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I have a variety of turkey recipes, but cooking turkey in a bag is a truly exceptional method! The bag seals in all the juices and flavors, resulting in tender and juicy meat. And the best part? It’s incredibly easy to make!
Unlike a regular roasted turkey, you don’t have to worry about brining the bird, basting, or keeping a constant eye on it to ensure it won’t dry out. To roast a turkey in a bag, you can simply season it, place it in the bag, and let the oven do the rest of the work. It’s a fun and stress-free way to make a delicious and moist turkey — perfect for your Thanksgiving feast.
Why You’ll Love Cooking Turkey In A Bag
- Extra juicy and tender meat with crispy skin
- Simple ingredients
- No constant monitoring required
- Minimal active time, freeing you up for other holiday prep
- Perfectly cooked turkey with consistent results every time
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for cooking turkey in a bag what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Turkey – I get a pastured Thanksgiving turkey when I can find it, but choose any turkey you like.
- Onion – The onion gets stuffed inside for flavor. I quartered a yellow onion for this recipe, but you could use a white onion or red onion.
- Unsalted Butter – Let it get to room temperature before using, so that it’s easy to spread onto the turkey. You could also use ghee (clarified butter) for a dairy-sensitive alternative.
- Garlic – For the garlic butter. Since roasting a turkey in a bag is pretty hands-off, I recommend using fresh minced garlic here for the best flavor. If you are pressed for time, though, you can use 1 tablespoon of jarred minced garlic instead.
- Fresh Herbs – To make the garlic herb butter for this bird, I used fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage. I don’t love using dried herbs for compound butter like this, but if you have to, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs to replace each tablespoon of fresh. You can also keep it simple and just use 2 tablespoons of either Italian seasoning or poultry seasoning.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
- Chicken Broth – I usually buy reduced sodium broth, but feel free to use regular instead. You could also use bone broth if you prefer.
- Arrowroot Powder – This is used to thicken the broth into a turkey gravy, but it also helps moisture in the bag mix with the fat cooking off the bird, preventing too much steam from building up and splitting the bag. You can also use cornstarch or any absorbent cornstarch substitute or alternative starch.
How To Cook A Turkey In A Bag
This section shows how to roast a turkey in a bag, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Prep the turkey. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Stuff onion quarters inside the turkey cavity and tie the legs together with twine.
- Make the herb butter. In a small bowl, mash together the butter, minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage, salt, and pepper.
- Season the turkey. Rub butter mixture under the turkey skin and all over the exterior of the turkey.
- Mix the broth and starch. Whisk together the chicken broth and some of the arrowroot powder until no lumps remain.
- Prep the roasting bag. Add more arrowroot powder to a large oven-safe roasting bag. (You can find turkey-sized oven bags at grocery stores around Thanksgiving, or get one here.) Holding the bag closed with your hand, shake to distribute.
- Place the turkey in the bag. Then, pour in the broth mixture, and tie the bag. Make a few small slits on top of the bag, so steam can escape.
- Roast the turkey. Place the turkey in a bag into a roasting pan with a rack, breast side up. Roast until done (see recommendations below).
- Rest. Allow the bird to rest in the bag before carefully cutting it open and transferring the turkey to a serving platter.
- Optional step: make gravy. Strain the pan juices through a mesh colander. Add the strained broth to a saucepan with additional arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Simmer, stirring often, until the gravy thickens. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
How Long To Cook Turkey In A Bag?
For a 16 pound turkey, roast a turkey in a bag for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until the thickest part of the thigh or breast reaches 165 degrees F. If your turkey is a different size, a good rule of thumb is 15-20 minutes per pound of turkey.
Here is a time chart for approximate cooking time:
|Turkey Weight||Roasting Time|
|12 to 14 pounds||3 to 3 1/4 hours|
|15 to 17 pounds||3 1/2 to 4 1/4 hours|
|18 to 21 pounds||4 1/2 to 5 1/4 hours|
|22 – 25 pounds||5 1/2 to 6 1/4 hours|
Tips For Success
Cooking turkey in a bag is pretty hands-off and one of the easiest ways to prepare a special meal, but here are a few tips to ensure you get the best results every single time:
- Use room temperature ingredients. Make sure to thaw turkey completely before cooking, and remove the neck and giblets. If you don’t use a room temperature turkey, the herb butter will clump on the cold turkey.
