Brown Bag Herb Roasted Turkey

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This Brown Bag Herb Roasted Turkey is a simple, delicious, and foolproof way to make a never-dry bird- baked right in a brown paper bag!

picture of a roasted turkey in a brown paper bag in a roasting pan

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picture of a roasted turkey in a brown paper bag in a roasting pan

Paper Bag Roasted Turkey

If you’ve ever struggled with making Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey dinner, you know the host of problems that can come along with roasting your bird: slow cooking, uneven temps, dry breast meat, flabby skin; but Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t have to be so difficult.

I recently found the foolproof secret to roasting turkey – and the best way to roast a turkey, ever.

The weird trick?

Roast the turkey…. in a paper bag!

Any old paper bag – even the grocery bag you bring the turkey home from the store in – will work.

By cooking the turkey in the bag, which seals in the steam to help it circulate around the bird and help it cook faster and more evenly, you can get perfect juicy turkey meat every time.

This is an easy, delicious way to cook perfect, tender, juicy turkey every time.

How to Make Brown Bag Roasted Turkey

This Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe doesn’t require a ton of fussy extra equipment, but there are a few standard kitchen tools that will help you get a perfect never-dry roasted turkey every time.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients and equipment, you’ll use the following method:

  • Brine. Brine turkey with easy turkey brine or dry turkey brine.
  • Season and butter. After turkey has brined for 1-2 days, season with herbs, salt, and pepper. Rub butter all over turkey, including under skin. Stuff aromatics like celery, onion, garlic, herbs, and sliced citrus into turkey cavity.
  • Add to bag and roast. Slide turkey into paper bag and roast until turkey has fully cooked. Do not open bag to check as it cooks, this releases steam which helps keep turkey tender, moist, and delicious! Remove from bag and crisp under broiler when turkey is fully cooked, if desired.
  • Rest. Let turkey rest 20-30 minutes minimum before carving.
  • Carve. Carve turkey and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Brown Bag Turkey

Why roasting turkey in a paper bag works. Making a delicious, juicy turkey that won’t dry out is crazy-easy in a brown paper bag – thanks to increased heat from steam that circles around it as it cooks.

Brine Turkey before roasting. This easy turkey brine is perfect for an entire turkey – or just a turkey breast – and is easy to whip up. Place brine and turkey in a plastic bag and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Tip: Do not use turkey brine after raw turkey has been in it – always discard excess.

Turkey Brine Ingredients:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons savory
  • 1 gallon ice cubes

How to Make Turkey Brine:

  1. Bring all ingredients, except ice to a boil.
  2. After you reach a rolling boil, turn off heat and let cool.
  3. Combine cooled brine with ice inside a large bag in a beverage cooler, stock pot, or other large container with a tight fitting lid.
  4. Submerge turkey and seal container.
  5. Brine for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days – be sure to keep turkey cold with ice as it brines.
picture of sliced turkey breast covered with herbs on a white plate

Don’t open bag. Opening the bag will let out steam, so you’ll only want to do it towards the end to take your turkey’s temperature. Trust that the bag is basting your turkey for you and locking in all those juices! You could also use a remote meat thermometer so you don’t even have to open the oven!

Crisp under broiler. Crisp under broiler for extra crunch. While the brown bag method will help your turkey skin crisp thanks to your butter rub, you might want a little extra crunch – go ahead and pop your bird under the broiler on high for 5-8 minutes at the end of cooking (watch it very closely to be sure it doesn’t burn) to get a tiny bit extra flavor!

Let turkey rest. Make sure to let your turkey cool for at least 15 minutes before carving to lock in the juices.

How to check turkey’s temperature. Hit the deepest part of the turkey you can WITHOUT touching the bone with a digital thermometer when taking your turkey’s temperature.

Double check for Giblets. Many turkeys have giblets packed in plastic bags or with twine – double check for the giblets to be sure you’re not melting plastic inside your bird! While we want to cook the turkey with the giblets for a delicious gravy, you don’t want to melt plastic. Check for the giblets!

picture of crispy skin roasted turkey with herbs on a white plate

What to Serve With Brown Bag Roasted Turkey

If you love this easy and delicious paper bag roasted turkey, be sure to check out some of my other favorite easy and delicious holiday dishes you will love!

We love to serve this turkey with Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Scallops, The Best Yeast Rolls, Parker House Style Buttery Soft Dinner Rolls, Brown Butter Bacon Baked Brussels Sprouts, Herb Roasted Acorn Squash, Garlic Butter Sausage and Mushroom Stuffing, Garlic Butter Roasted Potatoes, or The Best Easy Whole Roasted Cauliflower!

Find more of our Thanksgiving Recipes here.

picture of a roasted turkey in a brown paper bag in a roasting pan

Brown Bag Herb Roasted Turkey Recipe

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picture of a roasted turkey in a brown paper bag in a roasting pan

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How to cook turkey in a brown bag.

Brown Bag Herb Roasted Turkey

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes

This Brown Bag Herb Roasted Turkey is a simple, delicious, and foolproof way to make a never-dry bird- baked right in a brown paper bag!


  • 1 turkey, 10 to 20 lbs, brought to room temperature
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp italian herb blend
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Large parchment paper bag, or brown paper shopping bag


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Sprinkle the turkey liberally with salt and pepper on the outside and inside, and rub the salt and pepper on it.
  3. Be sure giblets are removed from inside birds cavity, and remove from plastic bag or any twine/string they have holding them in if there is any.
  4. Put the onion, celery, carrot and lemon inside the turkey, as well as giblets and neck.
  5. Rub butter all over turkey, including under the turkeys skin.
  6. Generously sprinkle herbs over turkey.
  7. Put turkey inside the bag and place in a roasting pan.
  8. Pour the chicken broth inside the turkey cavity.
  9. Fold bag closed, and tuck under turkey so that it locks in the steam as it cooks.
  10. Put the turkey in the middle rack of your preheated oven.
  11. Estimate the cooking time is about 2.5 hours for the first 10 lbs, plus 12 minutes for each additional pound (for example, the cooking time for 12 lb turkey is 2.5 hours + 12 minutes + 12 minutes = 2 hours 54 minutes).
  12. When turkey is fully cooked (insert thermometer in thickest part of bird without hitting bone to be sure) remove from oven and leave in bag for 15 minutes.
  13. Then cut the bag open, carve, and enjoy!

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Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 99Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 27mgSodium 233mgCarbohydrates 4gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 2g

Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.

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About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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  1. I have done this for decades! The difference is, I butter the enside of the bag rather than the turkey. It helps baste the turkey as it cooks. I do about 45 mins at 450 and then drop it down to about 200 or 190 depending on the size of the turkey. Then it sits in my oven overnight and is literally dripping with juices when it comes out. We sometimes have to mop the juices up as we cut.