cooking on the very bottom of oven

The turkey recipe I am wanting to try, says to put the turkey in the roasting pan on the very bottom of the oven - no rack. Is this a good idea? I have been receiving mixed reviews - some say its okay, others not..

Ellie Landau


Ellie L. November 22, 2016
Hi Antonia:)

Thank you so much for all advise and support. I understand lawyers, my fiancé is a lawyer and we own a law firm:) I plan to purchase a pizza stone (the one recommended by Americas Test Kitchen), that is easily available at my local cooking store and I spoke with manufacture and they said using a pizza stone is fine:) The highest temp the oven can be set is 500 degrees and there is no special roasting feature, just bake/warm/broil.

I will not add foil as it is not listed in recipe directions. Thanks again for all your advise, this has been so helpful and now I can go get more kitchen gear:) Happy Thanksgiving!
Smaug November 22, 2016
I can't say for turkeys, but I do bake pizzas at the bottom of the oven, and I can attest that even similarly constructed ovens (the ones I've used have been gas with the flame at the bottom)vary a lot. I used to have one that I put it on the oven floor, the next one worked best with a rack placed on the floor, keeping it an inch or so off the floor- the current one works best on the lowest slot, maybe 2 inches up.
AntoniaJames November 22, 2016
May I respectfully make several suggestions that are recipe (and recipe author) agnostic? As noted below, it may or may not work, depending on the oven. I strongly recommend that you contact the manufacturer of the oven to find out what they think. Most manufacturers have consumer help lines with knowledgeable staff who are there to answer questions like this one. I would not proceed -- regardless of the trustworthiness of any particular recipe author -- without checking with the manufacturer. (If your oven manufacturer does not have a published help line, call their general number and ask to speak with technical support. You'll need the model number. In many ovens, you can find it on a metal tag somewhere on the front frame, inside, or on the door.)
Second, keep in mind that if you are putting a large heavy pot on the bottom of your oven, completely covering the heating source (which as I understood Ms. Clarke's recipe when I read in the Times on the day it was published, is the point - to get maximum heat into the bottom of the roasting pan), you will alter the temperature in the rest of the oven, or at best, make it unreliable. If you plan to cook other items in the oven at the same time, be prepared to deal with uncertain temperatures and resulting effect on those other dishes.
Finally, if you cannot put the roasting pan directly on the bottom of the oven, consider putting a pizza stone on the bottom shelf and preheating it for at least an hour at a very high temperature (assuming that the pizza stone itself can withstand such heat -- better check on that, though, because many will not). Depending on how heavy your roasting pan is, the hot stone could serve the same function as the hot bottom surface. I would also consider preheating the roasting pan, but then, that's the way I roll. (I preheat my baking sheets when roasting vegetables.)
I hope this helps. ;o)
Ellie L. November 22, 2016
Thank you so much! I just contacted the manufacturer and they said not to put anything on the bottom of the oven, so I will follow that instruction, as much as I love Melissa Clark:) I don't want to damage my oven, it is new:) The pizza stone is a great idea, I don't have one, but maybe its time to get one:) Once the pizza stone is heated for an hour, I turn the temp down to the recommended in the recipe. I never thought of preheating the roasting pan - what temp and how long? same with the roasted veggies - I use castiron for that:)
Do I need to cover this turkey with foil while roasting on lowest rack, with our without a pizza stone?? You are so helpful!!! :):) I like how you roll:):)
AntoniaJames November 22, 2016
I'm glad you called! Being a practical sort (and a lawyer whose job is to analyze risk and deal with it before it materializes) I could easily imagine that you could invalidate your warranty by doing something not recommended by the manufacturer, if a problem were to arise.
About pizza stones: It may be a bit late for this, but I'd go all out for a baking steel if I did not have a stone. I actually have refractory tiles (very high heat tolerant) purchased from a kiln supply store in SF - so many advantages to using them -- but I realize that may not be an option for most people.
To answer your question, heat the stone to its maximum tolerance and then turn the oven down to the standard temperature. It's critical too that you place the roasting pan on the shelf in such a way as to leave at least an inch all the way around, for proper distribution of the heat, and thus, keeping close to the recommended temperature.
I am not confident that most normal pizza stones are up to the task . . .
Now that you have the phone number for your manufacturer handy, you should call them again to ask which setting to use for this particular purpose. New ovens generally have a number of different options, with one that is best for roasting big birds.
I don't know what kind of roasting pan you have, but I'd probably just put it in for 5 - 10 minutes. It may not make that much difference. If you're using cast iron for the veggies, you can preheat it easily enough on top of the stove -- about a minute or two, but rotate the pan every 15 seconds or so, to distribute the heat more evenly.
Unless the recipe says to cover with foil, don't. Keep an eye on the bird, however, and if the breast starts to look really dark, you might want to loosely tent it with foil. I'd only do that for the last 30 minutes or so. ;o)
P.S. I probably would not go the trouble of getting a pizza stone tonight or tomorrow. With a new oven, putting the roasting pan on the very bottom shelf, and not opening the door too often should be fine.
Now, if you don't have a good thermometer to insert in the turkey, you should get one of those! You simply cannot know for sure whether the breast or leg meat is done, without it.
Good luck, and have fun! ;o)
Ellie L. November 22, 2016
The small openings (they look like slits) are on each side of the oven, the roasting pan would not be covering that. What do you think?
Ellie L. November 22, 2016
Do I need to cover the turkey while roasting this way - splaying and on bottom of oven:)
Ellie L. November 22, 2016
I will try it - however on the bottom of my gas oven (which is new -purchased in early Spring of this year, there are 2 openings on both sides where you can the flames of the heating elements - not sure if I describing that well:)
Ellie L. November 22, 2016
Thank you! Have you ever see a recipe with that kind of instruction? I think Americas Test Kitchen says something very similar... I have a gas oven, with a very heavy sturdy bottom, but not sure I would place anything on it to cook..
Ali S. November 22, 2016
Our editor Amanda says she does it sometimes and Melissa Clark is an expert recipe developer, so I trust it!
Amanda S. November 22, 2016
Yes, I think it depends on your oven! Mine's metal on the bottom without any vents down low, so it's safe—but as Chef June said you wouldn't want to set the pan atop any of the electric heating parts that aren't built to support the weight.
Susan W. November 22, 2016
My mom has a commercial gas oven and cooks her turkey on the bottom every year for the past 10-15 years with great success. Plus I trust anything Melissa Clark says.
ChefJune November 22, 2016
It wouldn't work in my oven because the electric element is there. I would set a rack at the lowest possible level and roast it there.
Ali S. November 22, 2016
Could you share the recipe?
Ellie L. November 22, 2016
Yes, it is from Melissa Clark, NYT chef, who I just love!!
Here is the link:®ion=Our+Best+Thanksgiving+Turkey+Recipes&pgType=supercollection&rank=1
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