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Electric Roaster vs Oven Roaster
We're here to answer the age-old question of roasting a bird: Should you use an electric roaster or put it in a roasting pan and stick it in the oven?
We did the work for you and roasted two identical chickens to an internal temperature of 165°F. Here are the two main qualities we tested for:
How much moisture was retained during cooking? Was the breast dry and tacky or was there detectable, delectable moistness in every bite?
How did the skin turn out? Was it browned and crispy or soggy and rubbery?
Of course, the best cooking method for you is the one that makes the bird you want to eat. Our test is intended to help you decide which one that is.
Featuring: All-Clad 16"x13" Oven Roaster
All-Clad Stainless Steel Oven Roaster
We dressed our chicken, stuffed it with onions and lemons, seasoned it simply, and placed it in the All-Clad 16"x13" Stainless Steel Roasting Pan. The pan has a rack to keep food from touching the bottom of the pan, allowing even roasting all around and preventing the chicken's bottom side from overcooking.
The oven was set to 350°F. It took an hour and 45 minutes for the inside of the chicken to reach 165°F. (Side note: By the end of the cooking time, chicken grease was popping and splatting everywhere, requiring additional time for clean-up. You might want to keep that in mind as you schedule your time in the kitchen.)
The first thing we noticed was the beautifully browned skin. Roasting in the oven did a fantastic job of crisping up the chicken skin and giving it a nice golden color. The breast meat was tender and moist, but the outer pieces were slightly dry. The dark meat was juicy and delicious, as it should be. The overall result was a photo-worthy roast chicken with no major complaints from us when it came to visual appeal and overall flavor.
Oven Roaster's Best Quality: It made a picture-perfect roast chicken with evenly browned and crispy skin.
Featuring: Nesco 18-Qt. Electric Roaster
Nesco Electric Roaster Anniversary Edition in Metallic Red
The oven-roasted chicken's electric-roaster counterpart was dressed, stuffed and seasoned in the same way, then into the Nesco Electric Roaster it went.
Well, let's back up a bit: We did have to first "cure" the electric elements of the new roaster before it could be used for the first time. This took an hour and caused some industrial-type odor, but afterward, the roaster was cured and ready to use.
The included instructions manual recommends roasting chickens at 375°F, so we cranked it up to that temperature, and then put the chicken on the pan's metal rack and the lid on the pan. We left the roaster alone for 1 hour and 45 minutes, the amount of time it took for the chicken's internal temperature to reach 165°F.
The skin on this chicken wasn't nearly as brown and was a lot softer than, the skin on the bird cooked in the oven - no crispness here. But there is a significant trade-off: the breast meat was much moister and juicier than the oven-roasted chicken's. That goes for the dark meat as well - nice and juicy everywhere and still fully cooked.
Roaster Pan's Best Quality: The enclosed pan creates a basting effect that makes both white and dark meat very moist and juicy.
Chef Austin's Final Thoughts
The reason the electric roaster made a moister bird is because the electric roaster automatically bastes food. Instead of water or other liquid evaporating, like in an uncovered oven roasting pan, the Nesco Electric Roaster's enclosed interior causes liquid to condense on the lid then drip back down onto the chicken. This produces moister meat but sacrifices the brownness and crispness of the skin. One option for getting that crispy, browned poultry skin is placing the bird under the broiler for a couple of minutes once it's finished in the roaster. And yes, you can get a moister bird out of the oven by basting it yourself while it's cooking. But both of those steps are a lot more work.
Using an electric roaster like the Nesco roaster we tested also frees your oven for other baking. Often, folks break out the roaster when they are preparing a spread for a crowd, so putting the bird in an electric roaster saves your oven space for casseroles, side dishes and pies - something to consider now that Thanksgiving is approaching.
An oven roaster, like the All-Clad Roaster, is great for roasting a lot of vegetables and for getting that brown caramelization, or for making a perfect prime rib with an amazing herb crust. There is also a variety of sizes of roasters from All-Clad.
Whether your cooking preferences are best complemented by an oven roasting pan or an electric, both are great tools to have in your kitchen, whether you're feeding your family or a large gathering.
About the Author:
Chef Austin Merath is Everything Kitchen's Culinary Wizard, Kitchen-Gadget Reviewer, and New-Product Tester. He studied under chefs in College of the Ozarks' Culinary Program. It's his job to make sure you choose the kitchen tools that are right for you by testing the best we have to offer. When not cooking, Austin is tinkering with computers or exploring the Ozarks with his wife Amy. Click here for his full bio.