Oxo 9-inch Turkey Lifter

Pros: Fills a handy niche
Cons: Could fill it better (bends under heavy turkey; whirling turkey!)
Rating: 3 out of 5

First published 10/11/2002

The Oxo turkey lifter is kind of a neat little gadget. It’s a U-shaped metal thing, with a thick, bulbous black handle. The idea is that you can push the point into the body cavity of your roast turkey and more easily lift it out of the roasting pan.

For many years now my husband and I have had a holiday tradition. The Saturday immediately after Thanksgiving is what we call “Turkey Day.” We invite friends and relatives to visit, and we make a huge feast of really good food. It lets us see a bunch of cool people all at once, and we have an excuse to make an amazing spread of wonderful food! Because we hold it on Saturday, and take the day before off, we have several days in a row to do cooking.

We end up serving far more food than all of us could possibly eat, but then that’s part of the fun – we warn everyone to bring plenty of Tupperware. It took a while for people to get the point that we were serious, so we usually ended up with way more leftovers than we could eat. (Thankfully by this point they believe us, but just in case we always keep disposable food storage stuff around to hand out!)

Of course, the cornerstone of this feast is a big ol’ brined and roasted turkey. It can be a little tough to muscle the sizzling bird from roasting pan rack to carving tray, particularly since we tend to get a big bird. So when we saw the turkey lifter, even though it seemed silly, we got it. We’ve used it for two Turkey Days now. And while it does help, it really isn’t enough to get the job done by itself.

The U-shape is perfect – it really does fit well inside the body cavity of the turkey. If you do body stuffing this can get trickier, but then you shouldn’t be doing body stuffing anyway, should you?*

*Don’t argue with me – go argue with Alton Brown, host of the TV show “Good Eats,” who did such a good job with his “stuffing is evil” argument that we now make our stuffing on the side. Arguments, of course, range from bacteria worries to what that much bulk stuff does to the internal temperature of the turkey and how this affects the way it cooks.

The bulbous handle works pretty well – it’s one of Oxo’s typical stiff-but-slightly-spongy materials, so it’s easy to grasp and keep hold of. The bulbous shape is more ergonomically correct than most handle shapes so as to avoid hurting your hands.

However, the lifter isn’t strong enough for a really big turkey. If you’re doing a very small turkey or a cornish hen, it’s fine. But a big Turkey Day turkey for lots of guests? Uh-uh. It starts bending. If you work fast you’re okay, but it’s still worrisome.

If you’re using a rack in your roasting pan, be sure to have one person gently use a spatula to de-stick the turkey from the rack while another person lifts, or lifting will be much harder than it should be.

And then there’s the real problem with the lifter. Now, the end of it is slightly forked, the better to bite into the turkey and hold it steady, presumably. But that isn’t enough. The turkey still has a tendency to rotate around the lifter, so you’ll need some other implement (like a spatula) to hold the turkey steady while you move it.

So is the turkey lifter worth it? Well, if you’re a kitchen gadget freak and you cook lots of small, whole birds, then it might be. Hopefully Oxo will come up with a better version. In the meantime, another option is the Cuisipro Roast & Serve. It isn’t perfect either, but it is very effective.

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