How to Bake a Turkey

Thanksgiving TurkeyFor many years now, I have been the designated turkey baker in our family mainly because I know how to bake a turkey that is tender and delicious. I grew up watching my mother prepare the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, so it naturally followed that one day that task would fall to me.  I am grateful that my mother taught me how to bake a turkey.

Over the years, many guests have asked for my secret to baking a delicious and tender turkey. You will no doubt be shocked at how easy it is to make a fabulous whole turkey with only a few ingredients.   Often the simplest recipes and techniques are the best!

Today, I will share my turkey baking secrets with you.


Cooked Turkey

When to Purchase and How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

If you are purchasing a frozen turkey, be sure to buy it 3-4 days before you plan to cook it. Place it in the refrigerator the day you buy it and allow it to slowly thaw. It will take a 12 lb. turkey 3 days to thaw and a 16 lb. turkey 4 days to thaw.

Never thaw a turkey at room temperature.



How to Bake a Turkey


 Reynolds Nylon 510 Reynolds Turkey Oven Bag (Pack of 2)Check Price

  • 12 – 16 lb. Turkey
  • 1 Tbsp Flour
  • 1/4 Cup of Butter
  • Pepper
  • Reynolds Oven Bag (Turkey Size)
  • 2″ Deep Roasting Pan


Step 1: Preheat the Oven to 350°

Step 2: Add 1 Tbsp flour inside the Reynolds Oven Bag.

Step 3: Hold the mouth of the bag closed and shake the bag to cover sides & top with flour.

 I use the CorningWare French White II 3-Quart Oblong Dish simply because it is so easy to cleanCheck Price

Step 4: Set the floured bag in a 2″ deep roasting pan. Set aside.

Step 5: Wash the turkey completely, inside and out. Remove the bag of organs.

Step 6: Dry the outside of the turkey with paper towels.

Step 7: Rub the entire outside of the turkey with butter.

Step 8: Cut the remaining butter into pieces and place all but 7 pats of butter inside the turkey.

Step 9: Pepper the outside of the turkey.

Step 10: Carefully place the prepared turkey inside the floured bag.

Step 11: Place the 7 remaining pats of butter, evenly distributed, on the top of the turkey.

Step 12: Close and Secure the bag with a nylon tie that was included with the Reynolds Oven Bags.

Step 13: Cut six 1/2″ slits in the top of the bag to allow steam to escape while cooking.

Step 14: Tuck the ends of the bag inside the roasting pan.

Step 15: Place the pan in the oven. Be sure to allow plenty of room for the bag to expand during cooking without touching the sides, racks, heating elements, etc. of the oven.

Step 16: Bake according to chart in the Reynolds Oven bag. A 12-16 lb. turkey will take 2-2 1/2 hrs.

The turkey will be extremely hot when it has finished cooking and the bag may stick to the turkey in a few spots. Simply pull the bag lose. I do recommend letting the turkey cool for at least 30 minutes before you try to remove it from the bag.

I do save the broth inside the turkey bag to add to my dressing recipe. I also keep that little bag of organs and make giblet gravy.

Thanksgiving Turkey

 HIC Porcelain Turkey Platter 17.5-inchCheck Price


Carving the Turkey

My father or my husband has always carved the turkey, but last year neither of them were available. For the first time ever, I found myself trying to carve the turkey. It was not easy!

I have included this video for you just in case you too find yourself having to carve the turkey.




About the Author

I love cooking and I have been known to scurry around the kitchen, creating my own unique masterpieces. Creatively speaking there is not much I won't try and I have found one of my greatest joys in life is making our house a home. As a contributor on Cooking for the Holidays, I will be sharing my own recipes, cooking tips, and my love for working and playing in the kitchen! ...... Read More from this Author

6 Enlightened Replies

Trackback  •  Comments RSS

  1. Susan says:

    Awesome – this is so much easier than I ever imagined! All those years of being too scared to cook a whole turkey for a holiday meal and all I really needed was your instruction. Now, I can’t wait to cook a turkey myself, instead of begging other family members to take on this responsibility.

  2. Mary Beth says:

    Turkey is my husbands favorite meal so I try to make it several times throughout the year. I’ve never tried making it in a cooking bag though and you make it sound so easy. I must try it next time. Thanks for all the great tips.

  3. Barbara says:

    I have never cooked a turkey like this Cynthia and it sounds like a perfect way to cook it! fabulous idea, and really clear instructions as well

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.