Cooking methods are categorized by the type of heat and type of equipment used.

Dry Heat Cooking uses hot air or fat to transfer heat to the food. Dry heat methods allow surface sugars to caramelize. These include:

  • Roasting
  • Baking
  • Broiling
  • Grilling
  • Pan frying
  • Deep-fat frying
  • Sauteing

Moist Heat Cooking uses steam, water or other liquids to transfer heat to the food. Moist heat methods are used to emphasize the natural food flavors. These include:

  • Simmering
  • Boiling
  • Poaching
  • Steaming

Combination Cooking uses both dry heat and moist heat procedures. Foods are first browned in hot fat, then covered and slowly cooked in a liquid over low heat. These include:

  • Stewing
  • Braising


Conventional oven cooking


This is a simple method for cooking whole body turkey, turkey breasts and large turkey roasts. Also, it provides for greater volume/yield and less moisture lost than in convection oven roasting. Keep in mind the yield will be reduced if the oven temperature is increased in an attempt to shorten the cooking time.

If cooking whole body turkeys, place two turkeys (medium size) on roasting racks, trivets or a bed of coarse cut vegetables in an 18x26x1-inch sheet pan. Or place one turkey on a rack in a 12x20x2-inch steamtable pan.

A shallow pan is recommended so oven air can flow completely around the turkey. Pans with sides higher than 1-inch will shield the thickest part of turkey thighs from heat, and they will not cook uniformly.

Convection oven cooking

With convection cooking, the hot air moving throughout the oven cooks food faster and at a lower temperature than conventional cooking. Therefore, convection oven cooking temperatures should be 25ºF to 50ºF lower than conventional oven temperatures.

The hot air movement of convection roasting does cause greater moisture loss in turkeys and a 3 percent to 5 percent lower yield than roasting in a conventional oven.
  • Convection Recommendations
    1. To prevent over-browning due to surface drying, use the recommended lower temperature. Your turkey supplier or oven manufacturer can offer temperature and time recommendations for your specific piece of equipment.
    2. Tenting with foil is not recommended because it can blow around and impair the fan action.
    3. When cooking whole body turkey or large pieces and using just one oven shelf, place turkey on lowest rack or shelf. If two shelves will be used, position turkey on lowest and middle racks. If cooking on three levels, space racks evenly.
    4. Avoid crowding the turkeys in a convection oven. Crowding inhibits air circulation and slows cooking.

Combination oven cooking

Popular in mass feeding operations, this oven offers three cooking modes: pressureless steam, convection or a combination of steam and convection.

Pressure steamer cooking

This method has the least moisture loss and the greatest volume/yield. The turkey cooks in a short time and with more uniformity.

Cooking Methods
Boning a Whole Turkey
Basics of Cooking
Seasonal Versatility
Measuring Temperature
Cooking Whole Turkey
Cooking Small Parts
Turkey Stock
Heating & Holding

Return to Table of Contents