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How To Cook A Turkey In A Bag: 1 Simple Hack To Avoid A Dry Turkey

A dry turkey is a terrible thing, especially when the solution is this easy! Read today's post to learn the simple secret to making a moist, juicy turkey.

how to cook a turkey in a bag

I’ve cooked a lot of Thanksgiving turkeys over the years, and I’ve eaten even more of them! And based on my own experiences, one of the most common problems that plagues an otherwise wonderful Thanksgiving Day turkey is dryness.

Dry turkey for your Thanksgiving Dinner is truly tragic because even when the meat is perfectly seasoned, it still isn’t all that enjoyable to eat. And while dousing it in gravy may disguise the dryness to some degree, it can never compare to the bliss of eating a properly moist turkey.

But I recently learned about a super simple way to ensure that your roasted turkey comes out moist and flavorful. And I’ll be sharing the secret with you in today’s blog post! 馃檪

If you鈥檙e feeding a smaller group, you might want to consider using a turkey breast rather than a whole turkey, but the cooking process is essentially the same.

The Secret To Making A Moist & Juicy Turkey

Dark meat takes longer to cook than breast meat.  So, in order to cook a big Thanksgiving turkey all the way through, you need to leave it in the oven for a long time. The longer your turkey is exposed to the hot, dry conditions of your oven, the more moisture it’s likely to lose.  Your grandma鈥檚 turkey recipe said a turkey baster is your Thanksgiving Day鈥檚 best friend, but it takes a lot of babysitting to baste a turkey, and even then you can鈥檛 guarantee that the turkey broth will penetrate the skin.

Another popular method for cooking the perfect turkey is brining.  But not everyone has the time to soak their turkey in saltwater before cooking it.

The simplest way to prevent that moisture loss from occurring is to cook your turkey in a cooking bag! An oven-safe roasting bag will create a steamy cooking environment for your turkey, producing a moist and juicy turkey with no additional time or effort.

(Note: I prefer the Reynolds Turkey Size Oven Bags because of how thick they are, but they were back-ordered on Amazon at the time of writing. But you can usually find the Reynolds brand oven bags in grocery stores this time of year, so check there first!)

Other Benefits To Cooking Turkey In A Bag

  • It’s Faster. Your turkey will actually cook a bit faster in a bag because the bag traps in heat as well as moisture. It’s important to keep the bag sealed during cooking, so you’ll benefit greatly from using a digital meat thermometer like this one to keep track of the temperature.
  • It’s Cleaner. Using an oven roasting bag makes clean-up quick and easy! Carefully removing the bag from the roasting pan sure beats scrubbing the pan for half an hour after dinner!

How To Cook A Turkey In A Bag

Step 1: Season The Bird

If you are expecting to cook a frozen turkey, make sure you thaw it thoroughly before you cook it.   Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel, then rub softened or melted butter or olive oil (either alone or mixed with dried herbs) over the exterior of your turkey. Next, season the outside and inside of the turkey generously with salt, pepper, and any additional seasonings you want to use, like rosemary or poultry seasoning.

Step 2: Prep The Bag

Before putting the turkey in the bag, it鈥檚 important to coat the inside with a bit of flour to help prevent the bag from bursting during cooking. Just add one tablespoon of flour to the bag, hold it closed, and shake it around a bit to coat the interior.

Before putting the turkey in the bag, it’s important to coat the inside with a bit of flour to help prevent the bag from bursting during cooking. Just add one tablespoon of flour to the bag, hold it closed, and shake it around a bit to coat the interior.

Insert the turkey into the bag and place it in a roasting pan with a roasting rack. Twist the opening closed and tuck it under the bird, then cut six slits into the top of the bag to vent excess steam.

Finally, place the temperature probe of your digital thermometer (if using) into the thickest part of the thigh.

Step 3: Cook

With the prep work completed, it’s time to cook the turkey! Preheat the oven to the temperature recommended in your favorite recipe, then put the pan in the oven (or this fantastic electric roaster)

The 13-pound turkey pictured here took about 2 hours to cook in the Reynolds Oven Bag. But like I said, it’s best to use a digital meat thermometer to know for sure when it’s done!

Step 4: Rest

Once your turkey is fully cooked, remove it from the oven. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes before carving, then serve up your delicious and perfectly moist turkey! 馃檪

More Tips for the Perfect Turkey

  • If you want crispy skin, wait until it鈥檚 fully cooked and you have let it rest, then open up the top of the oven bag so the whole top of the turkey breast is exposed.  Add some more butter to the skin and put it back under the broiler for 5-10 minutes.  Keep an eye on it, you don鈥檛 want it to burn.
  • If parts of the skin start to burn before the rest is crispy, cover them with aluminum foil.
  • If you don鈥檛 have enough turkey broth to make gravy, supplement with chicken broth.
  • If you鈥檙e using a convection oven, you can expect your turkey to cook 20-30% faster than using a regular oven.
  • Not everyone likes to save the giblets to use in their broth, but saving and boiling the neck is a great, fast way to get extra turkey broth.
  • I don鈥檛 recommend stuffing your turkey, since a stuffed turkey may not cook as well as one that is unstuffed.  You can still get the great flavor of turkey stuffing by using turkey broth in your recipe.

What’s your best Thanksgiving tip or trick?

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    Hi, I鈥檓 Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

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