- Read the roasting bag instructions. Most instructions recommend coating the inside of the bag with flour to prevent the bag from bursting. I used arrowroot powder instead, or you can use cornstarch.
- Make it juicier. For the most juicy turkey, aim for the internal temperature to be 155-160 degrees, and then cover in foil immediately after removing from the oven. Let the turkey rest, covered in foil, for about 20 minutes to come up to 165 to 170 degrees before serving.
- Use a meat thermometer. As a general rule of thumb, turkey cooks for 15-20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees F. But for best results, use a probe thermometer and set the internal temperature to take it out at just the right time. Alternatively, you can check with an instant-read thermometer.
- Store: Keep leftover turkey in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
- Reheat: Warm the turkey portions in the microwave at 50% power so they don’t dry out, or heat the whole bird in a 350 degree F oven until heated through.
- Freeze: Let the turkey cool to room temperature, then put it on a baking sheet in the freezer for an hour until firm. Move it to a zip lock bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What To Serve With Turkey In A Bag
One of the reasons I love to roast a turkey in a bag is because it leaves just the right amount of time to prepare all the classic Thanksgiving sides. I like to include some lightened-up options, too. Here are some ideas:
- Toppings – Serve this juicy turkey with gravy from the bag and a dollop of tangy sugar-free cranberry sauce for a perfect blend of flavors.
- Appetizers – I love making a turkey shaped Thanksgiving charcuterie board, but a simple cheese ball can be made ahead of time.
- Potatoes – You can’t go wrong with a classic mashed potato side, but roasted sweet potatoes make a tasty alternative.
- Veggies – Make a side of roasted root vegetables, crispy roasted brussels sprouts, or classic creamed spinach.
- Festive Salads – Add a burst of freshness to your plate with a kale salad or a fruity Thanksgiving salad.
- Desserts – Don’t forget the dessert! Try this turkey with crustless sugar free pumpkin pie or almond butter cookies.
Ideas For Leftovers
There are so many ways to enjoy leftover turkey besides just reheating it. Here are my favorite leftover turkey recipes:
- Soup – Create a cozy leftover turkey soup or switch out the ground turkey in traditional turkey soup for a satisfying and comforting twist on the main course.
- Casserole – Remove the meat from the bones and add it to a leftover turkey casserole featuring vegetables, cranberry sauce, cheese, and nuts. Alternatively, substitute the ham in a breakfast casserole with turkey for a post-holiday breakfast.
- Salad – Tear the meat into pieces and swap the protein in chicken Caesar salad, or prepare a turkey salad with crackers or vegetables.
More Easy Turkey Recipes
Looking for more ways to cook up a juicy turkey? Here are some more easy turkey recipes perfect for Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner:
Tools For Roasting A Turkey In A Bag
Turkey In A Bag
Turkey In A Bag (So Easy!)
Cooking turkey in a bag is an easy way to make it for Thanksgiving! This easy recipe with garlic & fresh herbs is juicy, tender & flavorful.
Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
Stuff the onion quarters inside the turkey and tie the legs with twine.
In a small bowl, mash together the butter, garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage, salt, and pepper.
Use ~1/3 of the butter mixture to rub under the turkey skin. Use the remaining butter mixture to rub all over the exterior of the turkey.
Whisk together the chicken broth and 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), until no lumps remain.
Add the remaining tablespoon of arrowroot powder to a large oven-safe roasting bag. Holding the bag closed with your hand, shake to distribute the arrowroot. (This prevents the bag from bursting in the oven.)
Place the turkey inside of the roasting bag, pour in the broth mixture and tie the bag using the provided tie. Make a few small slits on top of the bag to let steam escape.
Place the turkey in a bag into a roasting pan. Roast for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until the thickest part of the thigh or breast reaches 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). (If your turkey is a different size, a good rule of thumb is 15-20 minutes per pound of turkey.)
Remove from the oven and let rest in the roasting bag for 15 minutes.
Carefully cut open the bag and remove the turkey.
Optional step to make gravy: Strain the pan juices through a mesh colander. Add the strained broth to a saucepan with an additional 1-2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder. Simmer, stirring often, until the gravy thickens. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
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Serving size: 6 ounces turkey meat, or 1/16 entire recipe
Nutrition info uses 96 ounces of turkey meat, because that’s about how much meat you get from a 16-pound turkey.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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