How to Cook the Juiciest, Most Tender Oven Roast Turkey

Roast Turkey Breast Meat Being Sliced

Site Index Christmas Christmas main dish How-To Thanksgiving Turkey

This post may contain affiliate links. See my privacy policy for details.

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. 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! Read on to learn how to make the best roast turkey you are ever going to eat! Did I mention that it's so easy you'll spend the rest of your holiday day drinking visiting with your family? True story.

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!
How to Cook the Juiciest, Most Tender Oven Roast Turkey

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. Truth be told, this isn't my recipe, but there is a lesson to be learned here folks. Always talk food with the people you meet. Your hairdresser. Teachers at your kids school. Strangers on the bus. In this case it was my nail tech, Alecia. ( you can follow her on Facebook HERE and on Instagram HERE.). We are both always hungry whenever I go to get my nails done and we always talk food. Disney food tops the list as she's a fellow Disney fanatic, but since she knows that I cook, she shares her own recipes with me as well. This oven roasted turkey recipe is one of them.

I am sad to say that I made this recipe for Canadian Thanksgiving and didn't get it written up in time for all of my American readers for your Thanksgiving. Let's blame the evenings that are dark early that rob me of natural light for my photos and the fact that I didn't realize that this is FALL OFF THE BONE GOOD turkey.

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

Alecia's main secret? 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.

Now you can't really see it, but that breast meat was so tender and juicy that I could have done that gross move that they do in brisket videos where they squeeze all the juice out of the meat. While I am NOT going to do that (I really wish that trend would die, yuck!) IF I pressed down on the top of this turkey in that photo, you would have clear turkey juices running out. And my family would have eaten bone-dry turkey, beeeecause I squeezed all the juices out.

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.)

Oven Bag Turkey Cooking Times

These are the official times for cooking a turkey from Reynold's Kitchens for an oven temp of 350 °F. Use these as a guideline for whatever temperature you are cooking yours at.

  • 1.5-2 hours for 8-12 lb turkeys
  • 2-2.5 hours for 12-16 lb turkeys
  • 2.5-3 hours for 16-20 lb turkeys
  • 3-3.5 hours for 20-24 lb turkeys

What to Serve with Roast Turkey

Try some of these side dishes that are reader favorites!

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

PIN THIS RECIPE to your DINNER RECIPES  and HOLIDAY RECIPES Boards and Remember to FOLLOW ME ON PINTEREST!

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

Thanks to ads on this website, readers of The Kitchen Magpie are now sponsoring 2 families a month through the Edmonton Food Bank. Learn how you can help here.

Learn to cook like the Kitchen Magpie

Subscribe to The Kitchen Magpie on YouTube

One click and you'll get notified of new videos added to our YouTube account!

youtube-subscribe

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.
4.98 from 136 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.

Made this recipe?

Share a photo of what you made on Instagram or Facebook and tag me @thekitchenmagpie or hashtag it #thekitchenmagpie.

Please rate this recipe in the comments below to help out your fellow cooks!

 

 

Save Your Favorite Recipes!
Create an account and save recipes

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. Candice says

    Hi! I’m a newbie to this turkey business.
    I have a 22lb turkey. Once I put it in the bag can I still use a butter/herb run on it?

  2. Kelly says

    After my turkey is done i just toss the celery and apples. This is probably a dumb question. Lol5 stars

  3. Margaret says

    I have searched your site and I can’t find the gravy recipe to use the “drippings” in.
    Help, Please! I have the turkey in the oven right now. We are doing Thanksgiving tonight!

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      Hey Margaret! Just take a few cups of the drippings – there will be cups and cups of it because you used broth – and then pour it into a pot on the stove. Boil them down until they are stronger and flavorful, then whisk 2-3 tbsp of cornstarch in some cold water. Whisk that into the drippings rapidly, using just enough to thicken them. Add salt and pepper to taste, and you’re done! The secret is to boil the drippings down until they are strong, so that you don’t have a weak gravy!

  4. Trish says

    Can I cook it at 350? How long for a 20 pound turkey? Thank you!4 stars

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      You totally can! It would be faster. It’s about 3-3.5 hours for 20-24 lb turkey at 350F.5 stars

      • Marissa Castillo says

        Hello 🙂 would my cook time be different if I chose not to stuff the turkey ? How long would you recommend unstuffed ?

