3 Quick Tips For Tender, Juicy Turkey Every Time

posted by Andrea | 11/14/2019

how to roast a juicy turkey

Since Thanksgiving is just a few days away (seriously, I can’t believe it!) I wanted to re-share one of my most popular Thanksgiving posts from a few years ago. If you’re in charge of the big meal this year and are wondering how to roast a juicy turkey, I’m here to help!

By following the 3 super simple tips in today’s post, I can almost guarantee your turkey meat will be SO tender and juicy, you won’t ever roast a turkey any other way again! 

juicy turkey and other thanksgiving foods

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1. Roast Your Turkey in an Oven Bag

I always roast my turkeys in Oven Bags — in fact, I can’t even remember the last time I roasted a turkey (or a chicken) without using a roasting bag.

The bags are very inexpensive, they are available at most grocery stores (or online), they save your oven from boatloads of grease splatters, and they will almost guarantee that your meat will turn out extremely moist and juicy.

oven bags to roast a juicy turkey

how to roast a juicy turkey in an oven bag

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2. Roast Your Turkey with the Breast Side DOWN!

Another slightly unconventional tip I’ve used for years is to roast my turkey with the breast side DOWN.

This allows all the juices to flow down through the white meat and keeps it nice and juicy! (The dark meat is still very juicy too)

how to roast a juicy turkey breast side down

delicious thanksgiving meal

 

As you can see by the photo below, roasting the turkey with the breast down is not nearly as pretty as when it is roasted breast up.

But since I almost always carve the meat off the bones before I bring it to the table, it really doesn’t matter much what the bird LOOKS like coming out of the oven.

how to roast a juicy turkey breast side down

Which brings me to my third tip…

3. Roast your turkey ahead of time and cut the meat off the bone before guests arrive.

Whenever I’m cooking for a crowd, I roast the turkey (or whatever meat we’ll eat) a day or more in advance, pull all the meat off the bone, put the meat (and juices) in a large slow cooker, and simply warm it up before guests arrive. 

This tip saves SOOOOOO much time, mess, hassle, and stress. 

Plus, the meat is SO tender and juicy because it’s cooking in a nice slow cooker meat-juice bath!

Not only do I know the meat is fully cooked on time, but I also can taste test it, add more seasonings if necessary, use some of the juices to make the stuffing and gravy in advance, AND clean up the huge turkey mess! 

On Thanksgiving morning, I simply put the turkey in the slow cooker, the gravy in another slow cooker, the stuffing, potatoes, squash, corn, etc. in the oven, and the fruit, applesauce, salad, dessert, and rolls in the fridge or on the counter.

The only “last minute” thing I need to do is the veggies… talk about less stress for the cook!!

I’m sure Gordon Ramsey and Martha Stewart would not approve — but my dinner guests have never once complained, and it’s so much easier for me to host when I can have things prepped ahead of time!

turkey mashed potatoes and other thanksgiving foods

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Tips for leftover turkey meat.

The extra juicy meat freezes wonderfully to use later in soups, stews, casseroles, and more!

ideas to use leftover turkey meat and broth

While I would never consider myself a “master chef”, I do enjoy trying new recipes and ideas. I also like finding simple solutions to improve the taste of my food and reduce the amount of time I spend in the kitchen.

If simplifying and streamlining your time in the kitchen while preparing a deliciously juicy turkey sounds like a win-win for you this Thanksgiving, then today’s tips are just what you need!

I’ve roasted many turkeys in my life and every single time, the meat has been fall-off-the-bone delicious, thanks to these 3 tips!

Do you use Oven Bags to roast turkey?

Have you ever roasted a turkey breast down?

Do you make your turkey ahead of time?

 

how to roast a juicy turkey

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34 comments

  1. Shannon

    11/27/2019

    Hi Andrea, do you take the meat off the bone on the day you cook the turkey? Or do you leave it whole and take it off on the day you put it in the slow cooker?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Shannon,
    I let the turkey cool a bit, then remove all the meat and then reheat whenever I want to serve it. That way, there are no bones to pick around on the day you are serving it.

    [Reply]

  2. BJ

    11/23/2019

    How long do you reheat your turkey for? Also, since I won’t have a Crock Pot to put the turkey in, what temperature should the oven setting be for reheating? Thanks Andrea!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    hmm…. I’ve honestly never reheated it in the oven. Make sure it has lots of broth AND that it’s tightly sealed with foil to prevent it from drying out. I’d try a lower temperature (250ºF) for a couple of hours — and make sure to check on it often!

    [Reply]

  3. Julie

    11/20/2019

    Do you cook the turkey a day ahead and put in fridge and then heat up in slow cooker ?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes. I often cook it a couple days in advance and put it in the fridge to cool. Then I reheat the next day in the slow cooker (on low).

    [Reply]

  4. Jeanine

    11/14/2019

    I tried clicking on “50 ways to use leftover Thanksgiving food” and got the “oops” page not available message. Can you check it out or is it my computer?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I just fixed the link — thanks for letting me know!

