cooked roasts and even on a cake experiment that turned out amazingly.
The porcelain cooking well is extremely easy to clean, and the exterior just needs to be wiped off to keep it looking great.
Editor's Rating: 96/100
- The roasting and baking rack lets you elevate the food from the hot surface
- A domed lid lets you put in slightly larger cuts of meat without surrendering more counter space
- The dial is set with degree markings that take the guesswork out of cooking a meal
- The power cord is not removable, so storage may be a little tricky in tight spaces
The family loves to celebrate special occasions at my house, so I need to be able to cook for a lot of people. Rather than tying up the oven with the main dish, I decided to do an entire ham in this roaster oven to see how it would come out.
I was impressed with how nicely a huge, 22-pound ham fit inside, and I still had room for some potatoes and carrots.
The self-basting lid seals tight, so I didn't have to waste time pouring the juices back over the ham, and it came out nice and moist.
Unfortunately, the exterior heated up, so I had to make sure it was pushed back far enough that my kids wouldn't be tempted to touch it.
The roasting pan lifts out, so I just had to wipe down the exterior and clean the pan in the sink.
Editor's Rating: 90/100
- The impressive size can accommodate larger cuts of meat, including an entire turkey
- The roasting pan itself is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup
- The variable temperature dial lets you set a cooking temperature between 150 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit
- The shell heats up, so you need to keep it well away from the counter's edge to avoid accidents
With most roasters being available in stainless steel or white, this black one stood out to me from similar products. It's the perfect color for a modern kitchen, and the finish is surprisingly durable.
When I tested this one, I was pleasantly pleased with the quality of construction on the roaster and the lid. Rather than just being a thin piece of metal, this substantial lid has a little weight to it, which I think helps in keeping the steam in for moist food.
One challenge I had with this roaster was the cleanup. Although the liner that comes with the oven is removable, I noticed that things tend to stick more.
Rather than wasting time scrubbing, I just used paper liners in it. I love the removable rack that makes it easy to lift foods out and transfer them to serving plates.
Editor's Rating: 84/100
- The large size allows you to cook up to a 22-pound turkey with ease
- A low setting allows you to keep food at the right temperature without cooking it further
- The thermostat seemed a little off, so I had to really watch the first dishes I made to avoid burning them
- Food tends to stick to the interior pan, so liners may be in order to simplify the cleanup
The first thing I noticed about this roaster is the traditional design. The rectangular pan comes with a large rack that you can lift out. The flat lid fits neatly on the top to allow for a full 22-quart capacity.
The first thing I cooked was chili, and I was impressed at how easy it was to clean out the liner and wipe down the exterior.
While there are plenty of roasters with removable grills, not many of them have handles on the sides. Getting the meat out of this roaster was so easy that I could entrust the chore to my kids.
I did notice that the exterior of the roaster gets a little warm, so I had to keep an eye on the kids when I used it.
With precise temperature control, the guesswork was eliminated, and I could take credit for fantastic meals.
Editor's Rating: 81/100
- It can be used for baking, cooking and slow cooking
- The large size is perfect for almost any type of meat, including roasts and turkeys
- With the grill in place, you can also warm up bread without burning it
- The exterior of the roaster can heat up quite a bit
The Winner Is…
After testing these different models, I wound up keeping the Rival 18-Quart oven. It works for my regular casseroles and other meals, yet I can still pop in that Thanksgiving turkey when the time comes.
I love that the exterior stays cool, and the included racks make it extremely versatile. It's a quality piece that's sure to last for many years, and I like knowing that I'll get my money's worth out of it.
If you enjoyed this article or have tried out some of these products yourself, please share your thoughts in the comments section. Share this article if you know someone who's been looking for a roaster oven for their own kitchen.