        • Karlynn Johnston says

          You do not stuff the turkey it’ll dissolve into the broth. Simply cook your stuffing in the oven, search my stove top stuffing.on the site!5 stars

  5. Margaret says

    How do you know if it is done right without a meat thermometer?

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      You don’t. A meat thermometer is essential for any meat!5 stars

  6. Angel Sonerholm says

    Is it ok to use chicken broth instead of turkey broth? I can’t find it anywhere.

    • Angel Sonerholm says

      Also is it ok to use a roaster oven?

      • Karlynn Johnston says

        Chicken broth is fine and any oven used has to be large enough to hold the turkey and the expanding bag. The bag expands out and up and can’t touch elements.5 stars

  7. Joe says

    What’s your opinion on flouring the inside of the oven bag? You don’t mention it, so I am presuming it isn’t a problem to do it without flouring. I’d prefer to just follow your recipe, but am just a little concerned about the bag instructions saying to flour the inside of the bag, so wanted your two cents if you don’t mind….

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      Hey, I have never floured the cooking bag, and we make this turkey 2-3 times a year now since I first came up with it!5 stars

  8. Kelly says

    Hello, I’m going to use your recipe for my first turkey! Did you brine your turkey beforehand?

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      No, you are steaming the turkey in delicious juices while it cooks in the bag, no need to brine!5 stars

  9. Tracy D says

    I want to try this! How long for a 20 pound turkey?

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      I would say 4-5 hours, BUT if the steam really gets going it could be as little as 4! You CAN cook this at 350F, and it will take less time. The bag method is adjustable to your needs. IT cooks it a LOT faster than usual!5 stars

      • Kelly says

        My husband is insisting on brining the turkey🙄 Will this ruin your recipe? He won’t let up on wanting to brine.

        • Karlynn Johnston says

          Haha! You know what go ahead and bring it, let him do the brine. It will still cook up wonderfully but maybe a bit faster because of all the moisture in the meat. That moisture is just going to create steam heat more so than usual in the oven bag. Who knows maybe he’s creating an amazing method! But just watch the temperature and cooking closer because the extra moisture will heat it up faster. Let me know how it goes I’m curious!5 stars

  10. Kim says

    My second time I made a turkey.. I was dreading making it and wondered why I bought it as I don’t even like turkey that much. Followed this recipe and it was the most AMAZING juiciest turkey I’ve had!!! I cannot thank you enough for sharing this .. 😊😊5 stars

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      Yay!!! Another person converted to the oven bag method! I don’t even try any other way anymore when it comes to holiday meals, it’s so easy and good!5 stars

  11. Kevin Hannum says

    Thank you very much for this easy to follow recipe. How do I make the gravy from the juices left in the bag? So I just simple pour it into a gravy bowl and use as is? Lastly, are the onions, celery, apples good to serve with the turkey as a side? Thank you for your help.5 stars

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      I would prep it in the bag without the broth, then add the broth and seal it right before cooking!5 stars

  12. Katie Osterling says

    I’d like your gravy recipe too! We’re having thanksgiving tomorrow due to our work and life schedules ?. Can’t wait to try the turkey!!! What type of taste does the celery, onion and apple make?

  13. Kari says

    This is definitely the best way to fix a turkey! It was so juicy and delicious! I am usually not a huge fan of turkey because I feel it’s always dried out but now I will definitely be making turkey more often! And we saved the leftovers in the juice and broth from the turkey and it was just as good left over as it was the first day and still juicy and moist! Thanks for helping us have a wonderful turkey dinner on Thanksgiving!5 stars

    • Karlynn says

      I am thrilled that you loved the recipe Kari! it honestly turned my husband and I into roast turkey fans as well, I’ve really never been able to cook it so that we’ve loved it before. I’m so glad you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!5 stars

    • Tabitha Frushour says

      Can you prepare this recipe in a roaster instead of the oven and get the same results

  14. Ray says

    Karlynn,
    I put pats of butter under the skin on the breast meat then olive oil on top of skin, covered with foil. Comes out juicy! Next year I’m going to try the bag, hope it’s large enough for a 25 pounder! Going to make your Turkey Carcass soup tomorrow, wish me luck!