    [Reply]

  5. Katie

    11/14/2019

    Brine that bird! I’ve been using Alton Brown’s recipe for several years now and the turkey always turns out so tasty and juicy. However, because there is a lot of salt absorbed by the bird during the brining process, the drippings are very salty and don’t make the best gravy.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m hyper-sensitive to saltiness, so I guess I’ve always stayed away from brining for that reason. I don’t like overly-salty meat, gravy, broth, etc.
    However, I’m sure it’s nice and juicy!

    [Reply]

  6. JJ

    11/14/2019

    Last year our oven died on Thanksgiving! My husband’s uncle ordered a turkey roaster for me just incase for this year. Haha! Thankfully it was just a part that my husband had to order from Amazon and replace. But it was a bummer! This year I’ll try the oven bag in the roaster. I love the idea of roasting it the day before. I need to do that. Perfect timing for this post!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh my –that’s unfortunate! I guess that’s one of the other bonuses to cooking the meat ahead of time! 🙂

    [Reply]

  7. stacie

    11/14/2019

    I host Thanksgiving for about 15-17 ppl every year and it was always hectic trying to make sure all the food was ready at the table . I took up your tips last year by doing mostly everything ahead of time and my Thanksgiving was so much easier, and less hectic! I’ll definitely use them again this year thank you !!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    YUP! I host A LOT of meals at our house, and motto is ALWAYS to make as much of the food as I possibly can ahead of time. It’s much more enjoyable for me and it’s easier for cleanup too!

    [Reply]

  8. Annette Silveira

    11/14/2019

    Since I have taken over hosting Thanksgiving dinner I have used The Lazy Genius’s recipe for “The Only Thanksgiving Turkey You’ll Ever Need”. I was nervous about being responsible for the main dish of the main family gathering of the year, and Kendra (The Lazy Genius) had my back.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    glad your turkey turned out! I’ll have to google that recipe 🙂

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  9. Tonya

    11/12/2015

    I always use oven bags! I love them for Turkey, chicken and even pot roast. I host Thanksgiving and I have never had a dry turkey.

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  10. Lauren D

    11/11/2015

    You encouraged me to thaw my turkey (on super sale from last year) and cook it up this weekend! What temperature do you cook it at? I’m cooking it breast side down too for the first time! I will report back on its deliciousness!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yay for turkey! The cooking time depends on the weight of the turkey and if you are going to stuff it or not (I never stuff mine) so just follow the instructions on the cooking bag (or on the turkey) and you should be all set!

    [Reply]

    Lauren D Reply:

    The turkey I made last weekend breast side down and in a bag was AMAZING!! It was the most moist white meat! It does cook faster in the bag as well. Just follow the instructions in the box and good to go! My 16lb turkey took 3 hours. Yummm! I also softened 1.5 sticks of butter and mixed into the butter some dried oregano, basil and sage. About 1 TBSP of each and rubbed the top and bottom of it while in the bag! Thanks for making our turkeys tastier, Andrea!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    glad to help 🙂

    [Reply]

  11. Annette Robinson

    11/11/2015

    Hi Andrea. I have a question regarding your turkey-cooked-in-a-bag. Are you able to save the drippings to make the gravy from the bag?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yup, you will need to cut open the bag to get the turkey out, so all the juices just run into the pan and are ready to go to make gravy.

    [Reply]

  12. Katie P.

    11/11/2015

    Yes! I don’t make a lot of turkeys but I make whole chickens all throughout the year and always roast breast side down! Much better white meat this way — I totally agree! (Usually do mine in the crock pot).

    [Reply]

  13. Carrie

    11/11/2015

    Does cooking the turkey in the bag change the cooking time at all? Does it cook faster or slower? Are there any other changes to the normal cooking process by cooking it in the bag?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m not sure, I’ve only ever used a bag so I don’t have experience roasting a turkey without one. However, the bag comes with instructions so just follow those and you should be all set!

    [Reply]

  14. Karynz

    11/11/2015

    Normally, I don’t used a cooking bag, but I do roast my turkey “Breast Down”. If it is a smaller turkey (12-14lbs), I turn it over to “Breast Up” about halfway through the cooking process and it browns the skin nicely for presentation or some crunchy “Skin Snacking”.

    [Reply]

    Julie Reply:

    I do the same thing, both with turkeys and with whole chickens. Works wonderfully!

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    Jen Reply:

    Absolutely! The browning is a VERY important factor! That’s why I would never use a slow cooker! I’ve never used a cooking bag- does that allow it to brown?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    YES! surprisingly, the turkey browns nicely in the bag. The skin even gets crispy!

    [Reply]

  15. Sandra

    11/11/2015

    My grandparents always made turkeys this way, too! Delicious!

    [Reply]

  16. Jen T

    11/11/2015

    I’ve never roasted a turkey, period. We go out each year, thankfully, b/c I hate turkey and can order filet mignon 🙂

    [Reply]

    Trina Reply:

    This response made me laugh! Celebrate your way!

    [Reply]

  17. JoAnn C.

    11/11/2015

    I’ve been doing this for years. In fact lately, over the last five years, I cook my turkey breast side down in the slow cooker/crock pot. The oven bags as well as the slow cooker bags keep mess to a minimum and help keep the bird juicy.

    [Reply]