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How to Cook the Juiciest, Most Tender Oven Roast Turkey

I recently learned How to Cook the Juiciest, Most Tender Oven Roast Turkey EVER – and it has changed the way I am going to cook my turkeys from now on.

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I recently learned how to cook the juiciest, most tender oven roast turkey EVERand it has changed the way I am going to cook my turkeys from now on. No more arguing with my Mom over when the turkey is done, this method of cooking a turkey is SO forgiving that I would bet the white meat will NEVER dry out!

Not a fan of Turkey? Try my Pork Loin Roast or Sirloin Tip Roast instead!

Oven Roast Turkey in a baking pan ready to be enjoy!

The Juiciest, Most Tender Oven Roasted Turkey In the History of Roast Turkeys

This recipe is up there with my deconstructed turkey recipe and my roast turkey breast recipe as one of my faves.

It fell off the bones when I went to carve it. That makes it utterly fantastic for eating. Not that good when I need to take photos.

close up whole Oven Roasted Turkey

The Secret

The simple secret here is Turkey sized oven roasting bags. Let’s be clear here it’s NOT brown paper bags! Brown paper bags are actually toxic! Using a tried and tested safe food grade oven bag is better overall for roasting a turkey in a bag. It makes sense, companies put glue and chemicals into paper bags that are not meant for high heat OR for food to cook in and have no regulations with their production because of it. Oven bags are meant for food and heat. Using one twice a year to make the best turkey ever is not a big deal, but if you think it is, then this isn’t the turkey recipe for you. The oven bag is key! Now let’s move on to the step-by-step directions to get this bird in the oven for your big day!

How to Cook A Turkey

Let’s walk through this step by step, as some of you may be making your first turkey ever – or heck, you are like me and have been spending your life trying to master roasting a turkey. If you don’t need these photos, just pop on down to the bottom where the recipe awaits you, you turkey pro! The turkey shown in these photos is 13 lbs, but the first one I made was 20!

  • Pre-heat your oven to 300 °F. Yes, we are cooking this bird low and slow all day. For hours. (The USDA RECOMMENDS that you cook at a minimum of 325°F oven temp, which you can also do and the turkey cooks faster. The choice is up to you.)
  • Pat the tops and sides of the turkey dry with paper towels and throw them out. Wash your hands. (I am a kitchen safety NUT when it comes to bacteria, sorry!) Place your turkey so that it’s completely in the oven bag BUT so that the opening is slanted more towards the top instead of straight across This will make sense later in in my directions.
  • Take your chosen onions quarters, celery, apple etc and place them into the turkey cavity. Wash your hands.(I know, I know)
  • Take one tablespoon of sea salt flakes or coarse salt (I always have the flakes so that’s what is on mine) and a tablespoon of parsley and mix them in a bowl.  IF you have a larger turkey you can double this. Set aside for now, you just had to get this ready because now your hands are getting dirty again!
  • Take a bottle of olive oil and drizzle a small stream across the skin on the breast of the turkey and some on the thighs and legs. Gauge how much you need to cover the surface area in a nice coating. Put the bottle away and roll up your sleeves.
Stuffed turkey in an oven safe roasting bag
How to Stuff the turkey
  •  Rub the olive oil all over the turkey skin, getting it covered well. You don’t have to do the bottom.
  • Take the salt/parsley mixture and rub it all over the turkey in an even layer. The olive oil will help it stick. It should look like the photo above. Then of course, wash your hands and move on to the next step.
  • Pour the turkey or chicken broth into the bottom of the bag, making sure not to wash off the spices.
  • Use the little tie that comes with your oven bags and seal the bag.  Cut small holes into the top of the roasting bag to let steam out.
Cutting small holes into the top of the roasting bag to let steam out
How to Tie the Roasting Bag
  • Place in the oven and cook for 3-4 hours for my 13 pound turkey and up to 5-6 for a larger turkey. If you notice the breast is getting too brown and crispy. then turn the oven down to 250 °. (The USDA RECOMMENDS that you cook at a minimum of 325°F oven temp, which you can also do and the turkey cooks faster. The choice is up to you.)
  • When the thigh meat reaches a temperature of 180 °F and the breast meat is 165°F minimum, you can remove the turkey. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then remove the bag.
  • You can either move it to a platter ( it can be done, with two people and a few forks holding it together in key places) or simply carve it in the pan.
  • Use the drippings to make what is the BEST turkey gravy you will ever eat.
Roast Turkey Breast Meat Being Sliced
Roast Turkey Breast Meat Being Sliced

The secret to why this turns out so well is that the olive oil and salt still manage to crisp up the turkey skin while the steam from the broth actually braises the turkey, not roasts – and braising is one of the best ways to cook any meat. Braising is also pretty much the only way that you are going to get moist breast meat and cook the legs to a proper temperature at the same time (the bane of turkey roasting.)

