Does the perfect Thanksgiving turkey exist? You know what I mean – that Normal Rockwell looking bird that is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. I say YES IT DOES; and it isn’t as complicated as the pros would like you to think.
I’ll never forget the first time I cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner on my own. I was newly married and though I felt like I was a competent cook, I’d never made a turkey, much less an entire Thanksgiving dinner. So I poured over my cookbooks, asked around but no one had an easy way to make that elusive perfect Thanksgiving turkey. Then I discovered something magical…the cooking bag!
How to Make the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
I’m about to give you the recipe for a perfect turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner. Not only will it taste FABULOUS but it will cook faster than your average Thanksgiving turkey too. Follow my directions and you’ll have a golden, crispy skin with moist and tender meat. So whether you’re making the entire Thanksgiving dinner or just bringing the turkey to the potluck; you’re going to look like a master chef!
If you are making the entire meal I have included some amazing Thanksgiving recipes for you below; everything from homemade cranberry sauce to the best buttermilk pie you’ve ever tasted! So be sure to scroll down and check them all out. There are more than 50 recipes plus a section for special diets like Paleo, Keto, GAPS, etc.
Now let’s get cooking!
Ok, here’s the secret to my perfect Thanksgiving Turkey – I cook it in a bag. Yes, I cook my turkey in a Reynolds Turkey Bag; I know what you’re thinking…cook in plastic Tiffany? What the what? But here’s the scoop, I use them 1 – 2 times a year and they are BPA free and FDA compliant; I’m not sweating it. No they are not sponsoring me, I use and recommend their bags because it’s what I trust.
I love a set-it and forget-it kind of bird – the bags create a self-basting effect during cooking so you can work on the rest of the meal while it cooks. AND if that wasn’t enough, the bird will cook significantly faster in a cooking bag. Winner winner…turkey dinner!
First, let me recommend that you get yourself a sturdy and reusable turkey roasting pan. I know it is tempting to get the throw-away variety but the investment is a good one! Secondly, I would recommend getting yourself and electric carving knife; they just make every holiday meal easier.
Now, let’s make the easiest and Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey (you can thank me later). 😉
Imperfectly Happy's Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
- 1 Reynolds Turkey Sized
- 1 Whole Turkey thawed with giblets and neck removed
- 1 Apple cored and sliced
- 2 Stalks of celery with leaves left on cleaned
- 1 Small yellow onion roughly sliced
- 2 Fresh rosemary sprigs
- 2 Fresh thyme springs
- Melted Butter for Basting amount will vary on your turkey size
- Poultry Seasoning to taste
- Paprika liberal, gives it the nice coloring
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 Rounded Tablespoon Flour
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Put your rack on the lowest station in your oven.
- Stuff the cavity with the apple, celery, onion and herbs.
- Baste your turkey's skin in the melted butter. Don't forget to do all the sides and add a little to the cavity.
- Season your skin with a good poultry seasoning blend, salt and pepper
- Open your turkey sized roasting bag and place into your roasting pan. Make sure you've unfolded it completely.
- Add your rounded tablespoon of flour to the bag. Now grasp the opening so it is shut and give it a good couple of shakes so you distribute the flour all over the bag. Don't skip this step!
- Put the bag back in the roasting pan.
- Carefully add your turkey to the bag.
- Use the tie that came in the box to tightly secure the end but DO NOT pull the bag tight!
- Using scissors you need to cut 4 to 6 1/2 inch slits in the top of the bag so that steam can escape during cooking. You can use these slits to check your meat temperature with a thermometer.
- Make sure no part of the bag is sticking out from the pan.
- Place the turkey in the oven on that lowest rack.
- Check the cooking chart that is included with your bags. This will tell you the time allotted for your size turkey. I consider mine un-stuffed because this won't fill the entire cavity. The meat should reach an internal temperature of 180 degrees F (use the thigh for best results).
