Electric Roaster Cooking

By Jim Radenhausen

What cook does not want to save time in the kitchen? For that reason alone, tabletop electric roasters--with their smaller interior, quick heating and cooking abilities--are a viable alternative to traditional ovens. You also can use a roaster in conjunction with a standard oven to prepare larger meals faster. In addition to the time-saving benefits, electric roasters retain moisture and can do more than just roast foods. Sure, a traditional oven can broil, but can it steam and slow-cook? An electric roaster can.

The Basics

Rival's 20 qt. roaster, one of the major electric roaster oven brands.

Roasters come in handy for large-party meals, especially around the holidays. They're useful in cooking any number of dishes, from a ham or turkey to chili, seasoned rice, southern baked beans, pork barbecue, meatballs, baked potatoes and cheesecake.

Heat the roaster before placing food inside. That way, fumes dissipate early on. If you want to roast meat and keep its fat separate, use the roasting rack. If you want to bake, use the pan.

When you're ready to roast (or bake, steam or slow-cook), set the roaster to the desired temperature. If you're a novice cook, the only way to know when your meat is thoroughly cooked is to use an instant-read thermometer.

If you want to keep cooked foods hot and the roaster comes equipped with insert pans (which hold multiple dishes), wash the inserts with warm, soapy water and spray the pans with non-stick cooking spray. If the roaster has an oven well, make sure the pans are secure.

Types of Roaster Ovens

Roaster ovens come in a variety of sizes (anywhere from 15 cm cubed to nearly 60 cm cubed), so know your needs before purchasing one. As with anything, a bigger, features-heavy roaster will cost more than a standard one. If you're looking to own a roaster oven, compare prices and features online, with name brands such as Nesco, Hamilton Beach and Rival, among others.