I saw some comments from people who said it's not a good idea to roast a turkey in a pan with deep sides, because the sides will block air flow from reaching the bottom of the turkey, resulting in undercooked thighs. I even found a couple of reputable sources that say the same thing.

The National Turkey Federation says:

A shallow roasting pan will allow oven air to flow completely around the turkey and catch any juices during the cooking process.

NPR says:

In a roasting pan, the high sides shield the bottom of the turkey — the legs and thighs — from heat, meaning they take longer to cook to temperature. Meanwhile, the breast sticks up over the top of the pan, which means it gets the bulk of the heat and dries out more.

I know that air flow is a factor for convection ovens, but I don't think it is for a conventional oven. Is it true that a roasting pan will prevent some heat from reaching the bottom of a turkey in a conventional oven?

  • I've never encountered such a problem using a deep roaster and I've roasted dozens of turkeys over many decades.
    – barbecue
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 19:39

3 Answers 3


It seems that you're mislead by the name "convection oven". Convection happens in all ovens, including traditional ones. It's a physical process that occurs whenever you heat air or another fluid. "Convection" ovens don't have extra convection, they have a forced airflow that brings the hot air to the food quicker than mere convection.

Since (real) convection happens in a traditional oven too, it is also impeded by pan walls. For ideal results, you should use a pan without walls.

  • 1
    Do you think a pan that has 2 inch high walls would be a big problem for a spatchcocked turkey? Some people said there needs to be some height to the pan in order to catch all the drippings and to allow the drippings to slosh around without spilling into the oven as you take out the turkey. Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 15:44
  • 6
    @pacoverflow - In my experience, using a roasting rack in a roasting pan. This elevates the item being roasted, allowing for airflow around the item and keeps the item above any drippings. Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 16:51
  • 9
    …and prevents the bottom half inch from just being boiled in its own juices.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 17:19
  • @Sharpenologist Yes I was planning on putting a rack in the pan, although that might still leave about 1.5 inches of walls surrounding the turkey. Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 18:14

I've always used purpose made oven bags for roasting my turkeys. The bag prevents any air flow from reaching the turkey surface, but I've never had a problem with uneven cooking.

  • 1
    I think the fact that your oven bag evenly prevents airflow everywhere is precisely what results in your getting even cooking. (As opposed to the OP's reference in which specifically the bottom half has blocked air-flow while the top sees unimpeded air-flow.)
    – DotCounter
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 17:44

It does shield the food from radiant heat, but what’s possibly the bigger issue is that it holds any moist air near the turkey, which will help to render off fat, but might prevent the lower portions from crisping up quite as well.

But slower / uneven cooking can actually be used to your advantage:

As you need to cook the breast meat to a lower temperature than the legs, you can cook your turkey upside down. Then you’re slowing down how quickly the breast cooks, while cooking the legs a bit faster. Then, when it’s almost finished cooking, you can flip it over to brown and crisp up the breast if you want to.

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