- Once done cooking remove your turkey from the oven and allow it to rest IN THE BAG for 15 - 20 minutes. Again this is an important step for a moist turkey.
- After the rest remove the bird from the bag to your serving platter.
- Remove all the innards stuffing and discard (apple, onion, celery, herbs).
- You can use all the drippings that have collected in the bag to make some amazing gravy so don't toss that!
Other Amazing Thanksgiving Recipes For Your to Try
Thanksgiving Appetizer and Salad Recipes
Thanksgiving Main Dish Recipes
Thanksgiving Gravy Recipes
Thanksgiving Savory Side Dish Recipes
Easy and All Natural Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- 16 oz package of pasta I use elbow but any past will work
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1.5 Tablespoons Flour
- 2 Cup Milk
- 2 Cup Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 Cup Shredded sharp cheddar cheese for the top or more if you like
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Boil and drain pasta - you want it al dente (still a little firm)
- In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter
- Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour until well mixed (will be a paste like consistency)
- Cook for about a minute (whisking the entire time)
- Slowly pour in the milk; whisk until flour mixture is well incorporated into the milk
- Continue to stir until the mixture thickens (this takes a little while 5-10 min)
- Once thickened add the cheese and stir until melted
- Mix with your pasta
- Pour into a casserole dish
- Top with extra cheese
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 min or until bubbly
- Serve right from the oven and watch it disappear like magic!
Thanksgiving Sweet Side Dish Recipes
Thanksgiving Bread Recipes
The Very Best Old Fashioned Drop Biscuit Recipe
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold buttermilk
- 1 stick of melted butter - cool just a bit before adding
- 4 - 6 tablespoons butter reserved to drizzle on baked biscuits optional
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Small Mixing Bowl
- Baking Sheet
- Parchment Paper
- Ice Cream Scoop
- Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
- Line your baking sheet with parchment paper
- In your large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar
- In your smaller mixing bowl combine the cooled melted butter and the cold buttermilk
- Add the liquid to your dry ingredients
- Mix and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides
- Use your ice cream scoop to make round heaps of the batter on your parchment lined baking sheet
- Bake 12 - 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown
- Drizzle with the reserved melted butter, or get fancy and use a pastry brush for more even coverage
7 Ingredient Traditional Homemade Dinner Roll Recipe
- 2 cups of all purpose flour + a little extra for kneading
- 1 envelope of rapid-rise yeast
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of whole milk
- 1/4 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
- In a large bowl combine 3/4 cup of the all-purpose flour with yeast packet (undissolved), sugar and salt.
- On the stove top warm milk, water and butter to about 125 degrees – do not let it boil.
- Add your warmed liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
- Add the remaining 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and continue mixing for an additional 2 minutes on high.
- Continue mixing in flour for 2 minutes at high speed. Add in enough remaining flour to make soft dough.
- Lightly flour your counter tops for kneading.
- Knead the dough until the smooth and elastic (about 9 minutes).
- Cover your bowl and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
Separate your dough into 8 - 12 equal-sized balls.
Place into greased 12 inch cast iron skillet or round baking pan.
- Cover with light towel and place in a warm area to rise for 20 – 30 minutes.
- Bake at 375 for 20 – 25 minutes (If you want to switch things up, lightly dust your rolls with garlic salt and herbs before baking)
- Brush with melted butter and serve warm!
Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes
Grandma's Delicious Vintage Buttermilk Pie Recipe
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup room temperature butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 3 eggs beaten
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 deep dish or 2 regular unbaked 9 inch pie crust
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cream the sugar and butter together.
- Add the flour and beaten eggs and mix well.
- Now add the buttermilk and vanilla; mix & pour into unbaked crust
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until tests done. Top should be slightly crusty and brown.
- Let cool completely
- Serve with whipped cream
- Try not to eat it all.
Specialty Diet Recipes for Thanksgiving
Are you Paleo, Keto, Gluten Free, Dairy Free? This list is for you! I’ve included some amazing recipes for specific ways of eating here.