Paper Bag Turkey

Christine Albury

Paper bag turkey - or turkey cooked in parchment - is unbelievably tender and juicy. Find out how to make it and up your turkey game!

Roasting a turkey in a paper bag - or, as in the recipe below, parchment - is the best way to create a succulent, juicy dish that your family and friends will rave about.

If you've always found turkey a little too dry, prepare to be amazed! Once you cook it in parchment, you'll realize that turkey isn't dry at all, but that your cooking methods were drying it out!

Roasted Turkey Photo

Paper works brilliantly for roasting turkey. It has the magic formula of retaining just enough steam to keep the meat lovely and tender, but allows enough steam to escape so that the skin gets crispy and golden brown.

Some people will use food bags instead of paper for roasting their turkey, but we think paper is definitely better! Very little steam escapes from food bags, the result being that the turkey steams rather than roasts. It still cooks properly of course, but the flavor is different.

Roasted Turkey Picture

Why parchment is better than a brown paper bag

Whilst using a brown paper bag may be the most traditional method, experts now advise against it. This is because the paper may contain chemicals used in recycling, or that there may be chemicals used in any inks on the bag. These chemicals could easily then end up in your food! 

Parchment, on the other hand, is intended for food use and gives the same delicious results. 

Safety Tips

If you're worried that the parchment you use will burst into flames in the oven, never fear!

Parchment paper is treated with silicone, which makes it non-stick and also makes it very resistant to heat, up to temperatures of 420°F. It is safe to use and will not ignite at the temperature needed to cook your turkey.

Roasted Turkey Image

That being said, parchment will burn if it touches a flame or heat source, so it's very important when using it to keep it well away from the heating element.

Another important point is to make sure you are using parchment paper and not waxed paper - no, they are not the same thing! Waxed paper is nowhere near as heat-resistant as parchment paper and WILL catch fire in the oven.

More Turkey Tips

How to Brine a Turkey

How to Carve a Turkey


Paper Bag Turkey

      6 Servings


  • whole Turkey, around 14 lbs
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper


  1. Let turkey stand for 1 hour at room temperature. 
  2. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. 
  3. Using paper towels, pat your turkey dry and stuff it with around 6 cups of your favorite stuffing.
  4. Spread 6 tablespoons of the butter over the top of the turkey, then season well with salt and pepper. 
  5. Tuck the wings under the turkey and use kitchen twine to tie the drumsticks together.
  6. Open out a 40-inch sheet of parchment and spread it with the rest of the butter. 
  7. Place turkey on the parchment and gather the ends together so the turkey is wrapped. 
  8. Staple together the overlapping ends of the parchment. 
  9. Open out a 48-inch sheet of parchment and put the turkey on top of it, then turn it 90 degrees. Staple the short sides together over the turkey.
  10. Open out another 48-inch sheet of parchment and repeat the process. Make sure you've stapled any flaps.
  11. Place the turkey - wrapped in its parchment - on a flat rack inside a roasting pan.
  12. Cook for 2 hours and 45 minutes, then take it out of the oven and cut the parchment open using a pair of scissors.
  13. Turn the oven up to 425 degrees. Remove all the parchment from the bird and throw it away, then put the turkey back into the oven.
  14. Roast for around 45 further minutes, until the skin is golden and the internal temperature is 165 degrees.
  15. Let rest for about 45 minutes before carving.
Source: Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart
Cooking Method:
, ,
Related Recipes:
Turkey Recipes, Thanksgiving Recipes, Roasted Recipes
Recipe Yields:
6 to 8 servings
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
Related Post:
Author: Christine Albury
Source: Martha Stewart
Recipe Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 210 minutes
Total Time: 390 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 serving
Servings Per Recipe 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 121
Calories 136

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g
  Saturated Fat 10g
Sodium 349mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g
  Dietary Fiber 0g
  Sugars 0g
Protein 0g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.
Christine Albury

About Christine

I'm a mom of 5 and love making healthy baby food with wholesome, natural ingredients. In 2005 I started the Homemade Baby Food Recipes website, sharing recipes for everything from simple fruit purees to gourmet curries for the baby food connoisseur! You'll also find plenty of tried and tested tips to help encourage even the most reluctant diner to enjoy a wide range of nutritious new foods. If you enjoy cooking, then you will LOVE learning to become head chef for a very special little customer!

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