  15. Ed says

    What is with “yuck” for seeing juices run out of a brisket? You sound like a woman I know who won’t eat meat off a bone, because it is so “barbaric.” Yes that included chicken, and ribs. LOL.
    My Mother used to make turkey like this. It was always juicy and tender. That was back in the 60s, so this isn’t a new thing. I think people got away from cooking like this because the powers that be decided you had to cook turkey at least at 325-350 degrees. That totally ignored time at temperature. I have eaten turkey cooked like this for 62 years and never had a problem getting sick from it.4 stars

    • Karlynn says

      Haha Ed no, I can’t stand that they squeeze the.juices out and leave a bone dry brisket and ruin it! Sacrilege! Nothing beats juicy meat, but for the love of God people need to stop beating it to death in videos just to show people it’s juicy ?

      Your mom is right, low and slow is the way to cook.5 stars

    • Miranda says

      How long will it take for an 11lb Turkey on 300? Can you use Turkey stock instead of broth?

  16. Natasha Ross says

    Hello, I wanted to know your thoughts on adding white cooking wine to half the Turkey broth? Also, what’s the difference in Time if I put the oven on convection baking verses regular baking? Should I not use the convection function on my stove? Thank you.

    • Karlynn says

      As long as you like white wine in your gravy (or you aren’t going to use your drippings for gravy so it doesn’t matter). White wine would be totally fine!5 stars

  17. Christen says

    I don’t have any broth —- ? can I use water instead?

    • Karlynn says

      You can use water, you just won’t be able to make as good of a gravy at the end. Do you have any bouillon cube you could put into water or anything to flavour it?5 stars

  18. Veronica says

    Can I prepare the turkey the night before and then pop it in the oven in the morning???

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      I would prep everything the night before and then add the broth right before you cook it so that the turkey doesn’t get waterlogged, for lack of a better word.

  19. Kimberly says

    I have a 12 lb. turkey. Using this recipe, how long should I cook it?

      • Aolani says

        I’m sure you won’t see this as it’s already Thanksgiving right now but I followed your directions exactly I have a 12 pound turkey it’s already been cooking for three hours at 300 and it looks completely raw like there is Zero color at all, I’m getting ? worried

  20. Steph says

    I can’t wait to try this for my first time making Thanksgiving for my husband, 13 month old and I! Super easy instructions, so thank you for that!

    I do have one question, did you use regular olive oil or extra virgin olive oil? And what is the pan that the turkey is cooked in?

    Thanks!

      • Maranda says

        I have a 16lb turkey, how long should I cook it? Also, I’m not stuffing the turkey with any veggies, will this affect the cooking time?

      • Kristy says

        Do you eat the apples, onion, and celery you stuffed in the Turkey or are they just for flavoring?

  21. Steph says

    I can’t wait to try this for my first time making Thanksgiving for my husband, 13 month old and I! Super easy instructions, so thank you for that!

    I do have one question, did you use regular olive oil or extra virgin olive oil?

    Thanks!

    • Mar Tre says

      Hi Karlynn,

      Thanks for the tips! I have a large family and would like to make two turkeys, maybe 12-15 lbs each. Can I put both in the oven at the same time? If so, how would oven temps and cooking times vary from your instructions?

  22. NEiL says

    This is going to be recipe- simple and delightful. Thoughts on butter vs olive oil? I always only cook with olive oil except on turkey day…

    • Karlynn says

      Butter is always good but I worry about it getting too browned since we cook it so long…. let me know what you think if you make it!5 stars

  23. Kim says

    I’m making my first turkey ever this Thanksgiving and I’m giving your recipe a shot! Looks delicious. This might be a silly question, but is the parsley supposed to be dried or fresh? Thanks!

  24. cj says

    Hi there. Where can we purchase the turkey roasting bags please?

      • Jen says

        Can you use stuffing instead of vegetables and if not what is different about this method that you can’t?

  25. Susan Macko says

    I read your recipes every morning when I’m first up. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas. I’m diabetic, I appreciate the low carb recipes.5 stars

Leave a Comment or Recipe Tip

Recipe Rating




Springtime

Desserts

Get my Grandma's BEST strawberry and rhubarb recipes for free in your email!

Thank

You!

USE COUPON CODE 

WELCOME20

Follow us on Facebook