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A white oval platter with a roasted turkey and a halved head of garlic resting on a bed of rosemary sprigs
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4.60 from 10 votes

Roasted Turkey in a Steam Oven

This is my favorite way to roast a turkey in a steam oven, by gently steaming it and then finishing with a hot, dry heat to cook through and crisp the skin.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 10 mins
resting time30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: roasted turkey in a steam oven, steam oven roast turkey, steamed and roasted turkey
Servings: 8
Calories: 648kcal



Prepare the turkey

  • Pat the turkey skin dry with kitchen towel, then rub all over the outside and the interior cavity with salt. I used approximately a tablespoon’s worth of fine salt for this – you want enough to rub all over every part of the bird that you can get to. Tie the ends of the legs together with kitchen string, then tuck the wings under the body and use another piece of string to tie right around the turkey, securing the wings close to the body (see photograph below for example). The ‘wing string’ is optional, but it stops the possibility of the wing ends popping out from under the bird during roasting and keeps it all looking nice and neat.

Steam the turkey and make the glaze

  • Put the prepared turkey on a wire rack or perforated tray, with a solid pan underneath to catch any juices and fat. Put the turkey into the oven and set it to 185°F/85°C using the steam-only setting (a cold start is fine here). Cook for 40 minutes.
  • While the turkey is steaming, mix together the maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, garlic, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper, if using. Set aside.

Roast the turkey

  • At the end of the steaming time, remove the turkey from the oven (it won’t look or smell very appealing at this point, but stay with me, because things are going to get a whole lot better soon). Change your oven setting to 350°F/180°C, convection-only (no steam), or switch to your regular oven if your steam oven doesn’t have standard oven capabilities. If you have a second oven with a pyrolytic/self cleaning function rather than a steam cleaning function, I’d recommend you switch ovens at this point anyway. Pyrolytic clean is going to make your clean-up job much easier.
  • Rub the steamed turkey all over with the softened butter, and put it back in the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then brush all over with the glaze and continue roasting, brushing with more glaze every 15 minutes, until the thickest part of the bird, in the leg meat just next to the breast, reaches 73-76⁰C (163-169⁰F) on an instant read thermometer. The roasting part of cooking should take somewhere between 1 ½ and 2 hours. If the turkey is browning too quickly during cooking, cover it with a tented piece of foil to protect the skin. If the juices are starting to burn in the pan underneath the bird, add half a cup of water and check regularly to see if it needs more.
  • Remove the cooked bird from the oven and place it somewhere warm to rest for 30 minutes. You can cover it with aluminium foil for resting, but my preference is to cover with a sheet of baking paper and a dish towel, which will keep the heat in but allow better airflow so it doesn’t steam as it will under foil.
  • You’re done! Present your beautiful turkey to the waiting crowd and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. I feel very strongly that my part with the turkey is played once I’ve gone to the trouble of buying and cooking it, and I want nothing to do with the carving and serving. If you adhere to the same theory, you can give that honour to your most esteemed guest or family elder.


  1. You’ll note this recipe calls for a relatively small turkey. That’s intentional: partly because many steam ovens are compact models which can’t accommodate a giant 20lb bird, but also because the larger the turkey is, the harder it is to cook evenly, no matter what method you choose. If you do want to go larger, it’s worth noting you can fit up to about a 7kg/15lb turkey into even a compact steam oven, which is plenty for most families. Beyond that you’ll need a full sized steam oven. You’ll need to adjust cooking times accordingly with a larger turkey, to achieve the correct internal temperature. For a very large bird weighing more than 7kg/15lb, increase the steaming time to 1 hour instead of the 40 minutes specified below.
  2. When selecting your turkey, I really encourage you to seek out a good free range and/or organic one. It’s more expensive but the flavour and texture will be so much better, and the bird will have lived a far less miserable life than its intensively farmed peers.
  3. I love the glaze here, but you can use your own favourite if you have one, without altering the method.
  4. Finally, be generous when you salt the cavity and outside of the bird before cooking. Salt does draw some moisture out of the flesh, but I’m willing to sacrifice that for the improvement in taste the salt will bring (especially with this steaming method, which really keeps things very moist).


Calories: 648kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 79g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 276mg | Sodium: 1374mg | Potassium: 890mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 550IU | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 3mg