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Shared by Amanda and Jane Dell

Brown Paper Bag Turkey

Yield: 10 - 12 servingsTime: 30min active plus 2h to bring turkey to room temperature plus 3h cooking time

Brown Paper Bag Turkey

Yield: 10 - 12 servingsTime: 30min active plus 2h to bring turkey to room temperature plus 3h cooking time

This recipe was shared by Amanda and Jane Dell. Read more about their family in "The Turkey Recipe One New York Family Will Never Part With." 


  • 1 - 12-14 lb. turkey, brought to room temperature
  • 1-2 cups of canola oil
  • Kosher salt (~¼ cup)
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted*
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Large brown paper shopping bag without any ink or writing** 
Cooking ProjectsMain CoursesMeat Kosher for PassoverGluten FreeNorth America


  • Step 1

    Before getting started it is a good idea to make sure that your turkey fits properly in the brown paper bag you have chosen. This is easier and much less messy when your turkey is still in its package. The turkey should slide easily into the bag and be able to gather and be sealed at the open end of the bag.

  • Step 2

    Two hours before you are ready to cook the turkey, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.

  • Step 3

    Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  • Step 4

    Roll up your sleeves and get ready to get messy! Starting with the outside, completely saturate the paper bag with the canola oil - inside and out. This is best done over or even in the sink, if large enough. The entire bag should look wet, but there should be no pools of oil anywhere. Let the bag sit while you prepare the turkey so that you can make sure that every nook and cranny is completely saturated with oil before adding the turkey. This is very important!

  • Step 5

    Remove any giblets from the cavity and discard or reserve for stock or gravy. Season the entire turkey generously with salt (about 1 teaspoon per pound is a good guideline) rubbing it all over the outside and inside of the bird. Don’t be shy. Really get in there.

  • Step 6

    Using your hands, rub the turkey all over with the unsalted butter and then with the olive oil.

  • Step 7

    Tie the legs of the turkey together with kitchen twine. Slide the turkey inside the paper bag (you will likely need backup for this step) and place the bag on top of a wire rack set in a large roasting pan. Gather the paper bag at the top to close and tie it together with kitchen twine to secure.

  • Step 8

    Punch 8-10 small holes in the top of the bag with a knife to allow for steam to escape

  • Step 9

    Place the turkey in the oven making sure that the oven rack is low enough to accommodate the bag and is not making contact with any of the heating elements inside of the oven. Roast for 2 hours, then cut the top of the bag open to allow for additional browning. Roast for 30-45 minutes more until the juices run clear between the leg and thigh or an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F. Please note that this is a rough estimate of the amount of time that it will take to cook a 12-14 lb. turkey at 375°F. The final cooking time will depend on many factors including the size of your turkey and the temperature of your oven. A thermometer is the most foolproof way to not overcook your turkey. The important thing here is to cut the bag open when you think you have about 30 minutes of roasting time left so that the bird can get nice and golden and crispy during the final moments of roasting.

  • Step 10

    Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before transferring to a cutting board and carving.

*If keeping kosher, simply substitute the butter with 8 tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil.

**Paper bags large enough for your turkey can usually be found at your local hardware store or on Handled bags are ok too! Just remove the handles before getting started.