More Side Dishes to Serve with Oven Roast Turkey

Here are a few tried, tested and true side dishes to serve with your roast turkey!

  1. Oven Baked Turkey Stuffing –  As you can see you don’t stuff this roast turkey, so you are going to need to make dressing/stuffing on the side. This is a great recipe for it!
  2. Mom’s Homemade Stove Top Stuffing – My ABSOLUTE favourite turkey stuffing recipe ever!
  3. Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes – I make these monthly, not just for holiday meals.
  4. Rosemary Garlic Smashed Potatoes : Mix it up a bit and try smashed potatoes this year.

So everyone go and give Alecia a follow on her social media and say thank you for the best turkey recipe ever! Happy Cooking!

Love,

Karlynn

How to Cook the Juiciest, Most Tender Oven Roast Turkey

I recently learned How to Cook the Juiciest, Most Tender Oven Roast Turkey EVER – and it has changed the way I am going to cook my turkeys from now on.
4.99 from 188 votes
Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time
5 hours
Total Time
5 hours 15 minutes
Course
Main Course
Cuisine
American
Servings
8
Calories
31
Author
Karlynn Johnston

Ingredients
 

  • one 15-25 pounds turkey
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt flakes or coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 litre carton turkey broth
  • 1 turkey sized oven safe roasting bag
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1-2 stalks celery ,washed and cut into sticks
  • 1 apple, de-seeded and quartered

Instructions
 

  • NOTE : This method cooks your turkey a LOT FASTER than usual! The USDA doesn't recommend cooking under 325 ° F However, this method steams the turkey and it will get crazy hot inside the bag. If you want an all day turkey, turn the heat down. IF it's cooking too fast, turn the heat down, the residual steam will keep it cooking. The choice is up to you!
  • Pre-heat your oven to 300 °F.
  • Pat the tops and sides of the turkey dry with paper towels and throw them out. 
  • Place your turkey so that it’s completely in the oven bag BUT so that the opening is slanted more towards the top instead of straight across . Take your chosen onions quarters, celery, apple etc and place them into the turkey cavity. 
  • Take one tablespoon of sea salt flakes or coarse salt and a tablespoon of parsley and mix them in a bowl. IF you have a larger turkey you can double this. Set aside for now, you just had to get this ready because now your hands are getting dirty again!
  • Take a bottle of olive oil and drizzle a small stream across the skin on the breast of the turkey and some on the thighs and legs. Gauge how much you need to cover the surface area in a nice coating. Put the bottle away and roll up your sleeves.
  • Rub the olive oil all over the turkey skin, getting it covered well. You don’t have to do the bottom.
  • Take the salt/parsley mixture and rub it all over the turkey in an even layer. The olive oil will help it stick. It should look like the photo above. Then of course, wash your hands and move on to the next step.
  • Pour the turkey or chicken broth into the bottom of the bag, making sure not to wash off the spices.
  • Use the little tie that comes with your oven bags and seal the bag. Cut small holes into the top of the roasting bag to let steam out.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 3-4 hours for my 13 pound turkey and up to 5-6 for a larger turkey. If you notice the breast is getting too brown and crispy. you can cover the top with tinfoil.
  • When the thigh meat reaches a temperature of 185 °F and the breast meat is 165°F minimum, you can remove the turkey. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then remove the bag.
  • You can either move it to a platter (it can be done, with two people and a few forks holding it together in key places) or simply carve it in the pan.
  • Use the drippings to make what is the BEST turkey gravy you will ever eat.

