How to Cook a Moist & Flavorful Thanksgiving Turkey in a Römertopf® Clay Baker
22 Apr

How to Cook a Moist & Flavorful Thanksgiving Turkey in a Römertopf® Clay Baker

Posted By: Lisa Times Read: 91

ORIGINAL POST: 11/8/2016

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and many home cooks are looking for how they can make the perfect moist and delicious turkey to impress their family and friends.  Well, look no further than the Römertopf® Extra-Large Clay Turkey Roaster!


If you haven’t heard of the Römertopf® or clay pot cooking, then let us give you a bit of background.


Cooking in a clay pot is not new.  In fact, it is an ancient cooking method!  Clay pots have been found in ancient ruins of nearly every culture around the world with each one having variations of their clay cooking vessel. In ancient times, Rome produced enormous quantities of fired clay pots and the name “Romertopf” literally translates to “Roman Pot”. Römertopf® Clay Bakers originated in Germany and were first brought to market in 1967.  The Romertopf is world renowned and considered the finest clay cooking pot by home cooks and seasoned chefs alike!


Cooking in a Römertopf® clay pot will result in some of the tastiest food you’ve ever eaten!  Cooking in a clay pot is a very simple principle and the results are simply superb!  When the Romertopf Clay Baker is moistened, the pores of the clay soak up the water.  This water is slowly released during the cooking process and gently steams your food.  Nothing dries out which results in moist, tender, pure deliciousness!  At the same time, a crust is developed and flavors of the dish are enhanced.   You will smell the delightful aroma as the clay pot is roasting your meal to perfection and taste the difference in the finished dish.


The Römertopf® Clay Baker is especially wonderful for all types of poultry dishes as the high heat forces moisture inward, cooking the interior of the meat.  The moisture is then trapped as the clay lid reflects sufficient moisture to cook the meat’s surface. Once the Romertopf has reached the required temperature setting, the food needs little or no attention from you.


With Römertopf® Clay Bakers, the lid is unglazed and needs to be soaked in tap water for about 15 minutes prior to use.   The bottom interior of the clay pot is glazed, which avoids the baker from holding bacteria and odors along with providing easy clean-up! (We all want easy clean-up on Thanksgiving, right?)


So here are some tips for cooking that perfect Thanksgiving Turkey in your Römertopf® Clay Turkey Roaster.


Lets’ start with cooking temperature and times…

If your turkey is...


UNSTUFFED (Oven at 400°F)

STUFFED (Oven at 400°F)

8-12 lbs.

2 ¼ - 3 ½ Hours

2 ¾ - 3 ½ Hours

12-14 lbs.

3- 3 ½ Hours

3 ½ - 4 ½ Hours

14-18 lbs.

3- 3 ½ Hours

4 ½ Hours

18-20 lbs.

3 ½ - 4 Hours

4 ½ Hours

20-24 lbs.

4 – 4 ½ Hours

4 ½ - 5 ½ Hours


Soak your Turkey Roaster lid for at least 15 minutes in tap water.  After all ingredients have been put in your clay baker, place the lid on the baker, set in COLD oven.  Set oven temperature to 400° F. Time cooking according to the chart above, checking the turkey at the lowest time setting.


The Römertopf® does not need your attention while it cooks your turkey as the moist lid does the basting for you!  This allows you to prepare other Thanksgiving dishes or relax and visit with your family and friends!


Here's a delicious Romertopf turkey recipe!

Romertopf Roasted Turkey Recipe:

Cook Time: 2 ¼ - 3 ½  Hours  Serves: 8-12

Seasoning Rub:


1/2 cup fresh flat­-leaf parsley leaves

1/4 cup fresh sage leaves

2-3 Tbl.  fresh rosemary leaves

2-3 Tbl. fresh thyme leaves

3 medium garlic cloves, minced

4 Tbl. Unsalted butter

Salt & pepper to taste


1 (10­ to 12 ­pound) turkey

Herb bundle: (Optional) Tie 3-4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme, and 2 sprigs of fresh sage together with cooking twine.

2 fresh bay leaves or 3 dried

1 large or 2-3 medium onions, cut into quarters

4 celery ribs, cut into 2” chunks

4 large carrots, cut into 2” chunks

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 ½ -2 cups chicken stock, white wine, or combination of each

Preparation: One day ahead:  

Process herbs, garlic and butter in food processor until combined. Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry.  Place turkey in large nonreactive bowl. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by gently inserting fingers between skin and meat. Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper under and over skin. Then spread garlic ­herb rub under skin and gently press skin to adhere. Season turkey both inside and out with salt and pepper to taste. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck into turkey. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight on cookie sheet or non-reactive pot.


