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How to Cook a Turkey in an Oven Bag

Learn how to cook a turkey in an oven bag, and a perfectly browned, juicy Thanksgiving turkey could be on your table this year—finally!

By Elizabeth Harris, Contributing Editor and Peggy Woodward, Food Editor

Turkey that has been made in a roasting bag.

Cooking turkey in a bag sounds strange, but its benefits are legion. A turkey roasting bag doesn’t just lock in juice and flavor—it contains the mess for easy clean-up. Or, you can use the drippings for gravy! Now that’s something to be thankful for.


Expert Tips from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen

  • Believe it or not, the skin will brown. To increase browning, brush the turkey with oil or butter before cooking.
  • Use care with the bag. If the bag touches the top or sides of the oven, it will melt. Be careful not to let the bag hang over the sides of the pan. Allow space for it to expand during cooking.
  • To check on your bird: Insert a meat thermometer right through the bag into the thigh (instead of trying to open the bag when checking the temperature).
  • After the roasting, wait. It’s best to let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving to lock in the juices. Remove from bag to a serving platter, tent with foil, then let stand before carving.
  • It’s all gravy: Yep, drippings left in bag can be used for gravy.
  • Wondering if you can cook a turkey in a paper bag (or other bag)? Definitely not! The glue, ink and other materials are not food-safe. Plus, you can never be sure how your bag will survive in the hot oven. Oven bags are made of heat-resistant nylon acceptable for cooking.



How to Cook a Turkey in an Oven Bag

Equipment

  • Oven bag
  • Roasting pan (at least 2-in. deep)
  • Knife or kitchen scissors

1) Prep your bag: Shake 1 Tbsp. flour into the bag (this will blend with the fat and juices to help prevent the bag from bursting). Place in a pan that’s at least 2 inches deep.

Preparing a roasting pan for a turkey in an oven bag.

2) Prep your turkey: Brush turkey with oil or melted butter and season with herbs/spices. Place inside the bag so the opening of bag is situated to one side (not at top of turkey).

Preparing a turkey for roasting in an oven bag.

3) Seal and Slit: Tie the bag closed with the enclosed nylon tie. Tuck ends of bag into pan. With a small knife or kitchen scissors, cut six ½-inch slits in bag to allow steam to escape.

Cutting slits in a sealed oven bag to allow steam to escape.

4) Cook: Bake at 350° (do not exceed 400°) until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 170°-175°. When the bird reaches your desired temperature, carefully cut top of bag open with scissors and remove turkey.

Removing turkey in a roasting bag from the oven and cutting bag open.

How Long to Cook Your Turkey?

Guidelines for a 13-pound bird:

  • A stuffed turkey takes longer. Expect approximately 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 hours to cook.
  • An unstuffed turkey will cook more quickly. Think about 2 to 2-1/4 hours to cook.