Convection oven roast turkey is the best way to get crispy, golden skin with the juiciest, most tender meat. It’s a fool-proof way to make the perfect turkey every time, with no basting required. And, it takes less time than a conventional oven. It’s easy to prepare and is sure to impress!
- Convection oven vs conventional oven
- How long to cook a turkey in a convection oven
- Temperature to cook a convection oven turkey
- How long does it take to thaw a turkey?
- Should I rinse a raw turkey?
- Stuffing a turkey
- Expert tips
- Do I need to brine in salt water?
- Do I have to truss a turkey?
- How long to rest a turkey
- How much turkey per person?
- What to make with leftover turkey
- What to do with the turkey carcass and leftover bones
- My favorite turkey side dishes
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Roast turkey is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the holiday table. You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to use your convection oven to make the most stunning and delicious, juicy, golden brown, crispy skin turkey. It’s truly mouthwatering and makes the holiday turkey of your dreams.
Do you have a convection oven and tend to not use the convection feature? Me too. Well, that is until I tried it for a few recipes and now I use it with almost every recipe I bake, especially whole, roasted turkey and chicken. Once you roast your Thanksgiving turkey in a convection oven, there’s no going back. Trust me.
Convection oven vs conventional oven
A convection oven circulates dry, hot air around the food, very similar to an air fryer. This creates even cooking and results in faster cooking time – up to 30-40% faster than a conventional oven. This air circulation eliminates ‘hot spots’ and provides even heat. Because it circulates hot air around the bird, it essentially sears the skin, sealing and locking in all of the juices. For this reason, there's no need for basting. You get tender, succulent, juicy dark and white meat, cooked to perfection.
Convection ovens also have an exhaust system that vents moisture out of the oven, which helps create crispy turkey skin.
How long to cook a turkey in a convection oven
Cooking time depends on the size of your bird. Internal temperature for turkey is determined by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh and breast, without touching the bone. According to the USDA, internal temperature for turkey should reach 165F. It’s best to test the temperature in multiple places on the bird – the breasts and the thighs on both sides. If you stuff your turkey with conventional stuffing, be sure to temp the stuffing to verify it’s also reached 165F.
Cooking times in a convection oven at 325F
- 12-15 pounds, takes approximately 1.5 - 2 hours
- 15-20 pounds, takes approximately 2 - 2.5 hours
- 20-25 pounds, takes approximately 2.5 - 3.5 hours
Cook time will vary, depending on the brand of oven and if the bird is stuffed.
Temperature to cook a convection oven turkey
Convection oven turkey is cooked at a lower temperature (325F), where roasting in a conventional oven is typically done at a higher temperature (350F).
It’s best to roast the turkey on the lowest rack, where the bird itself will be centered in the oven.
How long does it take to thaw a turkey?
Thawing a turkey can be done in two ways:
- In the refrigerator – It’s recommended to thaw under refrigeration to prevent bacterial growth. It takes about 24 hours for each 5 pounds of turkey. For example, to thaw a 20 pound bird, it will take about 4 days in an uncrowded refrigerator. If your fridge is full, add at least an extra day. After thawing, it will stay safe for another two days before cooking.
- Submerged in cold water – It will take about 30 minutes per pound and the water will need to be changed every 30 minutes to maintain proper temperature. Once it’s thawed, it will need to be cooked immediately.
I do not recommend thawing a turkey in the microwave. Some parts will get overheated and partially cooked before going into the oven. Microwaving can also change the texture of the meat.
Visit the USDA for more information on how to safely thaw a turkey.
Should I rinse a raw turkey?
No – you do not and should not rinse your raw turkey unless it has been sitting in a brine solution. Rinsing meat provides no benefits for food safety or cooking. In fact, rinsing the bird can spread bacteria (cross-contamination) to your kitchen through juices that may splash onto surfaces and utensils.
The only time you should rinse a turkey is if you have soaked it in a brine. Rinsing after brining helps to remove excess salt from the surface of the skin and meat.
Stuffing a turkey
If you’re unsure of what to stuff a turkey with, I have the perfect solution for you. Aromatic herbs, fruits and vegetables are one of the best options to place in the cavity when roasting. They infuse the meat with so much flavor and make the best drippings for gravy.
My favorite aromatics are:
- Onion or leek for low-FODMAP
- Garlic cloves (omit for low-FODMAP)
- Apple or pear (omit for low-FODMAP)
- Lemon or orange wedges – citrus pairs beautifully with turkey
You can also stuff the turkey with a savory stuffing mixture. It will take longer to cook the bird and you must make sure the stuffing is at least 165F before removing from the oven.
- Whole turkey – be sure it is fully thawed before cooking for best results
- Butter – adds flavor, holds the seasonings onto the skin and helps create a golden brown, crispy skin
- Turkey rub – I like to use my homemade all-purpose seasoning, but you can use your favorite poultry rub. If using single herbs, I suggest using sage, basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic and onion powder (omit for low-FODMAP) salt and pepper.
- Fresh aromatics – these are to put in the cavity during roasting. The flavors steam and infuse into the meat. See above for my favorite aromatics.
Learning how to prepare and roast a turkey in a convection oven is very simple:
Preheat oven to 325F on convection setting.
Pat the skin dry. This allows the butter to adhere to the surface.
Season the cavity with rub and stuff with aromatics.
Brush with melted butter.
Sprinkle rub over the buttered skin.
Optional: Truss the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. This is more for visual appeal than anything. It will cook evenly whether trussed or not.
