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4.34 from 3 votes

Roast Turkey in a Brown Paper Bag

Author: Anita's Table Talk


  • 1 10-16 lb whole turkey
  • 2 stalks celery, cut in half
  • 1 carrot, cut in half
  • 1 onion, cut into quarters
  • Mayonnaise
  • Vegetable oil (make it the inexpensive kind)


  • Preparing the Turkey
  • DEFROST the turkey in the fridge, keeping it the plastic bag it came wrapped in. (Plan on 1 day for every 4 pounds of turkey so a 16 pounder will take 4 days to defrost)
  • REMOVE the packaged neck and giblets from the neck cavity and body cavity. ADD the celery, carrot, and onion to the cavity (you don’t need to peel).
  • TIE the wings and legs to body of turkey with some string (dental floss works in a pinch). If you don’t tie up the bird, the legs/wings will cook faster than the rest of the turkey and turn out dry. If you don’t know how to do this, check out the YouTube video at the end of the post.
  • “Massage” the turkey skin with lots mayonnaise, about 1 cup or so. (Use inexpensive mayo but NOT low fat). You can use vegetable oil for this too, but mayo seems to help the turkey brown better. Season with poultry seasoning, salt, pepper.
  • Preparing the Bag
  • CHECK bag for holes (do not want steam to escape)
  • OIL the brown paper bag completely. Rub any type of vegetable oil i.e., peanut, canola, corn but NOT olive oil (it burns at a lower temp) into every pore of the bag to prevent it from burning.
  • Roasting the Turkey
  • PLACE the turkey in a brown paper bag from the grocery store, keeping the SEAM side UP.
  • FOLD the opening over a couple of times and STAPLE the bag shut or fasten with paper clips (stapling works best).
  • Very carefully, PLACE the bagged turkey inside a roaster or lasagna-style 9 x 13 pan (if the turkey isn’t too big). Once again, be sure the SEAM of the bag is UP otherwise it will come apart during roasting.
  • PLACE the roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven.
  • Once you have placed the turkey in the oven there is no need to open the oven door or peek into the bag until the turkey is completely roasted.
  • ROAST the turkey at 325 degrees, about 12 to 15 minutes per pound. (Less time if you have a smaller turkey). To check for doneness, use an instant read thermometer and stick it right through the bag near the let, trying not to hit bone. This is a little tricky. It should register 180 degrees in thigh and 170 degrees in breast. If it doesn't, keep roasting, checking every 7 minutes.
  • When done, REMOVE from roasting pan oven, let rest for 15 or so minutes, and carefully CUT away the bag. Step a little ways away from the turkey so you won't get burned by the steam.
  • Keep the drippings for gravy. Remember to save the carcass (and some of the dressing) for Turkey Carcass Soup