Turkey In a Bag – The Recipe Critic

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Thanksgiving dinner is made easy with this incredibly moist and perfectly cooked turkey in a bag. The oven-safe roasting bag creates a tender and golden turkey with just a few simple steps making this the BEST way to cook a turkey.

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Turkey in a bag is Thanksgiving day’s best-kept secret! I promise that when you give this method a try you will never want to make it any other way. It is the easiest and fastest way to cook a turkey. You will love the extra time you have to make the sides and desserts. You have to make my green bean casserole, this sweet potato dish, and of course this perfect pie crust for all your pies!

Top view photo of Golden roasted turkey sitting in the roasting pan.

What Is Turkey in a Bag?

Turkey in a bag is definitely the way to cook a turkey! The turkey turns out so juicy on the inside and golden and flavorful on the outside. The oven bag locks in the steam and keeps the turkey so moist as it cooks. Everyone will be surprised at how perfectly cooked your turkey is and how little work you put into it. Of all the many methods to cook a turkey, the bag method is the way to go.

I like to use the Reynolds turkey oven bags because they are heat-resistant and BPA-free. If you have never roasted a turkey this way, I am telling you, it will change your life! I am fully converted, and I can’t tell you enough how simple and foolproof it is. If you love easy recipes like this for Thanksgiving day then you need to make this easy corn casserole, my 1-hour rolls, and this easy no-bake key lime pie.

Ingredients For Cooking Turkey In a Bag

Turkey is the most important part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Having just the right ingredients will add flavor and create a perfectly golden turkey for your Thanksgiving! See the recipe card below for a list of exact ingredient measurements.

  • Turkey: Your turkey can be any size between 12-18 lbs. Be sure to safely thaw it according to the package instructions.
  • Dried Italian Seasoning: Turkey is delicious when seasoned with dried herbs!
  • Kosher Salt: Salt is important in giving the turkey flavor!
  • Black Pepper: Black pepper adds flavor and
  • Butter: Softened butter is best for rubbing on and inside of the turkey. Butter gives the turkey a great flavor and golden coloer.
  • Flour: Flour is used to keep the oven bag from bursting while it bakes.
  • Oven-Safe Bag: Make sure it is one of those large turkey-sized oven bags.

Let’s Cook the Best Turkey EVER

This oven-baked turkey in a bag is golden brown, tender and juicy! It’s the absolute perfect turkey recipe that will make you wish that Thanksgiving came around more often! I can’t wait for you to make it and wow your Thanksgiving guests.

Prepare the Turkey

  1. Preheat Oven: Adjust the rack of your oven to be on the second position from the bottom and remove any racks above. Preheat the oven to 350° Farhenheit.
  2. Prepare Roasting Pan: Ensure the pan is at least 2 inches larger than the turkey. Also, make sure your oven-safe turkey bag is larger than your turkey so it can wrap all the way around it.
  3. Coat Bag With Flour: Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour into the turkey bag. Shake well making sure to coat the inside of the bag with flour. Place the bag in the pan then prepare the turkey.
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  5. Prepare Turkey: Remove the neck and the bag of giblets from the turkey’s cavities. Rinse the turkey well (inside and outside) then pat dry with paper towels. Be sure to throw away the paper towels and wash your hands well.
  6. Tie Legs and Wings: Using string or twine, tie up the turkey legs and the wings together. 

Butter, Season, and Place Turkey in Bag

  1. Combine Seasonings: Mix together the dried Italian seasonings, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. 
  2. Butter and Season Turkey: Rub the outside and inside of the turkey generously with the softened butter. Season well with the mixture of seasonings.
  3. Place Turkey in Bag: Add the turkey to the bag, breast side up. 
  4. Seal Bag: Close the bag and seal it with the enclosed nylon tie. You can also twist it tightly and tie it in a knot.
  5. Place Bagged Turkey Into Pan: Tuck the bag into the pan to keep it from touching the element in the oven.
  6. Cut Slits: To allow steam to release, cut 5 slits in the top of the bag.

Cook and Rest the Turkey

  1. Cook Turkey: Place the turkey in the oven and bake for about 2 1/2-3 hours. Cooking time will depend on the size of your turkey. My turkey was 14 pounds and it took 2 ½ hours to reach the right temperature.
  2. Check Temperature: Refer to the cooking chart enclosed with the baking bag. Check the temperature by placing a thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey thigh. When the internal temperature reaches 165° Farhenheit, it’s ready!
  3. Rest Turkey: Allow the turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Remove Turkey From Bag: Open the bag and carefully remove the turkey to a serving platter.
  5. Garnish and Serve: Garnish around the turkey with sliced fresh parsley or herbs, oranges, lemons, and cranberries. It will make it festive and beautiful!
First photo of adding flour to the  bag. Second photo of rubbing butter. Third photo of adding seasoning. Fourth photo of placing the bird in the bag. Fifth photo is tying the bag.  Sixth photo of cutting slits.