- When the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165F, remove from the oven (see How Long To Cook A Turkey in a Convection Oven above for temp instructions.
- Cover with foil and let rest for 20-30 minutes. See How Long To Rest a Turkey, below.
- If the skin begins to get too browned, cover those areas with foil during the cooking process. If you turn off the convection setting and simply use the roast setting, the temperature in the oven will decrease and the bird will take longer to cook.
- Start with a fully thawed turkey. If it's slightly frozen on the inside, you can use the cold water thawing method to finish the thawing process. If the bird is still partially frozen when going in the oven, the exterior will get overcooked by the time the interior temperature reaches 165F.
- Use a cold turkey for best results. It does not need to reach room temperature before preparing. The melted butter should have the opportunity to harden a bit on the skin before applying the rub.
Do I need to brine in salt water?
No – you do not need to brine a turkey before roasting. The convection oven will dry and seal the skin, holding in all of the juices.
Do I have to truss a turkey?
No – trussing with kitchen twine is not necessary. If you like the look, then truss the legs. There’s no benefit either way – it’s all about aesthetics.
How long to rest a turkey
It’s best to rest the bird for 20-30 minutes before carving. Tent with foil and let sit at room temperature. The temperature will continue to rise during part of the resting process, called carryover cooking. When the temperature begins to fall, the juices will re-absorb into the muscle fibers, making the meat tender and juicy. Resting also makes the turkey easier to carve.
How much turkey per person?
When selecting a bird, anticipate 1-1.5 pounds per guest. That may seem like a lot, but there is a significant amount of the bird that is bone and will not get eaten. A serving of roasted turkey is about 8 ounces per person.
For example, a 20 pound bird should be enough to serve 15 guests.
What to make with leftover turkey
Here are just a few of my favorite dishes to make with leftover turkey:
- Turkey salad – this is my favorite thing! Add some mayo, Dijon, salt, pepper, dried currants or cranberries, chopped pecans, pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds and mix. I also adore making a curry turkey salad by adding some homemade Tikka Masala Powder.
- Turkey hash – mix with sautéed butternut squash or spaghetti squash, green onions or leek, butter, salt and pepper and sautee. Top with Mexican Chimichurri and a fried egg. Total decadence!
- Sandwiches – serve on some Parmesan Oregano Bread or low-carb sandwich thins with cranberry sauce or cranberry jam and bacon
- Stir Fry – chop and use to make a Mediterranean Stir Fry
- Soup – turkey and dumplings and turkey lentil soup are perfect soups to cozy up with
- Savory pie – make a stovetop turkey pot pie for the best comfort food
What to do with the turkey carcass and leftover bones
Make broth, of course! See my recipe for how to make homemade bone broth. Just replace the chicken bones with turkey bones.
If you don’t want to use them immediately, package the leftover bones in a freezer bag and save for later. You don’t even need to thaw them before making the broth. Just put them in the pot with water and herbs and cook.
You don’t need a roasting rack, but it’s recommended. When cooking a turkey in a convection oven, having the bird elevated allows for air to circulate, ensuring even cooking. If you don’t have a roasting rack, you can use a sheet pan and a wire cooling rack to keep the turkey above the bottom of the pan.
Convection oven turkey is most often cooked at 325F, especially for a larger bird. Cooking at 350F may cook the skin too fast, causing it to overcook.
Yes! It can be frozen for up to 6 months. If it’s frozen longer, it can lose its moisture and flavor.
Cooked turkey can last up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Refrigeration slows bacterial growth at 40F or less, but does not stop it. If leftovers won’t be consumed in 4 days, consider freezing them.
After it has rested, according to Food Safety News, turkey should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking. Spoilage organisms thrive in the temperature danger zone, which is between 40-140F.
How to roast a turkey in a convection oven
- 1 whole turkey
- 8 tablespoons melted butter (Based on a 20 pound turkey. Scale down for a smaller bird.)
- ¼ cup turkey rub (try this All-Purpose Seasoning or use your favorite poultry rub. Based on a 20 pound turkey. Scale down for a smaller bird.)
- 1 pound fresh aromatics (whole herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables. See Stuffing a Turkey in post for recommendations.)
- Pre-heat oven to 325℉ on the convection setting.
- Pat the skin dry. This allows the butter to adhere to the surface.
- Season the cavity with turkey rub and stuff with aromatics.
- Brush the surface with melted butter.
- Sprinkle rub over the buttered turkey.
- Transfer to a roasting pan with a roasting rack.
- Optional: Truss the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. This is more for visual appeal than anything. It will cook evenly whether trussed or not.
- Bake on convection until the internal temperature of the thickest portion of the thigh and breast (without touching the bone) all reach 165℉. This will take between 1.5-3.5 hours depending on the size of your turkey. See How Long To Cook a Turkey in a Convection Oven in post for approximate cooking times.
- Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving.
- If the turkey skin begins to get too browned, cover those areas with foil during the cooking process. If you turn off the convection setting and use the roast setting, the temperature in the oven will decrease and the bird will take longer to cook.
- Start with a fully thawed turkey. If it's slightly frozen on the inside, you can use the cold water thawing method to finish the thawing process. If the bird is still partially frozen when going in the oven, the exterior will get overcooked by the time the internal temperature reaches 165F.
- Use a cold turkey for best results. It does not need to reach room temperature before preparing. The melted butter should have the opportunity to harden a bit on the skin before applying the rub for the best adhesion.
*Net carbs = carbohydrates - fiber
Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools and does not include optional ingredients unless otherwise indicated.