Recipe Notes

  • The USDA RECOMMENDS that you cook at a minimum of 325°F oven temp, which you can also do and the turkey cooks faster. The choice is up to you how you want to cook it.
  • NUTRITIONAL VALUES shown are only for a slice of turkey breast meat, and NOT for the entire turkey or any gravy you make! 
  • You are only restricted in turkey size by what fits into the bag and closes up to cook! If it fits, it cooks!
  • Add more cooking time on for larger turkeys.
  • If the top of your turkey is getting too brown, cover the top with tinfoil.
  • You can choose whatever vegetables you want to place in your turkey cavity, I like an apple, celery and an onion. Whatever you put in there WILL affect the taste!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 31kcal, Fat: 3g, Sodium: 872mg, Vitamin A: 40IU, Vitamin C: 0.7mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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I recently learned How to Cook the Juiciest, Most Tender Oven Roast Turkey EVER - and it has changed the way I am going to cook my turkeys from now on! #turkey #christmas #thanksgiving #roastturkey
  •  

Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

Site Index Christmas Christmas main dish How-To Thanksgiving Turkey

Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Sean Evan wonderling says

    how do you get two different temps
    breast and thigh from cooking
    in the same bag ?

    • Karlynn J says

      No part of the turkey is the same temperature unless you overcook it. Thinner areas will be hotter and always have a higher temperature than thick areas that take longer for the heat to permeate through the meat and bone. The breast meat now on turkey is bigger (turkeys have been bred for larger breast meat) so it cooks closer to the same temperature as thighs, making for a better result.

  2. Greg Y. says

    I was a little nervous cooking the turkey this way, but i gave it a shot. I am soooo glad I did. Moist meat just falling off the bones. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing this with the world. 🙂5 stars

  3. Sylvia Roldan says

    Best turkey ever! Meat fell off the bones! Lots of compliments on how moist the turkey was!!5 stars

  4. Ophelia Cano says

    Can’t give it stars yet, I’m barely making this recipe, hopefully people eating it will be raving. Thank you.

  5. Maria Trunzo says

    Been cooking my turkey’s this way for years! Always so good. I do use fresh sage, basil, parsley, oregano, lemon, butter, plus salt & pepper in cavity & on the breast & legs. I put butter under skin of breast & legs. If these herbs are not ones u like, use what u like. Enjoy!5 stars

  6. Maria Trunzo says

    Been cooking my turkey’s this way for years! Always so good. I do use fresh sage, basil, parsley, oregano, lemon, butter, plus salt & pepper in cavity & on the breast & legs. I put butter under skun of breast & legs. If these herbs are not ones u like, use what u like. Enjoy!5 stars

  7. Dianne newton says

    I used your recipe today and it was so moist and delicious

  8. JERRY GRIFFIN says

    MY MOTHER USED TO BAKE TURKEY AT 200 DEGREES ALL NITE COVERED WITH FOIL ..WAS ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.. NOT ANYMORE// NEVER MADE US SICK BUT PEOPLE IN THE KNOW SAID IT WAS WAY TOO LOW…I COOKED MINE A FEW DAYS AGO IN BAG/ PARTS OF IT COULDN’T CHEW IT ENOUGH TO SWALLOW..TOUGH ??? I’M GONNA TRY THIS METHOD FOR SURE…I’M 88 YEARS YOUNG & THOUGHT I KNEW IT ALL,,THANKS !!!!!!!!

  9. Joyce Cosh says

    I have been cooking turkeys for years & I ALWAYS put the stuffing in the bird & cook some extra outside of it & combine it. I also always rub the turkey UNDER the skin with a compund butter I make with my own herbs I grow & some spices. I have a 20 lb turkey this year & I am cooking it low & slow as always, some chicken broth in the bottom of the pan & at about 330F. I think it will take about 41/2 -5 hrs , testing it with meat thermometer at the 4 hr mark just to be sure. I had a bad experience at my MIL’s once with a rare turkey & I am always worried it will be undercooked or dried out. But after 50-some years of doing it, I think I got it nailed. (Fingers crossed) Happy Thanksgiving from Saskatchewan!!

    • Jackie says

      Joyce, I discovered a few years ago that putting spices under the skin with room temperature butter is awesome tasting!!So moist, too!5 stars

  10. Michelle says

    My turkey came out wonderful! I will be using this recipe every year! For the person who said their turkey was way overdone in four hours, you really need a meat thermometer to gage when to take the turkey out. Never go by a exact time, but by the recommend temps of the meat, which is listed in this recipe.5 stars

  11. diane says

    Can you make this turkey a day ahead? if so please provide instructions5 stars

  12. Kathleen says

    I used this recipe for a 25 lb turkey and had to take it out of the oven earlier than the 5 hours you recommend because the temperature in the meat was high enough. It was moist and delicious. I gave the recipe to my SIL and she forgot and cooked it at 350 degrees for too long and dried it out. It’s all about the low and slow, and the broth, of course.5 stars

  13. Denise says

    I made Thanksgiving dinner this year for the first time in over 12 years…I used a 7.5 lb turkey breast with bone, used a recipe very close to yours and added a can of Sprite, instead of broth. I used my oven probe to gauge the 165F mark and this bird was delicious. Cooked in about 2 hours at 350F. Moist and browned. And no messy clean up.

