Cooking a whole turkey on the stovetop can be a delicious and convenient way to prepare this holiday centerpiece, especially if oven space is limited. While it requires some preparation and monitoring, with the right techniques a moist and flavorful stovetop turkey can be achieved. Here are some common questions about cooking turkey on the stovetop and tips for success.
Is it safe to cook a whole turkey on the stovetop?
Yes, it is completely safe to cook a whole turkey on the stovetop as long as proper food safety guidelines are followed. The keys are using a large enough pot, maintaining adequate heat and moisture, and ensuring the turkey cooks to the proper internal temperature of 165°F as measured in the thickest part of the breast and thigh.
What size turkey can be cooked on the stovetop?
For stovetop cooking, the turkey should weigh no more than 12 pounds. Any larger and it will be very difficult to maneuver the turkey in the pot and achieve even cooking. Anideal size is 10 pounds or under.
What type of pot do you need to cook a turkey on the stovetop?
You’ll need a very large, heavy stockpot with a tight-fitting lid. The pot should be tall enough so that the turkey can be submerged in liquid while cooking. An 8-quart or larger stockpot is usually sufficient. Stainless steel or enameled cast iron Dutch ovens work very well. Do not use aluminum or thin pots, as they can react with the turkey and won’t conduct heat properly.
How long does it take to cook a turkey on the stovetop?
Cooking time depends on the size of the turkey, but plan for approximately 45-60 minutes per pound. A 10 pound turkey will take 7-8 hours using a gentle simmer. Monitor the turkey carefully and use a meat thermometer to determine when it has reached 165°F throughout.
Can you stuff a turkey cooked on the stovetop?
It is not recommended to stuff a stovetop turkey, as the stuffing will take much longer to come to a safe temperature. Cook stuffing separately to enjoy.
- 1 whole turkey (10 lbs or under)
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 carrots, cut into chunks
- 2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
- Bouquet garni of fresh thyme, sage, rosemary, tied together with kitchen string
- 8 cups low sodium chicken or turkey broth
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 bay leaves
- Large stockpot (8 quarts or larger)
- Tight fitting lid
- Meat thermometer
- Kitchen string
- Basting bulb or large spoon
Keys to Success
Here are some tips for achieving moist, tender turkey cooked on the stovetop:
- Use a pot that is taller rather than wider, and large enough so that the turkey can be covered in liquid while cooking. This allows even heat circulation.
- Keep the turkey submerged in the cooking liquid at all times. Turning occasionally and basting helps ensure even exposure.
- Use a gentle simmer – do not let the liquid boil, which can make the meat dry and stringy.
- Monitor the pot periodically and adjust heat as needed to maintain a simmer.
- Use a thermometer to ensure the turkey reaches 165°F in the breast and thigh before removing.
- Let the cooked turkey rest 15-20 minutes before carving for juicier meat.
Follow these steps for foolproof turkey cooked on the stovetop.
Step 1: Prepare the Turkey
Remove neck and giblets from the turkey cavities (use for gravy if desired). Rinse turkey under cold water and pat very dry with paper towels. Truss the turkey tightly with kitchen string to hold its shape during cooking. Rub the skin all over with a little olive or vegetable oil, sea salt, and pepper. Stuff the cavities with the quartered onion, carrots, and celery.
Step 2: Prepare the Cooking Liquid
In the stockpot, combine the broth, wine, peppercorns, salt, bay leaves, and bouquet garni. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Step 3: Add the Turkey
Place the prepared turkey, breast side up, into the simmering cooking liquid. The liquid should come about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the turkey. If needed, add more broth to completely cover.
Step 4: Simmer the Turkey
Once liquid returns to a gentle simmer, reduce heat to low. The liquid should just barely bubble. Cover pot with lid slightly ajar. Simmer turkey, maintaining gentle bubble, for approximately 45-60 minutes per pound, turning turkey occasionally with tongs or spatula and basting with the cooking liquid.
Step 5: Check for Doneness
After estimated cook time, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey, inserting into the thickest part of breast and thigh. It should reach 165°F. If under, simmer covered 15 minutes more and recheck.
Step 6: Remove from Heat and Allow to Rest
Once 165°F is reached, use sturdy tongs to carefully transfer turkey to a cutting board or platter. Tent loosely with foil and allow to rest 15-20 minutes before carving. This allows juices to redistribute for juicier meat.
Step 7: Make Gravy
While turkey rests, use a fat separator to remove excess fat from the cooking liquid. For richly flavored gravy, bring liquid to a boil over high heat and reduce slightly to desired thickness. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Step 8: Carve and Serve
Carve the rested turkey and arrange slices on a serving platter with side dishes. Pour flavorful gravy over the turkey to moisten and enjoy!
Get answers to some frequently asked questions about cooking turkey on the stovetop:
Should I brine or marinate the turkey?
Brining or marinating is not necessary for stovetop turkey, as the moist cooking environment provides plenty of moisture. A simple rub of oil, salt and pepper is sufficient.
Can I cook a frozen turkey on the stovetop?
No, only fully thawed turkey should be used, as a frozen turkey will not cook evenly. Thaw frozen turkey in the refrigerator before cooking.
Should I cover the pot while simmering?
Yes, keeping the pot covered helps circulate steam and retain moisture. Remove lid briefly to turn turkey and baste.
What temperature should the liquid maintain?
A gentle simmer between 180°F-205°F is optimal. Avoid boiling over 210°F which can cause meat to seize up and dry out.
Can I use chicken broth instead of turkey broth?
Yes, chicken and turkey broth can be used interchangeably. Low sodium is best for controlling seasonings.
What herbs pair well with stovetop turkey?
Classic herbs like sage, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves pair wonderfully. also try marjoram, parsley, savory, or tarragon.
Tips for Leftovers
Leftover stovetop turkey keeps well refrigerated for 3-4 days. Here are some serving ideas:
- Slice or shred for sandwiches, wraps, and salads
- Dice and add to soups, pasta, fried rice, and omelets
- Pile on platter with crackers, cheese for easy appetizer
- Make turkey pot pie or casserole
- Make turkey tetrazzini by baking with noodles and creamy sauce
- Use in turkey chili, tacos, enchiladas, empanadas
Here is the nutrition data for a 3 oz serving of roasted turkey breast without skin (source: USDA):
Turkey is an excellent source of lean protein and provides nutrients like:
- Niacin (supports energy metabolism)
- Vitamin B6 (important for immune function)
- Phosphorus (key for bone health)
- Zinc (wound healing and immunity)
- Selenium (acts as antioxidant)
When enjoyed in moderation, turkey is a nutritious addition to a balanced diet.
Cooking a whole turkey on the stovetop is a reliable and convenient alternative to oven roasting. With the proper method, temperature control, and monitoring, you can achieve tender, juicy meat infused with flavor. A 10 lb or under turkey is ideal, simmered gently in an aromatic broth. Allow ample cook time and use a meat thermometer to ensure a safe 165°F is reached. Resting the cooked turkey before carving also improves moisture. Follow the steps and tips outlined to enjoy delicious stovetop turkey for your next holiday meal or Sunday supper.