Not to brag, but I make an amazing turkey.

It’s always moist and delicious. I usually use a Martha Stewart recipe where the turkey is covered in cheesecloth and got lots of basting towards the end. It’s always a hit with my guests.

This year I was remembering Thanksgivings past

when I made a turkey in a bag. It was SO moist! When I told Denis I was thinking about doing it this year he said “What’s the bag made of? We don’t want any chemicals leeching into the turkey.”

He has a legitimate concern. I didn’t want to take the time to research the safety of turkey bags, so I scrapped the idea. Making last year’s turkey would be easy enough anyway.

On Thanksgiving Day, I went to find Martha’s turkey recipe

so I could plan the day.  I needed to figure out when we needed to get back from our traditional, Thanksgiving, 8-mile run so I could get the 14 lb turkey in the oven in time for dinner.

I knew the recipe was right where I left it last year – on the bookshelf in my Martha Stewart Magazine Thanksgiving Issue of course!

As Murphy’s Law would have it, that morning I couldn’t find the recipe. I flipped through that magazine over and over and still no luck. I probably tore it out and put it “where I could easily find it” next time.

It was getting late. I was in a bit of a panic.

I asked Denis to look online for Turkey recipes. But the recipes that came up took too much preparation.

I wasn’t about to give up my Thanksgiving workout.

I asked him to “Google Martha Stewart Thanksgiving Turkey” and Voila – up comes a page called “Last Minute Thanksgiving recipes”! (How appropriate.)  It wasn’t the one I used last year but  –

it was

in fact

a Turkey in a bag!

The bag is made with parchment paper.

Here it is in the oven.

Martha Stewart's Turkey in a Parchment Bag


I used that recipe and I was so pleased!

It was fast.

As fast as you can expect to cook a 14 lb turkey.

And delicious.

I usually alter Martha’s recipes – reduce the butter, the sugar, etc. – and they still come out absolutely delicious. I’ve got the general gist of the recipe below. For more info see her site.

The basic instructions for a 14 lb Turkey In a Bag:

  • Let the turkey stand for about an hour so it comes closer to room temp. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 325 deg
  • Spread butter over the top of the turkey and salt and pepper it. The key to making a little butter go far is to rub cold butter over the turkey, do not melt it.
  • Place the bird on top of a long sheet of parchment paper -enough to come up and over the turkey. Fold it over a couple times at the top and staple it. Turn 90 degrees and repeat. Turn 45 degrees and repeat. (So you have 3 sheets of paper around the turkey).
  • Roast a 14lb bird for 2 hours and 45 minutes then increase the temperature to 425. (Martha’s got info for how much longer your bird needs to cook if it’s larger).
  • Take the bird out and pull off the parchment while keeping it on the tray (we folded it up and kept it under the bird).
  • Return the bird to the oven and continue to roast until golden brown and thermometer reads 165 all over (about 45 more minutes).
  • Take it out and let it rest for about an hour.

The healthy changes I made allowed me to finish even faster

and even more appealing to health-conscious cooks and foodies like myself who like to eat delicious, yet guilt-free food. Here are the changes I made to Martha’s recipe:

  • I used only about 1.5 Tbsp  of butter on the turkey instead of 6 Tbsp as called for.
  • I rubbed about 1/2 Tbsp of butter on the parchment instead of 2 Tbsp as recommended. (If you keep the stick solid, you can hold it like a marker and rub the paper and the turkey with it. You’ll go much further with less.)
  • I left the legs untied.
  • We made the stuffing on the side instead of inside the turkey which eliminated tons of prep time.
  • I didn’t measure the parchment paper. I slid it under the turkey, and then cut it like you would a piece of wrapping paper.
  • I only sprinkled a little bit of salt and pepper (generosity will be served somewhere else. 🙂 )

The keys to this recipe are:

  • Taking the parchment off 3/4 of the way through cooking, which makes an amazingly crisp skin.
  • Letting the turkey rest for an hour after removing it from the oven, before cutting it. This allows the juices to spread throughout the bird. You will not be sorry!

If you’re looking for a turkey recipe for the holiday season

I highly recommend this one. It’s crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. Even the breast was moist.

 The finished product:


Luci's Thanksgiving Turkey in a Parchment Bag


Click here for some simple, delicious and healthy side dishes for that turkey.

And here for delicious, holiday sweet potatoes.

And don’t forget that fresh, crisp veggies are a hit on the holiday table and can add lots of festive color.

What are you making this holiday? Share in the comments.