How to Thaw and Prep a Turkey

It is best to start your turkey in a bag with a completely thawed turkey. This can take 3 to 7 days depending on how frozen and how large your turkey is. Definitely, be planning and thinking ahead! You thaw a turkey by placing it into the refrigerator in a large pan or baking sheet. And then you just leave it there until it’s no longer frozen! Once your turkey is thawed and you are ready to bake your turkey, here are a few steps to prepare your turkey for the oven.

  • Remove From the Fridge: Remove your turkey from the refrigerator for about 30 minutes prior to preparing. This will help it to bake more evenly.
  • Dry: Pat turkey completely dry, soaking up any excess water with paper towels.
  • Remove Giblets: In the turkey cavity, you will want to remove the neck and giblet bag.
  • Tie it Up: With kitchen twine or string, tie the legs together.
  • Fold Under the Wings: Take the turkey wings and fold the end of them under your bird. This will prevent them from burning and drying out.

Top view of the roasted turkey sitting in the pan.

How to Carve a Turkey

Looking at the turkey and knowing where to carve the turkey is sometimes overwhelming. Once you remove your turkey from the bag, don’t be intimidated. Here are some tips on where to start! Make sure your knife is sharp and you have a fork to help hold your turkey and plate in place while carving.

  • Wings: Remove the turkey wings first.
  • Thighs: Thighs will go next, cutting through the joints.
  • Breast: Slice close to the rib cage carving the breast meat into individual slices.
  • Excess meat: Move your knife to the flat side, and carve right up against the rib bones.
  • Separate: Now that the meat is off, separate the dark meat (thighs and drumsticks) from the white meat. 
  • Plate: Plate everything all together for more option choices at the dinner table.

Close up view of turkey on a platter with herbs, citrus, and cranberries.

How to Store Leftovers

Leftover turkey in a bag makes the BEST leftovers! There are so many things that you can do with it! Check out my recipes at the end of the post to help you use up the rest of the Thanksgiving turkey. Here is how you can store extra turkey to save for later! 

  • In the Refrigerate: Wait until your turkey has cooled. Then, place it in an airtight container and put it in your fridge, It can last there for 3 to 5 days.
  • In the Freezer: After your turkey has cooled down then place it in a freezer bag. Lay your turkey flat in the bag and then zip or suction out all the air in the bag. Label your bag with the date and then you can keep it frozen for up to 1 month in the freezer. When ready to reheat, place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.
  • To Reheat: To reheat in the oven then place in a baking dish at 350° Farhenheit for 12 to 15 minutes or until warm. When reheating in a microwave, heat for 1 to 2 minutes at a time until warm. Try not to overheat. This will leave your leftover turkey dry and hard.

Sliced meat styled on a platter with herbs, citrus, and cranberries.


Prepare the Turkey

  • Adjust the rack of your oven to be on the second position from the bottom and remove any racks above. Preheat the oven to 350° Farhenheit.

  • Ensure the pan is at least 2 inches larger than the turkey. Also, make sure your oven-safe turkey bag is larger than your turkey so it can wrap all the way around it.

  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour into the turkey bag. Shake well making sure to coat the inside of the bag with flour. Place the bag in the pan and prepare the turkey.

  • Remove the neck and the bag of giblets from the turkey’s cavities. Rinse the turkey well (inside and outside) and pat dry with paper towels. Be sure to throw away the paper towels and wash your hands well.

  • Using string or twine, tie up the turkey legs and the wings together.

Butter, Season, and Place Turkey in Bag

  • Mix together the dried Italian seasonings, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

  • Rub the outside and inside of the turkey generously with the softened butter. Season well with the mixture of seasonings.

  • Add the turkey to the bag, breast side up.

  • Close the bag and seal it with the enclosed nylon tie. You can also twist it tightly and tie it in a knot.

  • Tuck the bag into the pan to keep it from touching the element in the oven.

  • To allow steam to release, cut 5 slits in the top of the bag.

Cook and Rest the Turkey

  • Place the turkey in the oven and bake for about 2 1/2-3 hours. Cooking time will depend on the size of your turkey. My turkey was 14 pounds and it took 2 ½ hours to reach the right temperature.

  • Refer to the cooking chart enclosed with the baking bag. Check the temperature by placing a thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey thigh. When the internal temperature reaches 165° Farhenheit, it’s ready!

  • Allow the turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes.

  • Open the bag and carefully remove the turkey to a serving platter.

  • Garnish around the turkey with sliced fresh parsley or herbs, oranges, lemons, and cranberries. It will make it festive and beautiful!



Serves: 12

Serving3ozCalories341kcal (17%)Carbohydrates1gProtein47g (94%)Fat16g (25%)Saturated Fat6g (30%)Polyunsaturated Fat3gMonounsaturated Fat5gTrans Fat0.3gCholesterol165mg (55%)Sodium465mg (19%)Potassium493mg (14%)Fiber0.3g (1%)Sugar0.2gVitamin A245IU (5%)Vitamin C0.01mgCalcium33mg (3%)Iron2mg (11%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dinner

Cuisine American

Keyword thanksgiving, turkey in a bag



( With inputs from therecipecritic )

#Turkey #Bag #Recipe #Critic