I have been cooking the turkey for Thanksgiving for many years now. I’ve cooked the turkey in every way possible! I’ve deep-fried, smoked, grilled, crock potted, basted, bagged, etc. I’ve done it all! But if you’re looking for the EASIEST way to cook a turkey with the least amount of work and the end product that has a moist turkey and crispy browned skin that tastes amazing, then using a turkey oven bag is the method for you!
Using a turkey oven bag is the sure way to make certain that your Thanksgiving turkey stays juicy, mouthwatering, and moist, all while staying appetizingly browned. Add a foil turkey pan along with the oven bag and it makes cleanup so easy! No more scrubbing! I don’t know about you, but I’m all about SIMPLE. One less dish to do!
If you’ve never cooked a turkey before, I’m going to give you step by step instructions to make this the easiest Thanksgiving yet! I remember feeling so overwhelmed when I cooked my first turkey. After cooking the turkey year after year, it’s gotten a lot easier and I actually enjoy it that I make turkey a couple times a year! We love the turkey leftovers at our house. (CLICK HERE FOR LEFTOVER RECIPES)
Step 1 – Purchase your turkey
Know what size of turkey you need to feed your guests. Plan on about 3/4 to 1 pound per person. If you want leftovers, plan on 1-1/2 pounds per person. Leftovers are a must for us! Try these great recipes for turkey leftovers. TURKEY SOUP, TURKEY ROLL UPS, etc.
Step 2 – Thaw the Turkey
There are two methods to thawing your turkey safely
A. Refrigerator Thawing – Leave the turkey in it’s unopened package. I usually place it in a plastic grocery bag just in case it starts dripping while thawing. Put the turkey at the closest to the bottom of the fridge it will fit. This is in case it starts dripping, you wouldn’t want to cross contaminate other food in your fridge with raw turkey drippings. Allow 4 hours per pound to thaw in the refrigerator.
|WEIGHT OF TURKEY||DAYS TO THAW|
|8 to 12 pounds||2 to 3 days|
|12 to 18 pounds||3 to 4 days|
|18 to 22 pounds||4 to 5 days|
|22 to 24 pounds||5 to 6 days|
B. Cold Water Thawing – Leave turkey in it’s unopened package. Place in sink and cover completely with cold water. Change water every 30 minutes to keep turkey surface cold. Allow 30 minutes per pound for turkey to thaw.
|WEIGHT OF TURKEY||THAWING TIME|
|8 to 12 pounds||4 to 6 hours|
|12 to 18 pounds||6 to 8 hours|
|18 to 22 pounds||8 to 10 hours|
|22 to 24 pounds||10 to 12 hours|
Step 3 – Preheat Oven to 350°
Place rack in the lowest position in the oven then preheat your oven to 350°.
Step 4 – Prep the Turkey
I buy the Reynold’s Kitchens Oven Bags (turkey size) since they are readily available in my local grocery store. You can find them on Amazon.com and other online stores too. There are other brands out there that work just as well too.
Open the oven bag and place the open bag in your roasting pan. I use a foil pan for easy clean up and less dishes for me to scrub after the big meal is a bonus! (TIP: Once the turkey is in the pan, always put your hand on the center bottom in case it’s too heavy it can break through!) Your pan of choice needs to be at least 2 inches deep.
Scatter a tablespoon of flour in the oven bag and mix around to coat the oven bag.
Add vegetables of choice to the bag. My recipe includes onions, celery, and garlic. It just makes the flavor of the turkey SO much better! Even if you don’t like eating them, just put them in there to help the flavor brighten up. Chunk one onion up by cutting off the ends and cutting it on it’s equator. Chop the onion halves into quarters and peel the layers and place in the oven bag. Add 2 tablespoons of minced garlic. Chop 2 stalks of celery into bite size pieces and add to oven bag.
Get the oven bag ready to add the turkey. Make sure the open end is staying open so it’s easier to add the turkey.