  14. Bridge says

    I was struggling on how to cook my turkey this year. I have only made a few. I found this recipe and chose it. BOY am I glad I did, I feel like I knocked it out of the ballpark. So very good! I will be making this every year now. Thank you so much. Here are a few pictures. It won’t let me share my photos. Sorry.5 stars

  15. Kevin says

    Wish I had seen your comment a few days ago. This recipe just ruined my Thanksgiving.

  16. Natalie says

    Are you supposed to cook this Turkey with a lid at all?

  17. Cindy says

    Hello! Can you cook a boneless turkey breast the same way? In the bag with the broth?5 stars

  18. DeborahB says

    Ive been cooking my stuffed turkeys in the bag with an added (any) beer for years & never a failure. Plan for an extra hour above what the bag instructions say though for stuffed or unstuffed has been my experience. Got home an hour late late from hiking yet the bird was excellent! Very moist & no babysitting required.5 stars

    • DeborahB says

      Sorry-don’t use broth but a bottle of beer instead & cooking spray the inside of the bag instead of oiling the bird.

  19. Nik14 says

    I’ve used cooking bags for my turkeys for years but will add the broth next time. I also brine it the night before. Anyway, you didn’t mention adding the tablespoon of flour that is in the oven bag instructions. I always do this.

  20. Judy says

    Cooked an 18# fresh turkey following this recipe… unfortunately after 4 hrs my was waaaay overdone. Never again..

  21. Diane Fisher says

    My family couldn’t stop raving about how tender and moist the turkey was. I stuffed the turkey and even the stuffing was a hit. A new family favorite!5 stars

  22. Michelle says

    The best turkey recipe/ so tender and delicious , I couldn’t even put on to plate to carve / it was falling off the bone

  23. Kristin says

    Using this recipe this year and linking to it on my blog! I’m not a huge turkey fan, but this looks so delicious!

  24. Judie says

    I like stuffing cooked in turkey… can you do this and any different instructions? The new information that I will do is adding the broth in bag.

  25. Angie says

    Can i come over for dinner, everything you make looks so delicious.

  26. Darcy Nordvick says

    I made this. By the recipe! It worked! Tender and good! Thank you! Grama ‘not that good in the kitchen’. I wish I had used the same recipe for my roast. lol5 stars

  27. Debbie Leonard says

    This came out perfectly! I have been using roasting bags for years, but have never added broth. It made the turkey so moist. Loved the parsley & salt rub. Stuffed with onion, celery & apple. Everything added flavor to the soup that I made with the carcass.5 stars

    • Robert says

      Can a 5 lb breast be cooked the same way in a bag. I want to try it.
      Any cooking tips?

  28. Bonnie B says

    I made this almost exactly as the directions called for a 18.5 lb turkey with a few minor differences. Instead of apples I used carrots and also threw in 5 whole cloves of garlic with the chopped celery and onion. I used chicken stock instead of turkey (that’s all I had on hand) and with the parsley-sea salt mix I added white pepper too! I baked it at 350 instead of 300…for 2 hours and 45 minutes then turned the heat down to 250 after cutting the bag and letting it crisp up the skin for an additional 15 minutes. It turned out beautifully. I really wanted to cook it at 300 to see how it would turn out but I was a little nervous cooking at that low of a temperature but I realize I probably could’ve gotten away with it only it may have taken a little longer which would have been fine. Maybe next year. Thank you!4 stars

  29. Jackie says

    Could you send a recipe for a turkey breast? I’ve never baked one before. Thanks, Jackie

    • Kathleen says

      I used this recipe for a 25 lb turkey and had to take it out of the oven earlier than the 5 hours you recommend because the temperature in the meat was high enough. It was moist and delicious. I gave the recipe to my SIL and she forgot and cooked it at 350 degrees for too long and dried it out. It’s all about the low and slow, and the broth, of course.5 stars

  30. Marissa says

    What about an 11lb turkey? (10.8lbs) HOw long would you recommend Cooking for?

4.99 from 188 votes (141 ratings without comment)

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