Classic Cheesecloth Turkey

Total Time

Prep: 30 minutes Bake: 3-3/4 hours + standing


24 servings (4 cups gravy)

Updated: Aug. 17, 2023
This cheesecloth turkey uses a classic method, wine-soaked cheesecloth, to give you the juiciest turkey and most flavorful gravy you've ever tasted! Pair with your favorite sides for a complete meal. —Rashanda Cobbins, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Classic Cheesecloth Turkey Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 1 turkey (14 to 16 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 celery ribs, quartered
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, quartered
  • 1 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 cups white wine
  • GRAVY:
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken broth
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Remove giblets from turkey; cover and refrigerate for gravy. Pat turkey dry; place breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine softened butter, thyme and sage. With fingers, carefully loosen skin from turkey breast; rub butter mixture under skin. Sprinkle salt and pepper over turkey and inside cavity; fill cavity with celery, onion and carrot.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt cubed butter; stir in wine. Saturate a four-layered 17-in. square of cheesecloth in butter mixture; drape over turkey. Bake turkey, uncovered, 3 hours; baste with wine mixture every 30 minutes, keeping cheesecloth moist at all times.
  3. Remove and discard cheesecloth. Bake turkey until a thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 170°-175°, basting occasionally with pan drippings, 45 minutes to 1-1/4 hours longer. (Cover loosely with foil if turkey browns too quickly.)
  4. Remove turkey to a serving platter; cover and let stand 20 minutes before carving. Discard vegetables from cavity. Pour drippings and loosened brown bits into a measuring cup. Skim fat, reserving 1/3 cup. Add enough broth to remaining drippings to measure 4 cups.
  5. For gravy, chop refrigerated giblets. In a large saucepan, saute giblets in reserved fat until browned. Stir in flour until blended; gradually stir in broth mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve with turkey.

Can you freeze Classic Cheesecloth Turkey?

Place sliced turkey in freezer containers; top with any cooking juices. Cool and freeze. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a covered saucepan, stirring occasionally; add broth or water if necessary.

Classic Cheesecloth Turkey Tips

What does cheesecloth do for turkey?

Cheesecloth not only provides an extra layer of flavor to the turkey from being soaked in the melted butter and wine mixture, but it also locks in moisture as the turkey roasts in the oven, eliminating the need to baste it as often. Take a look at the other ways to use cheesecloth in the kitchen.

Is it safe to put cheesecloth in the oven?

Cheesecloth is safe to put in the oven because it's made of very durable material able to withstand high heat.

What is the best grade cheesecloth?

Cheesecloth comes in a variety of different grades, based upon the looseness or tightness of the weave. Grade 10 is the loosest, and grade 90 is the finest with the tightest weave. For this recipe, any grade would work, because the cheesecloth is primarily acting as a means of keeping moisture consistently on the turkey as it bakes.

How do I carve a turkey?

Learn how to easily carve a turkey by watching a step-by-step video! Also, check out other ways to season a turkey and discover some tasty recipes for leftover turkey. Research contributed by Mark Neufang, Taste of Home Culinary Assistant

Nutrition Facts

6 ounces cooked turkey with about 3 tablespoons gravy: 354 calories, 16g fat (5g saturated fat), 149mg cholesterol, 302mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 43g protein.