Remove the turkey neck and giblets. You’ll find these inside the cavity at the tail end of the turkey. The giblets are usually in a bag stuck under a flap of skin in the cavity. They both need to come out!
Rinse the turkey thoroughly. I turn on cold water in my kitchen sink and hold the turkey with clean hands then rinse out the cavity until the water comes clean. Let drip dry for a few seconds then pat dry with paper towels.
I’m not a fan of stuffing in the turkey as it is not recommended since it could be a food safety hazard. If you like to stuff your turkey, you can do so now, just don’t overstuff!
Step 5 – Bag the Turkey
Place the turkey in the oven bag over the vegetables and carefully get the whole oven bag around the turkey. In a separate bowl, mix together the seasonings for the turkey rub. 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp ground sage, 1/2 tsp paprika, and 1 tsp garlic powder – set aside. Rub the skin with 1/2 cup softened butter then season with the turkey rub seasoning. I do this all while the turkey is in the bag to avoid the mess.
Secure the bag shut with the nylon tie that came in the oven bag package. With a knife or scissors, cut 6 half-inch slits in the top of the oven bag. This will let steam get out while the turkey cooks in the oven. Fold in or trim the end of the oven bag in the pan to avoid it touching the heating elements or oven while the turkey is cooking.
Step 6 – Cook the Turkey
Place the turkey in the oven and roast until the timer pops and the turkey is fully cooked. Follow the chart inserted in the oven bag package or follow the table below. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh reads 180°.
|Whole Turkey, unstuffed||10-12 pounds||1-1/2 – 2 hours|
|12-16 pounds||2 – 2-1/4 hours|
|16-20 pounds||2-1/4 – 2-1/2 hours|
|20-24 pounds||2-1/2 – 3 hours|
|Whole Turkey, stuffed||10-12 pounds||2 – 2-1/2 hours|
|12-16 pounds||2-1/2 – 2-3/4 hours|
|16-20 pounds||2-3/4 – 3 hours|
|20-24 pounds||3-3-1/2 hours|
Step 7 – Enjoy the Turkey!
When finished, remove the turkey out of the oven and let it stay in the bag for 20 to 30 minutes. Trim the oven bag open and transfer the turkey to a large serving platter for carving. The juices can be used to make delicious turkey gravy.
Easiest Oven Bag Turkey Recipe
If you're looking for the EASIEST way to cook a turkey with the least amount of work and the end product that has a moist turkey and crispy browned skin, then using a turkey oven bag is the method for you!
- 1 (8-24 pound) whole turkey
- 1 TBS flour
- 1 onion
- 2 TBS minced garlic
- 2 stalks celery
- 1/2 cup butter; softened
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground sage
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Place rack in the lowest position of the oven.
- Scatter a tablespoon of flour in the oven bag and mix around to coat the oven bag.
- Chunk one onion up by cutting off the ends and cutting it on it’s equator. Chop the onion halves into quarters and peel the layers and place in the oven bag. Add 2 tablespoons of minced garlic. Chop 2 stalks of celery into bite size pieces and add to oven bag.
- Remove the turkey neck and giblets, rinse the turkey, and pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey in the oven bag over the vegetables and carefully get the whole oven bag around the turkey.
- In a separate bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground sage, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder for the turkey rub – set aside.
- Rub the skin with 1/2 cup softened butter then season with the turkey rub seasoning.
- Secure the bag shut with the nylon tie that came in the oven bag package. With a knife or scissors, cut 6 half-inch slits in the top of the oven bag. Fold in or trim the end of the oven bag in the pan.
- Place the turkey in the oven and roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh reads 180° or the timer pops and the turkey is fully cooked.
- Remove turkey from oven and let it stay in the bag for 20 to 30 minutes. Trim the oven bag open and transfer the turkey to a large serving platter for carving.
Hope you enjoy your delicious Thanksgiving turkey, enjoy your company, and enjoy your easy clean up! Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours!