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Do You Put Water in a Roaster Oven? (Explained)

Roaster ovens are used for baking, cooking, steaming, roasting, and slow-cooking dishes. This oven is mostly used for roasting turkey but is also used for meats, vegetables, soups, and stews.

The difference between a roaster oven and a home oven is that it roasts food by spreading heat throughout the heating chamber rather than heating with an exposed heating element.

Do you put water in a roaster oven?

Adding water to an electric roaster oven is not recommended. Roaster ovens distribute heat evenly by convection and, since the roaster chamber is covered, it traps and recycles the moisture from the food. So, it is not necessary to add water unless the recipe requires the addition of water.

There are many different roaster ovens available in the market today. Different manufacturers produce varying roaster ovens which often function differently than others. However, their way of function is pretty much the same.

Oster roaster ovens:

Oster roaster ovens are electric roaster ovens and hence, work the same way an ordinary electric roaster oven does. So, like most electric roaster ovens, it does not require the adding of water.

The 18-quart Oster roaster ovens are more frequently chosen than the 22-quart variant.

Rival roaster ovens:

Similar to Oster, Rival roaster ovens are also electricity consumers and thus, follow the same roasting method followed by other electric roaster ovens. The Rival roaster ovens do not need the addition of water for them to function.

Most people prefer the 22-quart Rival roaster oven over the 18-quart variant.

Hamilton Beach roaster ovens:

Hamilton Beach roaster ovens, or more commonly known as Hamilton Beach Turkey roaster ovens, are unlike the roaster ovens from Oster and Rival.

The Hamilton Beach roaster ovens require about 2 liters of water and, before use, they have to be heated for about 30 minutes. The 22-quart variant of this oven is the most purchased.

GE roaster ovens:

GE roaster ovens too are electric roaster ovens and do not require water to function optimally. The 18-quart GE roaster ovens are the most commonly bought variant. The GE roaster ovens promise to work as a second home oven.

Do you put water under the pan in a roaster oven?

No, water should not be used under the pan in a roaster oven. Adding water under the pan does not allow the roaster oven to function to its full potential.

Electric roaster ovens work by circulating hot air throughout the roaster chamber that roasts the food. When water is added, it turns into steam and defeats the roasting purpose of the roaster. So, the food and the flavorful juice from meat tastes bland.

Where do you put water in a roaster oven?

Although most electric roaster ovens, like the ones from Oster and Rival, do not require the use of water, some roaster ovens, like the Hamilton Beach roaster ovens, need water. These ovens require the user to have proper knowledge about where to put the water.

Water is poured into the removable roasting pan. In the removable roasting pan, 5-6-quarts of water can be used, and then, the roasting pan has to be put inside the roaster oven body. Pouring water directly into the roaster body even is not proposed.

How much water do you put in the bottom of a roaster?

If the recipe requires water, then water should be added to the electric roaster oven. Otherwise, it is better not to add extra water.

In the bottom of a roaster, 5 to 6-quarts of water can be added. If the recipe requires more, add more water. Nevertheless, adding water directly into the roaster body should be avoided.

Five reasons why don’t you put water in a roaster oven

The most common reasons why water should not be put in a roaster are given below:

Appear undone:

Added water will create spotty browning on the meat or turkey surface, and the meal will appear undone even though fully cooked.

Separate bones from meat:

Meat from the bones will separate if water is added to the oven as it will loosen the bond of the flesh with the bones.


As the meat comes off, it will taste bland as the food will be steamed rather than toasted.


Water added to any dish, whether it is turkey or vegetables, will result in the splattering of the gravy produced and make a mess in the oven that is difficult to clean afterward.

Diluted gravy:

Similar to the meat, the gravy will feel flavorless as it will not be concentrated enough and it will splatter while it is cooking, making a mess.

How do you use a roaster oven using water?

Sometimes, the recipe requires water added in the roaster oven for the full benefits of the dish. It may also be the roaster oven that may need water to function. Following the steps below will help using water in a roaster oven:

Remove the roasting pan:

Most roaster ovens, nowadays, come with removable roasting pans. They can be easily taken out to add water or to clean the removable roaster pan thoroughly. For now, remove the removable roasting pan to access the area to be used to pour water in.

Add water:

If the recipe mentions a specific volume of water, add that much water. But, if nothing is mentioned, add 5 to 6-quarts water which will fill half or three-quarters of the removable roasting pan.

Place it in the oven:

After the removable roaster pan has been filled as desired, carefully place the roaster pan into the roaster oven. This will be placed in the roaster oven body.

Closing the lid:

After completing the above steps, put the lid on the roasting oven and, if needed, heat it for about 30 minutes before using. Or else, it is ready to receive the food that is to be cooked.

Keep in mind, avoid pouring water directly into the roasting oven body. Adding water into the roasting oven body may cause damage to the appliance and cause harm to the user.

Do you put water in a roaster oven when cooking a turkey?

According to professionals, water should not be used in a roaster oven when cooking a turkey. Adding water will create a variety of issues with the prepared food.

For example, the food may look undone even though it is, and the cooked meat will be unsavory, as well as the gravy and, last but not least, the flesh will come off the bones.

Since turkeys have some fat present in their body, cooking a turkey in a roaster oven will melt that fat. Without added water, this will form the liquid gravy but, with added water, it will splatter.

This splattering will create a mess inside the roaster oven that will require a lot of effort to clean. Despite most professionals advising not to add water, adding a bit of water may benefit the dish.

About 2 cups of water with half a cup of extra virgin olive oil can be added to the roaster oven when cooking a turkey to prevent the turkey from drying out and add flavor to the produced gravy. It is worth noting that chicken broth can be used instead of water.

Final Thoughts

Putting water in a roaster oven is not necessary unless the techniques suggest so. Adding too much water while cooking turkey or meat will demean the flavor and bring about an unwanted outcome. To know if water is required or not, read the recipe thoroughly and the roaster oven manual.