Fool Proof Herb Roasted Turkey

One of my All time favroite ways to cook the Fool Proof Picture Perfect Turkey!

Sounds crazy and Yes, I thought my mother was NUTS when she did it but,  I have found out after 30 yrs of cooking turkeys THIS works the best!

No basting, No checking for the Popout, No Burnt skin, No DRY Turkey!

There’s 2 little family stories here too .. “Aunty can cook a turkey?” My nephew never liked Thanksgiving cus of Dry turkey & well he was NOT a believer until he seen the pockets of juice, YES Pockets of juice! Then there’s the one where my middle son was hungry I had a cold & was resting so he took it upon himself  to put the bag full of left over turkey in the micro & he shorted out the mirco cus the turkey was TOO Juicy!  “Mom …… ya gotta stop making the turkey so juicy, I think I blew up the micro”

So THIS has been our method of cooking a Thanksgiving turkey since the late 80’s.  Basically You are steaming the turkey, Much safer than the Deep Fry method !

Cooking a turkey in a brown paper bag keeps the bird moist and eliminates the need for basting since the bag retains all the moisture. Our paper bag turkey makes the most tender and juicy roast turkey.

This recipe is for simple herbs for stuffing. I use my mother’s stuffing (Now that I finally figured it out) and probably much more butter than my cardioligst would like.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Cooking a turkey in a brown paper bag helps seal in the moisture and creates a ‘self basting’ environment.
  • Unlike the popular plastic roasting bags, a brown paper bag lets the air circulate enough for the turkey to roast instead of steam. The result is beautifully brown, roasted, crisp skin.
  • Coating the bag with oil prevents the paper from sticking to the turkey.
  • The garlic butter rub gives the turkey extra flavor and bastes the turkey as it cooks.
  • The pan juices make a delicious turkey gravy that comes together quickly and easily.
  • Cooking the turkey at a lower heat prevents the paper bag from burning.


Ingredients Needed

Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for our brown bag turkey recipe.

  • Whole turkey. Try to find a turkey less than 16 pounds.
  • Butter. Let the butter get soft so you can mix it with the garlic and herbs.
  • Garlic 
  • Herbs. rosemary, sage, and thyme.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Stuff the turkey. 
  • Canola oil Since this recipe cooks the turkey at 325°F, you don’t need a high smoke point oil, but we recommend using an inexpensive oil since it is only needed to grease the brown paper bag. COVER Entire turkey with oil before adding herbs !! 
  • Large paper bag. Use the kind you can find at the grocery store.


  • 1 whole turkey (14 to 16 pounds)

Herbed Garlic Butter Rub

  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons dried garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Aromatics to Stuff the Turkey

  • 2 onions, slice in quarters
  • 2 whole garlic bulbs, sliced in half
  • 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 apple, quartered
  • 3 sprigs each of sage, rosemary, and thyme

For the Brown Bag

  • 1/3 cup canola oil or peanut oil
  • 1 large brown paper bag (the kind you get at the grocery store)

For the Gravy

  • 1-1/2 cups of the drippings from the roasting pan
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

First, preheat your oven and put the rack in the lowest position, then prepare the herbed garlic rub.

Place the oven rack in the lowest position and preheat the oven to 350°F.

  1. Spread the butter all over the inside and outside of the turkey (including under the skin).
  2. Stuff all the vegetables or stuffing into the main cavity of the turkey.
  3. Saturate the inside of the brown paper bag with canola oil.
  4. Slide the turkey into the paper bag, then staple it closed.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A STAPLER…. Fold Under as TIGHTLY a possible. 

TIP: Put cookie sheet UNDER roasting pan to collect ANY oil from dripping on to oven floor. 

I always cook at 325°F although EVERY brown bag recipe I have seen says  350°F or 375°F

  1. Transfer the paper bag turkey to a roasting pan, then coat the outside of the bag with more oil. Slide the turkey into the oven and ensure the bag doesn’t touch the heating element at the top of the oven.
  1. When the turkey is finished, carefully cut the bag open to let the steam out so the skin stays crisp. Let the turkey rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
  1. While the turkey rests, make the gravy.

Average Cooking Times:

For a 15- to 16-pound turkey:
  1. 350°F for 3½ to 3¾ hours.
  2. 325°F for 3¾ to 4 hours.

ALWAYS Add 30 Minutes with Stuffing!


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