How to Cook A Turkey in a Bag

I’ve got the secret for the easiest, moistest, most delicious Thanksgiving Turkey ever! Learn all the tips on how to cook a turkey in a bag. Yep, I said a bag! There’s no basting with this roasted turkey, there’s less cook time involved and, since it’s in a bag, the cleanup is a cinch. Thanksgiving’s never been this easy!

Top photo of roasted turkey on white platter. Bottom photo of sliced turkey on serving platter. Text overlay stating Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey.

Roasted Turkey

Nothing is more traditional for a Thanksgiving dinner than a big fat roasted turkey. In fact, I would say, at least at our house, that Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it.

I remember when I was a little girl watching my Mom cook up at least a 20-24 pound bird every Thanksgiving. And it would always be stuffed with some of the best dressing, aka turkey stuffing, around. Now when she cooked it, it was the old-fashioned way, with a large roasting pan, a baster and lots of loving care. Well, I’ve got an easier way for you to fix the star of the Thanksgiving feast and it makes the most moist, delicious turkey you’ve ever had!

Turkey on platter, stuffed with dressing, with fall leaves in background.

What is this easy secret? It’s a turkey cooking bag. I can remember introducing this to my Mom & Dad after I was out on my own and they thought it was the craziest thing they had ever heard. But when I brought out the roasted browned turkey for our big meal they couldn’t believe I had cooked it in a bag. It was that good!

Cooked turkey in cooking bag showing golden brown top.

Benefits of Roasting a Turkey in a Bag

  • The cooking bag cuts out all the basting, because the bag does it for you! Woohoo!
  • The turkey cooks in less time keeping moisture in the turkey where it belongs.
  • This method results in less mess. Plus it saves all the drippings for some really awesome gravy!

So add this secret cooking method to your Thanksgiving this year and you’ll be surprised how hassle-free it is. I can promise you that it definitely reduces the stress level of the big day. And if you’re nervous about how long to cook it and when to put it in the oven just follow our No Stress Thanksgiving meal planner for step by step instructions. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving turkey on white platter with greens, cranberries and orange.

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Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey 1 square


We've got a secret for the easiest Thanksgiving Turkey. Roast it in a cooking bag - no basting, less cook time and easier clean up.
Print Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 16 -20 servings
Calories: 467kcal
Author: Linda Warren


  • 16-20 lb turkey
  • 1 Turkey Oven Bag I use Reynolds Turkey-sized oven bags
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Turkey dressing


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside a large roasting pan.
  • Open the oven bag and place 1 tablespoon of flour in bag, shake bag. Place cut celery and onion in bottom of bag and set aside.
  • Place turkey in sink. Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavities and reserve for gravy. Rinse the turkey with cold water, both inside and out, pat dry. 
  • Stuff both the front cavity and back with dressing just prior to cooking. I always sew up the back cavity to ensure dressing stays in place.
  • Take the olive oil and smooth over outside of turkey. This will help it brown as well as keep it from sticking to oven bag. Salt & pepper to taste. 
  • Place turkey in bag on top of vegetables then secure with provided tie. Place turkey in roasting pan and make sure the bag is entirely in the pan. Tuck any extra ends underneath bird. Cut six slits in top of bag to allow steam to escape.
  • Place on the bottom rack of oven so the bag does not touch sides or top. Bake according to directions on oven bag package for your size of bird. Usually about 2-1/2 to 3 hours for a 12-16 lb stuffed turkey, 3 to 3-1/2 hours for a 16-20 lb. stuffed turkey.
  • When completely cooked, remove from bag and place on cutting board with a channel that will catch the juices. 
  • Remove dressing to serving bowl and cover to keep warm. 
  • Let turkey rest for 15-20 minutes before carving to let juices redistribute through the meat.


Calories: 467kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 70g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 232mg | Sodium: 436mg | Potassium: 738mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 192IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 3mg


Wine Pairing: White is always a winner to choose for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Their fruity, refreshing flavors blend with the meal and enhance its tastiness. Choose a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier or Gewurztraminer. If you prefer reds, stick with a lighter bodied wine with fruit overtones such as a Pinot Noir, Syrah or perhaps a Zinfandel.

This post has been updated and was first published on November 7, 2013.


How to Cook A Turkey in a Bag