How To Cook A Turkey Without An Oven

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
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how to cook a turkey without an oven

When you enter a grocery store in the autumn, you will see one meat item piled high in abundance — turkey. These large birds are a staple throughout the fall and winter, especially during the holiday season. Turkey is plentiful and often very affordable. But if you don’t have an oven, you might wonder if it is even possible to cook a turkey at home.


There are many ways you can cook a turkey without an oven. Cook it outside by deep frying it in a pot with oil, smoke it in a smoker, or roast it on a barbecue grill. You can cook portions of a turkey in an air fryer or a pressure cooker. To cook a turkey safely indoors without an oven, you can poach, braise, or sauté it.


Don’t let the fact that you don’t have a working oven deter you from cooking a turkey. You can cook a fantastic holiday bird the entire family will love, regardless if you have an oven, outdoor area, or even fancy cooking gadgets. Below are eight effective methods for cooking a turkey without an oven, and at least one of which is bound to suit your needs perfectly.


Eight Ways To Cook A Turkey Without An Oven

1. Deep Fried Turkey

One method of cooking a turkey without an oven is to deep fry it. This method has continued to grow in popularity over the years, with many families opting to deep fry at least one bird for the Thanksgiving holiday. Deep-fried turkeys have several benefits. Since they are cooked in oil, they tend to be very juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and cook quicker than slow-roasting them in the oven.


Turkey fryer kits are affordable and easy to find, especially as the fall approaches, and they last for years if they are properly stored. Make sure you use the correct oil, and follow the instructions exactly, which includes properly thawing the turkey before frying it. Frying turkey is delicious, but also the most dangerous cooking method. Make sure you know what you are doing and don’t improvise when frying a turkey.


2. Smoked Turkey

If you have an electric or traditional smoker, then you might want to think about smoking your turkey. Many professionals say that the key to a juicy and flavorful turkey is time. Smoking a turkey is the pinnacle of slow cooking and maximizing flavor.


Smoking a turkey will take eight hours, or sometimes longer with bigger birds, but the results are truly unique. If you want a rustic barbecue-style turkey dinner, there is no substitute. You can use your favorite flavored wood chips to add flavor to the meat, which is something you can’t easily do in some other cooking methods. So, if you have a smoker and plenty of time, consider smoking the turkey when you don’t have an oven.


3. Sautéd Turkey

Turkey is not so different from chicken, other than the fact that it is sometimes a bit tougher, and almost always a much larger bird. By using this logic, you might wonder if you can pan sauté a turkey similarly to the way you would sauté chicken breasts, legs, and thighs. The answer is, yes you can.


The toughest part about sautéing a turkey is cutting it down to a manageable size. Turkey’s legs and breasts are significantly thicker than chicken, and therefore make it challenging to safely cook the meat without burning the exterior. The best way to effectively sauté turkey is to cut it down to small sizes, cubes even, to ensure it cooks through and is nice and golden brown on the exterior. This works best with the breast and thigh sections of the bird.


4. Use Your Air Fryer To Cook Your Turkey

If you have an air fryer, you might wonder if you can use it to cook your turkey. After all, it would seem like your air fryer is an ideal vessel to get a juicy and crispy turkey in a fraction of the time it would take your oven to accomplish a similar result.


Unfortunately, you can’t fit an entire turkey (not even a small one) in an air fryer, but you can cook portions of a turkey in one of these devices.


You can easily air-fry a turkey breast, and the same goes for turkey legs. This might not make for the best presentation at a Thanksgiving dinner table, but the flavor and crispiness will be there, with no added oils. So, if you find turkey on sale and are wondering if you can cook it up in your air fryer, don’t hesitate. Just make sure you aren’t afraid to use a sharp knife to cut the bird into manageable sections.


5. Roast Your Turkey On The Grill

If you have a barbecue grill, then you might be able to use it to cook your turkey. You may have grilled chicken on the grille before, and you can use the grill in a similar way to the oven when it comes to cooking a turkey.


If you have a small to medium-sized bird (ideally 11 pounds or less), you can place it in a roasting pan, and prepare it similarly to how you would in an oven. Place some butter and vegetables underneath and inside the turkey for flavor and to prevent the bottom of the meat from burning, and cover the bird with foil. With the grill closed and on moderate heat, the barbecue will act like an oven and can cook your turkey in about an hour and a half (depending on the grill and the size of the bird).


6. Poached Turkey

If you are not looking for a showstopping golden brown bird for the dinner table, and instead are looking to prepare tender turkey meat for sandwiches, salads, and soups, then consider poaching your turkey.


Poaching a turkey is fairly quick and easy, and all you need is a stove top and a large pot that fits the bird. Place the bird in the pot and cover it with water and all the delicious flavorings and ingredients you would like to add to the liquid. On medium, boil it about twenty minutes per pound to cook a turkey this way. Best of all, afterwards, you can use the liquid as stock for soup.


7. Braised Turkey In A Dutch Oven

If you have a large Dutch oven, then you can use it to cook your turkey. Dutch ovens are a great way to braise meats and vegetables, especially if you love that slow-cooked and roasted taste but don’t have a proper oven. A Dutch oven is a great tool for cooking a turkey on a stove top.


Dutch ovens are great at maintaining a consistent temperature, and thanks to the lid, they can lock in moisture, freshness, and heat. This helps keep your turkey moist and flavorful and also helps it cook faster. If you have a smaller Dutch oven, you can cut the turkey into pieces, and fit it (or parts of it) easily into the vessel.


8. Pressure Cook Your Turkey

If you don’t have an oven and don’t have a lot of time to cook a turkey, then a pressure cooker is your best friend. While cooking a turkey in the oven can take upwards of five or even seven hours, you can fully cook a turkey in a pressure cooker in about an hour. Some modern pressure cookers and inventions like the Instant Pot, even have poultry settings, making cooking a turkey as easy as pressing a button. Make sure you add seasonings and herbs to make the turkey extra flavorful.


Final Thoughts On Cooking A Turkey Without An Oven

If you don’t have an oven, you might think this means you can’t cook a big turkey this holiday season. Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways to cook one of these large birds even if you don’t have an oven. If you have a stove top then you can sauté your turkey, poach it, or even use your Dutch oven to braise it.


There are also lots of indoor and outdoor cooking appliances that make cooking a turkey easy and delicious. You can cut up a turkey and cook it in sections in an air fryer. You can also use a pressure cooker or your Instant Pot to cook a turkey much faster than it would cook in the oven.


If you want to use your outdoor space, you can use a turkey fryer to fry the turkey, a smoker to smoke the bird, and you can even cook it in a pan on your barbecue grill with the lid closed.


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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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