To roast:  Fill cavity of turkey with ½ of the onions, celery, carrots, 1 bay leaf, and smashed garlic. Place remaining carrots, onions, celery and bay leaf in bottom of baker and set turkey on top.  Insert meat thermometer (if using) into thigh area without touching the bone.  Let turkey stand at room temperature for about 1 hour before cooking.  Soak lid to Romertopf Turkey Roaster for 15 minutes.   Pour chicken stock, wine or combination of both around turkey in roaster.  Place herb bundle (if using) on top of turkey and set moist lid on baker.  Place covered roaster in COLD oven and set oven temperature to 400°F.  Roast for 2 hours or until internal temperature reads 160°F.  Remove lid and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes or until turkey is golden brown.  Turkey is finished cooking when internal temperature reads 165°F.

Remove turkey to platter.  Strain accumulated juices through seive into 4 cup measuring cup.  Return turkey to clay roaster and place lid on roaster to keep warm. Let stand 15 minutes before carving.  


Now here are some tips! 

  • To Brine or Not to Brine – We say NOT to brine!   Some folks like to brine their turkey, thinking this will keep the turkey moist and infuse flavor during cooking.  While this is very true with traditional types of cookware (stainless steel, cast iron, etc.), brining is not necessary with the Romertopf clay baker as the soaked clay lid provides the necessary moisture to keep your turkey juicy while the entire clay pot retains the moisture during the cooking process.   Brining recipes usually require copious amounts of salt.  We do not recommend brining a turkey to cook in the Romertopf as the clay pot enhances flavors and you could end up with a turkey salt bomb!  In addition, the brining liquid will be released during cooking and you could end up with your turkey swimming in a salty hot tub! Neither of these scenarios is what we want for our gobbler, so just season your turkey with herbs, spices, salt and pepper to your taste and you’ll be good to go!  The Romertopf Clay Pot infuses flavor from your seasonings like no other cookware!
  • Oven Bags – NOPE on this one too!  Oven bags are generally used with traditional types of cookware to avoid loss of moisture during the cooking process.  The Romertopf Clay Baker is specifically designed to RETAIN moisture during the cooking process, so an oven bag is not needed to keep your turkey moist and could even damage the clay roaster.
  • Many like to prepare their turkey the night before, however we do not recommend putting the clay roaster in the refrigerator overnight as it will take quite some time for the roaster to come to room temperature before you can begin cooking.  You do not want to shock your Romertopf Clay Roaster with drastic temperature changes, so simply put your prepared thawed turkey on a cookie sheet or in another pot overnight.  This way after soaking the lid, the clay roaster will be ready to cook your turkey when you are.
  • GOLDEN BROWN TURKEY SKIN  -  Super Easy!  Simply remove the baker lid during the last 10-15 minutes of the cooking time.  The skin will brown up nicely.  We recommend removing the lid when the turkey’s internal temperature is around 160°F.   Don’t worry if your turkey is already done at 165°F, removing the lid to brown the exterior will not affect the outcome (unless you leave the lid off for more than 20 minutes.)
  • Oven temperatures vary greatly from oven to oven, so we recommend using an inexpensive meat thermometer and inserting it into the thigh area of the turkey (do not touch the bone).  Check the internal temperature of the turkey at the lowest time according to the chart above.  If the turkey needs more time, replace the lid and keep on cookin’!   The turkey is at safe temperature when thermometer reads 165°F.
  • If using the convection setting on your oven, set the oven temperature to 40°F less than what the recipe states. (In the chart above, the oven temp would be set to 360°F if using convection).
  • When your turkey has finished cooking, let it rest covered with the roaster lid on for at least 15 minutes before carving.  This allows the juices to redistribute so every piece is moist.
  • Want Gravy?  What’s Thanksgiving without gravy!  Add about 1 ½ up to 4 cups of chicken stock, white wine or a combination of those and pour around the turkey before cooking (the amount depends on the size of turkey and amount of gravy needed).  When the turkey has finished cooking, invert lid and place turkey in lid.  Carefully strain the drippings that have accumulated the base of the clay baker into a measuring cup.  Place turkey back into the base of the baker and cover with the lid to let rest.  Use the drippings and juices to make your gravy.
  • Carved tableside or before-hand, be sure to serve your turkey right from your Romertopf!  Not only does the clay baker make a lovely table presentation, but it will keep your meal warm long after cooking is complete.  Those who want seconds (and there will be many!) will still have warm, juicy turkey!

We hope these tips have been helpful and we wish you an enjoyable, stress-free holiday with your family and friends.


Happy Thanksgiving! 


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